Step 1: Create a Jig
Naturally, you will want heddles that are all the same size. Whether you are crafting 10 or 1000, they will not serve you well if their length is nearly the same throughout. To ensure consistency in your heddles, you should make a jig. This, as shown on Mirrix's tutorial, can be created with a simple piece of cardboard cut to size. I wanted something a little studier and permanent, so I followed their suggestion to create a jig using two finishing nails and a piece of wood. It is very important you use finishing nails. These nails do not have the large heads like other nails, as they are meant to be nearly invisible in finished projects. However, for us, the lack of top on these nails allows us to tighten our heddles and pull them off the jig with ease. If the nails had heads, our heddles would get all kinds of caught on the jig, rendering the jig itself a little useless.
Whether you use cardboard, a piece of wood, or nails hammered in to the side of your bookcase, you need to accurately measure the distance between your two points to be three and one eighth inches.
Step 2: Measure and Cut Pieces of String
For your heddles, you want to choose a fiber that does not have an excessive amount of elasticity and is strong and relatively thin. I used a 10/2 cotton for my heddles. From this fiber, cut pieces of string that are twelve inches (12") in length. Each piece will be one heddle, so cut the number of heddles you will need...and maybe some extra because you're making them anyway. Typically, you will need a heddle for every warp thread you intend.
Step 3: Tie a Loose Knot
Taking one piece of heddle material at a time, loop it in half around your jig. Secure the two ends together with a loose overhand knot.
Step 4: Tighten the Knot
It is important that you get your knot as close to the edge of your jig (whether a nail or the edge of a cardboard or thin wood piece) as you can. This ensures that your heddles all end up the same size. If you are careless with where your knots land, it will create small differences in your heddles that could lead to tensioning issues with your shedding device and inconsistencies in your shed itself. To create a consistently tight heddle on your jig, take a needle and place it in the circle created by your loose overhand knot. Then, using this needle, pull your knot as all the way to the end of your jig. Once the knot is resting where it should be, hold the needle in place and pull the tails of your knot tight.
Step 5: Trim the Ends
Trim the tails of your heddle so that they are within a quarter inch of your knot. (Long heddle tails could get tangled in your warps, so keep them tidy.) Pull or slide the heddle from the jig. Ta da! You have made a heddle! Repeat the process (Steps 3-5) for all the heddle material cut in Step 2.
Warping with Chenille
1. Wind you chenille into cakes and pull your yarn from the center of the ball. This will add twist to the yarn as you pull, preventing or taming some of the notorious curling or "worming" natural to chenille.
2. If using multiple colors for your warp, try to plan warp threads the same color as your weft for the selvedges. This will hide any unruliness on the edges of your fabric and make for a very smooth appearance along the edge after finishing the cloth.
3. Because you use a center pull from caked yarn to add twist to your warp threads, try to beam your warp by holding the threads with even tension and not combing the threads as you wind on. (Combing the threads refers to running your fingers through the warp threads to keep everything straight and orderly as you beam your warp.) Combing your threads will confound the twist you added and the natural worming of the chenille and you may end up with more tensioning issues for your efforts. Hold tight and even, wind on...no fussing with the threads.
Finishing Chenille Cloth
1. I highly recommend a hemstitch for chenille cloths. If it something that will have a fringe, decide at the beginning of the project if you would like a crimped edge, as that will require you to weave a large header and finish with a large section of scrap yarn.
2. Lightly wet your chenille cloth. A spray bottle can be used here to great effect.
3. Wrap your damp chenille in a plastic and allow it to sit overnight.
4. Remove your chenille cloth from the bag and place it in the dryer. Using high heat, dry your scarf for about ten minutes.
5. Remove from the dryer. If you opted for a crimped fringe, you remove the waste yarn after this step and trim the fringe to the desired length.
This finishing process it remarkable. It takes a stiff fabric and creates a soft, velvety cloth. It should not be skipped nor should you feel discouraged by the texture of your cloth while it is still on the loom!
As promised, this is the next iteration of a multi-post series to help you design your own weaving projects. This post is going to focus on calculating the total amount of weft you will need for a project. This calculation is less direct, in my mind, than the calculation of warp because there are more variables that are dependent on the weaver and less dependent on the equipment used. When we calculated the warp needs, the ends per inch were not determined by us, they were determined by the reed we chose to use. While there is some variability in the total length and width due to take-up and shrinkage, there are reliable calculations to accurately estimate these measurements as percentages of your total on-the-loom warp. While estimations can be made with weft, there is a lot more that is dependent on the weaver's own style. How tightly do you beat? Do you achieve a balanced weave or do you have more/less picks per inch than ends per inch in your weaving? (Picks per inch is how you measure the number of passes the weft makes in a given inch of weaving. A balanced weave would have the same number of picks as ends per inch.) In addition to this variability, you also have to account for the take-up that occurs as your weft passes through your warp threads.
