Tried and True: Threading Eight Shafts

Threading four shafts is straightforward because the heddles fit perfectly between four fingers and a thumb. Threading eight shafts is tricky because we don’t have that many fingers! Thankfully, threading eight shafts can be as straightforward as threading four shafts. I like to think of it as four shafts in the back, and four shafts in the front.

For a review of threading four shafts, watch the short video in this post: You Can Prevent Threading Errors.

Threading Eight Shafts – Straight Draw

  • Set a small group of heddles apart on each shaft to prepare for threading the next group of ends.
  • Pick up the next threading group of ends and bring it to the front, on the left side of the separated heddles.
  • Lace the threading group of ends under, over, under, over the fingers of your left hand, palm up.
Threading eight shafts - the easy way.

Left hand becomes tensioning device for threading the heddles. I like to put my index finger in between the two parts of the cross, as separated by the lease sticks.

  • Wrap left hand index finger around the group of heddles on shaft one (the shaft nearest the back of the loom), the middle finger around heddles on shaft two, the ring finger around heddles on shaft three, the pinky around heddles on shaft four, and bring the thumb around to hold it all loosely together.
Threading eight shafts - the easy way.

Each warp end is taken in order from between the lease sticks, and then threaded through the heddles in order.

  • Thread the first four heddles—1, 2, 3, 4.
  • With the right hand, hold the group of warp ends taut, and open the fingers of the left hand to release the heddles.
  • Keeping the group of warp ends loosely laced around the fingers, slide the left hand toward you to thread the next four heddles—5, 6, 7, 8. Position your fingers around the heddles on each shaft, as you did for the first four shafts.
Threading eight shafts - the easy way.

Left hand slides toward the front of the loom to thread the next four heddles. It helps to hold the warp ends taut with the right hand while the left hand is repositioned.

  • After threading the second set of heddles, follow the same procedure as before and slide the left hand back again to thread 1, 2, 3, 4.
  • Continue sliding the left hand forward and back, until the threading is completed for that group of ends.
  • Check the threading group for accuracy, and then tie the group of ends together in a loose slip knot.
Threading eight shafts.

Always check for accuracy before moving on to the next threading group.

Complete the threading across the warp. And then, step back and admire the beauty of a beamed and threaded loom.

Glimakra Standard. Threading the loom.

Shafts are raised high for good access and visibility for threading, and for checking for accuracy.

Threading is complete. 8-shafts undulating twill.

Threading is complete. Cotton throw. 8/2 cotton, undulating (wavy) twill on eight shafts.

May you find efficient methods for the work of your hands.

Happy weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Cynthia says:

    Love those colors, can’t wait to see finished

  • Good morning Karen,

    I really appreciate it when you post photos of your weaving space. It answers many unspoken questions about how to design a work area.

    The space has a tile floor with a rug placed immediately under the loom.

    There are no electronics to be seen.

    The floor is clean of lint.

    Plenty of natural light, with a view.

    Thank you.

    Nannette

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, All of that is correct, except there is no rug under the loom. The loom sits on a square patch of wood floor. The original owners of this house designed that spot specifically for their baby grand piano. Since I don’t have a baby grand, a Glimåkra Standard seems the next best thing.

      After having carpet under my looms, it’s really nice to have a smooth floor under them now. It’s much easier to collect all those dust bunnies that hold meetings under there.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen!
    I am going to print and keep the information on the post since I have plans to order and 12 shaft Louet Delta after Christmas. I haven’t even threaded more than 4 shaft so this post is much needed!
    Thank you so much for sharing yourself with the weaving world. I have learned a great deal from you.
    May your hands always be busy weaving.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’m excited for you! You’ll find that there are several ways to do just about everything. It’s good that you are collecting information that you can use for reference later.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Jean Flores says:

    Exactly how I do it! I just posted a video of me threading last week on Instagram. lol.

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Tools Day: Click Test

It is not easy to see sleying errors in this fine-dent reed. I unknowingly quadrupled the ends in four of the dents, instead of the specified two ends per dent. When I check as I go, I find the errors while they are still easy to fix.

