The standard method suggested to fix broken warp is to take a fresh length of yarn as long as the remaining length to be woven, secure it to the cloth already woven, and weave that while discarding the broken warp thread.
Perhaps because I came to weaving from knitting, with a sizeable stash of expensive knitting yarn, I could never really stomach this method. And since I can see no reason why the same method cannot be applied also “in reverse”, this is exactly what I did to fix my very first broken warp thread in my very first project.
So with this method, depending on where the broken warp is, the yarn needed is at most the length between the between the front and the back beam. Should the break occur during winding, just knot the two broken ends, and deal with the knot once it approaches the fell line (the case in the pictures below)
Saving yarn gives me great satisfaction, and thought I am sure I am not the first person who has thought of this, I could not find it online, so I am reporting it here.
The first part is the usual one:
take a length of yarn and thread it in the same heddle as the broken warp thread, along the warp.
Secure a pin (a sewing pin or a T-pin) to the cloth parallel to the fell line, so that the pin head is just to the side of the woven part of the warp thread you have to replace.
Secure the front end of the replacement warp to the pin, e.g. by making several figures of 8 using the two ends of the pin.
tension the replacement warp thread by weighing with something at the back – a possible solution is to stick it between two yarn cones. Just make sure that the weight is not excessive as to break the replacement warp!
if dealing with a knot, cut the old warp thread after the knot, and place both ends out of the way temporarily – the end closest to the cloth beam will be snipped out later, the (long) end going to the back beam will be rejoined.
weave. Depending on how slippery the yarn is, you want to weave a few cm, as the replacement warp thread will be cut.
Now with the usual procedure you would keep weaving until the end, and then discard the old warp thread, whatever its length. To avoid that:
after weaving the desired length, take another pin and secure it parallel to the (new) fell line; attach to it the old warp thread, pulling it hard enought that it is in tensioned as the rest of the warp. This definitely works on a rigid heddle loom and on a table loom. Maybe on a floor loom, where the warp is more tensioned, something thicker than a pin is needed.
cut the replacement warp, and pull it out of the heddles; remove the pin that secured it to the cloth (not a good idea to remove it before cutting, to avoid the tension pulling out the woven relacement thread)
weave as normal. After weaving enough cm that the warp is now securely woven into the cloth, remove the second pin. Done, and you’ll just trim the ends that stick out of the cloth later.
There are many sources to find out about weaving drafts and how to read them – however most of what I’ve found is either for multi shaft looms (e.g. check out joy of weaving, Cally Booker on floor looms and table looms, or Peggy Osterkamp) or for rigid heddle looms (joy of weaving again). I thought I might save you some time if I combined the two in a single place.
So, what is a draft? As a starter on a rigid heddle loom, I came across the term “draft” or “weaving draft” very often, and wondered what it was (though I could weave quite happily without needing to know anything about it).
It may be useful to think first of the basics of a loom.
Most loom types seem a variation of the following: a more or less rectangular frame that keeps a set of threads, which are said to form the warp, in tension. Then another set of threads, called the weft, are interlaced with the warp, by being woven at a right angle across the warp, with each weft thread going over and under the weft threads. The way in which you go over and under determines the pattern.
You could weave with a needle – in fact, tapestry weaving uses exactly that. it is slow, though, and so heddles come quite handy: if each warp thread goes through a heddle, then by lifting heddles you lift a certain group of threads, and so rather than slogging a needle up and down what could be very many and very fine wapr threads, you lift all those threads you should go under, create a shed (i.e. an opening) between the lifted threads and those that stay put, and can pass the weft thread through with a “big needle”, i.e. a shuttle. In some looms (e.g. a rigid heddle loom) you can also lower heddles, in others (e.g. countermarch looms) you lift some heddles and lower the others at the same time. In all cases the objective is to create a shed as tall as possible to put the weft thread comfortably through.
How to do all this lifting (and lowering) of heddles? You need a “shaft”, something that the heddle is secured to which can pull it comfortably up and down. To do any weaving you need at least two shafts, so that you can lift different groups of threads to get warp and weft interlacement. In a rigid heddle loom you would have some threads in a slot and some in the hole: by lifting the heddle you are raising the threads in the holes – call these “shaft 1”. By lowering the heddle, you push down the warp threads in the holes, so that those through the slots are raised relative to those in the holes – call these as “shaft 2”.