I thought we could get organized by first answering three basic questions about your design project.
Question 1: What is Your Weaving Width?
What is the width in your reed or rigid heddle that your warp threads occupy? You can take a ruler and measure this exactly or calculate it by taking the number of warp ends divided by the dent size. But this is the distance required to get from one selvage to the other of your cloth, a distance your weft thread must traverse.
Question 2: What is Your Take-Up?
This can be difficult to measure because it is a question about a single pass or pick of your weft. The take-up occurs because you weave in three-dimensional space. While you measure the width of your project flat across the reed, the weft thread actually has to make small journeys over and under the warp thread, adding to the distance it must travel. Take-up can differ depending on the weave structure. However, because we are working with estimations, you can assume a 5-10% take up for a plain weave. If you are using a complicated weave structure or a special weft thread, you may want to consult references and other published patterns for the take-up calculations they use.
Question 3: How Long Do You Want Your Finished Cloth?
What is the total length on the loom that you are aiming for? You made this calculation with the warp considerations, so make sure you have aligned your goals on this one. You can also break things down further if you plan on using more than one weft color. You simply need to keep track of how many total inches of each color will be in the entire project and make each weft calculation separately.
Once you have answered these important questions, you can calculate your total weft. Let's break it down into small chunks.
Step 1: Calculate the Amount of Weft Needed for One Inch of Weaving
This equation assumes 10% take-up.
Width of Warp in Reed + (Width of Warp in Reed x .1)= Length of 1 pick or pass of weaving
Length of 1 pick x Number of PPI = Weft length needed for 1 inch of weaving
This is a useful number because it will be the same no matter how many colors you plan to use. It is simply the amount of weft needed for one inch of weaving.
Step 2: Calculate the Amount of Weft Needed for the Whole Project
Weft length needed for 1 inch x Total number of inches in finished cloth= Total amount of weft
You will need to repeat this calculation for each individual color if you are switching weft threads throughout your project. If you are using one color of weft, you're done! Well, almost.
Step 3: Convert To A More Useful Number
Up to this point, we have been dealing in inches. It is not very useful to know that your need 1256 inches of weft thread because that is not typically how yarn is sold...by the inch. It is easy to convert, though.
If you are looking for the total number of feet, simply divide by 12 inches/foot.
If you are looking for the total number of yards, simply divide by 36 inches/yard.
You can also convert to meters by first converting to yards, then multiplying by 0.914 meters/yard.
I hope you found this a useful aid in calculating your weft needs! You now have all the number you need to make some yarn purchases, and who doesn't love that?
It can be really scary to make the leap from pattern to original design- and not because you do not have wonderful ideas bursting forth but more because it is sometimes difficult to know where to begin. One of the biggest stumbling blocks can be the amount of materials to gather. Materials can be very expensive and/or difficult to get. A lot of times they need to be ordered or special trips need to be made to stores outside our normal routines. And what could be worse than getting near the end of a project only to discover your warp is too short! (Trust me, it's awful. It happens and it is awful.) However, with a little planning (and yes, a little math) you can move forward in the creative process with confidence. This post will be part of a multi-post series about planning for a project. This post is going to focus on calculating warp length. To follow this post will be small tutorials on weft length, color choices, sampling and fiber content considerations.
Step 1: What are you weaving? How big would you like it?
Knowing what you are going to weave is really important in deciding the width and length of your project. A scarf is different from a wrap which is different from a curtain which is different from a placemat. How about if you want more than one item on a single warp? There are resources that list the standard sizes for most garments, accessories and kitchen items, or you can decide a custom size that you, the artist would enjoy.
Once you know what you are weaving and what size you would like the finished item to be, you're ready to start writing things down, gathering information and really getting into the planning of your project.
Step 2: Width in the Reed
When you weave, you must make considerations for draw-in and shrinkage. This can change drastically based on your weave structure, fiber choice and finishing techniques. The surest way to know what shrinkage you can expect is to sample. Not only does this help you to decide width in your reed and warp length, but it also gives you crucial information for your weft, which we will discuss in a later post. However, I do understand that sampling on a loom is not always easy or practical, especially if you need to order materials in advance of the project. The good news is you can make some good estimates and achieve a close approximation to your desired final project size. (And make sure to take notes, that way if you ever plan a project with similar structure and materials, you'll have sample information in your previous work.) Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself though; why do we care about shrinkage?
