Monday

This morning I woke before my alarm went off, looking at the clock and reading that it was seven I realised the inevitable and decided I needed to get up. I tried to turn the alarm clock off and was a little surprised to find I’d not set it last night.

My thoughts then ran as follows: “What needs doing? Get the children to school… pack lunch boxes… have I washed them from Friday yet? No I haven’t. How have I managed to get through a weekend and not wash them? Gosh that weekend was short! What did we do Sunday? Sunday? I don’t remember Sunday. I think today’s Sunday…”

At this point I checked my phone, and it agreed, blurrily, that it was Sunday.

I think my morning confusion may have been the lingering result of over-tiredness following a trip to Ikea and subsequent furniture building.

For a very long time my 4-shaft loom has been stored away because there hasn’t been anywhere suitable to use it. Eventually I realised that there was a space in the lounge behind the sofa, but I then couldn’t find a table the right size. I looked at the treadle kit and stand for it. But not only do I not want to use the treadles (it would still be a table loom, as there is only a one-to-one correspondence between the treadles and the shafts) but it is also incredibly expensive. I couldn’t find a table that was the right size either. The loom is around 74cm deep and nearly a metre wide, and getting a table to accommodate it, that wasn’t too big, was proving tricky. I had been considering making a table top and getting trestle legs from Ikea to make a table, but the space between the legs would be inadequate, and so my loom continued to sit, unused.

Then as I planned a trip to Ikea (the aim of which was to buy something to store my son’s lego, now organised into colours) I spotted a new table. 74cm deep and 125cm wide. A little wider than ideal1, and I’ll admit a little more than I’d really wanted to pay, but it had been a long time, and a table loom isn’t a cheap tool to have sitting unused. So on Friday evening a table was bought in Ikea (along with the inevitable random purchases that get you looking at the end bill in amazement) and I drove home, much, much, later than I had envisaged, with a full weekend of other commitments ahead of me.

So it was on Wednesday when I finally got around to building the table. Then I got the loom on it, thought for a few moments and decided it was time for new challenges and whipped off the old weaving (rescuing a section of completed overshot) before dusting it down and starting to plan a new project. By the evening I’d found the free pattern drafting software I’d used before (it’s called Weave Design and is available from here) dived into my stash and found some promising 4 ply yarn, done some sums on the back of an old letter, retrieved the home made warping board from its hiding place, and wound a warp of 13′ 8” tied it up in all the right places (and a few extra ones just in case) and chained it up ready for the next stage.

Thursday, was spent winding on the warp (including finding suitable paper, and then some more card when that ran out) and threading the heddles (I really believe there must be a quicker way to do this bit, it does seem to take a long time, even with under a hundred ends). Before I went to bed I tied string around the shaft pedals to stop the children playing with them (it turns out this wasn’t enough, as the children just lifted the shafts manually, without the pedals, but fortunately didn’t dislodge any of the knots holding the threads in place).

Friday I sleyed the reed (so quick compared to the heddles) and tied the warp onto the front beam, using the same method I recently used on my rigid heddle loom, wove a header, wove a little more to test the threading and then got underway…

hemstitching

I’ve not had much time over the last couple of days to make more progress, but I’m really enjoying having my loom back in operation. I’d barely got into spinning before I bought the table loom, so my spinning has progressed a very long way (including into fancy textured art yarns) and I now need to work out how my yarns and my loom are going to play together.

1 – It turns out the table isn’t too wide.  There are 6 inches on each side of the loom.  Just the right amount of space to bolt an anglepoise lamp on one side, clamp my swift on the other (for somewhere to store it when not in use) and to keep useful tools (like scissors and tape measure) to hand.

90 Knots!

Over the last few days I’ve rescued a warp I made a mess of during winding onto the back beam (I was rushing and the paper wasn’t wide enough). The warp has lain abandoned for at least six months, with the heddle correctly threaded, but the threads not tied onto the front beam.   I unwound it and re-wound it with fresh paper between the layers. This sounds easy but proved hard, as there is a high proportion of mohair yarn in the warp and these stuck together with glee, happily hugging the wool yarns in their embrace too. So both patience and determination was needed to unwind and re-wind the warp.   I’m not sure how successful the rescue will be, as the threads were all different lengths then finally wound on. I’m expecting some puckering when the cloth is finished.

Once rewound I used a technique for tying to the front beam I’d seen in a video from Ashford. It involves tying small groups of warp threads together with knots then using cotton thread to lash the ends onto the apron. I found this to be really straightforward and I felt it was quicker to get the tension equal across the warp. I don’t mind the usual method, but do find I spend a lot of time going back and forth, tightening knots to get all the warp at the same tension. I shall be using the lashing method again.

Then I started weaving the header. Or should I say, I tried to, but didn’t get far! I’d lift the heddle up, and all the threads moved up. I moved the heddle down, and all the threads moved down. NO SHED! Perhaps I should have sized the threads before putting on the warp (I have no idea how to do that, or what to use, something to explore for another day)!

Before abandoning the warp and cutting it off the loom I thought I’d try using a pick-up stick to help separate the shed (I think I read about doing this on Ravelry). So I threaded a spare shuttle into the warp behind the heddle, and tried with that. This was better, but it only helped for one pick out of two. I didn’t fancy hand separating the warp for the alternate picks, so decided to try using string heddles to lift the threads that should be staying up. Fortunately I had some dowel that I cut to length, then I counted my warp threads and decided I needed 89 heddles, to be certain I made 90. I wrapped the string around a conveniently sized book and cut it to make the 90 short lengths, I then tied all these over a few sessions. I told my children I needed to tie 90 knots. “90 knots!” they both chorused in unison.

heddles

Once these were created I threaded them under the threads that are in the slots of the heddle (the threads that shouldn’t move) and looped the heddle onto the dowelling rod.

threading

Once I’d done the whole length and had tried it a few times, checking I’d not missed any threads or selected incorrect ones, I took a length of yarn and tied it at one end of the dowel, and then tied it at the other end of the dowel.

done

end

This is to hold the heddles onto the dowel, and to prevent the dowel from slipping out from the heddles. It looks like a handle, but I’m not using it as one.

checking

pickup

I wove a few more picks of the header and this morning have chosen a thread to use as the warp (I did have a thread planned, but as usual have changed my mind). The secondary heddle system is working. The pickup-stick is pushing down the free moving threads (it’s threaded over the threads in the slots) and the string heddles lift up the free-moving threads (so the strings loop under the threads in the slots). I’m still getting threads sticking together and I’m having to move my hand between the layers of the shed to open it up a bit more, but this is quick and easy compared to trying to weave without the secondary heddles.

weaving