Friday, February 27, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

To listen to and watch a wonderful talk on creativity, go to this blog post by Artist, Emerging: Creativity. There you will find a YouTube video—an extremely engaging talk on creativity by writer Elizabeth Gilbert. She presents a way of thinking about creativity that I was familiar with only from my reading on art in historical contexts, a notion that creativity comes not from within the artist, but from a “being” external to the artist. I was so enchanted with Gilbert’s performance and with the words that she spoke, that I could not stop watching or listening.

Kristin has been playing at making handwoven beads and creating jewelry with them.  I never would have thought!  Go take a look at her blog post here.

Amelia of The Bellwether has been running a series of articles on the rigid heddle loom.  A former rigid heddle weaver (I still have the loom so it may come to me again) who has tried a lot of the things she suggests, I find this a series not to be missed.  Not to be missed by a rigid heddle weaver.  Not to be missed by a would-be weaver.  And really, not to be missed by any weaver.  Whether weavers use a rigid heddle loom or not, I think that the knowledge that Amelia is giving us is worth our having.  I do hope that someday she edits these essays to publish them in monograph form.  It would be a treasure.  Go here to read her latest essay.

Thanks to Nigel’s Weaving Blog I have found a website of a young weaver who produces work that truly inspires me.  Her name is Ptolemy Mann and her work can be seen here.   I love her use of color and even more I love how she constructs the displays of her work.

Blogs to Visit” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 27, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

A friend recently emailed me the following question:

I'm intrigued that you're using handspun for warp.  Did you overtwist it or something to make it strong?  I don't think any of my handspun would hold up under warp tension.

Reading the question made me realize that I had nor dealt with this issue in a blog post, and needed to.

The answer is, no, I do not overtwist the yarn.  I simply spin a singles yarn to a size that I think I will like when it is plied as a balanced yarn.  I spin it with the amount of twist I need to put in that will give me what looks like a nice yarn when I test it by plying a bit of freshly spun yarn.  I spin it.  Then I ply it, skein it, soak it in hot soapy water, rinse and let it drain. The result, if I have done it right, is a balanced 2-ply yarn.

Spinning worsted style would result in a very smooth and very strong yarn.  But I do not want this kind of yarn for the scarves and shawls I like to weave with my handspun. So I spin semi-woolen style. This gives me a soft, but not too soft, yarn that holds up well in warping and weaving.  

Someone who is worried about a yarn holding up under warp tension can hold a piece of yarn with hands maybe a foot or so apart.  Then yank quickly and hard on the yarn.  If it doesn’t break, the yarn will do very well for warp.  It is often a good idea to check commercial yarn the same way.  One never knows!

Also, when I wind the yarn onto the back beam, I use only half the amount of weight that I would use for silk or cotton.  And when I weave, I use a fair amount of tension, but not the amount of tension I would use for silk or cotton.  For silk or cotton I ratchet up the tension very very high, almost to the point that I could weave tapestry. 

Weaving with such high tension, by the way, can be problematic for a jack loom.  On a jack loom a shed is produced by raising shafts, the remaining shafts moving neither up or down but staying at rest at the bottom.  There is a lot of tension on those raised shafts.  On a counter-balance or a counter-marche loom, shafts are raised AND lowered so that the tension is more evenly distributed.  This system is also much easier on the loom itself.  This is why jack looms are not recommended for tapestry or rugs. Both require extremely high tension to pack in the weft as tightly as it needs to be packed in.

This counter-marche system would also make it easier to weave my fine silks warped at high epi’s.  The warp ends would be pulled up and down equally and so would be less likely to stick to each other and cause bad sheds and skipped warp ends.  To compensate, I have learned to weave these threads with the fell closer to the beater than I usually do.

My loom is designed so that I can make adjustments to individual treadles so I can get any given group of shafts on a particular treadle to rise as much or as little as I want (within reason, of course!). This ability to adjust the treadles brings my loom a little way towards a counter-marche loom.   And it also has rear-hinged treadles which makes lifting the shafts easier.  But it is still at heart a jack loom.

But back to handspun.  Some people use a sizing on their handspun chains before putting them on the loom.  Paula Simmons, in her book, Spinning and Weaving with Wool, has an excellent description of how to do this and includes a recipe for it that she uses.  She thinks it is a good idea because of the possibility of weak spots in the yarn.  My answer to that would be that warp yarn, hand spun or commercial, can and does break.  If the handspun does break does break treat it as a commercial yarn.  Weave in with a new weighted end until you reach the spot that you can re-attach the regular warp end to the fabric.  Not a big deal!  So far (knock on wood!) none of my handspun warps have broken.  But I always have plenty extra for replacement ends.

Something worth noting.  I have not talked at all about yarn thickness, twists per inch.  So far as the spinning of the singles goes, I make my decision totally on what a particularly fiber looks like when it is spun.  And since I spin with an electric spinner, and spin very fast with it, there is no way I can do anything akin to counting treadles.   I spin totally by look and feel.  When I first started spinning, I though that kind of spinning was impossible.  I did not know it was possible until I purchased my electric spinner and discovered how much, over the years of spinning, had been built into my muscles and sense of touch and feel.

Plying is a different story.   My electric spinner is very cheap and I can spin on it in only one direction.  So I ply on my trusty Ashford Traveler.   And here I get anal-retentive again for I figure out how much yarn to let in with each treadle and then spin with that formula.

Related Post: 
Jack and Countermarch Looms
Where is My Fell?
Spinning Weaving Yarn with an Electric Spinner  (scroll down the page)
Warping with Handspun

Handspun Warp Question” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 26, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina


I don’t know if it is possible to see this in the photo, but not all the bouts are the same size. Normally I am quite anal-retentive about having all the bouts the same size, despite the fact that there is no good reason, no reason at all, for doing this.