If you want your project to be a certain width, let's say a scarf that is 10 inches across, you need to warp your loom wider than this final measurement so that there is room to shrink when all of the draw-in and finishing is complete. So for that 10-inch scarf you may need to have a 12-inch weaving width, giving two inches for draw-in and shrinkage. Like I said, sampling is the best way to know what kind of shrinkage to expect from your materials. However, you need not try to reinvent the wheel, you can always look at reference materials of similar structures and fiber to see how much shrinkage those projects experienced and model your plans from there. If exact length and width is not critical (but this can be risky) you can assume a percentage. This approximation must consider your weave structure and finishing techniques, as well. If I go this route, I typically assume a 10-20% shrinkage depending on the fiber, structure and finishing. Silk shrinks very little and would be closer to 10% in my calculations but wool typically shrinks a lot and would likely get closer to 20% in my calculations. To use a percentage, whether determined from sampling or close estimation, you would use an equation that looks something like this:
Desired Final Width + (Desired Final Width x Percentage of Expected Shrinkage Converted to Decimal)= Weaving Width In Reed
In real numbers for our example, that might look something like this:
10 inches + (10 inches x 0.2) = 12 inches
So, for the example scarf, I would need to center for a 12-inch weaving width in my reed.
Step 3: Dent Size
The sett of your project is determined by your reed. Sett refers to the number of threads or ends per inch (epi) there are for your cloth. If you are using a 12-dent reed and warp one thread per dent, then you will finish with 12 threads in an inch or, more formally, 12 epi. There are other scenarios that can affect the calculation of your epi, such as if you wish to sley two or more ends in a single dent. There are charts available that give recommended ranges of epi for various warp threads. The most complete I have found is the "Master Yarn Chart" by Handwoven of Long Thread Media. These recommended ranges allow you to plan for what would be an appropriate dent size for your desired thread. Included are ranges for lace, plain and twill weaves and the chart is organized by fiber type. If you wish to weave a denser than average plain weave, you would need to move to a higher than recommended epi count. Likewise, if wish to weave a looser than average plain weave, you would need to move to a smaller epi count than the recommended number.
Once you have your appropriate dent-size chosen and you know how many ends you would like to sley per dent, you can begin to calculate how many threads in total you will need for your project.
Step 4: Put Steps 2 and 3 Together
Now that you know how wide you want your project in the reed and what dent-size you are using, you can calculate how many ends you will need to measure out for your project. This calculation is for both direct and indirect warping methods as it is simply the number of warp threads for your project independent of your warping style. However, when using a direct warping method, it is important to remember that each journey out to your peg contains 2 warp ends just as the journey to and fro on a warping board also contains two warp ends. The equation you will use is as follows:
Ends per inch (epi) x total width= number of warp ends
The ends per inch is determined by your dent size. Remember to double this number if, for example, you are using two threads in every dent. The total width is the how wide you want your final cloth making considerations for shrinkage and draw-in. The number of warp ends will be the total number of ends you will need to measure out for the warp of your project. In my example, the equation would look like this:
12 epi x 12 inches = 144 ends
Step 5: You Know How Many, Now How Long?
Once again you need to account for shrinkage. When you weave on a loom, your warp threads are under a lot of tension. When that tension is released, your cloth will relax and shrink. This shrinkage happens before you apply any kind of finishing to the project, which can cause even more shrinking. The means the shrinkage in the vertical direction is often greater than the horizontal shrinkage we calculated earlier. In addition, you have to make room for the portions of your warp you simply cannot weave on. There are some tricks to minimizing this loom waste, but the fact remains there will be some waste coming off your loom and you need to plan for this. The best way to plan for loom waste is to look at similar projects from looms that are closely related to your own. Rigid heddle looms, tapestry looms and floor looms typically produce different amounts of waste. The range, however, is typically 15-38". When uncertain, always aim high. You do not want to run short on warp after weaving an entire project. Also, if you are planning for a fringe, you need to leave space on your warp for this. Lastly, if you are planning more than one project on your warp, like if you want two kitchen towels or four placemats, you need to plan for any spaces needed between the different cloths. Whew, that's a lot to consider. Luckily they are all numbers that can easily be plugged into an equation such as this:
(Desired Final Length for 1 Project x Total Number of Projects) + Shrinkage + Loom Waste + (Fringe Hem Length x 2 for Each Project) + Space Between Projects = Warp Length
In our example, I was making a scarf. I want this scarf to be 70 inches long with a 5-inch fringe. I will assume 20% shrinkage and 20" of loom waste. I am only making one scarf on this warp. My total warp length would then be:
(70 inches x 1 Project) + (70 inches x .20) + 20 inches + (5 inches x 2 x 1 Project) + 0 inches = 114 inches
Step 6: Put Together Steps 4 and 5
Now that you now the number of warp ends and the length of your warp, you can figure out exactly how much thread you will need to complete your project. This is done by multiplying the number of ends by the total length, since each end needs to be the full length of the warp.
