Monday, September 3, 2012

Weave wise... oh, oh...

Oh, oh, indeed. I messed up. The trials and tribulations of a weaver in training.

Not only did I err while threading a new warp for a guest towel, but I am also contending with a situation that is backward so to say. Let me explain that first, I'll get to the mistake shortly...

A few years ago I crocheted some edgings for some towels that I was going to either weave "sometime in the future", or buy linen to make them with. At the time I did not have a loom and knew nothing about weaving. The edgings:

I now have a loom and know a little about weaving. I know enough, for instance, to understand how difficult it will be to weave a towel that will come out exactly the right width to match one of my edgings. Take-up during the weaving process, and shrinkage in the finishing process are unknowns that can only be guesstimated. So I've allowed the usual 10% for shrinkage and hope that my towel will come out within range to suit my edging.

In the future I will make my towels first and then crochet edgings to fit!

That's the backwards part. Now on to the mistake...

I'm going to weave the towel (I'm only doing one for now) in 20/2 cotton, doubled. I'm going to sley 2 threads to a dent in a 10 dent heddle. In english that means I'm going to use a reed that has 10 slots (dents) per inch and I'm going to thread (sley is the word for threading a reed) 2 (doubled) threads per slot (dent). Love the lingo. 20/2 cotton is pretty thin but I'm finding it reasonably manageable.

Okay, sleying the reed (threading the reed) took 4 hours over the course of the past few days and it went well. It was a little slow going because I'm doubling the warp so I spent time tying 2 threads together for every warp thread. This is the result of sleying the reed:

So far so good. No mistakes (that I'm yet aware of--there's room for surprises!)

I can explain the mistake with this picture which shows the beginnings of threading the heddles (when a thread is passed between reeds, it's called 'sleying'; when a thread is passed through a heddle, it's called 'threading'!)...

Follow along carefully... over on the left you can see some heddles which are threaded. They are 'way over' on the left. See the two hooks in the bottom of the picture which come over the metal rails? Well the heddles to the left of those hooks cannot move past them to the right. This means they are stuck over on the left. I went ahead and threaded the whole warp and have the same situation on the right: there are some heddles stuck too far over and they cannot simply be slid towards the center.

Oh, oh. I was aware of this before I started threading the heddles but I concluded it wasn't going to matter. But it will because the warp will fan out from the reed to the heddles and it will be a struggle (if not impossible) to weave a straight edge. Had I come to the correct conclusion before hand I would have removed the heddle frames (kind of a biggish deal) and redistributed the heddles. This problem was new to me because this is the first time I'm sleying the reed with 2 warp threads per dent and that makes this warp different than those I've done previously: it's twice as wide in the heddles as it is in the reed (or to be more accurate: only 1 thread per heddle, but 2 per dent). Ah!

Ugh. Decision time. Well, I don't think I'm going to unthread all the heddles. But I'm not sure. I'm going to let it be for the night to see how I feel when rested and fresh. I might find the enthusiasm for it then. Another possibility will be to take some spare heddles and cut them at the top and bottom so I can slide them into place. If my heddles were new I wouldn't do this, but they are quite old and a little rusty here and there, and I'm meaning to buy a brand new set anyway. I will only need about 20 heddles to fix the problem.

But I'll sleep on it.

Experience, she's such a good teacher. :)


  1. you should be able to slip the heddle bars out from under the hooks and then slide your heddles into their proper place.

  2. Hhhmmmmm......! A big learning curve, these weaving adventures of yours. Your laces are wonderful! Hope all works well as the towel becomes a reality and you get to decorate it with one of the laces.
    B and her Mom used to make lovely laces for pillowcases back in the day when they were the thing to do. :)

    1. Thanks, jak. I bet B's laces were beautiful.

  3. Hi Barbara! Thanks for the suggestion, much appreciated. :) Unfortunately, on my loom (a 40 yo Herald), the bars only slide out the end, and to do that I need to remove the frame from the castle. Alas, in order to do that I need to unthread the heddles (I've already unthreaded them -- eh, I need practice right? :) )