How to check and double-check for sleying errors:

  • Tie ends into threading groups, using a loose slip knot. (I do this before threading the heddles.)
  • Sley one threading group. (I sley right to left.)
  • Visually check the sleyed group of ends for skipped dents and crowded dents.
  • Do a Click Test. Use the hook end of the reed hook to count the dents by running the hook along the reed…click, click, click… Make sure the number of clicks matches the number of dents needed for that group of ends.
    —This is how I caught my errors. When the dents came up short in the Click Test, I knew I had some crowded dents that I had failed to catch in the visual check.
  • Move ends and re-sley as needed.
  • Sley each remaining group of ends, checking as you go, visually and with the reed-hook Click Test.
Reed is sleyed. Dressing the loom for double-weave towels.

Two ends per dent in this 70/10 metric (equivalent to an 18-dent imperial) reed.

May your errors be few and fixable.

Happy sleying,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Great tips! I warp F2B, sley the reed left to right and the heddles right to left.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, No matter what warping method we use, it’s good to find any denting errors as soon as possible. After the weaving begins it’s much more of a hassle to correct, isn’t it?

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Ouch. Better at the click than 10 rows into the weaving.

    Thank you for the lesson to correct.

    Nannette

  • Lise Loader says:

    Hello Karen,

    I have been following your work for many months, love your teaching and can’t wait for your next project.

    Unfortunately I don’t get the clicking of a hook to check if skip or crowded reed. Is there a video or some kind of demo for me to learn from. I have some mistakes when I’m dressing the loom and it is frustrating when the skip or the crowing is right of the middle of the reed, if you know what I mean.

    Lise

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lise, That will be a good subject for a short video. Thanks for the suggestion. I can do that next time I dress the loom.

      I do know what you mean about finding a denting error — and it always seems to fall right in the middle of the reed!

      What I mean by the “click test” is this – I know that if I have 40 ends in a threading group, and there are 2 ends per dent, that there should be 20 dents with threads in them when I finish sleying that group of threads. I am counting the dents with the tip of the reed hook (it’s hard for me to count the dents without something touching the actual spaces, and my finger is too large for that with this fine-dent reed). As I move the reed hook along the reed, it makes a sound (“click”) at each dent. I listen for 20 “clicks” to check that I have those 40 threads in 20 dents.

      I’m always looking for ways to check my work as I go so that when I get to the weaving part it’s smooth sailing! But even so, a few mistakes still manage to slip through sometimes. That’s weaving! But thankfully, mistakes are fixable!

      I hope that makes sense.
      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    Good morning, Karen.

    I am also not sure what you mean by clicking the reed in terms of how that will show a mistake. Perhaps a short video in future when you need to sley again?

    I like the colors in the warp that you are using! Is the yarn a variable one? Or did you mix colors thread by thread? And what are you making? Inquiring minds want to know.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’ll make a short video about the “click test” next time I dress the loom. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Read my answer to Lise, and see if it makes sense to you.

      The warp colors alternate. Since I wind with 2 threads at a time, I’m able to wind the 2 colors at the same time and then thread them alternately in the heddles.
      I am making hand towels for my daughter. This is double weave with twelve shafts. (My first attempt at weaving with twelve shafts.)

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    I love how you are always challenging yourself and growing as a weaver. I can’t wait to see the progress on these towels. After reading your response to Lise, I understand the click test perfectly. I am going to adopt this practice also.

    Thank you for taking the time to clarify for us.

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Dismantled Loom

As June comes to a close, it’s time to sign off for a short while. Meet me right back here the first Friday of August! And head on over to Instagram ( @celloweaver ) to keep up to date with all my daily happenings on and off the loom!

Some things are on hold right now. My “weaving studio” suddenly looks like the spare bedroom it used to be. The big loom is dismantled! Fortunately, it is not a problem for this smart Glimåkra Standard loom to hold onto the warp that I’ve already wound onto the warp beam. The good news is that this cherished loom is being relocated to our Texas hill country home, where it will take the stage as if it were a grand piano.

Preparing loom for dismantling with warp on the loom.

White sheet from my box of old sheets (for scrap rag weft) is used to wrap the warp on the warp beam. It is tied securely with some long fabric strips.

Dismantling my loom for moving.

Shafts are tied together at the ends with seine twine. Fabric strips are tied around to hold the shafts together in a bundle. The bundle of shafts is placed on an old Flintstones beach towel, and then wrapped up like a big burrito and tied up with more fabric strips.

Dismantling the Glimakra Standard.

Piece by piece, loom is dismantled.

Relocating this Glimakra Standard loom.