Number of Warp Ends x Total Length of Warp= Total Amount of Warp Needed
So, in our example, the total amount of thread I would need is:
144 ends x 114 inches= 16,416 inches. This is not a super useful number in inches, as most cones and skeins are NOT listed in total inches. However, it is easy to convert to yards by dividing my number by 36 inches because there are 36 inches in a yard.
16,416 inches / (36 inches/yard) = 456 yards
And, to get to meter, which is very useful, you simply divide your total yards by 1.09 yards/meter and round to the nearest meter.
456 yards/ (1.09 yards/meter)= 419 meters
In conclusion, I would need 456 yards (419 meters) of thread to create my desired 144 ends, each 114 inches long for my scarf. With the correct amount of material calculated, I can move forward and order the supplies I need to get warping!
I hope this was helpful. Stay tuned for more project planning tutorials!
So, there are excellent instructions in the manual for the 25" Schacht Tapestry Loom...but for whatever reason, when the loom is on my loom stand, the instructions are backwards because I cannot flip the loom so the heddle bar support is pointing down. Now, I know everyone can simply reverse the instructions like I did, but sometimes it is just easier when someone tells you how to do it. For example, when I am warping my loom while simultaneously helping my kids build legos, read books and not eat bugs, I like to not have to reverse things in my head. There are only so many tasks you can multi on before things go wrong.
Like I mentioned previously, the instruction manual has instructions for when the loom is horizontal and the heddle bar supports are pointing down toward the ground. My instruction are the exact same as these instructions except they are for when the heddle bar supports are pointing upward. This can be accomplished on a loom stand or by simply placing books or blocks under the frame of your loom.
Step 1: Using your loom stand, adjust the level of your loom so that it lays horizontal, heddle bar supports pointing straight up. You should begin standing with the loom oriented so that the bottom bar is closest to your body. Make sure you have the tension bar all the way down (so that you have the most room to tension your warp later).
Step 2: Put your warp bar in place against the rubber wedge. Make sure your warp thread is on a skinny cone or a compact ball so it can fit through all the spaces of the warping process without knocking the warp bar out of place. Tie your warp thread to the warp bar. (The warp bar and rubber stopper are located between the bottom bar and the central bar.)
Step 3: Bring the warp thread toward you, going under the bottom bar. Bring the thread over the topside of the loom toward the tension bar.
Step 4: Take the warp thread over the tension bar, down and under the loom, heading back toward the center bar. Take the warp thread under the center bar and turn the thread on the warp bar, passing once again under the center bar on the way to the tension bar.
Step 5: Once you get back up to your tension bar, you will still be under the loom. Pass the thread over the top of your tension bar and head back toward the bottom bar. You will be on the topside of your loom. Take it all the way to the bottom bar.
Step 6: Pass the thread over the bottom bar and going under your loom, take the thread to the warp bar. Pass the warp thread around your warp bar and head back to the bottom bar, passing the thread from the bottom side to the topside of the bottom bar.
Step 7: You have now completed the whole pattern of warping. You should repeat steps 3-6 until you have the desired number of warp threads on the top side of your loom. To me, the process of warping this tapestry loom is like make a series of M's and W's. Also, you should be able to run your hand (or a piece of paper) under your threads from the top of the loom down to the bottom, passing in front of your warp bar. If you cannot, that means you have crossed a thread and sadly it will need fixing before you can proceed.
One trick to keep yourself on track if you are having a little trouble crossing your threads is to wrap your loom with paper (like packaging paper or wrapping paper). Remove the warp bar prior to wrapping your loom with paper. Then, take your paper around your loom from the tension bar around the bottom bar and back up. Tape the paper together. This will require about 65" of paper length (which matches your warp length). Now you will have to place your warp bar back on your loom- the tricky part being that it now needs to be on the backside of your paper. However, this paper wrap will ensure you are going over or under when needed and will not allow for any crossed threads. Simply remove the paper when your warp is complete by sliding out from under your threads.
I hope this helps a little if your loom is turned around like mine. Really, it just gives an alternative way to warp- it is exactly the same as the recommended method, just with your heddles pointing up.