In this case the fatter bouts represent times of confidence and good cheer; I believed I could thread a fair amount before checking, feeling quite sure there were no errors. The smaller bouts represent times of less confidence; I found myself making some mistakes as I threaded. I caught those mistakes immediately. Nevertheless, it was important to me to check those threadings more frequently, for my own mental health if for no other reason.


I learned something new about threading with this warp. And it has nothing to do with the fact that the warp consists of handspun.

When I get ready to thread, I have for the past year or so raised the shafts with books as high as they would go. Why? Because I was having trouble getting the yarn from the cross formed by the lease sticks into the heddles. This was because the cross was lower than the heddles. This made it also more difficult for me to see what I was doing.

So I went to the opposite extreme: I raised the shafts with books as high as I could. And I did that with this warp. That, however, is not what you see here. When I started, I had a second book under the shafts. That book was the same thickness as the book you see under the shafts. The shafts thus were raised twice as high when I began to thread.

With the shafts raised that high, I could easily see the cross and could easily get the threads from the cross into the heddles. One other thing made this possible: I sit on a high weaving bench. So the view that appears in the photo skews things up a bit, for this would be the view from a lowish stool where I would have to raise my hands up high to reach the lease sticks. And in the photo only one of the lease sticks is visible at the top of the photo, and it is only partially visible. Sitting on a high bench means I can keep my shoulders low and reach down instead of up.

(In case the two whitish sticks between the book and lease stick confuse you, they are packing sticks lying on the back beam.)

But even sitting on the high weaving bench, I have had a bit of trouble with my shoulder and with pulling the warp ends toward me. I was having more trouble than usual with this particular warp because I had left the warp threads too long and was silly enough not to wind a bit more onto the back beam to correct this.

But I decided to try something. I took one of the thick books out and raised the shafts half as high as I had them. Lo and behold! Much less trouble with the warp ends, much less trouble, if any, with my shoulder. Even looking at my right arm, I could see that the angle between upper and forearm was much better ergonomically speaking.

Related Posts:
Getting Ready to Thread
Let the Threading Begin
The Threading Process
Ergonomics at the Loom
Shoulder Issues

Threading Handspun Warp Done” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 25, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

I wrote a post last week in which I reluctantly found myself deciding to weave a sample before I wove the crackle shawl.  When I started writing the post, that was not how I thought it would end. 

Thanks to Bonnie Tarses I now have a better ending. She made the following comment on that post:

For me the answer to sampling is a 6"-8" "scarf" 4-5 yd warp. Not too wide, not too long, but enough to both sample AND have a finished product

I stared at that comment for a moment.  Slowly I began to realize how right she was.  And my dreading of putting this narrow warp on the loom has been transformed into eager anticipation.

I realized Bonnie’s answer would allow me a lot more latitude in playing with the motifs and sub-motifs: their spacing, their height, their combinings, their frequency.  Indeed, I woke up this morning with a possible plan for the overall design which will help bring some feeling of order to all of this play.  Finally, because this is something I will wear, I have to be honest in my weaving.  That means I cannot dismiss errors and other technical problems simply because I am weaving a sample.  I have to take care with the technical aspects of the weaving as well as the design aspects.  That will be very good for me.

One more thing about this brings me great happiness.  I feel I will have enough understanding, not only to use this concept for a shawl, but to use a painted warp as well.  That is something I have been wanting to do for a long time.

Sampling for Silk Crackle Shawl” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 20, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Monday, February 23, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Beaming with weights at front


After I finished tying the handspun onto the dummy warp, it was time to prepare the warp  for beaming.  I undid the slip knots in the warp.  I pulled the four bouts through the shafts to the front of the loom and over the front beam.  I attached weights to those bouts.

Here is a photo of the weights hanging from the warp bouts at the front of the loom.  I attach them to slip knots which I make in the warp bouts.

When I am weaving with fine silk I use two of these weights on each bout.  Silk, even fine silk, is extremely strong.  And silk can be so sticky that it needs a lot of weight to help keep those warp ends separated from each other instead of sticking to each other.

Here is a photo of two weights linked together in the way I would use them on a silk image warp.




Knots at lease sticks


With the warp under tension, I was now able to pull out easily one of the two sets of lease sticks. The lease sticks I pulled out were those inserted into the handspun warp.  The lease sticks that remain are those inserted in the dummy warp.

I wound the warp towards the back until the knots hit the first of the remaining lease sticks. The warp went over and under that first least stick.  But there the knots got stuck between the two lease sticks and  I could not wind any more.  I had trimmed the tails of those knots as I went along, but trimming them was not enough.

By the way, one  handspun warp end is clearly longer than the rest as it has already slipped itself under the second lease stick.  It was all alone, had no other loose ends nearby to contend with.


knots almost ready to move through The next step was to separate the the two lease sticks.  I removed the shoelaces I used to tie them together.  Then I moved the single lease stick at the top of the picture up towards the front of the loom to the shafts.

Next I turned the remaining lease stick on edge.  Doing this creates a shed.  I can get my fingers inside this shed.  I put my finger through the shed formed by different groups of warp ends. 

When I had cleared that shed I moved the lease stick back to the front to meet its neighboring lease stick.  But I quickly learned I could not do that.  Some of the warp ends stick together. So what I had to do was to stick my hand inside the shed and the gently move it up to that first lease stick, separating any ends that are stuck together.  I did this across the whole width of the warp.

Here is that second lease stick, having cleared the knots, moved up to meet the first Knots moved through lease stick. I could now turn the beam until the moving warp brings the lease sticks to the back of the loom.

