The final set up before weaving

When we left the story of preparing to weave, the warp yarns had just been wound onto the loom.

The next step in the process is to thread the yarns through “heddles”. On my loom I use the “Texsolv” system of heddles. These are premade nylon heddles that arrive in bunches of 100 heddles. Some looms still use steel heddles. For some types of looms the weight of the steel heddles wouldn’t be a problem. But for jack looms, like mine, where the weaver needs to raise the shaft and heddles by stepping on a treadle, weight is a problem. In the olden days, heddles were made of some sort of yarn.

Each and every warp yarn must be threaded through a specific heddle. I can use up to 8 shafts on my loom. Those are the long wooden frames holding the heddles in the first photo. Part of creating a pattern in the cloth depends on which shaft the warp yarn is attached to, using the heddle. Not surprisingly, if you mess up threading the heddles, the pattern is wrong. And you must go back and correct it, even if it means unweaving a section. (Ewww.) So, accuracy is the key, and double checking.

After threading the heddles, the warp yarns must be threaded through the “reed”. Anciently, they tell me, this device had dividers made of reed. Now they are made of metal. The dividers are spaced at certain intervals. The interval spacing determines how tight the warp yarns will be in the final cloth. And I can’t mess up this threading either, or weaving doesn’t happen correctly.

The final bit of pattern control in the final fabric is done by attaching the shafts to the treadles in a certain order. The shaft/treadle connection governs how wide the warp yarns open during weaving. They must open a certain amount to allow the shuttle to go from side to side.

The warp yarns are tied onto the rod attached to the “cloth beam”. I use warp sticks to help spread out the warp yarns after this knot.

I’m usually excited at this stage and jump into winding weft yarns onto the “pirns” my shuttles require for weaving. Ready to start weaving!

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