I always get the words mixed up, but I believe there is a modern proverb that goes something like; "Neccesity is the mother of invention." Sounds good even if its not the right phrasing. And I think more to the point is how true the sentiment is. The other day I was warping a rather large project on my PVC loom, and somehow or other, about four of my warp threads ended up being a yard too short. I could hazard a few guesses as to how it happened, but the how it happened at the time was not nearly as important as how in the world I was going to fix it. My first impulse was to just cut my losses and make my warp a yard shorter than planned and cross my fingers I included enough warp waste in my calculations. That seemed very risky, though. Especially since I was planning a lot of weaving on this warp- it would be awful to get to the end and be just short of a complete project.
Then, my husband pulled out his phone and did some internet magic. (He is really good at that.) As a sat, aimlessly staring at the problem, he asked;
"What's a weaver's knot? It looks like it could help." I love that man.
A weaver's knot is pretty much magic! It solved my too-short-warp-thread problem with such ease, it was almost unreal. And the beauty of this particular knot is that you add length to your thread and the knot simply gets tighter under tension. You don't have to worry about it slipping about or coming undone. How awesome is that? And I did complete the beast of a project I was working on, and the knots did their job without fuss. I will say that the one consideration is the reed. You want to be careful as the knots need to pass through your weave if the thread was a tight fit in the reed. I had to manually push a few of them through, which took some time until I got past them. But really, even though it added time to the weaving process, it saved me a ton of time from having a project that did not work out quite right.
Here is how to make this wonderful knot:
1. In the thread that has come up short on you, make a standard slip knot. Do not pull it tight yet. You do not have to leave a long tail, the knot is suppose to be so strong you can clip the tails right off when you're done. I left tails on mine and wove them in because I'm a scaredy cat. In my example, the thread being lengthened is yellow.
2. Thread your new yarn through the loop of the slip knot. Again, you should not have to leave a long tail as you thread the new yarn through the loop. However, you can leave a tail long enough to weave in later if you're nervous (like me). In my example, the new thread being used to extend the yarn length is blue.
3. With the new yarn threaded through the slip knot, pull the slip knot tight by pulling the two yellow thread ends. Once it is secure, pull a little more. You want the slip knot to pull your new thread through the twist of the knot. I have shown both when the slip knot is pulled tight and then once the new thread as pulled through the knot. I have found that the thread makes a satisfying little popping noise when it makes it through the knot. This pull-through is what gives the weaver's knot its power, because as you pull, the knot now only tightens on itself. In my example, you can see the little peak of blue looped through the yellow knot in the completed weaver's knot.
4. The knot is not complete. The yellow portion of the thread is the yarn that needed to be lengthened. The blue portion of the thread is the new extension to your yarn. You will have a tail from the old thread and a tail from the new thread.
The simplest and most...well...direct way to warp a loom is the direct warping method. This method has a lot going for it. It does not require a lot of equipment, it's perfect when you do not need a lot of warp length for a project, there is little risk of your warp threads getting tangled, and it can be used on any loom, though I think it lends itself better to rigid heddle looms. It is particularly nice when you have a lot of warp color changes on a small warp space. I will describe the technique and then outline a few of the pitfalls, too.
Brief Description of Method
With the direct warping method, you use your loom's back beam and a peg to do your warping. You measure from your back beam toward the front of your loom and continue measuring until you get to the spot that is equal to the length of warp you desire. At this measured spot, you clamp your peg. For example, if you want to make a warp that is three meters in length, you would measure straight from your back beam (in the direction of the front of your loom) out three meters in an unobstructed path. At the three meter mark, you would secure your peg to, well, something. I've used step stools, the edges of tables, bookshelves; it's really whatever is either currently in that spot or something that you can move to that spot and be confident it will not easily move from that spot. I would say this technique is much easier with rigid heddle looms, as you can move these smaller, lighter looms around to more convenient locations for peg clamping. However, you also need to secure your loom! You don't want your loom to slowly inch its way across a table while you're warping it so that you last warp threads are a foot shorter than your first warp threads. Many rigid heddle looms come with clamps (for both the loom and the peg) and a peg, as well as detailed instructions for this method.
With the direct warping method, you secure your warp thread to your back beam, make a small loop around your finger and pull the thread toward your rigid heddle or heddles in the shafts of your loom. Using your warping hook, you pull this looped thread through either a slot in your rigid heddle or through a heddle in the desired shaft of your loom and continue pulling until you reach the peg. You place the loop around the peg. You should then have what looks like two threads running from the back of your loom to your peg. Walk back to your loom, and this time making sure to pull from under your back beam, repeat the process with another loop around your finger. *This would be the method if you want one thread in each slot and hole of your rigid heddle. You warp all the slots, wind your warp on your back beam, then cut your loops and move one of the two threads in each slot to the hole adjacent it. It takes a little more planning if you are using a loom with shafts- you will need to plan on which heddle in which shaft should remain empty for you to later move the warp thread. You would need to leave these heddles empty as you move across your warp, even if you are changing shafts with your loop. To be honest, I have never used the direct warping method with a four-shaft or greater loom. You would also need to make different plans if you want more than one thread in each slot or hole in a rigid heddle. (Like if you are holding your thread double for the warp, you would need to warp the slots AND holes as you walked back and forth from your loom to the peg.)
