Sunday, 2 September 2007

Thoughts on learning to weave.

This evening I got back to the three coloured warp I prepared the other day, today's task being to put it on the loom. I threaded the back apron rod through the loops at the end of the warp, and tied the apron rod to the apron. I passed the chained warp forward to the front of the loom and set my half-inch groups of threads into the raddle. I positioned my loom bench in front of the loom, drew the groups of threads over it and tied on weights (old 1 litre milk cartons, half filled with water. The bottles are not full so I have a good tension on the threads, but not tight.

Then I got round to the back of the loom to resolve a problem I have ignored before. I have previously woven on warps that were not well spaced on the back apron, therefore not well spaced running over the back beam. I have also had threads crossing between the lease sticks and the back beam.

Today I decided that I needed to make sure these things were put right. I have learnt the hard way that extra time spent in setting the loom up well is never wasted. The value of a careful and patient approach to weaving has been brought home for me by reading more about some of the primitive looms that are still used in many parts of the world to create the most complex and beautiful cloths (one source of information on this that I would highly recommend is Ann Hecht's book The Art of the Loom, published 1989, British Museum, ISBN 0-7141-1592-4).

I found a tapestry beater some help in gently combing the threads to separate and spread them between the lease sticks and the apron rod. Further work was needed with my fingers to check the line of the threads and swap them around where one thread was looped across another. I got to the stage where I was satisfied and stood back to think. I admired the groups of twelve threads running through each of the half inch gaps in the raddle, ready for working at 24 epi (ends per inch). That's when I realised something was missing. Actually, a couple of things - a pair of threads at each side to use as floating selvedges. Fortunately at this stage it isn't difficult to add threads to each side of the warp.

I remembered then a suggestion I made recently to another beginner. Time I put it into action for myself. It's time I was in the habit of using a checklist for every weaving project.


Peg in South Carolina said...

The importance of warp preparation really only makes itself felt with weaving experience, as you have found out. A very good description of your personal working things out.
I think the checklist idea is wonderful. I had thought of it early on but just didn't find time to write it down. Actually, I used Osterkamp's book as a checklist. But that, of course, didn't include my own personal additions. I am still making these personal additions, by the way........!!!!

Peg in South Carolina said...

One more thing. People have had accidents using water jugs for weights. They have been know to break (sob!). Some people use sand (which, I should think, could create its problems.......) or pebbles. Well, I wouldn't want a mess of pebbles on the floor either! Anyway, you might start thinking about other possibilities for weights if you are concerned about water on your floor.........

Dorothy said...

That's a good point about water escaping Peg, it actually happened to me between putting up this post and reading your comment! Glad I don't have carpet down in my workshop, as I was able to fetch a cloth and mop up.