Weaving Tips and Loonie Ideas
Winding long warps (more than 3 yards long) can be simplified by winding the warp vertically on the warping board. Some of us (i.e. Katzy) have been frustrated in the past with winding long warps and getting to the step of tying the choke ties only to bend down and discover that there is a missed pass on the lower levels of the warping board; resulting in a few threads that are shorter than the whole rest of the warp. Because I usually warp back to front, this makes a mess out of the warp when tying on to the back beam.
When you wind the warp vertically, you can see the warp path clearly from the beginning where the threading cross is, all the way to the end where the raddle cross is and not have any more nasty surprises when you have completed the warp winding. I wouldn't wind warps any other way now.
The added benefit to winding the warp vertically is that you can just step sideways a couple times as you go across the board, and as a result, your arm and shoulder no longer get tired. Of course, there are a few tricks to this: (1) make sure you keep a light tension on the warp so the pegs don't bend in (you need to do this anyway so the left and right sides of your warp are the same length); and (2) wrapping a rubber band around each peg will prevent the warp from sliding off. Using rubber bands around the pegs also works as a great way to mark the path of your warp so that you can wind a second warp the same length as the first.
Or, HOW TO REDUCE BROKEN SELVAGE THREADS.
Many times we use soft yarns to make scarves, or other fabrics. These soft yarns take a lot of abuse during the weaving process and can break at the selvages.
To reduce frustration and provide a stable edge, add a strand of fishing line as a floating selvage. You can add this after beaming and threading the loom. Measure out a generous amount of fishing line (more than the length of the project), put most of it in an empty film canister (with digital cameras these are going to be a hard to find item!) or empty medicine bottle (not so hard to find) and hang this over the back beam. Run the loose end through the reed and tie it in with your outside warp bundle as you tie on to the front apron rod. After your project is woven and off the loom, gently remove the fishing line from the project before washing or tying fringe.
MERCERIZED OR UNMERCERIZED FOR TOWELS?
We are often asked if mercerized or unmercerized yarns are better for towels. Our answer is always a resounding...it depends! Mercerization is a process that makes the yarn smooth, stronger and takes dye better. Mercerized yarns are also called Perle in the craft world. Fabrics made from unmercerized yarns do absorb water more quickly, but as a result, they become saturated more quickly. Additionally, the unmercerized yarns are softer, and so they feel great when you first get them off the loom and after the 10th time you wash them. However, they will wear out more quickly because the yarns are not as durable. Towels made of mercerized yarns retain their beauty longer than those made from unmercerized yarns. While they do not absorb the water as quickly as an unmercerized towel, a towel made of mercerized yarn will go through the whole sinkful of dishes without becoming overly saturated. They will also retain their bright colors for longer, and they will hold up through more trips through the washing machine. So, with that in mind, you must decide which function you would rather have from any particular project!
RETHREADING AND RESLEYING YOUR WARP
If you ever put on a warp and then want to weave that same warp in several different weave structures you may need to resley or rethread your loom. We suggest this technique with our color gamps! Resleying and rethreading are straight forward proceedures and fun things to put into your weaving knowledge base.
To resley your reed, you will first need to cut off the first project(s) that you wove. Then once that is done, you are ready to resley. If you start off with the narrowest project (i.e. a twill gamp sett at 28epi), then when you resley for a plain weave gamp (at 24 epi) you can keep the threads in the reed and just move them over slightly as you spread out the warp. If you need to go narrower, you will just have to pull the threads out of the reed, and then resley as if you were doing it for the first time.
If you then want to do another kind of weave structure, you will need to rethread. This takes a bit more forethought, as you must recreate your threading cross. To do this, before you cut the already woven projects off the loom, find your two treadles that make plain weave. Depress the first treadle and insert a lease stick into the shed BEHIND the harnesses (.i.e. between the harnesses and the BACK beam). This can be a bit of a balancing act, use a friend if one is handy, but we do this all the time by ourselves, so it isn't too hard). Then depress the second treadle and insert another lease stick into this shed right next to the other lease stick, again BEHIND the harnesses. At this point, if you have recreated the threading cross, you should see a nice cross on the lease sticks. Make sure you now secure the ends of the lease sticks to prevent the warp from sliding off once you release the tension on the warp. Cut off the previously woven project(s) and make sure you tie off the warp bundles as you cut so they don't slide to the back and ruin your hard earned threading cross. You can now pull the warp threads back through the heddles and get ready to rethread. You should have the feeling that you have been through this part of the process before, as it will now be just like when you threaded the first time.