A Tale of Two Warps

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Worst: well, no need to explain that. Best: unlimited weaving with no end in sight! Woohoo!

On my eight shaft loom I’ve got a dishtowel warp in 8/2 unmercerized cotton in blues and greens, and I threaded it for Turned Taqueté according to the ideas I was exploring in my last post. I threaded a straight draw following a light/dark color sequence all the way across. I used a two-block profile draft from Jakob Angstadt. The first block is on harnesses 1-4, and the second block is on harnesses 5-8. The design is symmetrical, and I am keeping to color combinations of dark/dark, dark/light, light/dark and light/light in treadling.

This is the first towel, for which I used only a dark blue weft.

This is the second towel, for which I used only a light weft:

And the underside:

As you can tell, I’m big into the checks. And there a few different ways I can play this. I have four more to go, so my next move is to plan number three.

I alternate days weaving on the 8 shaft, and days weaving on the 16 shaft looms. I am well into the second ever warp on the Ashford, this time weaving scarfs in 8/2 rayon threaded to a sixteen shaft straight draw.

This is the first one, now off the loom:

This is the second one, an undulating twill:

This is the third one, just started:

I am still struggling with the warping, and decided to order a raddle kit for next time. The warp sticks provided are very thin cardboard and I decided I really don’t like them, so will switch to wood warp sticks. Plus I will figure out a better way to weight the warp as it is wound on.

I do enjoy the slower, more focused pace that the table loom requires. And I am dazzled by all the pattern possibilities. One of my goals with this loom is to explore more ways to weave circles, a design motif with which I am perpetually obsessed.

I decided to put my Etsy shop on indefinite Vacation Mode, thus avoiding a lot of unnecessary trips to the post office. However, I will be adding to the inventory, so whenever I feel safe enough to go out more, there will be lots of new stuff.

And, I am reading Hilary Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety, her first novel, although it wasn’t published first. It’s loooong, and I love her style, and it focuses on characters in France before and during the Revolution. I thought the title was entirely apropos 😉 .

New Loom pt. 2

When last I wrote I was just getting acquainted with my new Ashford 16 harness table loom with its first-ever warp. I used a bunch of 5/2 rayon that were leftovers from something, and I chose a (what else?) 16 harness point twill threading. This really wasn’t the most versatile of threadings I could have chosen. A straight draw would have been a simpler way to start, and will probably get you more patterns, but I had somethng in mind that I had always wanted to try.

There wasn’t anything for it. I just plunged right in. This is from Oelsner, fig. 630.



I call it “Shells” or “Fans” and I’ve seen it shared on social media by folks who are weaving with 16 harnesses. It was kind of on my weaving bucket list. Of course, when I wove it, I wove it upside down. Doesn’t matter, I still had fun with it.

Here it is right side up:

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First I tried a tumbling boxes pattern, also from Oelsner, fig. 666:

I liked this a lot. It was a really fun weave, and I will definitely weave more of this one.

Then I wove some variations on the “Fan” design. This, from the Alphabet of Weaves K13, American Correspondence Schools Instruction Papers (1902):

and this from Atlas de 4000 Armures, Louis Serrure Draft #36276, France, 2005-2015, which also sneaked some circles into the mix:

I found these patterns at Handweaving.net, which is a fabulous resource, but now I am on the prowl through all my books and magazines for anything 16 harness.

Weaving with the new loom is really different from my standard floor loom. First off, the levers are flipped to open sheds, which means one must put the shuttle down between each new shed. I watched some videos before I started weaving and saw the techniques people use, giving it my best shot (as it were…). You have to stay focused and pay attention to each new combination of levers (see below!).

Of course, there are some tips and tricks that I jumped on.

First, I numbered the levers with stick on dots on the front and the back. With 16 levers to deal with, there can be no confusion about which is which!

Then, I quickly realized that staying on the right line in the liftplan was going to be an issue. I discovered that the iWeaveit app for ipad has a liftplan tracking add-on that makes the whole weaving process work beautifully. Here it is in action, propped on a little-used music stand right by the loom.

Here is what it looks like up close:

All you do is tap the pick number on the left when you are ready for the next line, and the line appears in the box. Then when you are done weaving, iWeaveit saves your place in the lift plan for next time.

One other new thing I had to get used to was beating with the shed open. I beat with the shed closed on my floor loom, always have. With levers, you could go back to a closed shed before beating, but it would be colossally inefficient. And actually, I found this method of beating to be very easy to get used to. My edges were great too!

The next warp will be 8/2 rayon, but I have some hand dyeing to do first. Stay tuned!

New Loom!

For as long as I have been out of graduate school (long!) where I earned a Master’s Degree in Craft Design, I had been aiming toward having my own compu-dobby loom. Financing such a loom was obviously an issue, so I just kept putting it off. Eventually my thinking was that I would sell my 8 harness Schacht standard floor loom and buy a compu-dobby when I retired. Mostly because I was getting more and more challenged by crawling around making new tie-ups. But, somehow that didn’t happen.

But. Recently, I awakened to the possibility of a 16 harness table loom. A loom that had tons of weaving potential. A loom that never had to be tied up, that could weave any pattern without complicated setups. A manual dobby, if you will.

Ashford makes table looms that folks seem to really like, and the price, as opposed to the very pricey compu-dobby looms, was right. So, on Black Friday, when there was a 10% off sale at the Woolery, I took the plunge with an Ashford 16 harness table loom and stand.

And here she is:

It took my husband and I about a week and half to put them together. Ashford’s instructions are extremely detailed and understandable, but we were determined to take it slow, and do only a few steps at a time. The worst part, which fell to me alone, was stringing the harnesses, so that they hung in an orderly fashion with the front harnesses higher than the back ones. Hah! (I’m here to tell you that imperfect is just fine. Weaving happens, regardless.)

My first warp, a get-acquainted test warp, consists of 5/2 rayon that I dyed many years ago, and that was hanging out in a ziploc bag, waiting for an opportunity to be useful.

My MO is warping front to back, so I bravely plunged in, hanging the lease sticks in front of the reed, and going through the reed first.

Then going through the heddles. First time using Texsolv. I like them so far.

View from the back after threading the heddles.

View after winding on. ( Missing the sectional beam!) A nice surprise was that during the winding on the heddles, messy at first, adjusted to the position they were supposed to have relative to the others. (Self-tidying, so to speak!)

Header woven. I rejected the flimsy string that Ashford provided for attaching the warp sticks to the front and back roller beams, opting instead for Texsolv cord. Much sturdier.

First pattern: 16 harness point twill threading from A Handbook of Weaves by G. H. Oelsner, courtesy of Handweaving.net. Next up: weaving on the table loom. Stay tuned!