I find that warping a loom from the Front to the Back, much faster and easier than the traditional method of warping from Back to Front. You don’t need to use a raddle as the reed separates the warp threads evenly across the loom. I use this warping method quite a lot as I often put on shorter warps (5-6) meters and work with wool, linen and cotton threads with setts ranging from 5 to 30 epi.
I do use a Back to Front beaming method and a sectional warp beam if I am weaving with very fine silk threads with +30 epi setts and longer warps (20-30) meters, as these can get tangled while beaming.
You can use the Front to Back warping method on any size of loom – a rigid heddle, or a large floor loom.
Here is how I warp an Ashford Table Loom.
Front to Back Warping 1
After you have wound the warp, put 2 lease sticks into the cross, and tie this to the front beam of the table loom.
Front to Back Warping 2
Cut the warp ends that are draped over the front beam.
Front to Back Warping 3
Sley the reed – Thread the cut warp ends through the reed to the correct sett. In this project I am threading 2 ends per dent.
Front to Back Warping 4
Front to Back Warping 5
As you thread the warp ends through the reed, lightly tie them in small groups behind the reed, to secure them while you warp.
Front to Back Warping 6
Once all the warp ends have been threaded through the reed, move to the back of the loom.
Following the warping plan, thread the warp ends through the heddles.
I usually work with a group of 4 threads, lacing them through my fingers and thread the next set of 4 heddles.
Front to Back Warping 7
Tie the warp ends in small groups to the stick or back apron rod that has been attached to the back warp beam.
Front to Back Warping 8
View from the side of the loom.
Front to Back Warping 10
Once all of the warp ends have been threaded and attached to the back apron rod, you are ready to wind the warp onto the back beam.
Front to Back Warping 11
If you are beaming the warp by yourself, you will need to move to the front of the loom and straighten out any warp ends.
Front to Back Warping 12
Smooth the tangles gently with your fingers. Once the warp has been smoothed out for the next 1/2 meter, move to the back of the loom.
Front to Back Warping 13
Move to the back of the loom again, and slowly begin to wind the warp on, checking for any loose threads.
Front to Back Warping 14
After every 3/4 turn, insert a piece of cardboard or a stick into the warp. This helps to prevent the warp yarns from slipping in between each other as you roll the warp. This will help to prevent uneven tension as you wind on.
Front to Back Warping 15
After you have placed a cardboard strip or a stick, give a tug on the threads evenly across the warp to ensure that the tension is even.
Front to Back Warping 16
Every half meter or so, you will need to go to the front of the loom again, to adjust the tension on the warp, and return to the back of the loom to wind on the next section of warp.
Repeat these steps until the warp has been beamed.
Front to Back Loom Warping
Once the warp has been fully wound on, cut the remaining warp ends and tie to the front apron rod.
Check the tension by gently touching the warp with the side of your hand. Adjust and tighten any loose sections.
Congratulations! You are ready to weave!!
It can be quite tricky to wind a warp evenly on a small table loom. The circumference of the back beam is not very big (as in a floor loom) so it takes several revolutions to wind the warp on. The thickness of the warp grows very quickly, so the warp tension is harder to control. If you use paper as a divider, the edges of the warp can easily slip and drop to the sides of the wound warp, creating uneven tension.In this warp, I have used the cardboard strips that came with the Ashford loom. They are a bit better than wrapping with paper, but the cardboard is a bit soft, so creates some bumps in the warp as you are winding – which changes the tension of the warp.
Bamboo Sticks on Warp Beam
Using warp sticks is a better alternative because the sticks are rigid so the warp can’t wedge itself between other warp yarns and help hold the tension better.
Extra long bamboo skewers are great for using as a warp separator on small table looms. They are thin and can easily be cut to fit the width of your loom.
A few years ago on a wonderful holiday to Corfu, Greece I purchased a beautiful sample of a Greek Flokati rug. It had been woven by my friend, Agathi the weaver, in Kassiopi, Corfu. She very kindly explained to me how these wonderful rugs are woven. The shaggy weft wool pile was made of handspun wool from local sheep. Her sister had done the handspinning and Agathi woven this fluffy rug that now sits on my rocking chair.
Corfu Flokati Rug
Agathi and Flokati Rug
The warp and ground weft is a 2-3 ply wool yarn woven in tabby weave. The handspun wool is cut into 15-20 cm lengths and then laid in between weft sheds, going under 3 raised warp threads. A shot of weft yarn is thrown across, change shed, and then the weft pile is woven back through 2 warp ends. This locks the cut pile firmly in place. Then 3 shots of ground weft are woven in tabby, before another row of handspun cut pile is laid across.