I repeated the process, moving each of the lease sticks up individually, clearing sheds if I needed to, moving the weights when necessary, then turning the warp beam.  I repeated until the end of the warp came to the position I wanted it for threading.  For me, this is an inch or two in front of the front beam.

With the weights still on the the warp, I moved the lease sticks up to the shafts.  On each side of the shafts, there is a cup hook on the loom itself.  I tied the lease sticks onto these cup hooks. 


The time has come to prepare for threading.


Related Post:  Winding on the Warp

Beaming the Handspun” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 23, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Friday, February 20, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

“Give yourself room to fail and fight like hell to achieve.”*

Giving myself “room to fail” means, to me, trying out ideas, structures, colors that I have not woven before.  But why should I give myself “room to fail” at all?

In recent years I’ve given myself plenty of room to fail in my study of crackle.  But as I progress in my studies, I find that there is less and less room to fail.  I am becoming quite comfortable with crackle.  But what about the wool crackle sampling I did?

I have to admit, I kind of threw things to the wind.  I had not used either wool or heavy yarns with crackle.  And I had not specifically designed this warp for crackle and certainly if I had been designing it, I would not have used blue and light gray wide warp stripes.  I had used those stripes simply to check for color relationships in the lace weave structure I was trying. That the unplanned crackle attempt turned out, in terms of design and color, as well as it did was pure serendipity.

On the other hand, I had woven with this yarn before, had fulled with this yarn before, and had some idea of what might happen.  And I certainly was not “fight(ing) like hell to achieve” anything.  It was just a let’s-try-it-and-see project.  Moreover, it was the only way I was going to get anything woven for the spring Crackle Complex Weaver’s Exchange.

(Question: does serendipity happen without the previous wrestling?)

Perhaps giving myself room to fail doesn’t necessarily mean I have to give myself a huge room.  The silk crackle shawl I am currently designing does seem to be providing me with a fairly good sized room. But again, why give myself this room at all? 

1. It is the only way I will learn.

2. It is the only way I will find and continue on my own particular journey.

3. It’s fun.

But fighting “like hell”?  I know that faithfully doing my morning exercises is one version of fighting “like hell.”  There I am fighting hard to keep my body in shape so that I can weave (and garden) hopefully well into my 80’s.  But back specifically to weaving.

I suppose that weaving sample after sample is fighting.  And probably, thinking about it in those terms, I don’t fight enough;  probably I don’t weave enough samples.  I know that with this crackle shawl I should probably put a lot of warp on so that I can weave each of the motifs and trying different ways of weaving them.  Or another narrow warp to try the different ways of weaving them. 

Using the full width for this type of sampling is wasteful and serves no real purpose.  Indeed, With the full warp on I would be so eager to get through the sampling and into the “real” weaving that I would doubtless shortchange myself.

A narrow warp is a good idea.  What is holding me back from just doing it?  The difficulty of winding and warping the silk.  Can I look at this winding and warping more 60/2 silk as another opportunity to improve my skills there?  Yup, that will help a bit.

A narrow warp I think it shall be.  No, a narrow warp it SHALL be……………sigh………………

*”From Words to Paint By” (Irwin Greenberg) as found in The Painter’s Keys.  Go here to read all the “Words to Paint By”. 

Related Posts: 
   Out of the Washing Machine 
   That Badly Snarled Skein of Yarn
   Winding Cones: Have I Found the Secret?

Words of Wisdom?” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 20, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

I have beamed on the dummy warp.  I have wound the handspun warp bouts.  Now it is time Tying on handspun to tie on. 


Here is a view from the side of the loom that shows the general setup.

The view is from the side at the back of the loom.  I have already tied on about three quarters of the handspun warp.

At the left you can see the first set of lease sticks and the beamed-on dark red dummy warp coming through it.  The instrument to the left with the “points” is the raddle.  At the top of the photo, still looking at the dummy warp, you see a group of dummy warp threads that are waiting to be cut so that I can tie onto them.  In front of those loops, in the second set of lease sticks, are the ends of the green hand spun. 

Below that all the rest of the dummy warp ends are tied to the handspun warp.

Here is another view, this time from the back of the loom.  Looking at the second bout from the left shows that the ends have been pulled out (but not from the lease sticks) and pulled Tying onto dummy warp from back over the front set of lease sticks.  This is the bout I am working with and it is pulled up and out because it is easier for me to pull the ends from the lease sticks when they are horizontal, than when they are hanging down towards the floor.

Also visible is that the bouts are coming from the front of the loom, where they hang over the front beam.  The bout I am working from is hanging free over the front beam to give it just a little bit of tension, so making it easier to pull threads out from the cross.  The others rest lightly on the loom bench.

After I tie a group of ends, instead of leaving them flop around and tangle with each other, I make a loose slip knot to keep them together.  The slip knots are better seen in the first photograph above. They are in front of the second set of lease sticks on the right.

Tying on handspun detail Here is a detail from the back of the loom of the untied warp ends. The bout on the left has not been started.  It still has the two ties (red) which enclose the top and bottom of the cross as it comes off the warping cross.  And it still has the counting cross tie (yellow). 

The next bout is the bout I am working on.  There were three groups counted off by the yellow tie and only one remains.  I undo them one at a time as I work to keep things neat and easy to work with.  There is one errant thread, directly to the right.  It’s not really errant at all.  It is the last end in the second group of that bout and it is waiting to be tied to the appropriate end of the dummy warp.


I did not want to use a weaver’s knot to tie the knots.  I  have been taught to make them. I have taught myself to make them.  They make a very neat know which passes easily through the heddles.  I understand that they are also a very quick knot to make…………once you know how. 