Things to Keep in Mind
This is the quick and dirty explanation of the direct warping method. Like I said, it is really great for rigid heddle looms, you can easily make warps with more than one color and it's great exercise. However, there are some pitfalls. Once you start warping, you sort of need to finish. That is unless you have a space in your house where threads three meters in length strewn across the room don't get in the way. Also, small children tend to like to tangle themselves in these warp threads. It is not the easiest way to warp a floor loom or a loom with multiple shafts, though it can be done. It is great for smaller projects, but I would caution using it for very large projects that have a lot of warp threads. All of your threads need to fit on your peg, and when you start to get in the 300's for warp thread count, it can get crowded. (Not to mention walking back and forth for 300 warp threads can be a lot.) Also, if your peg or loom moves, you'll have a little trouble on your hands. Not insurmountable, but it is something to pay attention to.
This is a method for immediate warping on the loom. The really nice thing is that once it is measured and threaded, you can get straight to weaving. The warp threads are measure right on the loom, so there is no transfer of warp threads in this method.
Indirect warping is when you measure your warp out using something like a warping board or warping mill and then move this measure warp from your board or mill to your loom. You can use this method to measure out warps for multiple projects and store the warps for a later time. Typically, you can take your time measuring the warp threads because they are nicely contained in a smaller, more compact space. I have a tutorial on using a warping board. Warping mills work in a similar way but reduce the amount of reaching because they spin, therefore reducing the demand of movement from you. The indirect method can be used easily for any type of loom. I also have a quick tutorial on warping a small rigid heddle loom with the indirect method and plan on making one for a four-shaft loom as soon as I finish my current project. This method is really nice for super long warps and also for warps that have a large number of warp threads. This is my preferred method of warping, though I certainly use the direct method, too.
Brief Description of Method
I will be very brief here, as there are various ways to warp a loom using this method because the warp threads are free to be moved. Some people enjoy warping from the back of their loom to the front, and others like going from the front to the back. I'm a front to back kind of gal, but one method is not better than another, it's just preference. The key points that make this an "indirect" method are these:
With the indirect warping method, you measure out your warp threads ahead of warping your loom. It can be intimidating at first, but once you try it out, it is really a great way to warp a loom. Let's say you need seven meters of warp. Using your warping board, you find a path that is seven meters long without doubling back or crossing the path on the board (or mill). Then, you grab your warp thread and go to town moving up and down this path. (You create a "cross" at one end; please see my tutorial for warping boards for more details on this.) A trip down your path is one warp thread, a trip back up is another warp thread, so each completed trip gives you two warp threads. You tie choke ties in the necessary places along your measured warp, then carefully removed it, braiding it as you go. This braided, measured warp can then been stored for later use or carried to your loom to begin the actual warping process.
Things To Keep in Mind
The start-up for this method is a little more costly, as warping boards and/or mills can be expensive. You can find alternative means to the commercially available options- people have made bookshelves, the bottoms of chairs and paint cans into warping boards. My husband actually made my warping board, saving us a few bucks and adding a ton of sentimental value. A quick search on the internet can give you some ideas on creative alternatives to the "official" boards and mills. This method also creates a little more waste in your warp threads, as the warp has to be tied on both the back and the front of your loom, so keep that in mind when planning your final warp length. Sometimes, particularly on rigid heddle looms that you have planned shorter warp lengths, smaller warp thread counts, and simple weave structures it is easier to just use the direct warping method. Also, attention has to paid to that cross I mentioned earlier when you actually do sit down to warp your loom. If you mess up the cross, your threads may get tangled in the most hopeless of fashion. That means if you have very large bundles, you need to be prepared to sit and warp that bundle...don't put it down! In my house, large bundles are impossible because as soon as I sit down, some emergency happens and I need to get up. To get around this, I make small bundles, even if my warp is all one color. This reduces the amount of time I need to sit in front of my loom- I can warp a lot or a little.
I hoped this cleared up some terminology. Don't feel constrained by the categories, though. I have seen people use warping boards fastened to tables to do direct warping! So clearly, with a little imagination, there can by hybrid methods that work for you.
Warp speed ahead!