A “draft” then is a plan that tells you which warp threads go through which heddle (the draft threading) and which set of heddles, hence which shaft, has to be raised at each pick (the draft treadling). It may be that your draft wants you to manipulate some shafts at the same time, or separately. This is noted in the tie-up section of a draft.
The combination of threading and treading will produce a specific warp and weft interlacement, the drawdown.
For plain weave only two shafts are needed, i.e. shafts 1 and 2, and in the treadling you shafts 1 and 2 are lifted in alternating fashion. In a rigid heddle loom, a single heddle behaves as two shafts, where e.g. call the holes “shaft 1” and the slots “shaft 2”.
Below is a plain weave draft. In the threading each column corresponds to a warp thread and each row refers to a shaft (start counting from the bottom). In the treadling each row corresponds to a weft thread, and each column refers to a shaft. In the box occupying the right top corner, each row corresponds to a shaft. Finally each solid black box indicates a thread/shaft combination.
Start from the tie up: the bottom corner identifies shaft 1, and the top corner identifies shaft 2.
Next, the threading: the bottom row links up with shaft 1 of the tie up, hence it tells you that the odd warp threads go through heddles in shaft 1 (or holes in a rigid heddle); while the top row links up with shaft 2, so it tells you that the even numbered threads go through heddles in shaft 2 (or slots in a rigid heddle).
Finally, the treadling, the first row tells you that at the first pick you should lift shaft 1, since the first solid box corresponds to shaft 1; the second row tells you to lift shaft 2, as the second solix box corresponds to shaft 2. The third row is again a pick with shaft 1 lifted, and so on. With a rigid heddle loom, lifting shaft 1 would mean put the heddle in the up position, and lifting shaft 2 would mean put the heddle in the low position.
No drawdown shows in the pictures above. To think how it should look like: the first bit of the treading says to lift shaft 1 when passing the first weft thread (i.e. weaving the first “pick“). This means that all odd warp threads will be up, and all even threads will be down – hence the weft will go over all even threads, covering them. With a rigid heddle loom, the first pick would mean raising all the threads through a hole, so the even threads in a slot will stay down.
Then with purple weft and white warp, after the first pick the project would look this:
The second pick tells you to lift shaft 2/put the rigid heddle in the down position, hence after the second pick you have this:
and so on:
This is the simplest draft there is! Of course a draft could use more shafts, and the treadling could prescribe lifting multiple shafts at a time – for instance in 2/2 twill shafts are always lifted in pairs, here is an example:
The pictures above are screenshot from weaving software, which makes experimenting very easy, and hours fly by quickly playing around with drafts. Having said that, for me pen and squared paper were what I needed to really understand what any combination of threading, treadling and tie up will do for a drawdown.
Drafts intended for multi shaft looms can be woven on a rigid heddle loom, definitely up to four. True, the structure of a rigid heddle does impose constraints and requires some creativity, but it can be done in various ways. I do find that understanding how a rigid heddle loom can function as a multi shaft loom quite liberating, so some more thoughts on this follow below.
Rigid Heddle Loom as Multishaft loom
As discussed above, a rigid heddle loom setup with a single heddle can be seen as a two shaft loom: the holes are heddle 1, the slots are heddle 2. Now what if you add another rigid heddle? if you do, you will be adding one more shaft.
Hang on, you may ask, did we not just say that a single heddle counts as two shafts? Yes, but that is true for the first heddle only. When you add a second heddle, it is still the case that you will be able to lift the threads that go through the holes of that additional heddle, and we will say that such threads belong to shaft 3. But the threads that go through the slots will still be “passive”, and in order to “lift” them you will have to lower all the other heddles, to lower the hole threads. Hence by adding each furhter heddle, you are only adding one more possibility of manipulating threads through holes.
In short then:
1 rigid heddle = 2 shafts
2 rigid heddles=3 shafts
3 rigid heddles =4 shafts
and so on. I find it more convenient to number the “shafts” starting from the holes, and leaving the slots as (residual) shaft 4.
For the Table Loom without a race? Yes, for the table loom without a race! The race can be hacked by attaching in a non permanent way (so no damage to your loom!) a lease stick held under the warp by the short helping hands, or some rubber bands; some examples are here and here, and here is my own hack:
Boat shuttles come in many variation:
Bottom. The bottom can be open, closed or have rollers; a closed bottom one glides easier but is heavier, which may be an issue with table loom warps which aren’t as tightly tensioned as floor loom ones. Open bottoms allow the user to control the thread. Something worth bearing in mind is that overfilling the bobbin will make it stick out of the shuttle bottom profile, making it catch the warp threads.
