Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wood Series Threaded and Ready to Weave

Threading a complex pattern like the wood-grain series is a time-consuming process. It used to be even more time-consuming, and much more error-prone, before I learned about the "treadle your threading" method.

Patterns that are easy to thread include the ones that go from the first shaft to the last, over and over: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, for example. Or the ones that have an easy-to-remember repeat: 1,2,3,4,5 then 2,3,4,5,6 then 3,4,5,6,7, or 1,2,1,2,1,2,1,2 followed by 3,4,3,4,3,4,3,4, etc. For those, all I have to do is grab the next logical group of heddles and thread them in order.

The pattern I'm threading now has no easy-to-remember series, so what I do is set the pattern up with a treadling that is identical to the threading, and then tell the dobby mechanism to raise one shaft at a time. Each shaft raised represents one thread of the threading, in order. That way, I can see which heddle to grab and thread. Then on to the next shaft, grab one heddle and thread it. Slow going, maybe, but accurate. Computers have a much better memory than I do, they don't get distracted or bored, they don't lose their place. Believe me, this method is much more reliable than I am in full manual mode!

So here's the infamous cross (see previous post), suspended on lease sticks behind the shafts. At this point, the loops that secure the crosses of each individual 1-inch section have been removed, because the lease sticks are keeping the cross in place. (For you nonweavers, the cross insures that the threads stay in order while you thread; having carefully created the warp with the threads in a certain order, you want to keep it that way!)

I made a setup using clothesline cord and hooks that go into the holes at the ends of the lease sticks, which have hiking-boot laces tying them together through those same holes at both ends. All safe and secure while I thread the heddles and sley the reed.

Once the threads are drawn forward through heddles and reed, I untie and remove the lease sticks. They get to take a holiday until the next warp goes on the loom. The lease-stick hangers just slide to the back of the crossbar, where they wait out of the way until they're needed again.

After threading and sleying, the next step is lashing the warp onto the cloth apron. The warp is divided into bouts, each anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 inch in width. I tie an overhand knot at the very end of each bout, and run a slippery cord through the middle of the bout, then around the apron rod, as shown in the pictures below.

The lashing cord may be easier to see in this shot taken from the front, looking back toward the reed (the metal piece with very skinny vertical slots - you'll probably have to click the image to display the larger version before you can see the slots).

Once the bouts are all lashed on, it's easy to manipulate the slippery lashing cord until all the bouts are the same tension. A little tug on each loop from left to right, then back again, and the tension equalizes.

This is as far as I'm going to get for now, because I'm off to Asilomar for the weekend, to attend CNCH, the annual Conference of Northern California Handweavers. This year the format of the conference is workshop retreat. I'm taking a 2.5-day workshop with famed artist, weaver, and teacher Alice Schlein on using Photoshop as a design tool for jaquard and dobby looms. Can't wait!

One of the nice things about this workshop, besides the great teacher and exciting topic, is that I only have to bring along a laptop equipped with Photoshop: no loom, no warping board, no shuttles, no yarn, no spinning wheel, no fiber at all. It'll be digital weaving at it's best.


Beryl said...

These are great "process" photos. Glad you posted them. I'll have to try lashing my warp this next time instead of tieing it directly to the apron rod. And treadling the threading is a definite must for future projects.

Kaz [curiousweaver] said...

Great idea for threading accurately. I'm definitely going to try that on my next warp. Thank you.

shirleytreasure said...

Hi Sandra,
I just want to thank you for an earlier post on your home made 'Temple' made from tarp ties or clamps you got at a camping store.
I started a new project a few days ago an my tarp ties are worth their weight in gold!
Thanks a million.
Shirley Treasure