SpinningGill very generously gave up the bulk of her Sunday and came round to show me the ropes vis. warping the loom.Â Hilariously, I had thought she might get as far as starting me off weaving…
Obviously I had no real conception of how involved the process is ((for involved read fiddly and/or time-consuming)).
I wish that I had documented the whole process, but I failed to take photos yesterday – due to concentrating hard (and making onion bhajis). What I home here will have to do for now…
Mr L assembled the warping mill for me on Saturday as I was knitting against the clock ((To little avail, I must add)) so it was ready for use when Gill arrived.
We opted to use the linen warp that I had purchased from Texere.
Gill consulted her weaving book, did some rapid calculations, whipped out the tape measure and determined the length of warp required.Â We agreed to use the 8 dents per inch reed and settled on a 12″ wide project. So we needed to wind 12 times 8. (We miscounted and wound 14 groups of 8, so my project grew a bit there…)
Gill wound a few, then handed over to me, but I returned control to her while I rolled out the chapattis for lunch. Queen of multi-tasking 🙂
Once the warp was wound, and therefore also measured, we had to tie it up in such a way as to preserve the order of the turns and braid it to avoid tangles.
The next stage is a bit hazy – I need to clarify just what we did, and how – but it was something like this, though not necessarily in this order: Lease sticks were inserted into the cross-overs to maintain the separation of the warp which we had created in winding it around the pegs at each end of the mill. We mounted a tool called a raddle on to the back beam of the loom and spread one end of the warp across it, as nearly in order as possible and as evenly as could be managed – care being taken to get each half divided about the centre point.Â Basically I think the aim is to get each inch-worth of warp between a pair of pegs. Doing this in the correct order makes it easier to thread later.
Then the ends of the warp were cut though the loops and the warp wound on to the back beam (the warp beam), leaving sufficient length to thread the loom and attach the warp to the front beam (the cloth beam)
It looked something like this, although I took this photograph this morning:
We tied up each half of the warp to keep it tidy
The next step, if I’ve got this right, was to begin threading the warp through the heddles.
My loom is a 4 shaft model. In the simple terms that I feel reasonably confident in using at this stage: The shafts carry the heddles, which allow you to set up groups of warp threads in such away that they are easily manipulated as a single set. By threading the warp in sequence through the heddles of each shaft we can ultimatelyÂ lift or lower the warp in 4 defined groups, one or more at a time.
I had thought a beginner would start with 2 shafts but Gill said we should start with the 4. you know me, game for anything!
So, time to thread the warp through the heddles. To do this we needed to cut through the warp loops at the other end. We settled for cutting the right-hand group. Ashford provide a heddle hook – this was soon abandoned in favour of a home-made tool, fashioned from a paper clip.
One by one we pulled a warp thread through the heddles, starting at the centre and working towards the right hand edge.Â The first thread was put though a heddle the front shaft, the second through one on the next shaft back and so on, with the fourth thread going on in rear shaft. This order being maintained all the way across, and making sure that the warp threads were taken in their original sequence.
As each group of four was completed we tied the cut ends together loosely to keep things safe and tidy.
Two groups of 4 makes an inch – at this stage we threaded the reed. Untying a group of 4 warp threads, we used a reed hook to pull the warp through the reed (8 dents per inch, remember? So that’s one thread per “dent” or slot) before tying them back off again.
The reed will maintain the spacing of the warp threads when we begin to weave.
Once the principle was established, Gill went home and left me to practise my new skills.Â This I did as assiduously as I could, but my back began complaining – so I actually gave up for the night before finishing the first half.
I had to give thought to cat-proofing ((not actually a valid possibility but, you know, where cat-ownership is concerned one feels that a degree of pretence regarding one’s being on top of things is good for one’s self-esteem.)) I did what could be done:
Mr L had his doubts, so he actually bedded the cats down for the night in the utility room. Such an understanding man…
This morning, I completed the first-side and the second one is already under way.
I’ll finish off this afternoon. Then we need to get the warp tied on to the front beam and get it tensioned. I might need Gill back for that bit!