A Whole Lot of Counting Going On!

Coral Challenge Towel on the Loom
Coral Challenge Towel on the Loom

Amid all the counting and recounting going on for the current elections, our thoughts turned to all the counting that is part of getting a warp on the loom, especially a warp with a complex threading.

We are in the process of weaving the Coral Challenge First place prizes.  Surprise, Surprise, they will be 8-shaft handwoven towels.  And these 8-shaft towels look amazing!

Heart Towel Draft
Heart Towel Draft

Being Lunatics, we chose an advancing threading to make a prize towel.  The easy part was getting the warp wound (using 10/2 Tubular Spectrum™ coral yarn of course!) and beamed onto the loom.  The threading was the challenging part…the 8-shaft draft has a threading repeat of 86 ends.  This makes threading accurately a, um, challenge. To help make this process go more smoothly, we turned back our memory clock to the lessons of past weaving teachers.   One brilliant lesson in particular has helped make this counting challenge, less of a challenge.

In her classes, Peggy Osterkamp shared stories of learning to weave from Jim Ahrens, the weaving icon of AVL fame.  Jim translated the carpenter’s “Measure twice, Cut once” to weaving with a technique of “Counting twice, Threading once”.

Coral Challenge Towel on the Loom
Detail of Coral Challenge Towel on the Loom

This “Count twice, Thread once” method, begins by breaking a long threading sequence down to logical and workable units.  For our 8-shaft Coral Challenge Heart draft, there is a border/background section with 29 threads, and a rising (29 threads) and falling (28 threads) section of the pattern.  For each section: we worked out how many heddles are used on each shaft for that section.  Then, when we were ready to thread each section, we counted out the heddles, and counted out the threads and then threaded the section.  If we got to the end of the section with extra threads or extra heddles, something was wrong.  And we knew it immediately rather than after we’ve tied on the warp and started weaving.  On occasion, being exceptionally talented, we have managed to make 2 mistakes and come out with the number of ends and heddles matching up, but things weren’t right. However, the damage is limited to one section so when you discover it as you begin to weave, you can re-thread just a section rather than having to re-thread the whole thing or tie repair heddles.

Consider the count twice, thread once technique next time you want to put on a “Challenging” warp.

And don’t forget to send in your entry to the Coral Challenge for a chance to win one of these great towels!

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