Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dressing the Loom

I wound a warp yesterday of heavy white cording. I think it is cotton but so many of my yarns have lost identification tags during my various moves that I am not sure. (Yes, I could do some tests to find out, couldn't I? That is, if I was someone other than myself.) This yarn has been haunting me to be woven as a basket weave.

I have worked with many students over the years, of varying levels of expertise. It is always interesting to work with people who already know how to weave, because I inevitably learn a new way to do something. I like learning different methods, though I don't always change what I do, even if the new method seems smarter. My advice to students is what I follow myself: try the new way and then decide what you want to do. Sometimes a new method is awkward, but worth pursuing because it does seem better; other times I just leave it alone after trying it. That being said, I do think my way of hanging my lease sticks for threading is very smart. You can see in the image above, that I hang my lease sticks from the castle at the back of the loom--tying the string through the back lease stick. This makes the back lease stick higher than the front one.

You can see from the picture above, taken from the front of the loom, that I can see the sequence of my threads when the lease sticks are hung this way, and choose the next one for threading easily. I always was frustrated by the method I originally learned, which had the lease sticks horizontal in the same plane. The method I use now definitely makes the process of threading move smoothly and correctly.

I thread from back to front now--though I originally learned to thread front to back. My first weaving lessons were in New York City at the Crafts Students League. The teacher was Claire Freedman. I didn't have anything specific I wanted to make, I just wanted to learn everything possible so when I moved to a commune I would be able to weave whatever was needed. She took me through so many processes (tapestry, pile knotting, leno, double weave, twills) and I still have those studies. When I look at them, it seems that I knew what I was doing, but I know I didn't understand them at all--just followed directions. It took years until I really grasped what was going on. I am still learning, and often going back to things I did in the past to do again, and understand better this time around.

So I began weaving. You can see plain weave, then rib, plain, then basket, and then plain. This will be a sample I put in my notebook, along with all the data about this cloth. I have lots of notebooks which I fill up religiously, and then never go back to and look at again.  


  1. I love the white fabric, just above your snowy window picture!

  2. Thanks so much for posting the tip about tying your back lease stick higher than the front one!!

    I'm just learning to use lease sticks - I'm on my second warp with them. Today about halfway through the warp I remembered your tip and re-positioned the rear stick so it was higher than the front one.

    It was great! I could see the cross and it was much easier to choose my next thread!

    Thank you!!


  3. This is the way I do it and the way I learned from Merle at RISD