Sunday, September 13, 2009

Playing Tag with Chaos

Warping a loom is like playing tag with chaos. The only thing between you and a tangled mess is the cross, and between the cross and tearing your hair out are the lease sticks, which are in place for a very good reason—to keep your warp strings neat and orderly and in place—warp strings whose first tendency is to twist into a congealed snarl. This way, despite the tendency to tie itself into a knot, the warp can be wound so it is not only pleasant to weave but have at least some resemblance to those pristinely warped looms pictured in advertisements.
I am a new weaver. So I can’t begin to call myself a teacher. But what I can be is a reporter—reporting just what it’s like to have a few hundred linen threads twist around and around, snarling and snagging, while I try to wind them on in an orderly fashion. It is awful.
This is not what I imagined when I daydreamed about learning to weave, gazing longingly t all those lovely loom advertisements.
I will show you my warping progress one step at a time. The topmost picture shows the warp fresh off the warping board, all neatly tied, and draped over the loom.
They look harmless at this point. The cross is already being preserved by the lease sticks, which at this point are clamped to the warp beam. In the second photo you see the lease sticks in a better position. My LeClerc has some eye hooks especially in place for suspending the lease sticks.

In the next picture, you can see that not only are the warp bundles tied to the apron with these cool knots, but also, I’ve spread the warps through the raddle. The raddle (that’s the pronged thing) is spaced at one inch intervals, and since my sett is 5 warps per inch, there are 5 warps in each space.
This is where I learned the value of that cross, because this is where the warp is in order—every place else it is twisting onto itself over and over again. It took some untwisting to get it this neat and there were a few I missed when I took this picture.
After this, and with the help of my husband, I wound on the warp. He was in charge of holding the warp under even tension, and sat on the bench. I wound it onto the backbeam and kept an eye on the lease sticks. As I wound the endlessly twisting warp threads would tangle and get stuck in the lease sticks. I had to stop regularly to undo these tangles—which fortunately came undone. If you look closely at any of the pictures you can see twisting and tangling going on as the threads naturally turn on themselves.

I was so focused on keeping the warp flowing freely through the lease sticks that I forgot to pack the warp properly—as you can see there are no sticks separating the warp on the back beam. This is a giant OOPS! It means I have to unwind and rewind.
I'm "it."

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1 comment:

  1. Far, far more patience than a mere mortal such as myself possesses! I still have thoughts of someday getting a table loom, but a floor loom? You should hang a sign on the door warning others that "this way lies madness"!