Tangled Skein | Being schooled

I knew this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, but I was left with the illusion that weaving on a rigid heddle loom (RHL) was going to go slightly smoother for my first effort than in did. I got quite a lot done for my first evening of work, but I would have made it further if I hadn’t so utterly failed at some of the elements.

The first step was the only part I did correctly before I encountered a massive failure. I tied a knot onto the back warp stick after locating the correct reed slot for the beginning of my scarf (see the dark mark on the wood to the right, even with the knot? that’s the correct slot, with the hook used to pull the yarn through the slot marking it). Then… disaster.

I the crux of the problem was that, working with a continuous piece of yarn for the warp, there is this trick of under/over looping on the warp stick that threw me. I got about twelve loops through before I realized I was creating a mess because I was inconsistent about over/under. In fact, I’m not sure I was doing the under at all. I decided to re-warp the threads I had done already, but failed to be patient about the matter and pulled out too many at once. Then the rest slipped off the warping peg. Then I threw away something like 24 yards of yarn, which were a tangle disaster and needed to be cut away from the reed to free it up.

I almost quit for the evening in frustration.

But, instead, I persisted. And… discovered I was going to probably have a mighty narrow scarf as a result of my efforts. Although I was going to have to make a trip to the store for more yarn, I elected to use my black yarn to increase the width by putting black borders on each side as makeup for the lost yarn. It resulted in an off-center warp to add black on the right side of the loom, but I felt it was worth taking the risk.

Then it came time to roll up the warp (solo, which was interesting, although they recommend having a friend help) with cardboard warp separators slipped in to maintain tension (“interesting” is not the word I would use here), cutting the warp and threading half of your yarn from each slot through the reed holes. Once I found my rhythm, the threading part was actually fairly easy and surprisingly enjoyable. Then you tie the yarn to the front warping stick.

The photo angle is off, which makes things look crooked in the above picture, but everything was on pretty straight. While I’ve not seen guidance on just how big the thread clumps should be that are tied, I realized late that I should have stuck to 10-14 ends at a time instead of these bigger teal ones (below, second and fifth from the left). It made it hard to equalize the tension and, after weaving for a bit, I realized that some of my initial patterns were more separated and “wonky” than I would have liked (that’s the new technical term, I hereby now declare). Anyway, after getting my tensions fixed, I started to weave.

I used some old red yarn to “spread the warp with some scrap yarn my daughter had sitting around in her now-forgotten bin of crochet yarn (she was crazy about crochet and knitting, and then dropped it like a bad habit when she decided to start perfecting her drawing/painting/cosplay skills). I chose red and, in retrospect, I almost wish I’d planned on a bit of red accent plaid in this (between the black and teal and as borders on the weft). But, no crying over spilled milk. However, when you look at the picture below, you can kind of see why when I spread the warp, I probably should have taken smaller chunks to tie down to the warp stick. A little bit of spreading going on as the yarn separates into its respective clump. I’m hoping this fills in and fixes itself with the wet finish (washing the scarf will get the yarn to spread and fill in some of the empty spaces). I’m not sure if wet finishing will salvage my poor selvedges (warp ends). Still, I will cut myself some slack and realize that all of this is really a lot to learn all at once. I’ll work on my selvedges on this project to make them closer to perfection for the next. As you can see, my beats are improving as I go along and find my rhythm, but they are far from what I would call perfect. In many ways, this is a toss-off project. I am just trying to get the basics down so I can not make so many mistakes the next time.

Anyway, I’m being schooled quite roundly by the process itself as I discover that this is not quite as simple as some people make it look; but nor is it as complex as I expected. There are a lot of things to do to perfect the process over time, even on a “simple” woven scarf.

More work on it tonight.


Yarn used: Lionbrand 24/7 100% cotton, #4/medium (Black/Noir #153) for warp ends and weft; Sugar n’ Cream Super Size 100% cotton, #4/medium (Teal/Azul Verde #102018) for warp center

Pattern on warp: 14 ends black/72 ends teal/14 ends black

Weave: simple, 7.5-dent heddle

Target dimensions: 79″ with fringe by 5″ width.

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