I do not routinely tie on warps.  There are many weavers who do.  If I did routinely tie on warps I would probably both with the learning curve for the weaver’s knot.  Learning that knot would make a difference.  But I decided that wasn’t worth it for the few times I do this.

So when I started tying I used a granny knot, the first part of which was double wrapped like a surgeon’s knot.  But it didn’t always hold.  Each time I make the knot I test it by pulling the long ends (the ends that attach to the bout) hard.  I frequently had to retie because the smaller red end would pull free.  When I got to one end that I had to retie something like seven times I gave up and turned to a square knot.  Once in a while, one of those would slip and I would have to retie, but not very often. 

The slippage occurs because I am tying a relatively thick thread to a relatively fine thread.  The fine red thread wants to pull out from the heavier green thread.  This seems most likely to happen when the green thread at that point is a little softer with less twist.  Not so much twist went into that part because the fiber at that point was just a little thicker than the fiber on either side of it. A granny knot seems to deal with this issue better than a square knot.  But it is not foolproof!

I tried the granny knot first because that is easier for me to manipulate.  But by the time I got to the point where I am now, the square knot was almost as easy to tie as the granny.


One thing worries me.  It worried me with the previous two handspun warps, but neither time did the worry bear fruit.  Still I worry again.  There is no way I can tie these ends together and come up with all the lengths of warp the same length.  I just can’t do it!  In fact, this is one of the advantages of beaming back to front.  Instead of tying on to the back beam which results in uneven lengths, you put the rod through loops.  A quick pull or two from the first choke tie and everything is even.

Are these length differences going to make for difficult weaving?  They didn’t on my other two projects.  My guess is that two things are going on that prevent this from being a problem.  When I throw my first shots to get the warps properly separated for good weaving, there are always ends which bunch up, ends which are clearly longer than they other ends.  Evening these out seems to be one of the jobs of those first shots. 

The second issue is that this is a short warp, so any minor differences that might be left after those opening shots is not going to have a chance to become a major difference.


There is one blogging weaver who weaves a great deal with his own handspun and does not go through all this.  Dave simply warps up his loom as he would for any commercial warp.  He doesn’t worry about the waste. Do check out his blog, for he weaves lovely scarves from his own handspun.

I can certainly understand Dave’s not bothering with a dummy warp. What I am doing is a lot of extra (and tedious!) work. On the other hand, this is a rather wide warp I am putting on. I wanted to make the warp as wide as I could.  This meant doing everything I could to conserve yarn.

Related Post: Preparing the Warp Bouts for the Loom

Tying the Handspun to the Dummy Warp” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 19, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Before I can wind the warp bouts from my handspun, I have to convert my skeins to cones.  Some people convert theirs to balls, using a ball winder.  I have found, however, that the yarn unwinds much more easily from a cone than from a ball.  So I use a (relatively) inexpensive cone winder I purchased from Halcyon Yarns years ago.

An annoying cost, however, is that of the cones.  I have accumulated quite a few.  There is a way to save money here I learned recently.  Spinning Lizzy posted a wonderful tutorial here on her blog which shows how to to create cardboard cones you slip over the cone winder and then remove with the yarn wound on it.  This is similar to making cardboard cones for a ball winder, something I have occasionally done.  But the technique is a little more complex.  Go to her blog to learn how.

The first thing I need to do is to slip the skein over my skein winder.  Yes, this skein winder, by LeClerc, can function as a swift, or unwinder, as well.  In fact it works better than a swift because there is no danger of the skein falling down.  It operates more smoothly as well. And if the yarn is uncooperative (as fine silks tend to be), I can use the handle with my left hand and turn it in a rhythm to synchronize with the right-hand turning of the handle of the cone winder.

Handspun skein closesup To ensure that the skein will come off smoothly, I snap it between my hands a few times. This helps to align the yarn.

Then I put it on the skein winder.  As I put it on I look at the places where I made the figure-of-eight ties.  I look for the knots.  I want all the knots to be in the same place.  Either at the back of the skein or at the front of the skein. In this case, they are at the front of the skein. 

Once on the skein winder, I then stick my finger in the spaces formed by the crossing of the holding ties and slip it all around the entire skein.  I do this with each space. In this skein there are three spaces. When I do this I always find some of the yarn has moved over with the next group where it does not belong.  I pull it away and bring it home.   If I did not, when I got to that bit of yarn in the unwinding, it would undoubtedly get caught and stick a bit and force me to stop and settle it down.

Once I am satisfied that the yarns are all aligned as well as they can be, I remove the ties Skein winder to cone winder and attach the yarn to the cone winder.

Winding handspun warp on cone winder


The photo on the left shows the yarn as it goes from the skein winder to the cone winder and gets wound onto the cone.  The photo on the right shows a detail of the cone winder. 

Handspun wound on cone And here is a full wound cone.  I wound two more cones and from there I went on to make the warp.

Winding bouts for warping is not really any different from winding handspun yarn.  I try to exert less tension, however, because my handspun wool is very stretchy.  I have never woven with knitting yarn, but I imagine that it too is stretchy.  The last handspun warp I made jumped into a shorter length when I took it off the board.  It was visibly quite surprising.  This warp did not.

I really enjoyed winding these bouts. I loved the feel of the yarn as it went through my hands.  Soft, yet, because of the bits of rayon and silk incorporated into the fiber, it was at the same time silken.  Quite delicious.

Related Post:
Skeins to Cones
Tying Skeins

Making the Handspun Warp” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 18, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

After I corrected the treadling errors in the wool crackle sampling (go here to read about that), it was time to wash it. First I hand washed it. I soaked it in very hot water with some Ivory detergent for 30 minutes. Then I squeezed and pummeled and squeezed some more for a couple of minutes. I let it soak for another 30 minutes, then squeezed and pummeled some more. I rinsed it, squeezed the water out of it by hand, then put it flat in a bath towel which I then stood on to get the rest of the excess water out. Then I hung it to dry.