Fully dismantled, the loom becomes sticks and pieces of wood. Ready for relocation!

Boxes labeled "KEEP WITH LOOM," for loom being relocated.

Loom essentials are in boxes labeled “KEEP WITH LOOM.” The wooden mallet will be one of the first things needed.

Hold. Several meanings for this word come to mind. Sometimes our familiar patterns of daily life are on hold. There’s a pause, a held breath. But during that pause, our plans and threads of normal practices are securely and lovingly wrapped up on a strong beam of hope. Wrap the spare cloth securely over your precious warp ends so that when it’s time, you can unroll the warp and finish dressing the loom for spectacular twelve-shaft double weave towels. Hold fast to Christ as Christ holds all your interrupted threads of being.

PS The Lizard tapestry is in full swing on the not-dismantled Glimåkra Ideal.

Lizard tapestry on Glimakra Ideal loom.

Lizard tapestry on the Ideal loom now has my singular attention. Thirty centimeters complete.

May you have a fantastic July!

Lovingly,
Karen

11 Comments

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Lizard in Black and White

Some things are better seen without color. Hence, an enlarged version of my lizard in black and white. Variances in value are not as easily discerned in the full-color print. These subtle value distinctions bring realism to the lizard tapestry. For this reason, I sort all the yarn into small groups of color and value, which clarifies my choices for each wool butterfly.

Lizard portrait in black and white for tapestry project.

Lizard portrait in black and white shows nuances in color value.

Yarn Sorting Process:
1. Select yarn colors for the tapestry.

2. Group like colors together.

Sorting wool yarn for a tapestry. Tutorial.

Wool yarn, much of which has been accumulated from previous projects.

For each color group (I have seven color groups):
1. Arrange yarn on a white background in value order, from light to dark. Take a picture.

Arranging yarn by color value for tapestry.

Green, from light to dark.

2. Take another picture using the smart phone black and white setting (“Noir” in the filters on my iPhone).

Yarn in order by value. Blog post explanation.

Photo shows that a couple adjustments are needed for the yarn-value order.

3. Adjust yarn to make value order corrections.

Yarn in order by color value. Suggestions on blog post.

Adjustments made.

4. Divide the yarn into three value sections. 1. light, 2. medium, 3. dark.
5. Label baskets to hold each yarn section; i.e., “G 3” for green, dark.

The preparation for a project like this is immense. And tedious. But this is a weaving adventure. Indeed, the results may very well be astounding. That’s my hope.

Yarn for tapestry sorted by color and value. Tutorial.

Little baskets of yarn next to the loom, sorted by color and value.

Life itself is a full color project. Immense and tedious. Rise above these earthly things. Our Grand Weaver sees the value distinctions that we miss with our natural eye. What hope this gives! Trusting him through this real life adventure brings assurance of astounding results. Setting my mind on these “above” things turns troubles into treasures whose values will be evident in the final real tapestry.

May you persevere.

With you,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Annie says:

    I like the reminder of value distinction. I think it is hard to remember or believe that a life lived in quiet, following Christ teachings has just as much value as the life lived containing one grandeous moment of self sacrifice.

  • Now we know why the art teachers insisted on pencil before pastels.
    What a great visual. Thank you.

    I am going to step out of topic and call on you and your readers to pray for all who share the roads. We lost a young man the day before Fathers’ day. A woman turned left into his Harley. She was trying to go onto a highway on-ramp. Late morning… dry pavement… sun out… mind not paying attention to oncoming traffic.

    Please add all people in their daily travels to your prayers and care on the roads. His death shattered 3 families.

    • Karen says:

      Dear Nannette, That’s a heartbreaking loss. May you and the three shattered families find comfort in the Lord’s embrace.

      Karen

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Tools Day: Cartoon Support

Alignment, security, and visibility are the main things I think about in regard to attaching and supporting the cartoon. In order to weave a tapestry this size, or any size for that matter, you need a good way to manage the cartoon. My cartoon is drawn onto a thin Pellon product (Pellon 830 Easy Pattern, 45″ wide) that is meant for pattern making. This material is easy to pin, doesn’t tear, and only barely wrinkles.

Alignment
Align center of cartoon to center of warp.

A blue dashed line from top to bottom of the cartoon marks the center. I also have a pencil mark on the exact center of my beater. When the blue line on the cartoon is perfectly aligned with the center warp end, as seen from the mark on the beater, I know my cartoon is in the correct position.

