Baby Blanket

As I’ve mentioned, I’m weaving a baby blanket on the 4-shaft countermarch loom. This is my first project on this loom (aside from the sample I did with the previous owners left over warp). 

Project details:
Technique: Twill with Hounds tooth colour effect
Size: 56 x 112cm
Warp & Weft: Pink Mohair/wool/acrylic blend & Blue Wool/acrylic/viscose blend (2-3 wpcm)
Reed: 30/10 (1 end per dent)
Selvedges: 2-2, 2x each side 
Sett: 4 epcm
Picks: 3 ppcm (picks is a new one for me, it’s the measure of weft threads you throw per cm)
Warp ends: 252 (I think I changed this to 250…)

The basic pattern comes from the concept and design work of Malin Anderson from The Big Book of Weaving by Laila Lundell & Elisabeth Windesjo (pg 74-75). I’ve altered it as needed to suit the yarn I’m using. 

So, I got up to threading my heddles and I became stumped. The pattern says “Selvedges: 2-2, 2 times each side” and I’ve just realised that I’ve only done what lot of 2 for each side, not 2 lots, bugger! Not the end of the world, but it does make me realise why I was having so much trouble trying to figure out what “2-2, 2 times” meant in regards to threading the heddles and sleighing the reed. However, the book still doesn’t mention what time of selvedge this is, I’m going to assume it’s a floating selvedge. This means that the selvedge threads DO NOT go into heddles, they are threaded, 2 together, through the reed only. So if I had warped correctly I would have ended up with 2 threads in the first dent, two threads in the second dent and same again in the last and second last dents of the reed. I could leave it as is, or I could wrap some more thread around the warping board to get the correct length, weight them at the back to get the right tension and have to more floating selvedge threads ready to weave…. hmmm. Tough.

Why use a floating selvedge? Simply because it makes your edges not pull in so much (so I’m told) and makes it look neater. Some reference say to keep the selvedge threads off the back beam and just weight them on the back of the loom (with a washer or fishing sinker etc). I believe there is a similar advantage to using a “temple” in place of selvedge. My thought – as I think out load (or is that out keyboard?) is that I wanted to have a go at using a simple temple, as per this website, so I’ll stick with my 2 end selvedge and use a temple as well 🙂


Crafting Update

Among all the gardening and income earning, there has also been a little crafting or at least crafting prep, going on.


For a few weeks I’ve been designing and warping up my 4-shaft loom to weave a small blanket using all 4 shafts for the design (meep). It’s taken me a while simply to get the warp on and off my warping board in a couple of bouts using methods from Peggy Osterkamps books. I’ve now reached the stage where the warps are spread out on a raddle attached to the back of my loom. I’m hoping that today I might feel up to actually winding the warp onto the loom and start threading the headles *fingers crossed*

(the red, blue & pink bands are hair ties holding the threads into their 1/2″ slots on the raddle. There are 4 threads per slot. 2 lease sticks hold the cross and a 3rd is inserted into the end loops.



Now that the winter rains have passed, Craig has been able to get easy access to the big shed down the back and he’s spent a bit of time recently getting it all set up for hand tool work. I still haven’t gone down in person to see it but it looks fantastic from the photos (makes me jealous, can I kick him out and turn it into a weaving studio do you think *grin*).

His main woodworking project of late has been to build 2 work benches. One for himself and one for the Earthsong shed. I’m not sure if this is the workbench or the metal working bench he and Kain are building so that they can build a wind turbine.


And I think I’ve caught up on just about everything that is going on around here right now.

Ashford Handtowels

So I finished the handtowels from the Ashford book of riggid heddle weaving using the “8/2” weavers cotton from Ashford. I am so disappointed with these it’s not funny. They finished exactly how I thought they would, thick and not at all what I wanted or what was shown in the photos in the book. These feel and look more like a bath matt. 

This is the before washing (finishing) photo of the small towel

And the “finished” photo of the normal sized handtowel.

I was originally so excited to start this project, I was going to make new towels for our household and then more for family and friends. From the day the cotton arrived I thought it was too thick, but hay, what do I know I’ve just started learning all of this, so I continued as per the instructions in the book. Now I don’t know if the book “recipe” is wrong or if the cotton I was sent was wrong, but I’m going to get some 8/2 cotton from another company and see what the difference is. I really really wanted this project to work.

Now, my countermarch sample faired much better. 

So remember, my countermarch loom came with some warp thread still on the back roller. Instead of rewarping from the start I decided to just weave off this yarn. I threaded 1 end per heddle and 2 ends per dent of the reed. I used two treadles that did a simple pattern lifting shafts 1&3 or 2&4. All I wanted to achieve was a feel for throwing the shuttle, beating and changing the shed. After about 30cms of this I picked up some of the roving I had lying around and pulled off strips and wove that in with 3 picks between each strand of roving. The finished result is 3 blocks of plain and 2 blocks of roving strips, it’s quite a nice first time shawl or table runner. The selvedges are horrid for the most part but they do improve a little. For the last tiny piece of warp I changed my weft yarn from white to a small bit of leftover colour changing warp yarn, then a strip of the pink (the warp yarn although colour changing has mostly pink in it and I was able to get several rows of plain pink) and then I found I had some blue yarn that was very close to the warp thread.

If I was to weave this as an item of clothing or bolt of cloth I’d probably do the blue as the main weft just because you see more colour variation using the blue then the pink, but then I also like the idea of the border of multi and pink before the main body of blue.

Post #1 – Weaving update

Due to some advice from one of the ladies on the yahoo weaving group I joined, I discovered a threading error which is what resulted in the bad sheds. In this photo here you can see how the purple thread cuts over the top of the pink one?

I had several of these throughout the width of the warp, one I recalled thinking “it should be ok, it’ll sort itself out I’m sure” and the rest I simply didn’t see. The reason was this, say I had only 4 warp threads, Thread number one should go into the first heddle on shaft number one, thread two onto shaft two, three onto three and four onto four, however, I had crossed threads behind the back beam and hadn’t realised it, so what at first glance liked correct actually ended up with thread one in shaft one, but thread two in say shaft 3 and thread three in shaft 2, or something of that nature. 

Once I realised that correcting this would mean removing about 1/8th of the warp, and I decided to just take it all out and start again. This of course meant that I could put the warp threads over the back beam this time (which I did). I didn’t actually mind redoing the entire thing, I really do like this stage of warping the loom, I find threading the heddles and sleying the reed to be peaceful activities for the most part.

So, long story short, my loom is now thread correctly, I’m producing a lovely shed and I’ve actually woven about 30cm’s of fabric. It’s ugly, the selvedges are horrible and the betting is inconsistent, but it’s a start and I’m learning a great deal from the experience.

At the moment I’m concentrating on trying to get a good rhythm of throw-beat-change-feet as recommend by Peggy Osterkamp. I’m finding her 3 books and DVD to be invaluable resources right now. I’m finding that things are a little uncoordinated at the moment, I’m having trouble lifting my legs up to depress the peddles, I’m going to try with a taller chair to see if that helps. If you look at the photo above, I believe that most of my beating errors have happened at the times I’ve dropped the shuttle, next time it happens I think I will put a pin in and check it once I’ve moved on a few more inches.

Currently I’ve weaving with a 2ply yarn from Touch yarns, it’s lovely stuff and the closest match I could find to the warp. I’m going to attempt to dye some of the white wool pink, blue and black so that I can have a bit of a play with colour and then I guess I should start thinking about an actual project.

I would also like to say thank you to everyone who has posted advice and resources to help me figure out my error. I’m storing it all away for future trouble shooting.

edit – one other thing that I found invaluable from Peggy’s books was the simple hint that your boat shuttle should slide along the bottom edge of your beater, if it has one, and the bottom of your sheds should rest on that same shelf. When I had a quick go on this loom at the previous owners house, he never mentioned this, even when I was trying to throw the shuttle across the unsupported warp threads! I would have kept doing that and wondering why my shuttle kept falling down. USE THE SHELF! 🙂

Treadle Tie-up

Firstly, sorry about the sideways photos, strange things happen when you upload photos with various programs from various other programs and I’m too lazy today to try and fix it. So on with the story.