Here is what it looked like when I was finished.

Cracl;e sample after hand fulling

Some fulling had taken place. It was OK. It had softened up a bit. It looked a lot more cohesive than when it was unwashed. But I was not satisfied. I thought I could do better with the washing machine.

I put a bit of Ivory detergent in the machine filled half way with hot water. I put the sample in and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then I let it agitate for 5 minutes. I stopped the machine and looked at it. Needed some more agitation. I repeated the process twice more and here are the results.

Crackle sample after machine fulling

crackle sample close after machine fulling

I am quite pleased. It is fuzzy and soft and nicely blurred. The colors have softened. And it is plushly thick. Yet the design shows. I also liked the thin red tabby though I think I different color or shade of red would have been better. But I got the effect I was after of these red dots peeking through.

There was a bit of bleeding from the red but I liked the result: an ever so slight pinkish cast to the piece which pulled the whole thing together nicely. Kind of like overdying!

Despite its fuzzy softness, it is too heavy for a scarf. I will cut it up to send to the March Complex Weavers’ Crackle Exchange. I do hate to cut it up. I would like to keep it whole just to fondle it and look at it from time to time. A totally useless piece but it pleases me.

Because I like this so much, I am now playing (in my head) with the idea of weaving wool crackle scarves for Christmas. But I will weave with (surprise!) a much finer wool. And I might see if I can’t think about some planned overdying…….


The last two photographs are quite an accurate representation of the fabric. And there was no playing with the software (except for adding borders, watermark). The first one is not at all accurate. I tried and tried and tried playing with the software, but I simply could not get it right.

They were photographed in two different rooms. The first one on my weaving bench where there are a lot of windows. So natural light and incandescent light were conflicting. The second two were photographed in a room where there was very little natural light.

I shall have to test out the resulting hypothesis in the future……….

Related Post: Slow Weaving

Out of the Washing Machine” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 17, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Monday, February 16, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Dummy warp ready to beam

Dropping the warp ends into the raddle openings was very easy.   Each section of each bout consisted of the same number of ends, all divisible by four.  Until I got to the third quarter.  In one of the groups there was an extra two ends. I checked to make sure I had not accidentally dropped only two or else six ends into one raddle space.  No I had not. So I knew that I had wound either two ends too many or two ends too few.

When I finished raddling, I ended with 4 ends in the last opening.  There were supposed to be only 2 ends at the end.  So I counted.  I had wound two ends too many.  I will simply drop two ends from the side of the warp and all will be well.

Ready to beam on, I went to the front of the loom and split each of the two bouts in half.  The photo above shows the loom looking from the back where the warp beam is.  Looking towards the front, you can see the what are now four bouts hanging over shafts.  Dropping your eyes just a bit, you can see the weight attached to each of the four bouts.

Notice that with the two bouts divided into four, the angle of the sides of each bout as it travels back to the front of the loom is not nearly so sharp.  That is good!

Dummy warp beamed This photo shows the warp wound onto the back beam.  I left the lease sticks in. They will help me find the correct threads on the dummy warp to tie the threads from the handspun warp to.  The handspun warp will also have the lease sticks in.

The long heavy sticks that parallel the length of the loom are there to hold both sets of lease sticks. Masking tape is visible on the set of lease sticks in the photo.  I have put it there to make sure those lease sticks do not come out of the warp and fall off the loom.

Related Post: Raddling the Dummy Warp

Dummy Warp Beamed” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 16, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Run—do not walk—to this web site, Weaving Indiana. Here are a number of pdf documents to download on different aspects of weaving. This is a wonderful resource that I just discovered from a Ravelry post in the group called Warped Weavers.

Then take a look at a series of essays focusing on finding and following one’s path.  It is designed for textile artists in general, and there is much for weavers who are interested in this kind of journey

Finding Your Way in Media and Materials
Your Path—Content and Themes
Finding Your Voice, Your Path

Related Posts: 
   Challenge from Meg
   Aiming for Excellence
   Shut Up and Weave

"Resources” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 12, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Dummy warp raddling I will be warping my handspun at 8 epi. For that sett I could use either a raddle with 1” spaces or a raddle with 1/2” spaces.  Since I like to have as few ends in the raddle spaces as I can, I chose the raddle with 1/2” spaces. 

The dummy warp is 10/2 pearl cotton so the spacing of the yarns looks pretty skimpy.  When I get to the handspun, which is quite a bit fatter, the spaces will no longer look so skimpy.

The important thing this photo shows, however, is the reason why I don’t like to put on wide bouts.  With two bouts, each bout is covering close to 14”.  The result is that a very wide angle is created on the outside warps between the area where the bout is choke tied to the place it reaches on the raddle.  Those outside ends cover more length than do the inside ends. 

This difference in length from choke tie to raddle does not make for a good beamed warp.  Ideally the warp ends should be travelling in as nearly a straight line as they can.  Since this is such a short warp, I may just split each of the bouts in half after I have raddled the other group and before I beam it on.

I haven’t yet decided the size of the bouts for the hand spun.  I was thinking 2” but 16 ends seems a bit absurd.  I will probably try 4”.  One nice thing about short warps is that you can get away with a slightly imperfectly beamed warp.  With a long warp you can’t because what starts out as a practically invisible problem becomes greater and greater the longer you weave.