Beginning a new tapestry.

Pencil mark on the beater is above the center warp end.

Security

  • Pin the cartoon in two places on each side of the woven tapestry.
    This warp is too wide for me to reach all the way to pin the cartoon in the center. So, on both sides of the weaving I place one flathead pin near the selvedge, and another one as far as I can comfortably reach toward the center. I move the pins forward each time I am ready to advance the warp.
Beginning a new four-shaft tapestry.

Two flat-head pins hold the cartoon under the tapestry weaving on the right-hand side.

  • Hang a support slat under the cartoon.
    I learned this from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p. 239, 2008 edition. I used this method previously for a rag rug that had a cartoon for a large inlay pattern. It also works well for holding the cartoon for a woven transparency.
Positioning a cartoon under the warp.

Seine twine loop with rubber band hangs from beater cradle. Slat holds cartoon up against the warp.

Supplies: 12/6 cotton seine twine, 2 rubber bands, long warping slat

1 Make a loop with the seine twine to hang from the beater cradle to just below the warp, with a rubber band on the loop.

2 Tie the ends of the loop with a bow knot or a weaver’s tie-up knot (this useful knot is described in How to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall, p. 39).

Cartoon management for tapestry.

Top of loop tied in a bow knot.

Weaver's tie-up knot helps hold the tapestry cartoon.

Weaver’s tie-up knot is perfect for this application, since it is quick and easy to undo and re-tie if repositioning is needed.

3 Make another loop the same way, with rubber band, and hang it on the other beater cradle.

4 Place the warping slat in the hanging rubber bands, underneath the cartoon.

5 Adjust the length of the loops so that the slat lightly presses up on the cartoon and the warp.

One way to manage a tapestry cartoon.

Rubber band gives flexibility to the seine twine loop that is holding up the cartoon.

  • Pin the rolled-up cartoon underneath.
    I roll up the Pellon cartoon under the warp and pin it once on each side. As the warp and cartoon advance I can reposition the pin as needed.
Cartoon management for tapestry.

Under the warp, the cartoon is loosely rolled up and pinned.

  • Move the slat toward the breast beam, out of the way, to beat in the weft.
    Because of the rubber bands, the slat support has flexibility and does not impede the movement of the beater.

Visibility
Move the slat near to the fell line.

With the slat under or near the fell line, it presses the cartoon up to the warp. By doing this, I can easily see what comes next as the tapestry weaving develops row by row.

Managing a cartoon for tapestry weaving.

Placing the slat under the fell of the weaving raises the cartoon to visibility where it is needed most.

I wait for my ordered yarn to arrive. Meanwhile, I dream of this tapestry becoming a reality as cartoon meets wool.

May you have the alignment, security, and visibility you need.

All the best,
Karen

6 Comments

  • Annie Lancaster says:

    Good morning, Karen. I learn so much from your posts! This one is very timely for me as I have enrolled in the workshop for transparency weaving. Now I feel a little better prepared.

    I never thought of applying the words alignment, security and visibility to life before but they are exactly what everyone needs. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, I’m glad you will be in the transparency workshop. I know it will be great! Just remember, there are about as many different ways to handle the cartoon as there are tapestry and transparency weavers. 🙂 I’m sure you will learn even more at the workshop!

      Alignment, security, and visibility – for a balanced life.
      All the best,
      Karen

  • Rebecca Neef says:

    Wonderful system! In future perhaps I should do my tapestries on my Glimakra, instead of my Lillstina on which it now languishes. The Lillstina has no beater cradle! Just goes to show, as Roseann Rosannadanna said, “it’s always something.”

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rebecca, I’m sure there’s a way to manage a cartoon on your Lillstina! My experience is limited to my Glimakra. I do think the Glimakra is a sweet loom for this type of weaving, though. I hope your tapestry revives soon. Life’s too short for a loom to be tied up with something that’s not working.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Lynette says:

    Thanks for the idea of the rubber bands. I will do that next time and I can see it will work better. You inspire me to start weaving something. I’ve been busy moving. Just curious who is teaching the transparency workshop?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lynette, The rubber bands do make a big difference. I hope you get a chance weave something soon! Your transparencies are inspiring!

      Laura Viada is teaching the transparency workshop in Houston. Her work is amazing. Laura is also going to teach the workshop in July at HGA Convergence in Reno.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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