Spinninglizzy's Weblog

Falling down the slippery fibre slope

Reely Warped

Finally!  My first weaving FO.  The project that came with Hedy is finished.  It would have been finished sooner if not for the time it took me to find appropriate yarn to make the warp repair.

The colour doesn’t match, but the weight does.  It’s surprisingly inconspicuous in the final product.  I’m  happy to report that the wispy bouclé thread that came with this project is finally used up.  The closest match I could find was a chenille yarn.  It’s heftier than the original, and much closer to the same weight as the warp.

What a difference the yarn makes!  Almost all the problems I had with evenness and selvedges disappeared!  (BTW: Thank you, Jane, for great tips about grabbing the beater by the middle, and tying smaller bouts.  They worked wonders for me!)  The bouclé had been such a struggle to work with; I’m so relieved to find out it wasn’t me.  Weaving goes along so much faster than knitting!  I had woven more than a foot with the chenille yarn before it dawned on me to try out some weft floats that didn’t show up when using the bouclé.

Of course, by that time, there were only a few inches left to weave.


And immediately commandeered by my son

to dress Squiggly Pig’s owees.

I was anxious to finish that sash and create my own project.  I started out warping on the warping board that came with Hedy.

I didn’t have any spare wall space to hang it on, and was using it on the floor.  That became old very quickly.  About six ends quickly.   So I had to drag out this bad boy that came with Beauty:

Introducing the Humungo-Warper Frankenreel 2000.  This warping reel is so large and heavy that it can knock out a boxer.  But, I can (just barely) carry in, assemble, and take apart all the parts without any help.  Which is a good thing, because within minutes of seeing me lug this into the house, my menfolk hastily vacated the premises.  Muttering something about shopping.  Lovely.  Leaving me to figure out how to Warp. In. Peace.

I measured several times, and found the circumference of one turn to be 110.75 inches, or 3.076 yards, or 281cm.  I suppose they were aiming for three yards when they created this monster, and the extra 2.75 inches may be a result of humidity.  (It looks very similar to Schacht’s horizontal warping mill, but that one is only two yards in circumference.  If the Schacht can warp eighteen yards, I wonder how much mine can do.)   With the cross bar skewing the weight of the sides, sometimes the reel swung around with such speed it was difficult not to wince — or duck — when the arms were swinging towards me.  The cross bar can be moved to any location convenient to make up the warp length.  In a sense, I don’t have to worry about a brake, because the sides tilt, even when base locking pegs are well seated.  So the reel often hits one or the other side on the base; this slows it down, but doesn’t stop it.  It’s a bother, but I’m learning to live with it by controlling how I swing the reel.  I thought I was missing a second cross bar, but after setting this up, I don’t think so.  A second cross bar wouldn’t eliminate the tilting, since that problem is caused by the base wobbling.  I may still ask a carpenter to make me a second one, because it would be very helpful for shorter warps.  In this case, my shorter warp measured 212 inches, comprising 81 ends.  For three dish towels.  I also had the same problem Trapunto mentions, of uneven tension and lengths of warping threads created when the later threads deviate from the guide thread when wrapping around pegs, changing directions, and adding more thickness to the warp.

Because my design would be symmetrical, I decide to use the information from Tom Knisely’s video, “A Comprehensive Guide to Warping Your Loom from Front to Back”, and make my threads twice as long, doubling the ends when I warped the loom.

Reeling around.

Closeup of the locking jaw tool used on the cross, found at the Home Depot

I didn’t want to tape an apron rod or stick to my loom frame (as Betty Davenport recommends), but thought a suspended apron rod would be very useful when threading the heddles.

Above: Note the wire clips suspending the apron rod in place.

So I made these with the help of some wire-bending tools and copper wire.

Two of my apron rods already had holes drilled.

Warping the loom took forever!  I had so much trouble with crossed and tangled ends, even though my crosses tied at both ends kept beautifully.  Then the problem of uneven lengths created while using the warping reel.  I spent a lot of time combing through the ends to undo tangles and adjust tension.  I’m sure that doubling the ends and cutting them in half exacerbated that issue, which created trouble at times when I had a few ends that were a bit too short for tying a bow on the front apron rods.  Even counting out a little time for meals, bathing and putting my son to bed, I spent a solid fourteen hours warping the loom.  (I turned down every Fourth of July invitation to have time to do this!)  At this rate, I won’t be hawking my wares at the Pike Place Market any time soon.

After the loom was finally warped (about 1AM), how could I sleep without doing some weaving???  This first towel was woven in less than two hours, even including unravelling and re-weaving something like thirty percent of it to get it right.

Approximately 14.5″ x 22″.  Warp at 34 wpi, weft at 18 wpi, 100% cotton.  Using a 10-dent (my only) heddle.  The weave is less dense than I’d like; I completely forgot about making an arc with the weft before beating to obscure more of the warp, so I’ll have to try that next time.  I’ll be weaving more towels like this, as an exercise in creating some of the patterns from Betty Davenport’s rigid heddle pattern book.

In case you are wondering: “Where did she get her fabulous sense of colour from?”  Well, My Dear, thank you very much for asking.  It’s taken years of dedicated study, but I have a degree in “Because I can’t afford to pay retail, I get what I can scrounge together from whatever bargain-priced lots I bought”.

Dear Reader, if you have any ideas about
1) how best to finish an edge without a fringe (fringe on a towel would feel like drying dishes with a placemat!)  and also without much bulk, and
2) creative uses for the loom waste,
I’d love to hear of them!


6 July 2008 - Posted by | FOs, Weaving | ,


  1. I see pictures of finished edges that have been sewn down — and I think I’ve figured out what I’ve been looking at: use a very lightweight weft yarn at the end of the piece to weave for 1-1/2″ or so. That will produce a lightweight cloth at the ends that can be folded under twice and sewn down. Aha!

    Comment by SpinningLizzy | 6 July 2008 | Reply

  2. Hola, Lizzy,

    Great job on Piggie’s owiewrap. You whipped those selvedges in no time flat!

    Wrong person, here, to even venture a comment on using a warping reel. I love my Schact warping board and can do a little over 14 yards on it, which is the longest warp I’ll ever do anyway — I get too bored otherwise. I have friends with reels, so if I ever get a wild hair, I know where to go 🙂

    14 hours — bless your heart. It will become faster and easier the more you do it. However, for me, every warp teaches me something new – whether in the proces of dressing my loom, working with a particular fiber, color, sett, weave structure, design process, and whatnot.

    What a beautiful job you’ve done on the first towel! Oh, and I’m from the same color and fiber school — 🙂 It’s only now, that I’m an old woman, that I’ve collected a stash of gorgeous colors and fiber types.

    That being said — I’ve seen incredibly expensive fibers whose weaver/knitter/crocheter, etc. did a mediocre job, and I’ve seen polyester twine from home Depot where its weaver created something stunning in its originality and execution. You’ve done sucha lovely job.

    Yes, you’ve got it right. Just use a yarn that is much lighter in weight than that for the body of your towel and it will hem up nicely. You can even use sewing thread or fine crochet thread for the hem area, depending on what size threads you are using for your towels.

    So weave on! You’re doing great!


    Comment by Jane | 6 July 2008 | Reply

  3. You are SO a weaver! Making tools (those copper thingummies are great), turning down holiday invitations, scaring the menfolk away.

    Hedy, Beauty, and Bad Boy! I love it!

    I should have mentioned your towel first, because it is absolutely gorgeous. My only thought in addition to Jane’s of slimming down the header weft for hemming is to weave the warp ends back into the piece. I have never done this, because It sounds so tedious to thread each warp end on a needle, but all the finishing books mention it (doubtless while laughing up their sleeves), so I have been thinking I will try it on something very narrow one of these days.

    You have a wonderful reel! I hope you have priced them on the internet so you can tell your husband how much you saved by getting one with your loom! I haven’t seen any like it. I believe the spacing pegs along the bars are unique for horizontal reels, so is the three yard circumfrence. Of course the bigger circumfrence means less time spinning the reel, and I think maybe cuts down on the severity of that length differential we both discovered. You will be able to wind nice long warps to play on!

    Isn’t it crazy, the ratio of warping time to weaving time? I’ve been finding that the difference shrinks gradually, but even so . . . I like to stretch out the weaving. Like eating cheesecake slowly.

    The sett of your towel may suit you better after washing–or 2 or 3 washings. I have been really surprised by how yarns bulk up and mellow out when they’re put in use.

    I’m in awe of what you’ve accomplished and look forward to hearing more!

    Comment by trapunto | 6 July 2008 | Reply

  4. Wow, what a warping reel! And like Trapunto I love your wire clips – that is true weaver-genius m’dear. And what can I say about the towel that has not been said more eloquently above? It’s gorgeous and I can’t wait to see the others.

    Comment by Cally | 10 July 2008 | Reply

  5. P.S. My best use for loom waste is selling it on to embroiderers!
    P.P.S. A translation query: can you expand “FO” for me? I presume it is something harmless like “Finished Object” but over here it usually stands for something extremely impolite…

    Comment by Cally | 10 July 2008 | Reply

  6. Thank You ALL for the generous and encouraging comments! I’m sorry about “FO” — I myself don’t like the acronym (yes, just as you guessed, it means “Finished Object”) ) — but I’ve gotten used to my knitting friends who use it all the time.

    Comment by SpinningLizzy | 15 July 2008 | Reply

  7. P.S. Cally — embroidery thread — what a marvelous use of loom waste, especially when using those lovely silks! Thanks for the tip!

    Comment by SpinningLizzy | 15 July 2008 | Reply

  8. holy cow, that is some reel! I’ve never seen one like that before. I love your towel!!

    Comment by Liane | 15 July 2008 | Reply

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