Related Posts:  
Questions on Preparing Warp Bouts  
Ready to Raddle 
Another Raddling Tip

"Raddling the Dummy Warp” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 12, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

The warp calls for 220 ends.  The dummy warp yarn is relatively fine (10/2 pearl cotton) so I could wind all 220 ends on the board without worrying about the pegs bending under the stress.  I prefer working with smaller bouts, however, so I am winding two bouts of 110 ends each.

Dummy warp bout windingThe photo shows how short the warp is—slightly more than 1 1/2 yards.  I am winding only one end at a time; but since it is so short I start losing track of where I am because I have to count so quickly!  So, as usual, I use a counting thread. It is the blue thread visible at the top of the warping board.  I wind it around every group of 20 ends.

Also noticeable is the lack of a kind of strange X between the top two pegs at the left.  This is called a false cross and happens when I warp with a paddle. Which I do most of the time. Doesn’t happen winding one end at a time.

I could have used two cones of the cotton and wound two ends at a time.  I didn’t think it would save any real time.  What I didn’t think about until I was in the winding process, was that two ends, alternating colors, might facilitate the tying on of the handspun warp?  But there will be a cross in both warps, so two colors might just make it marginally easier to see which end I pick off next.

Related Posts:    
Warping Work Station with Coffee
More on False Crosses

"Handspun Shawl: The Dummy Warp” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 11, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

WARNING: This is very much an in-my-head theoretical post. Read at risk of extreme boredom.

Earlier I had focused on the threading I would use for this shawl. Go to this post to read about that. Later I went on to consider the number of blocks and their order. Go to this post to read about that. So for now, I have come up with the number of blocks and the width of the blocks. I also have the order of the blocks. This is the order.


These count out to be only 15 blocks. I have not, however, extended it to encompass the full width of the shawl, i.e., 44 blocks. And I’m not quite ready to do yet. What I want to ponder for awhile are the motifs.

One thing I know is that the shawl will be a much larger canvas than this small sample. Consequently the motifs will have to be designed to fit that larger scale. But I have not figured out how that will happen.

I have worked out four different motifs, based on what I see in that sample I have been using as the basis for my designing. Each motif consists 3 groups of blocks, 2 identical to each other and surrounding the different one in the middle. There are four of these.

image Right now these motifs are only rough sketches in my mind. The photo to the left shows the ideas I began with and from which I developed (in my head) the four motifs. For now, however, the development out of this germ into four individual motifs is going to stay in my head. I need to have the exact order of the blocks across the whole weft. And I need to decide how long the units of each motif are going to be and how long each motif, with its units, is going to be. But all of these are inter-related and as one develops, that development may change the development of the motifs themselves.

What I am thinking about now is how to order the motifs along the length of the piece.

My first thought was to order them in what seemed the best order, decide how much red (and shadow blue) to weave between them, and weave a strictly ordered shawl. Perhaps reversing the sequence for some variety.

But as is my wont, my thoughts have started getting more complex. I retrieved Ada Dietz’ monograph called Algebraic Expressions in Handwoven Textiles. She uses various polynomials raised to various powers for her designing purposes. Because there are four motifs, I decided that the most workable polynomial to use was (a + b + c + d) raised to the 2nd power. On page 30 Dietz translates this into the following written-out form:

aaa babacacadad bbb cbcbdbd ccc dc ddd

I have read somewhere (?) that mathematically this is incorrect. But I am concerned about design, not mathematics. So what this means is that I would repeat motif 3 three times, then alternate motifs b and a then c and a and then d and a, then repeat the second motif three times, and so on. If I wanted, I could balance this out by returning from the end back to the beginning.

Of course I will still have to decide which motif to associate with a, which with b, and so forth.

Why would I rather do something like this instead of a very simple ordering? Because I love the appearance of randomness undergirded by order. This is why mathematical approaches fascinate me.

But before I can move forward, I need to go back to the ordering of the blocks and the effect of that ordering on the four motifs. Here is how I have expressed it on my crackle shawl to-do list:

Work out the ordering of the blocks for the crackle shawl, after which (or during which) I can contemplate the effect that order on the appearance of the four motifs

This will NOT happen tomorrow!

image For those who have just come to this blog, and for those readers whose memories are faint (!), here is a picture of the end-of-another-crackle-warp sampling that started this whole shawl business. My original intention, after finishing this sampling, was to develop the part visible to the left at the top. But after this sampler had hung on my door for a few days, I realized, no, the part to the right at the top is what I wanted to develop.

Related Post:
Binary Sequences and Designing
Resisting Doing the Work

"Crackle Shawl—The Motifs” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 10, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Monday, February 9, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

After I used the sewing machine to zigzag the edges of the crackle sample,  I trimmed off the ends.  Then I took the fabric to my little work table in the family room.  Here, with good light, I checked the weaving for treadling errors. 

Earlier, while the fabric was still on the loom, I had seen a couple of errors with the red tabby weft.  Those I corrected on the spot.

Treadling error Looking at the fabric off the loom, I discovered only one more treadling error.  It was clear only on the wrong side of the fabric, though had I looked carefully enough, I would have seen it on the right side of the fabric as well. In the photo you can see the long overshot in the center where I have pulled the loop up slightly to make it more visible.  Looking to the left, the same weft produced another error on the left side. 

Keep your eyes on the right side, however.  Notice anything?

Correcting error begun

I threaded a darning needle with a length of the light gray weft, long enough to go across the entire width plus extra.  What I am going to do is to replace that entire weft shot with a new weft.  With this yarn, the weaving in is easy and will create a much neater look than if I had used separate threads to mend the center float and the float on the side.  This photo shows the beginning of the mending. The weft yarn stays in because it provides, at least in part, a duplicate of the path the yarn I am weaving in is to go.  So weaving that part in is easy.