This tie-up was actually done, prior to me threading the heddles and sleying the reed. My intent was to to just try and figure out how it all worked. The result is that I now have 2 treadles tied up, working 4 shafts (two shafts per treadle). It’s the most basic tie-up in my weaving book so seemed like the best bet for my first try. However, the first photos are all from me and Craig playing around with things prior to getting my book. We were attempting to tie up all six treadles to see what they would all do, it was a fun/frustrating experience that did give us a better idea where all the cords were connected etc. 

The loom came with little hooped bits of metal that had sticks of bamboo threaded through them, I’ve ditched those, re-drilled some of the holes and now the cords can be put through the holes and pegged underneath, it mostly just looks neater imho. We also ended up removing all the cords that we were not using for the basic tie-up.

The resulting sheds (now that it’s all warped up) look like this:

The entire shed is only about an inch or so wide, not nearly big enough to pass a shuttle through and the warp threads aren’t separating evenly in the first shed *sigh* now I have to figure out how to fix that.

Maybe I’ll just go back to looking at pretty photos I’ve taken of the frosty farm morning 😉

More weaving

For the last little while I’ve been a little obsessed with my weaving. I’ve finished warping up the hand towels from the Ashford book of Rigid Heddle weaving, I really don’t like their cotton but I’ve stuck with it and now it’s all ready to start weaving.

One of the reasons I really don’t like this cotton (not that I’ve used much else before of course) is it has this horrible tendency to kink, which is a real pain in the butt when your trying to tension the warp. You can see in the next picture some loose warp threads already:

I’m going to attempt to tighten these with pieces of dowel or similar as I go *fingers crossed* I would like to get some other 8/2 cotton and compare them.

More importantly I’ve been having some fun warping up my countermarch loom. Before threading the heddles I used a reed from my RH loom in place of a raddle and split the warp threads into groups of 4 (1 for each shaft) and then placed these groups into a dent in the reed.

Then I proceeded to thread the heddles on each of the 4 shafts, starting from the first heddle in shaft 1 and then the 1st heddle in shaft 2 etc, tying them off into bundles of 10 as I went, when I say “bundles of 10” I actually mean bundles of 40, 10 heddles per shaft.

Then I hung the reed from the beater holders so that it was laying horizontal just in front of the heddles. My goal was to sley 2 ends per dent (1-2 meaning, 1 end per heddle, 2 ends per dent).  Before sleying the reed I worked out how many dents I would be using, I found that I would have 12.4″ (or 124 dents ’cause I’m using a 10 dent reed) spare on each side of the reed.

I have no idea if I did this stage correctly but what I did was to take a group of 4 ends and place the end on the 1st & 2nd heddle into the first dent in the reed and the 3rd & 4th end into the second dent on the reed.

Here you can just see the 2 ends in each dent.

I proceeded in this manner all the way along, tying off groups of 5 heddles (20 ends) under the reed. I then replaced the beater onto it’s holders and placed the sleyed reed into it’s holder in the beater. 

Looking good, right? I thought so, I continued and tied the warp threads to the cloth beam.

Ok, time to get everything tensioned nicely by going to the back of the loom and patting the warp threads.

Can you see the problem in the following photo boys and girls?

That’s right, I forgot to draw the warp threads around the back beam! Idiot! But we have a solution (thank you husband mine)

Unfortunately this rod has a tendency to bow in the middle so I need to replace it with something sturdier, just not tonight. 

My next big adventure will be in getting the proper treadle tie-up working, creating a good shed and then maybe doing some actual weaving (what a novel idea). I did play with tie-up before warping the loom, there are lots of photos but I’m done with the posting for the night I think.