I think many of us who have delved into the world of rigid heddles are very familiar with the direct warping method. Using a peg and measuring from your back beam to some chair or stool or odd object you can clamp that peg to, you walk back and forth and feed your thread in loops through the slots of your heddle. Then, you wind that bad boy up, clip the ends, distribute your threads to the holes as well as slots, tie on the front apron rod, work on your tension and call it a day. However, this is not always the most practical way to warp your rigid heddle. Don't get me wrong, it is a great method, but sometimes having a line of yarn strewn across your kitchen just isn't going to work. Or sometimes you have time to measure out warp threads but you don't have time for all the threading. Whatever the reason, you can use your warping board for your rigid heddle loom and pre-measure and prepare your warp threads. I have a tutorial on using a warping board, so if the concept is new for you, please take a look here.
In this tutorial, there are two colors that have been pre-measured and braided for this project.
The next step is to wrap these braids onto the front beam of your loom. This yarn is the warp for a cowl. It is a bulky yarn and the braids are not very long. If I tried to wrap the braid around the front beam, it just wouldn't stay. In cases such as these, it is okay to unbraid your warp thread and wrap them around your beam that way. If you have measured a very long warp or used a fine thread and your braids are long, it may keep things tidier to just leave them in the braids when you wrap on your front beam. VERY IMPORTANT: Your cross should be free from the braid with enough slack to reach your heddle in the neutral position, plus a few extra inches so when you thread your warp through the heddle, it will stay put and not try to fall out back toward the front of your loom and undo all of your hard work. I am warping two colors in this project, and both colors could be wrapped comfortably on the front beam without overlapping. If you find things are getting crowded or confusing, just wrap one braid at a time. Note that the cross is draped comfortably over the heddle.
Make sure you have all your supplies within reach. To warp your heddle you will need scissors and your heddle/reed hook to sley your reed.
Next, pick up the cross from a braid and thread your fingers through the loops where you have your choke ties. You will be undoing those ties, so you want to make sure your fingers will preserve the cross even after these ties are gone. I have taken a photograph to show how I place my fingers comfortably through the cross. You will want at a finger between the top to ties above the cross and a finger between the bottom two ties below the cross. If you are right-handed, as I am, I hold the cross in my left hand. I am not left-handed, but I would imagine things might be easier if the left-handed crowd holds their cross in their right hand. Really, you should do what is most comfortable for you. Whichever hand is left free from the cross is the one that will be threading the reed and manipulating the reed hook.
With your cross secure on your fingers, take your scissors in your free hand and cut the top loop (highlighted in the photograph my finger- please note that I am not preserving the cross here, merely showing which loop you should cut). Then, while still holding your cross secure, untie or cut your choke ties.
Notice that once the choke ties are gone, you can still see the alternating ups and downs of your cross. At this point, you are ready to start sleying your reed. Starting with the outermost warp thread on your finger, use your free hand to remove it from the group (without disturbing your other threads). I like to sley my reed from right to left, but I do not think it matters what side you choose to start on, as long as you have measured out where your project is centered in your reed. I am sleying my entire reed, so I could start on the edge. If your project is smaller than your full reed, you may want to mark the slot with a piece of tape where the edge of your project should be. That way, you will easily find it when you go to warp and will not have to count or measure, which is hard to do when you have a bunch of loose threads in your hand.
Taking the outermost thread on my cross, I use my hook and thread it through my read. Unlike the indirect method, you will need to thread slots and holes as you go, not just the slots. Passing your hook from the backside to the frontside (through a slot or a hole) of your reed, grab your thread and pull it through the reed. I like to hold my hook pointing down, I find it easier to grab my warp thread this way and pull it down and away on the backside of the reed. This is a personal preference, you should find what is comfortable for you.
Now, my pattern required that I warp my reed in a 2x2 pattern. So, after threading two teal threads, I needed to leave space for two white threads. You warp all of one color first and then go back and warp the second color. (This would apply to three or more colors, as well.) Really, you want to warp all the threads in your braid, because the cross is what is keeping your threads organized. If you put your threads down, it is very hard to maintain the cross. This also means you should plan ahead. Either allow yourself enough time to warp all the threads in a larger braid or make yourself smaller braid bundles...even if you do more than one braid in the same color. Having smaller braids will give you more opportunities to take breaks when your warping your loom without having to worry about tangling threads.
Leaving spaces can make your eyes cross, so make sure you check regularly that you have left the appropriate number of slots and holes. It is much easier to fix a mistake when it happens than to have the majority of your reed threaded only to find out you need to shift everything over a slot. As you can see in the pictures, two threads mean one slot and one hole. So between every teal pair, I needed to leave one slot and one hole for my white warp. I made sure to stop and check my work every few pairs.
Once I have warped all of my teal threads, it is time to warp the white threads. I repeat the same exact process, threading the white warp through the slots and holes I left for them. If you are using more than two colors, it may be useful to keep a diagram and mark with painters tape the slots and holes for your second color before you pick up the cross and begin sleying.