At this point the photo shows my needle just following the path of the weft yarn originally woven in.  If you haven’t been able to answer the above question, look again at where the needle is going.  Is it going where it should be?

Correcting central threads In this next photo, I am mending the long float in the center.  How do I know where to put the needle?  Look at the light gray rows below.  These were all woven the same because they are part of the same woven block.  I am using the weft threads there as my pattern.

Where I have stopped the needle is where I have gotten confused.  I don’t know where to put the needle in next.  Looking at the row below shows that there should be no weft floats on the top side there, but there are.  So I turned the work over.  That is where the weft floats should be.  So I then worked on the underside, following the pattern there.  When I got to where the weft floats on the underside stopped, I turned back to this side and continued working.  And I worked until I had mended that float on the left.

Weaving back in Next I carefully pulled the woven weft floats out, using the tip of my darning needle to grab them. I pulled out the entire length of the weft. But I still had one more thing to do.  I had to weave the end of the woven weft back in at the edges for an inch or so to lock the wefts in.  The doubled end is visible.  But that is exactly what happens when I weave and have to end off with a thread and weave in a new one.

For those who haven’t figured out the question I asked about the right side, go back to the top two photos and look carefully.  Look not only at the weft thread on the right side, look at those gray weft threads in the rows below. There is no weft float….   In the block beneath, there are weft floats there.  Not in the block I am working with.

I totally missed it.  I didn’t see it until I started working with the photos.

I have already washed the fabric and it is drying. To wash and full it, I put it in a dishpan of very hot water to which I had added baby shampoo.  I let it soak for 15 minutes.  Then I kneaded and massaged it a bit.  I went through this routine twice more. But I don’t think it has yet fulled as much as I would like, so, once dry, I will put it in the washing machine to full a bit more. 

Before I do that, I can mend the error on the right hand side and after the second fulling, there should be little difference between it and the rest of the yarn.  Or to be more precise, that is my hope!

Wherever there were tails I cut them, but not off.  I left short tails.  The sett is so wide that I feared something might come unglued, whoops, unwoven.  I will cut them off after the cloth has dried. 

Related Posts: 
The Mending is Done
Mending Fabric
Treadling Mistakes

"Correcting Treadling Errors” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 9, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina



Friday, February 6, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

waiating for sewing machine Here is the Crackle Exchange sample, woven, off the loom, and waiting for me to sit at the sewing machine and get to work.

For the curious, the wooden object sitting on top of the table just to the right front of the sewing machine is my Schacht yardage counter. It is sitting on that book because thickness is needed for the implement that attaches the counter to the table. At the right of the table, the very edge of the Leclerc skein winder I use is visible. Yes, I have been winding some hand-spun skeins of yarn.

Empty Loom And here is the empty loom waiting for its next warp. I am ready to wind the bouts: 10/2 mercerized cotton. This will be my dummy warp for the handspun. Previously I used 5/2 pearl cotton for the dummy warp. But when the dummy warp got to the heddles at the very end of the weaving, I had quite a bit of trouble getting them through the heddles, even with the ends cut very short. I am hoping that the thinner yarn on the dummy warp will make life easier.

Related Posts:
Spinning for Weaving
Next Project: Handspun Shawl
Warping with Handspun

"Waiting” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 5, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

My attention may be on the handspun shawl I am getting close to being able to warp, but I still continue to think and make notes about the silk crackle shawl which will follow. Here are some of the issues I am concerned with.


The most immediate issue is to determine how many blocks across the width of the warp I want. The art pieces, all of the based on Zielinski’s notion of creating 8 crackle blocks on 4 shafts, consisted of 17 blocks across the warp, but that was a much narrower warp. This shawl will be 28” wide.


But even before I can decide the number of blocks, I need to determine how many units in each of the blocks. Yes, I do plan (at least at this point) to keep each block the same size. To determine the number of units I need to determine how wide I want the blocks.


The epi for the shawl will be different from that for the art pieces: 60 epi instead of 72. 72 epi is generally the best setting for 60/2 silk woven in a twill pattern. Since I am weaving this crackle in what is essentially twill fashion, 72 would be the right sett. And it worked quite well for the art pieces.

But weaving a much wider piece at the same sett as a narrow piece would, for me, create difficulties. More difficult because it would be easier for the closely sett warp ends to hang up on each other and so create bad sheds. It would also be much harder to pack in the weft on the wider piece than on the narrow piece. So I have decided to make life a bit easier for me and sett this shawl at 60 epi. I will also consider using a temple to help with both issues.

Changing the epi from 72 to 60 will in and of itself make the blocks a bit wider. But my inclination is to make the blocks even wider because of the larger proportions of the shawl. So I am for now settling on 10 units per block. With 4 ends in an individual crackle unit, plus 1 accidental end at the end of any given block, that would result in a block being 41 ends wide. That means a block would be approximately 2/3-inch wide. With 44 blocks, I would get a shawl requiring 1,804 ends, four more ends than I had originally planned on in order to achieve a shawl with a final width (off loom and washed) of 28”.


I have also made another design decision regarding the blocks. I had intended on trying ordering the blocks differently from that in the art pieces. There they were aligned in straight twill order, but reflected:


And in reflecting, the center of the scarf had some repeating blocks which created a change in the design there. Always wanting to try something a little different, I started to think about changing the order. But then sanity prevailed. The weaving itself is going to be a challenge, and by weaving, I mean, the planning of the treadling combined with the colors. I have physically available to me what can happen with threading twill order reflected. But not any other kind of threading. So I am going to stick to the concept of straight twill reflected.

But just how and where and how often that reflecting process will happen—in other words, the actual block order—I have not decided.

