back at (and of) the loom

I was so glad to get home on Monday, and even more glad that I don’t have to go away again for several weeks. There has been too much coming and going, not to mention fluing, so a couple of months of plain vanilla routine will suit me perfectly — and that routine is going to include some serious loom time.

Before I forget, though, here are some pictures for Meg of the Stuff at the Back of the Loom. All these should biggify-on-mouse-click.

The main warp (the pinky-beigey wool) follows an S-shaped path over the back beam and around the warp beam, thus:

I’m using a roll of corrugated card as warp separator and I would usually use the second warp beam to hold the excess, so that it gradually winds on to the second beam as it rolls off the main beam. However, in this case I have tied it up in a makeshift sling — i.e. one loop of yarn at either end — so that it is held in front of the second warp beam and just clear of the back of the treadles.

The second back beam is attached to two U-shaped brackets which slot over the main back beam: it sits just above and behind the main beam in a way I find ridiculously pleasing.

The tie-down warp follows a C-shaped path (well, it would be a C if I could squeeze in a photo from the other end of the loom!) so that it winds onto the second warp beam from the back rather than the front. This keeps it completely clear of the main warp and its corrugated companion.

The second roll of corrugated card is supported by my handy studio floor. Leaning back into the corner as far as I can, I can almost get the whole ensemble in the picture…

…so that down in the bottom left hand corner of the photo, the handle at the end of the beam is just about visible. I have one handle for the two beams: the metal slot halfway up the side is where it fits into the end of the main warp beam. The main beam can be advanced using the brake treadle at the front of the loom, so once the warp is beamed I never need to use the handle. However, the second warp beam has a simple ratchet and pawl which need to be managed by hand. I thought this would be much more annoying than it is. Yes, I do have to jump up and run around to the side of the loom to advance the tie-down warp, but weaving Theo Moorman is so slow that this is not really a problem! On this project I am only planning to use inlay at the ends of the shawl, so it may be a bit of a pain during the long middly bit — but I reckon my natural weaver’s fortitude will be sufficient to endure any distress caused.

The actual weaving has so far been of the slow kind, especially in the first inlaid section where I found myself using 13 separate bobbins. What idiot thought that was a good idea? At least they were for distinct non-interlocking, non-overlapping inlaid squares. Yes, everything is still a square. I feel I could push this technique quite a long way without ever abandoning the right angle.

Here are the 13 bobbins…

…and here is the progress to date:

The basic idea is that it should look like a little shower of gold squares coming to rest at the ends of the shawl. I won’t tell you how many hours I spent thinking about algorithms for placing the squares and scribbling possible patterns. We’ll just wait and see how it turns out.

There is a pattern in the ground cloth too, although it is not really visible here. The threading consists of groups of advancing points on 6 shafts, the tie-up is 2/1/1/2 with an extended advancing treadling (straight, no points — there are limits, you know). I’m doing the two-treadle thing again with the tie-down warp on shafts 7 and 8. By doing 4 repeats of three lifts before advancing with four lifts, I can keep an even number of lifts in each little section which is enormously helpful for knowing where I am! With all the stop-start associated with the inlay, it is extremely easy to lose my place so I’ve also got notebooks and coloured buttons as aids in case of interruptions mid-section. It’s a shame that I totally missed the opportunity to enter this for the exhibition as I’d say it is pretty Complex.

back at (and of) the loom” was posted by Cally on 28 April 2012 at

Creative Commons License

13 Responses

  1. Dianne
    | Reply

    Complex and gorgeous.

  2. Sandra Rude
    | Reply

    Really beautiful, Cally! I hope you’ll consider bringing it to CW so I can admire it in person!

  3. Meg in Nelson
    | Reply

    Oh, I forget that some folks/looms have two beams. Of course this is how you separated the warps. Still, it looks like a delicate operation to me!

    Thanks, Cally.

    • Cally
      | Reply

      I reckon the most significant part of the arrangement is the second back beam. Keeping the layers separate is very useful when they are such different materials. However, once you’ve done that then the second warp could (fairly) easily be weighted rather than wound on to a second beam. I include the qualifier just because the gold thread I’m using is pretty tricksy – in this case the warp beam really does earn its keep.

      • Meg in Nelson
        | Reply

        Yes, because that would be what I’d do. I don’t know how I’d separate layers at the back, but my “fancy” warps would most definitely be weighed down with liquid bottles, where I can control the weight with the amount of water… I’m tempted, though, to try something fancy – NOT the sup weft part, but just in the warp!

        • Cally
          | Reply

          I’m actually loving the gold sparkle, in spite of myself! I would seriously consider using the Theo Moorman set up without doing any actual inlay but just to have the plain weave gold running through the cloth. I have some other sparkly options in the stash too… It doesn’t photograph at all well, unfortunately.

          • Bonnie Inouye

            I love the concept and the results of your sprinkled gold petals falling and pooling on the shawl.

            If you wanted a sparkly background without the inlay, think about placing it in weft instead of warp. Recently I wove a scarf with a slight sparkle of gold by winding the fine metallic gold thread with a pale fine silk weft. Every fourth pick used this shuttle; the other picks were pure silk. It was an easy rhythm for two shuttles and it fit the weave structure nicely. Background, pattern, background, pattern in the treadling sequence meant that every other background pick had sparkles and the two shuttles were always together at one edge of the cloth. I admit this felt strange at first because I had gone to some lengths to make this a turned draft for single shuttle weaving!
            I hope you will model this shawl at the CW fashion show in September! Bonnie

  4. Lisa
    | Reply

    Every part is lovely – even the glittery, dangling cardboard bobbins.

  5. Judy
    | Reply

    This is looking just beautiful.

  6. Marion Berkhout
    | Reply

    So beautiful!
    A lot of work but so very pretty.
    Can’t wait to see it finished.

  7. neki rivera
    | Reply

    spring showers on a flowery field!!.
    did the second back beam come w the loom or is it a home made contraption?

    • Cally
      | Reply

      It’s an optional extra – can be bought with the loom or added afterwards. I got mine at the time of loom purchase, but have only recently plucked up the courage to use it!

  8. Sampling
    | Reply

    I love the concept and the weaving looks amazing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.