Sunday, December 2, 2012

Stubborn? Moi?

A few weeks ago I (Kerry) started to warp out what I am told is a very ambitious project - especially considering it is only my second attempt at weaving.

I decided that I was going to weave towels and hopefully gift a few for the winter holidays. And hopefully sell a few at some craft shows or on Etsy.

I did some mental polling and determined that I am, in fact, too lazy to do multiple warps to achieve a high volume of towels. What does that mean? If I want 10 towels, I'm only doing 1 warp, not 2 different ones. I am truly that lazy about this sort of thing.

So I then did the math and learned that 10 or 11 towels required about 12 yards of warp. So I began winding warp! And Winding. And Winding. And Winding. I managed to wrench my shoulder from so much winding. And got a kink in my neck until I fixed where the warping board was. Lots of winding = lots of learning.

We had a Loom Lounge day earlier this week and I started to sley my reed with all of this natural 8/2 cotton warp. The sley was 2-2-1 pattern which went very quickly and used up almost every dent on the reed, save a few on one side. I had a few bits of warp left over that didn't quite fit and they got set aside.

Yesterday (Saturday) I began to thread the heddles.

Being the lazy and often carefree crafter that I am, I didn't count a single heddle before weaving. So when Erin turned around about 1/3 of the way into my threading and said "Did you count your heddles?" I looked at her, scoffed/snorted, and replied with an amused "No."

I mean, why would I count my heddles? What in the world would prompt me to do such a thing? There were plenty for my LAST project. Why wouldn't there be plenty for THIS project? (For inquiring minds: the answer to follow in a later blog post.)

What a stupid question, Erin! It'll be fine! Thought I.

... yeah.

This post is renamed The Blog Post in Which Kerry Eats Crow. :(

Today please learn one thing. Learn to count your heddles.

For serious.

I got about 2/3 of the way through the threading and promptly ran out of heddles on shaft 1.

Erin was right. (As per usual.)

So with some Googling and YouTubing, I quickly learned the art of making string heddles. My understanding is that these hand tied heddles are traditionally used in an emergency repair situation where perhaps you've made a threading mistake and you do not want to un-thread 30 inches of warp for one string.

A special thank you to this particular video and this particular video which give two methods for creating string heddles.

Being my stubborn self, however, I was determined to not un-thread the warp and lose 2 days worth of work. I was determined to make this work. And if I had to tie on heddles, that's what I'd do.
I cannot afford to buy new heddles right this minute. And I couldn't wait on delivery time anyway. So I tied. And Tied. And Tied.
At the end of the warp, I must have tied 100 string heddles. It felt like I tied one thousand.

But the warp is on. And I tied it onto the back beam without any help. and I began winding without any help.

And then a thread broke.

And I ALMOST had a melt-down.

Erin was lovely enough to pause in her warp-winding to intervene and prevent the Great-Flood-O-Tears. She re-attached my thread, fluffed the warp, let me wind a bit while she found a good pausing point in her warp.

And she sat for all the remaining 11 yards. And she helped me wind that danged 12 yard warp onto my loom. And she laughed while I cussed and offered pointers for next time, and praised my ambition of a 12 yard warp.

The end of the night went a little longer than we both planned, but the end result is the warp is on the loom.

Let the Choir Sing! Hallelujah!

Tomorrow afternoon I will tie onto the front beam and then give a few test passes.

My greatest fear is that the hand-tied string heddles will not function correctly and that all of that work will have to be chalked up to 'practice.' (A four-letter-word in my book.)


  1. Pictures tonight, I hope!

    What Kerry doesn't say is that just a few weeks earlier, I left myself a note tacked to my loom that said "count the effing heddles!!!!!" Which I did, and counted wrong enough to have to add about 30 heddles. Kerry suggested the string heddle route, but I opted for the hard way...jack up harness 2, have Kerry hold one side while I very gingerly (and hopefully all facing the right direction) add the missing 30 wires heddles. When all was said and done, I was still missing a few on the other harnesses, but not enough to matter and I made my towels about ten threads narrower than planned. I wanted to get on with the project. So...adventures in heddle counting!

  2. If you are a weaver, share your heddle comedy to tragedy in the comments!

  3. Ah, yes, I remember my first disaster. Sadly it could not be saved; or rather I could not find a way to save it. It was a very long orange warp for tea towels (what is it about tea towel warp??) and after getting in such a muddle I hauled it off and had a lap full of very expensive string. I took clumps of it (maybe twenty ends) and tied a knot ever foot or so. I still use it in every weaving project as my header and it reminds me to slow down and take my time!!

    1. Well my deadline on these towels is clearly not going to happen - I did not get as much as I had hoped accomplished today. Problem threads have started to be identified and resolved, but now I'm nervous about my threading (which is super noticeable in overshot, I'm told.)

      So I'll probably just scrap my deadline and go back and re-check my threadings. :( BOOO

  4. Cathy, I love how you recycled your disaster into a useful tool!

  5. Keep blogging. Please. I feel a teeny, tiny, leetle spark of OHWHATHEFUCK let's learn how to use that loom. Your blog is the bellows. Thank you, you Rapunzel of weaving.

    1. Tina- did you see the photos I posted this week on FB of the overshot pattern I'm learning to weave? That should inspire you. Its just Frakin cool to watch that happen!