Spinninglizzy's Weblog

Falling down the slippery fibre slope

Alpaca Shawl On The Rasmussen Loom

I had an ugly warp on my Rasmussen loom for the longest time. I was keen to to cut off and throw it away as soon as I’d made the decision to do it, but it still took me more than two years to to actually perform the deed.

Undergoing another spate of cleaning up the house and looking for easy things to give away, I thought I would re-gift some alpaca yarn that Syne Mitchell gave me. The warps had already been wound and cut, but there was no cross. The weft was four skeins dyed in slightly different shades of grey.

I didn’t think I wanted to spend the time to tame the warp, so put the yarn aside for several weeks, meaning to pass it along when the moment presented itself. But every time I passed by the yarn sitting on the top of my “to-do” pile, I was struck by the beautiful colours of the warp. It would not be fun to untangle the warp and re-define a cross, but it would be a good lesson to work through, so why shouldn’t I give it a try?

Working in groups of six or eight warps from the bundle at a time, I painstakingly drew out each warp and lay it on my floor to create a new cross. I had no idea what original colour sequence was intended, so all the warps were placed in the random order they were drawn in.

I had to repair several broken warps, but the rest of the project went smoothly. I do have to tune up my Rasmussen’s attachment to the treadle stand before the next project, as the heddle eyes pulled the warps down below the the height at the front and back beams.

The different shades of weft really stood out in the finished shawl. I also had issues with consistent beating, something compounded by the slightly imprecise ratchet and pawl tensioning of the Rasmussen loom, the friction of the cloth going over the front beam while being wound onto the cloth beam, and the elapse of several weeks between each weaving session. I hand-washed and fulled the shawl in hot water, and the resulting cloth is heavy, dense, and very warm.

Woven on Rasmussen 4-shaft loom with direct tie-up treadles
Warp & weft: unknown alpaca yarn, estimated 24 wpi, sett at 10 epi
Pattern: Undulating Twill, Point Draft 2/2 twill from
Anne Dixon’s Handweaver’s Pattern Directory
224 warp ends, each 105″ in length, for total 653 yards
580 yards of weft used
Taken off loom: 19.5″ width x 83″ woven length, plus more for fringe
Final, post-wash and full dimensions: 18-3/8″ x 79-1/4″ + 12″ fringe


27 August 2012 - Posted by | Weaving | , , ,


  1. So gorgeous! And a versatile, dramatic finished length too. What a brave effort it was to make that cross. In the end I think whatever beat consistency problems you had are pretty much hidden in that lovely interplay of the twill lines, the random warp stripes, and the halo on the yarn.

    Comment by Trapunto | 30 August 2012 | Reply

  2. The shawl is gorgeous. I have a question about how you tie up the loom. I have a used rasmussen just like what you describe here but i can’t figure out how to tie it up. Any help would be appreciated

    Comment by Lena J. Jones | 12 March 2013 | Reply

    • Hi Lena, are you asking about connecting the Rasmussen to the stand with legs, or reconnecting the shafts to the levers on top of the loom?

      Comment by SpinningLizzy | 12 March 2013 | Reply

      • I’m trying to figure out how to tie the treadles on the stand up to the harnesses. I can use the harnesses set up as a table loom like it is but would like to use the treadles.

        Comment by Lena Jones | 12 March 2013

  3. Beautiful

    Comment by BlueBerryMary | 19 April 2016 | Reply

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