Related Posts:
Temples (these are two different posts!)
Much Ado About Not a Whole Lot
Threading Four-Shaft Crackle
8 Crackle Blocks on 4 Shafts

"Design Continued: How Many Blocks?” was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving
and was originally posted on February 5, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

I have had several problems with this Crackle Exchange piece. 


About half way through I discovered that I had a mistake in the threading.  I discovered this when I saw that an earlier tabby shot had missed an important pattern thread.  I decided to fix it on the spot rather than after I took it off the loom.  No, I didn’t unweave.  I simply threaded a tabby yarn onto my needle and wove it through and pulled out the offending thread.  As I wove that yarn through, I discovered one point where it could not weave tabby.  I treadled the tabbies.  Sure enough, there was one place where the threading was incorrect.

Since I had designed the threading, and rather quickly, I assumed I had made a mistake in the designing.  I checked the threading draft.  No, there should have been tabbies all across.  Now I need to check the actual threading to find out where I went wrong.


Crackle problems The next problem is a problem for me whenever I weave crackle in twill order.  Changing to the next block gives me a doubled thread. The black arrow 1 (in the middle) points to this doubling. True, there is a tabby in between, but the visual effect is still that of a doubled weft thread.

Block 1, for example is treadled 1,2 repeat x times.  Block 2 is then treadled 2,3 x times.  As you can see, a 2 follows a 2. 

After all this time the very simple solution emerges from my apparently thick brain.  On the second block, begin with 3 and then treadle 2, 3 x times.  And do the same kind of thing with each consecutive block.  This of course means that the very first block I treadle at the beginning of the weaving, I need to begin with a 2.  Simple.


The last problem is one of selvedges.  I am using a floating selvedge.  But I notice that there is one block that I weave that, on the right side, I should really send the shuttle under the floating selvedge instead of over.  With this thick thread, the need to do that is very noticeable.  Arrow 2 at the right selvedge points to this problem.

I get so frustrated, sometimes, because it takes so long for me to see some problems.  My ability to pay acute attention to everything that is happening still needs work.  It is so frustrating because I think I actually am paying very careful attention.  Clearly not careful enough.

Related Posts:   
Four-Shaft Crackle
Threading Four-Shaft Crackle
Trouble in Paradise
Crackle Exchange Samples

"Wool Crackle for Crackle Exchange" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 4, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

Those of you who have followed this blog know how I like to make decisions and change my mind about things when I am actually sitting at the loom weaving. I’m not talking about samples. I’m talking about weaving actual things. The series of art pieces I did, for example. Even if I had a very specific idea of what I wanted to do when I began a particular piece, I made alterations and changes in the original idea, depending on what I saw happening.

Then I read this in a recent post of Nigel’s:

“…the great Bauhaus weaver Anni Albers encouraged her students to improvise at the loom. She felt that until you actually worked the material with your hands you couldn’t fix a design.”

So nice to be validated by a truly great weaver from the past!

Now Anni may well have been talking about the importance of sampling; I have no idea what the context was. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that I can do color wrappings like mad, I can refine and refine the drawdown (either by hand or on the computer), I can struggle to get the exact colors in the drawdown. But none of this really tells me what the weaving is actually going to look like.

Colors interact differently in threads. The size of the threads affects the color interactions and the way the design looks. The kind of fiber being used has a tremendous affect on the outcome. Different setts are going to produce different results.

What does help me to predict, however, is my growing experience with actual yarns, with actual weaving. And I think that Anni would have agreed with that as well. Experienced weavers understand this. As a beginning weaving not too many years ago, I thought I understood this. But I didn’t, not really. It has taken experience to begin to understand this.

I must get out and reread my Anni Albers: On Weaving. And I must read my as-of-yet unread Anni Albers and Ancient American Textiles: From Bauhaus to Black Mountain by Virginia Gardner Troy. I bought this when it was first published. I lived in Georgia at the time, in the same town that Troy lived. The book is autographed. It now sells for $120 (gasp!! I certainly did not pay that!) at

Related Posts:
Designing as You Go
Art Piece 4: I’ve Changed My Mind Again
Art Piece 2: Weaving Continues

"Improvising at the Loom" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 3, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

Monday, February 2, 2009


Posted by Peg in South Carolina

“When you observe behavior that appears motivated and disciplined, you can always trace it back to the choice to simply put a focus on one thing versus another.”

This is written by David Allen in a recent issue of his newsletter. “Productivity Principles.” It is the concluding sentence to his brief essay on his “Productivity Principle #78”: Direction is more productive than discipline.

I couldn’t resist pulling out the above quotation because it correlated so nicely with my earlier post, Focus. I am motivated in my weaving and I am disciplined. What I had not put together was that it was my focusing on a particular area of weaving that helped to provide that motivation and that discipline. So perhaps, for me at least, direction/focus is more productive than discipline.

This does not mean that I don’t have other fiber activities going on, and other activities in different areas as well. I spend my time on many things other than weaving. But when it comes to the time I allot to weaving, that time is highly directed.

I remember the story of a woman who planted a handful of daffodils each fall. At first her neighbors laughed at her. Such an insignificant number of bulbs. Hardly worth bothering about. But as the years passed, her display of daffodils became more and more glorious and her neighbors stopped laughing and started admiring instead.

I subscribe to the David Allen newsletter. For those who have not heard of him, he is the author of an idea he calls “Getting Things Done,” fondly known as GTD. He has a rather elaborate procedure to enable the getting done of things and has written books on the subject. I have tried it and found bits of it useful, though by no means have I implemented the whole thing.

To learn more about David Allen and GTD, go to his website. You can also subscribe to his email newsletter there.

Related Posts:

"Focus: A Postscript" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on February 2, 2009. ©2009 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina