Putting the warp onto the loom

I’m about to transfer my 30/2 Ne Cotton warp chains onto the sectional wheel on my dobby loom. Before I do this I thought I’d go over the teething warp tie-on that I did with Karuna first, luckily I took photos to help remind me, so here we go:

Warping onto a sectional warp beam on an AVL 16 shaft dobby loom

Once you’ve created your chains it’s time to take them to the back of your loom

Hook the lease sticks over the raddle to support it and keep both your hands free for tying on to the lead cords.Makes sure you’ve put your lease sticks, one on each side of the cross.

Secure sections by tying a knot in the end of the section and then make a loop with your lead yarn (from the sectional warp beam) and hook it around your knot and pull tight. A great example of this can be found here.

Apply even tension as you wind the sectional warp beam and start rolling it on. This is where a second person comes in really really handy, while one of you turns the sectional warp beam, the other one applies tension to the warp threads and ensures everything stays snag free.

Once most of the yarn has been wound onto the sectional warp beam, tie the two chains into a loose knots leaving enough yarn to thread your heddles and tie on to the front beam

Remove lease sticks from raddle and pass through rollers


Pull towards front of loom and place two extra lease sticks under the lease sticks holding the threading cross to support it at the back of the shafts.

I placed a smidgen on blue-tac under each spare leas stick onto the loom frame, providing supporting so everything held steady and didn’t slip off

Support sticks seen from the front resting on front apron rod

Now it’s time to thread the heddles!

I thread from left to right, dividing the heddles in half, one set on each side of the shaft and then I count out from the left the required number of heddles to be used, in total, for that shaft, then do the same for the other 15 shafts. I then find my first 4 warp ends, note that this is of course where your cross comes in handy because each thread is in order and you can clearly see which is the first thread and the next etc. Put one thread between your fingers and using your threading hook, pull the first thread through the eye of the first heddle and follow in using your threading plan.

I might do a post with more details of threading heddles and tying onto the apron rod at another time, but that’s all I’ve got for now. I hope this is helpful to to others, it’s helped me with my cotton warp.

Regarding my cotton warp, I’ve decided two things – I want an AVL warping wheel! Cotton does not like to sit nicely once it’s been put under tension on the warping mill and then chained off. THe threads relax and twist around each other, the wool did that too but was a hell of a lot easier to separate. And secondly, I need some way to secure my sectional warp beam so that it doesn’t move when I pull the yarn been warped on. If I could do that I could probably warp on by myself.

Weaving (at last)

I’ve finally finished the baby blanket I started back in November, pics:

As you can see the yarns aren’t exactly the same WPI, the pink is a little fluffier so it stands out more. I was hopping that after “fulling” it might even out a little but it looks exactly the same, which is fine because I still love it.

I ended up cutting it off the loom earlier then I had originally planned as the warp threads were really starting to give up the challenge and it had reached a length I was happy with. Final measurements are 123 cm, not including fringe (stared at 220cm under tension) x 74 cm (started at 81 cm in reed).

I’m pretty pleased with myself actually. This is my first finished item, warped and woven by me on my 4-shaft floor loom. I’ve learnt a few things from this project, such as taking my time is a good thing, don’t ever use yarn like this again as it’s too fragile for warp really. There are a few alterations I’d like to make to my loom, I’d like to add 2 more treadles and I’d like to get rid of the current tensioning system with it’s huge heavy box and lead weights and move to a simpler auto tensioning system. I’d also really, really, really, like to get sectional beam & tension box for future projects.

I’m extremely frustrated though living in NZ as a new weaver, getting my hands on weaving tools, accessories and even yarns is turning into loads of trouble. I so wish I had a good weaving supplies store that I could walk into and finger their yarns and pick up their tools and really be able to get my sensory information before making purchasing decisions. I’d also really like to be able to talk to people in a shop who weave, rather then the few “craft” or “knitting” shops that just happen to sell Ashford weaving items. Anyways, I do have some rug warp arriving (hopefully) soon as well as some sample cards of yarn so that I can get to planning and weaving up a few more items prior to Sprocket arriving (17 weeks to go!)

Shaker Village

Craig just shared a link with me that I wanted to pass on. It’s a Flickr slideshow of a Shaker style village at Pleasant Hill, in America. There are some stunning photos depicting a very simple country lifestyle with some fantastic shots of people making brooms, showing spinning wheels and also weaving. Gorgeous woodwork throughout. 


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 🙂

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*