New book & mind blowing revelations

One of mine and Craig’s favorite things to do when we get into a bored slump in the evenings is to head into Auckland CBD, grab a good meal (usually at the Belgian Beer Cafe) and then head on over to Borders for some quality time with the books. So we did this on Saturday night, and I’m so glad we did as I have a new book called “The Big Book of Weaving” by Laila Lundell & Elisabeth Windesjo. It’s not the answer to all my prayers (those books are still on their way from Amazon) but it gave me the one itty bitty mind blowing piece of information that had alluded me about the treadle tie-up on my countermarch loom, now this is going to seem so obvious to weavers who have been playing with these things for years, but for someone who has only seen a loom used via Youtube videos this is an astounding piece of knowledge that had alluded us, it’s summed up thus:

  1. Upper Lamms = Lower Heddles
  2. Lower Lamms = Raise Heddles
Then it goes further:
  1. Upper lamms = Black boxes on a draft
  2. Black Boxes = Weft over Warp
  3. Weft over Warp = Visible part of pattern (if looking @ pattern from the right side of the work)
Now that we have that little bit of information straight in our heads we can actually start playing with tying-up the treadles for a basic weave.
The other book I found was Creative Weaving: Beautiful fabric with a simple loom, this is what the Ashford book should have been, at least the instructions in the first third of the book. It was so clear, full of important information for first time weavers. The only downside of this book was that although there were some beautiful projects with full colour lush photos, there were very few photos (in the gallery at the end of the book) of the full finished pieces, just close ups of the weave. Still, if I was fixed on only weaving with my Rigid Heddle loom, I would have purchased this book just to have it on my shelf.
Now it’s a beautiful sunny day, Craig has the day off, as does Buffie, so there will be some progress made in the big blue room & it’s gardens.

Not happy with Ashford

I really wanted to get down to some weaving today, discovered that there was no easy way for me to warp up my Rigid heddle loom to do the tea towels I’ve been wanting to do for months, in the craft room, so decided to warp it up in the lounge. It was supposed to be ok, it would take me a few hours and then I’d be out of everyone’s way. That was until I discovered that when the Ashford Book of Ridid Heddle weaving says that you need 8/2 cotton white 150gm, 8/2 cotton navy 20gm for the warp it lies. My warp is 220cm long and I am just about at the end of the first cone of cotton which is a 200gm ball and I’ve only done about 53 or 198 ends I need to do! I need almost 4 balls, and that’s not including the weft thread. I had been a fan of Ashford, but I think it’s just because it’s a brand so close to home. I’m really disappointed with the DVD I got (actually I had to send the first copy back as it didn’t play), it lacked any real information and was more a promotional video then anything else, their cotton isn’t very nice to the touch, but perhaps it will be different when woven up and washed. The rigid heddle book isn’t clear and complete. It misses information about the types of yarn they use and most of them aren’t supplied by Ashford and there is no listing on where or how to get them. 

Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! I have no way of getting the cotton thread today or tomorrow, none of the shops that sell Ashford products sell this thread (or at least none of the ones open). I can get onto my usual supplier of Ashford products but then he’s not going to be able to post it till Monday so it could be Tuesday or Wednesday before I get it! So what the blazers do I do with this warp in the mean time? I can’t leave it set up in the lounge room for 3 days as it’s utalising the dinning table – apparently I can, Craig say’s we can work around it and Kain says we don’t need to eat at the table – but that’s not the point! Things just aren’t going my way today. I did attempt to spin some newspaper this morning, which was an interesting experience that I think I’d really enjoy, if I had a spinning wheel with a larger orifice, like the ones for novelty yarn spinning (which I guess this is).




I was hoping to use this for my candle bundles that Ines and I will be taking to markets, unfortunately she doesn’t like the look so we have to find something else.

And now I’m simply feeling like I’ve spent far too much time in front of my computer today and haven’t actually achieved anything *sigh*

Tying up the treadles

So I’ve been playing around with my new 4-shaft countermarch loom this evening. I’ve tied up the shafts, the heddles and the lamms, but I’m stumped on the treadles. The draft that I have looks something like this: 


The “X’s” represent the shafts that will move down when treadled. These are tied to the upper lamms. The “0’s” are tied to the lower lamms and will go up. 