Feeding. The yarn may come out of the shuttle (i.e. “feed”) from the end or from the middle; end feeding shuttles tension the yarn. Also, there are shuttles with two bobbins; these are particularly useful when the weft goes with two ends held together.
Size. The bigger, the heavier. Longer and slimmer will glide more easily, travel longer and are more likely to go straight; obvioulsy though, for a given width, the longer the shuttle, the more it will weigh. Wider shuttles will carry more yarn; wider shuttles it may fall off the makeshift race, and/or catch the warp. Shuttles taller than 1″/2.5cm may be problematic for the Table loom, since the shed is not as tall as for a floor loom.
Shape. A pointier shuttle will travel more easily. A shuttle with an asymmetric “bulge” on one side provides more room to the bobbin/quill to move and feed the yarn (if it is a side-feeding shuttle)
Material. traditional ones are in wood, but I have seen quite a few plastic ones. Material will affect gliding ability as well as weight.
Another video on winding bobbins which I found really useful is here:
All this stuff on quills is as in the end I bought some Toika closed bottom shuttles as my (first?). They are very light (only 86g/3oz) and have a low profile, which will suit the table loom.
The results in the videos are all quite polished – my reality was actually rather more rough! I opted for the drill solution, and as paper quill I cut a rectangle out of a discarded letter and rolled it around the smallest drill bit I had.
To wind you have to start the yarn inside the paper fold, then trap it inside:
Then start your drill, guiding the yarn up and down, and making sure you leave about 1cm free on your paper quill at both ends. Then pull out the yarn cigar, and insert into the boat shuttle. I found it easier to use with the bobbin unwinding from below, it made it easier to re-roll, but it may work differently for you.
For posterity, here is my very first wound home made paper quill:
Throwing the shuttle isn’t at all hard – for this pointed ones, grab them from below as you would a paper plane, and throw them through the shed along the race, with your other hand ready to catch it on the other side. It only took me a few tries to not feel awkward anymore: it is much quicker than a stick shuttle!
The content of this post is an imperfect and highly condensed summary of the sources below (in addition to the links already posted):
I had come across this tool several times on George Weil’s webpage while looking for something else weaving related, and always wondered briefly and idly what it was. And then decided to look it up. And then decided to buy it. And then used it, and really, it makes a super neat party trick – more importantly, it is such a useful tool!
It is a tool to sley a loom reed, and you would only use it for metal reeds. Why would you part with a non negligible sum of money for this flimsy spatula looking thingy when you can use a cheap plastic hook that costs a fraction of the price?
There are several reasons:
it is going to make slewing the reed much faster, as you won’t have to pull the autodenter completely out, then back into the next slot, as you would with a standard hook;
you won’t miss any dents!
it’s endlessly entertaining.
So how does it do that? It actually consists of three parts put together, as far as I can see: a central “tongue” and two opposing “lips” that hold the tongue as in a pinch:
The tool is not symmetric – the “tongue” is bent at the top, and so is one of the lips.
First you insert the tip of the tool in the slot (at an angle, so that the bent tip can go through) – from here onwards you will keep the tool straight, and you will push it in and out of each slot, exerting a little pressure when going in towards the direction indicated by the bent tip. So e.g. if you want to start sleying from the right, you would insert the tool with the tip pointing to the left, as that would be your direction of travel. If you want to sley the reed moving towards the rigth, then you will insert the autodenter with the bent tip pointing towards the right.
Once the tip is in, the fun begins. So let’s suppose that, as in the video below, you want to sley left to right:
slide the autodenter so that the bent lip engages the right dent of the slot: at this point the dent is between the right lip and the tongue of the denter.
As you push the denter in the slot, you will hear a double click once the dent is past the lips. What has happened at this point is that the dent is in the free space between the two lips;
now put the warp threads through the denter’s hooks
pull the autodenter out, still exerting a little pressure so that the denter pushes lightly against the right dent in the slot – as you do, you will hear another double click: now what has happened is that the dent has ended up between the tongue and the left lip, or put it differently, the denter has moved to the next reed slot to the right of where you were – magic!
Below is a little demonstration, mid way through I slow it right down to show the “lip and tongue” movement.
I got my autodenter from George Weil, in the UK. It is unbranded, though apparently Schacht also do one, though I haven’t been able to find it. in the US, AVL Looms sell it as “patent denter”. Alternativesly just search for “autodenter”, or “auto enter”, “patent denter” or, “auto reed hook”.
I’ve been long fascinated with bands, and especially while planning my double faced yardage, I’ve been thinking of ways that a novice sewer like me could use to sew up a reversible garment. A decorative band might be just the thing to make a feature of seams – or at least this is where my thinking is going.
Equipment: on shuttles, beaters and (no?) looms
Equipment is minimal: indeed, you could get going with just a belt shuttle! The latter is much shorter than the smallest weaving stick shuttle, and has a bevelled edge to pack in the weft; the other edge is thicker:
Then you would tension the warp between your waist and anything else you can hook the other end of the warp to, as here (nicked from Shelag Lewins).
The principle is the same as with any weaving: you need to interlace horizontal yarn threads (the weft) with vertical yarn threads (the warp). To do so you separate some warp threads from the others by pulling them up with something (a heddle, strings, cards) to create a gap (the shed) through which the weft will pass (wrapped around a shuttle). Once the shed is closed, the weft thread will lie above some warp threads (those at the bottom of the shed) and below others (those you had pulled up to create the shed). If you now form the shed by pulling up those threads that were laying at the bottom, you create an interlacement (credits of picture below to Backstrapweaving).
Different interlacements create different patterns – to create the sheds you can use cards/tablets (see e.g. here and here), or a reed, or nothing at all, in the sense that, you can just make your own heddles out of strings. By far the funniest video I’ve found which makes the (serious) point that this type of weaving really IS portable and easy to do is this one (using a heddle):
For a long band you need to keep in tension a long warp, so to weave more comfortably you can wrap the warp around something repeatedly: this is what looms do. So you can use a rigid heddle loom, a table loom, a floor loom, or an inkle loom, which you can hack out of carboard, as here, to get this (picture credits to heartsonfibre):
If you have it already, you can of course use a Rigid Heddle Loom – a quick set up is here, while to see weaving in action I found this video very clear:
You can in fact use any loom, indeed one can do pretty amazing things by putting together band and loom weaving, as here:
How to weave and what to weave
For how to weave, I found this blog a great resource for band weaving with heddles, while for tablet weaving, this is I think an excellent compromise between being complete and being compact.
As for what to weave, google is your friend: the free resources out there are staggering!
There is great specialisation: Celtic knots, Andean pebble weaves, letters, animals, you name it, it can be woven on a band!
First however you will want to learn how to read a draft (i.e. a pattern telling you how to form sheds, alternate colours, etc: think of reading a sheet of music). The inkle loom manufacturers guides (e.g. Schacht and Ashford) seem great as jump starts.
Another useful quick start is with Handwoven’s Magazine free guide: all of their guides will ask you for your email, I think it is a fair price to pay. This guide gets you going with the basic principles.
Of course pecil and paper are fine to use to sketch out band patterns. However there are some free software programmes that allow you to play around with colours to get some idea of what patterns you will get.
Here whether you are using a reed or a set of cards does make a difference.
For heddle users, Raktres: web based, it is pretty complete, with clear usage instructions here; ess sophisticated (it does plain weave only) but still easy to use to muck about is the free pattern simulation hosted by the Carolingian dream, again web based.
For cards/tablets users drafts do work differently (e.g. you must note the direction in which you turn the cards), two useful pieces of software to experiment with are the Tablet Draft Designer and Twisted Threads (the latter requires setting up an account, again pretty good price, it seems to me).
Links to further resources
There is a staggering amount of resources on band weaving out there, and this post is very long. So I will finish adding just two more “links of links” to societies dedicated to band weaving:
And so it was that after admitting defeat (wanted to do double weave overshot on my rigid heddle loom – sadly, it can’t be pushed to that, or at least I couldn’t figure out how to accommodate it with three heddles without any pickup sticks or additional threaded heddles), I plumped for an Ashford 8 Shaft, 60cm/24″ Table loom – I’ll call her Penelope, hoping I will actually end up not unweaving too much!
Below a collection of scattered tips – coming from the Rigid Heddle Loom I had some pre-conceptions which turned out to be dead wrong. Obvious ex post, nevertheless I thought I’d collect them here in case someone else finds them before making the same mistakes I did!
A table loom typically comes with wood fully finished.
It may need assembly, but it does not need finish. So if you had to wax your rigid heddle loom (as is the case with Ashford), you can save the leftover wax for other items. Assembly of a table loom will require a few hours – worth bearing this in mind when planning during the anxious wait for your loom to arrive. In the case of my Ashford Table Loom, I took a good half an hour to make sure I had all the pieces/screws/bolts all checked and grouped together. It took me the best part of two solid evenings to put it together. You will also need a candle (you will scrape the wood screws over it t ease screwing in), a good quality Pozi screwdriver (I swear by Stanely Fatmax), and a hammer. The assembly enininstructions could not be clearer, just take your time – by the end of it I was quite intimate with my new loom!
A table loom typically sits on four feet and the breast beam sits taller than a rigid heddle loom
The rigid heddle loom frame sits flat on any surface. The frame of the Table loom instead sits on feet. This is something consider if (like me) you are not planning on a stand. So first of all the surface that will host it will have to be deep enough that the feet don’t “fall over”. An Ashford Table Loom is 74cm/29″ deep, regardless of width, while many desks and kitchen tables are not that deep, certainly mine aren’t, so what to do? My solution was to buy two 80cm/32″ lease stick, and use them lengthwise on each side of my loom. So no overhang there. I put some rubber disks underneath the lease sticks so that they won’t slide under pressure when the loom is in use. You will need a chair of adequate height.
Very different setts are obtained with the same reed.
With Rigid Heddle Looms, reed, heddle and beater are one and the same. So for a denser warp you must use a denser rigid heddle, and you have to use different heddles for different size yarns. This is because the heddle also works as a beater, and so it rubs against the tensioned warped thread constantly. With a Table loom instead the heddles (which also can be rigid, e.g. floor loom typically have metal heddles) are separate from the reed. You will pass a single warp thread through the eye of a single heddle; heddles hang from a shaft, and so pulling the shafts up will create the sheds. The sett however depends on how many threads you sley in each of the reeds hole. To know how to obtain a given sett you can refer to areed substitution chart. There are limits, though, so tipycally a balanced number of ends in each slot won’t leave a “trace” in the weaving, and so you will probably end up with a colleaction of reeds for your table loom too (I know I will!)
The shed of a table loom is humongous compared to the shed of a rigid heddle loom
Seriously, no comparison – so if you can double weave on a rigid heddle loom, I could imagine you can triple weave on a table loom! Testing the claim is firmly on the cards.
Tension problems: check the warp path
This is particularly true for the Ashford – if you look at it form the side, it wraps around the frame making a Z shape around the front beam, and a mirror Z at the back beam, see below for a picture from Ashford’s assembly instructions. If you won’t follow this, the gears will slip and won’t hold tension (ask me how I know…)
You can warp back to front using a reed instead of a raddle
The Ashford Table Loom currently does not come with a raddle, which you have to buy separately. Because you typically have to indirect warp (but you could also hybrid warp warp!) you have to spread it on the beam in the same width as it will be through the reed, so that when you wind the warp you end up with an even, lovely cilinder that will keep tension throughout the weave. To accomplish this you can either buy or make a raddle yourself; or you can use an existing reed. You will position it exactly as you would a raddle, and you “rough sley” it with the ends per inch of your sett – where “rough” stands for the fact that you dont’ have to be as precise as for when you sley the reed. The reed will sit at the back of your chain (you don’t want to upset the cross), as would the raddle. Once the warp is spready through the reed, you start packing the warp on the beam, leaving enough warp to reach the front of the loom. Then you remove the reed, and start sleying the heddles. With a table loom it is easy to remove the reed from the beater (you need to do so to warp back to front anyway) and use it as a warping aid. Nice explanation with clear pictures here and here.
You can make extra heddles on the fly to correct threading mistakes
How? Take a string of piece of pearl cotton and loop it around the bottom shaft bar, keeping the two sides of the loop of equal length. Tie both ends in a knot, leave about 1cm, then tie another knot (now you’ve made a heddle eye), then tie a knot at the upper bar. Not ideal, but better than re-sleying everything!
You can keep extra unused heddles on by interspersing among other heddles
Having extra heddles available might be useful expecially for the novice like me, so that you avoid having to make an extra heddle (or two) when discovering threading mistakes. So you can count how many extre heddles you have per shaft, and stick one or more in at each repetition.
You can weave inkle bands on your table loom.
An inkle look is a 2 shaftt loom, and band weaving may involve a lot of pickup. With a 4-and-above shaft loom you can of course reduce the pickup. Use a straigh threading with the reed off the loom, and beat with a belt shuttle. A free guide to inkle weaving is avaiable from Handwoven Magazine, a 1941 pamphlet by Mary Atwater is available here, a rather clear beginners guide is here, and some wonderful Andean patterns written specifically for the 4S Table loom are here and here. But I digress!