Once you have warped all your threads, looking at your loom from the backside, you will see your beautiful warp threads dangling through your reed. It is time to tie them onto your back apron rod. Make sure you grab bundles of yarn that are only about an inch. I know its a lot of tying, but it will give you more balanced tension. I like to use a square knot and a bow when tying on to the apron rods. I know my mom likes to use a surgical knot. Whatever you use, make sure it is secure under tension but adjustable if needed. (I would never recommend a double knot.)
I think this is the point where there are more stylistic differences when warping. I will share with you what I like to do, especially if I do not have a helper. Sitting in front of your loom, grab all of your warp threads in one hand. You use this hand to pull the threads for even tension. Make sure you have paper or sticks ready so you can wind them in as you pull your threads over the back beam. (If you are unfamiliar with this, putting paper in between the layers as you wind your warp helps maintain more even tension. It prevents your threads for sinking into previous layers or catching.) Then, slowly, begin winding. Use your free hand to move your crank as you hold the warp threads with even tension. The threads should pull out of your braid evenly and remain orderly. If you need to stop cranking and gently comb some threads, do so, but remember your reed will act as a comb, as well. Continue this process until you have wound nearly all of your warp to the back of your loom. You will want about 15 inches of warp thread on the front side of your reed so you can comfortably tie on to your front apron rod. You will notice that the ends of your warp are looped, you will have to cut these before you tie onto your front apron rod. I do not recommend cutting them before you are ready to tie on- they are a bit of a security check, your threads cannot pull through your reed when they are looped.
You're nearly finished! Tie on to your front rod starting in the middle and alternating from there to the left and right sides. You want to tie your warp with as even tension as you can manage. This means once you have everything tied on, you may have to go back and tighten your threads again. With this in mind, tie your square knot first and once the tension is even go back through and make your bows or surgical knots. Then, believe it or not, you're ready to weave. I was a dodo and completely forgot to take a picture of the finished warp- but here is the project that I started weaving. Proof it does work!
7. In my example, I wanted the medallions to be across my entire project. (I worked out ahead of time what size medallion would allow me to achieve this without being left with a less-than-full-sized medallion at the end of my row. Word to the wise, plan your medallion sizes according to the number of warp strings in your project.) For the last medallion, I snuck my crochet hook up through the fifth and sixth warp threads in the medallion instead of after the sixth warp thread. This way, I could create the loop, even at the end on my selvage.
8. If you wish to stack medallions, after you have completed your first row of medallions, change sheds, and pass the contrasting color shuttle through, end to end, to create a new bottom medallion border. Then, change your shed again, and pass your main body color through for the number of picks you wish to include in your medallions. Proceed as shown above to create a new row of medallions.
You can have a lot of fun with these medallions and they are surprisingly simple for how complicated they can look. Try using a larger weft thread for your medallion borders, play with your medallion sizes, stack them all over your weaving or just keep it simple for a nice border. Playing with colors can be fun, too. Go crazy! It is a really nice hand-manipulated weaving technique that can add some spice to an otherwise plain weave.
There are only so many toys and gadgets I can justify buying for my fiber crafts before I start to feel guilty. Of course I can rationalize any purchase...I need everything I have, right? Well, as my weaving has grown and become a little more involved, I have enjoyed using boat shuttles over stick shuttles for some projects. With boat shuttles come bobbins. With bobbins comes the need to wind them. Now, if you are using a thick yarn or thread, this is no big deal to do by hand. However, if you are using a fine yarn or thread, this can be a laborious process by hand. The need for a bobbin winder starts to grow. However, I can save the expense of a bobbin winder for another gadget, because if you have a drill or hand-held electric mixer, you have a bobbin winder.
(I use a drill, so for this post I will detail how to use one as a bobbin winder. I hope, should you be lacking in the drill department but flush in the hand-held electric mixer department, you will easily be able to translate the idea.)
Double Pointed Knitting Needle (a wooden pencil works, too)
*Notes: Your drill battery will run out fairly fast. Drills are not really intended for high-speed continuous use, I don't think. To remedy this issue, it is handy to have a second battery for your drill charged and ready to go...just in case. Also, it does not really matter if you use the drill set to forward or reverse, but whichever direction you choose, you should keep it the same for the whole bobbin. (Otherwise you will start to unwind your wound bobbin, and that is not at all what we want.) Lastly, do not use a double pointed needle that is particularly expensive or very special to you, your drill may leave little marks on it. It will still be functional as a needle, but I would hate for something you care about to be damaged in this process. Pencils really do work fine.