There are 6 columns in the draft, each column represents 1 treadle. There are 4 rows per column, each row represents 1 cord. These cords go through the holes in the treadles and are connected to the lower lambs and the shafts.

The upper lamms are connected directly to the shafts, the lower lamms to the jacks. I have the first “Y” cord from my jacks going down behind the first shaft and behind of the first upper lamm then through the middle hole of the first lower lamm, the second cord behind the second shaft & second upper lamm and so on (when I say first I am looking from the front of the loom). I have three cords hanging from each upper and lower lamm ready to connect to the 6 treadles (the three cords from the upper lamm hangs behind the corresponding lower lamm).

My understanding is that I should only ever have to untie and retie the treadles when changing the pattern, but I could be wrong.

I’ve ordered a bunch of books and a DVD by Peggy Osterkamp, The Magic of Handweaving  by Sigrid Piroch, Learning to weave by Deborah Chandler but it looks like they are going to take a month or more to arrive! I can’t wait that long to try a simple weave!

When I tried to tie up the cords as per the pattern for the first treadle (actually it was the 6th treadle as I started from right to left) I ended up crossing cords and I just wasn’t sure if this was the done thing or am I supposed to rethread all the cords through the lamms so that this doesn’t happen somehow?

The other thing that has me boggled is how tight to do the 4 cords in each treadle. The treadles have to be on an angle, now the front cord would need to be shorter then the back cord. One source I have says that you should (using the texsol cords by the way) have the first cord taught, the second and third cord one “hole” away from taught and the fourth cord 2 holes away from taught, it goes on to list the holes for each cord for up to 12 shaft loom so I’m not even sure that I’ve got that information quite right yet.

The treadles are hinged at the back, so they have to be angled away from you, how high off the ground should they be? I’m guessing it can’t be too steep and angle or otherwise how can you press on the treadles with your feet? The Glimakrausa instructions say that “the distance from the lower lamms to the treadles should be about the same distance between the upper and lower lamms”, distance at which point?


Treadles of Countermarch loom

Treadles of Countermarch loom

This is the photo the original owners took. The lower lamms are on a downward angle (which is wrong according to everything I’ve read so far). They had the cords looped around bamboo sticks pushed through O-ring things screwed into the wood, the had gotten loose so those coloured things are hair ties. I’ve removed the screws and the bamboo and re-drilled the holes so that the cords thread nicely through the holes and can be secured from underneath, much neater if you ask me.
I was hoping that making this post would actually clear up a few things for me and the answers would jump out, they aren’t so if anyone else with a 4-shaft countermarch loom is reading this I hope you can give me some insight please. For now the boys have finished cooking a roast lamb for dinner, then back to scouring Dot & Leigh’s blogs for more tidbits of information.

Sett + Reed

I’ve posted before about how to determine the “sett” of a yarn, wrap the yarn around 1″ of a ruler and count how many strands fit into that inch, 8, 11, 20 etc. If the yarn wraps around 10 times, you have 10wpi (wraps per inch) or epi (ends per inch). To determine from that what reed you need is simpler then I thought. If your yarn wraps 8 times, use an 8 dent reed, 10wpi = 10 dent reed and so on. What if you have a 20wpi yarn? then use a 10dpi reed and put two threads through each hole. 

I have no idea why this has taken me so long to get my head around, I guess nothing explained it quite as simply as the All fiber yarns website.

Another good source of reference information on sleying the reed is from here where they have a “Weaving Sett Sleying Sequence Chart”. I believe this is telling me that if I have a yarn at 20wpi and I only have an 8dpi reed, then I sley the reed with a sequence of 2 threads in one dent, 3 in the next and repeat (2-3), if my sett was 22wpi, then my sleying sequence would be more like 2-3-3-3.

They also have a really good project worksheet which is great for keeping records, I had been hand writing mine but I’ll just print these out from now on I think.