Saturday, April 21, 2007

Weaving 101 - Dressing the Loom Part Two

What a difference a week makes! Well, a little less than a week, but still - it's sunny, about 70 degrees, and gorgeous outside. The daffodils are just starting to bloom, and all my glory in the snow is out, too. The leaves on the lilacs (my favorites) are starting to look like they'll come out very soon...

After a nice walk to the local duck pond, Carlos is fixing our ancient fence (part of it actually fell down in the Nor'Easter last week, good grief), Bella is coloring and Conall is asleep. For about five minutes. If that. Yeesh. (Child takes after his sister and just will *not* nap. No wonder I'm going grey.)

OK, where was I in the weaving process? Ah yes, threading those 1200 heddles.

There we go! :) I grouped the threaded warp threads into groups of ~21 and tied them with a simple overhand knot, close to the ends of the yarn. The next step is to tie the warp onto the back beam - again, I use a simple overhand knot to tie it around the apron rod, trying to keep the knot that ties each group of 21 ends together as close to the rod as I can, just to keep the warp yarns as uniform in length as possible.

Next, you wind the warp onto the back beam, untangling it a bit as you go. This yarn (zephyr) is actually very well behaved, especially for a wool blend (wool yarns can be sticky) and winding it on is generally very easy.

After winding onto the back beam, it's time to tie on to the front beam. I tie on groups that are about an inch wide at a time, splitting the group in two, wrapping it over and around the front rod, bringing the ends up and tying a larks head knot (at least that's what I think it's called - why wasn't I an Eagle Scout like my brothers??). I wrap the end around twice, at any rate, if that makes sense, which is a wonderful trick I learned from Rita Steinbach. The knot is tight enough to hold (it doesn't slip, I mean) but it's also still adjustable. Because the tricky part about tying on the front beam is making sure you have even tension in all of your little groups of warp. If some are looser than others, you will wind up with a real mess.

Another trick I've picked up along the way is to close my eyes while checking tension, which I do by running my hands across the warp. For some reason, I can feel differences in tension more easily with my eyes closed. I spend a bit of time on getting the tension even - with some yarns it feels like you futz around adjusting knots for ten years, but, again, Zephyr tends to behave nicely in this regard.

Once the tension is even, it's time to tie up the treadles....

Different shafts are attached (using those white cords) to each treadle (the wooden peddles in the bottom of the picture), depending on the pattern you're weaving. First I set up two treadles to raise shafts 1-3-5-7 and 2-4-6-8, respectively, so I can weave a header and the hem for this shawl.

See what I mean about set up being one of the most time consuming parts of weaving? Especially when you use a fine yarn, which I do like to do. It all goes a bit faster if you stick with fewer warp ends per inch...

Phew. Enough for this post. I'll talk about actually throwing the shuttle next time!

No comments: