Fabric finished

Tonight I finished warping my loom and created a piece of fabric. (Which I then promptly shrunk in the washing machine because I am a moron and forgot to set the machine to "delicate.") Here are the remaining steps to warping the loom.


Once the reed has been sleyed the heddles need to be threaded. This is like threading a needle, except on a much larger scale. Each heddle is attached to a shaft which goes up and down according to how the treadles (peddles) are pushed. The order of the threading and the order of the treadling will make a unique pattern in the fabric. I wanted to make a basic "tabby" pattern. (This is a simple under-over pattern.) This photo shows about half of the heddles threaded. You can see the reed in the middle of the photo with the yarn coming out of it. On the right hand side are the threaded heddles and on the left hand side are the empty heddles. I actually quite enjoyed this step (it's also a LOT faster than sleying the reed).

Threading the heddles

With the heddles threaded the next step is to tie up the ends of the warp to the front and back beam of the loom. This involves a bit of play to make sure the tension is right. In the first photo the warp is wound onto the front beam. In the second photo the warp has been wound onto the back beam and is ready for weaving:

Loom warped and ready for weaving Loom warped and ready for weaving

As part of this process I also carefully examined each of the heddles to make sure I had threaded the warp in the correct order. I'd made two mistakes out of over 100 warp threads. I think this is pretty good for my first try! With the loom warped I was (finally!) able to start weaving.


It took me virtually no time before I had a finished piece of fabric:

Off the loom Woven fabric

The ends were tied and the extra loom waste was snipped off:

Ends knotted, loom waste trimmed

Technically the weaving isn't done until it's been set (washed). This is where I made the fatal mistake of forgetting to use the delicate setting. Fortunately this is "just" a practice piece and wasn't intended for anything specific. Overall I had about a 10% shrink rate. A little bit of shrinking is expected, but it's usually much less than this.


But there we have it! My first piece of fabric off my aunt's loom which is now my loom.


Sleying the reed

This afternoon I dropped by my local yarn shop (Riverside) and Colleen and I talked about how long it takes us to start "scary" steps in a project. With a lot of encouragement she convinced me to just go ahead and warp my loom. It's a 45" beast that comes to me via my aunt. Over the winter I did a little weaving because the loom came to me already warped. But with that fabric finished I need to learn how to warp the loom before I can start weaving again.

I know this is the time consuming part of the process. It's also sort of scary. Because it's time consuming. Or perhaps because it's the foundation for what will become fabric. And there are scissors involved and there's no "undo" when it comes to scissors. With Angelika and Mel's suggestion I got a copy of Learning to Weave, a glass of whiskey (ok, maybe that was my idea) and just started.

Three hours later I had sleyed the reed. (The best reason to weave is because you have a loom in your living room. The second best reason to weave is the really cool terminology.)

Here's what sleying the reed involves:

Measuring the warp (the vertical strands in the weaving process) on a warping reel:

Warping reel with 2 yards of blue warp

The pegs help to separate each strand of warp and prevent them from getting tangled:

Tying the warp

I did this for two different colours: blue and light brown. With the warp measured it was time to transfer it to the loom. I had to switch the reed that was on the loom. The reed is the part that keeps the yarn separated when you "beat" the weft into place (the weft is the strand of yarn that is passed, via a shuttle, through the warp to make the actual woven fabric). I switched the reed to a 12 dent reed (this means I have 12 strands of yarn per inch in the fabric, but +1 for terminology again because a dent is also an open source tweet). It took me a while to figure out how to set up the lease sticks, and ultimately I'm not sure I was doing it "right" but after a "long" amount of time I ended up with blue warp sleyed through the reed:

Blue warp sleyed

After a total of three hours I had all of my warp sleyed. This was cause for celebration:

Warp through the reeds with a little Glen Livet

The next step will be to thread the warp through the heddles which are attached to each of the shafts (I have a four shaft loom). The shafts are attached to the peddles which are used to treadle a pattern into the fabric by lifting up different warp threads:

Warp through the reeds

You can see in this photo that the warp doesn't go anywhere... it's just tied up at the back of the reed:

Back of reed, with knots

It will need to be passed through the gray bit that looks like a screen on the right and then wrapped onto the back beam. (You can see the front beam in that last photo, that's where the finished fabric will end up.)

It's all very exciting, and very time consuming. I've also started to panic about the instructions: I think I've made a 2 yard warp (as instructed) but now I'm not convinced this will actually be long enough to wrap onto the front and back beams of the loom AND have enough length left to actually weave. I have a feeling I may end up with a very small square of fabric (with a lot of waste). But it's a start and that's more than I had at the beginning of the day.

Write Daily

For nearly three weeks I've had a tab open on my browser with the intention of writing something. Today. But for nearly three weeks I just haven't managed to collect my thoughts in ways that I wanted them to be consumed. It's been a whirlwind though.

Writing Open Source - the first ever (as far as we know) Open Source Documentation conference was held in Owen Sound. It was amazing. I am biased, but it was amazing. (I'm not being redundant, it really was amazing.) I am also intensely proud of how this conference has turned into a community. Please participate, or at least follow along, on the revamped WOS site. There's a planet feed, forums and amazing intiatives including a style guide, documentation personas and a best practices guide. And when I say initiatives I mean it in the exact definition of the word: the projects are initiated and looking for your input!

WOSCON ProcessionJim at the chocolate fountain WOSCON 09 Group Photo

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