Flokati Rug Closeup
Flokati or Floccata rugs have a long history in Greece dating back some 1500-2000 years to villages in the northern mountainous regions of Greece. Sheepskins were used for warmth and the long shaggy pile of sheepskin was duplicated by weavers who inserted the wool locks into their woven rugs. These shaggy pile rugs are somewhat similar to the early rya pile rugs of Scandinavia, but the method of knotting the pile differs. IN a Flokati the cut pile is laid across the weft. In a Rya rug, the cut pile is wrapped and looped around the warp threads.
The definition of Flokati: “A Hand-woven shaggy 100% wool rug made in Greece.”
In 1966 the Greek government set standards for the Flokati rug industry. The law specified that for a rug to be classified as a “Flokati, it must be hand woven in Greece and must be made of 100% wool (warp, weft, and pile). Total weight of the rug must be at least 1800 grams of wool per square meter. The Flokati must be subjected to the water friction process for the pile to unravel and fluff out.
Flokati Rugs in Greece
In the 1960’s Trikkala was the centre of the flokati rug industry and the wool market was held there in May and handweavers came from surrounding villages to buy their fleece, weaving tools and cotton yarns. There was a factory headquaraters in the centre of town where wool was carded and spun by machine. Weavers wovek the rugs in their homes, workig on narrow looms, threaded with singles yarn. The tufts were inserted without knotting at irrgular intervals. Because the looms were small and the woven rugs were thick, they had to be cut off the front roller of the loom frequently. The pieces were stitched together to create the larger rugs.
Trikkala Wool Market
After weaving, the rug was heavily felted by heavy beating and immersion into pools or waterfalls. The flokati rugs were woven in natural white or alternating striped natural colours of browns, greys and creams. Natural dyes were also used on some of the rugs.
Flokati Rug Sample
I had about a meter left of wool warp on my loom after I wove a number of handspun blankets, so I thought I would try to weave a bit of Flokati.
Using the same wool yarn as was used for the warp, I wove several shots of tabby weave.
Cut the handspun yarn into 15-20 cm lengths. I cut a piece of cardboard into a width of 10 cm and wrapped the handspun around it. Then cut the lengths of pile.
Cutting Flokati Pile
With an open shed in tabby weave, lay the cut pile ends across the weft, passing each thread under 3 raised warp ends. Repeat this across the width of the warp.
Flokati Rug Weaving
With the same shed still open, weave across a shot of the wool ground weft.
Change the shed.
I like to work from the right to the left, so I pick up the right side of the cut warp pile, and feed it back through 2 warp ends to the left. Repeat this across all of the handspun cut pile.
Laying Flokati Pile Across Warp
With the same shed still open, weave across a shot of the wool ground weft.
This locks the flocati pile firmly into place.
Weaving in Flokati Pile
Weave another 2 shots of ground weft in tabby.
There will now be 3 shots of tabby weave between the row of pile.
Lay in another row of cut pile across the width of the warp as above. Each row of pile should be about 1 cm apart, with 3 rows of ground tabby.
Flokati Rug on the Loom
I will be weaving this Flokati rug sample with different types of handspun wool, to see what works best.
When it is complete, the rug will be fulled by washing and beating in the bathtub, to fluff out the pile.
I recently purchased a rigid heddle loom to add my loom collection (one loom just isn’t enough). I have always woven on floor looms so to return to weaving on a small table loom is a bit of a learning curve. Although the rigid heddle is a simple design, it can produce some wonderful and creative fabrics. Over the coming weeks, I will be posting some weaving projects and patterns as I weave on this loom.
Ashford Table Looms
The Ashford 60 cm loom came equipped with a 10 dpi/No. 40 reed. I have ordered an additional reed (15 dpi/No. 60) so that I will be able to use finer yarns. I also ordered 4 pickup sticks so that I will be able to do more than plain tabby weave on this loom.
For my first project, I decided to put on a 3 meter linen warp so that I can weave multiple sample projects. The 10 dent reed is quite a wide sett so it is suitable for thicker yarns such as handspun or knitting wool yarns.
I purchased my linen yarn for the warp from Finland, but you can substitute with another yarn of a similar weight or thickness or cotton yarn such as seine twine.
I wove this table mat in a simple tabby weave, using alternating shots of the linen yarn and my handspun wool, creating a thick and thin woven effect. I cut the warp from the loom, hem stitched the edges and cut a 1 inch trim.
Then I fulled the woven piece by washing it in hot water with a bit of dish soap until the wool started to shrink a bit. I rinsed the table mat in cold water and hung to dry.
Grene rugs and blankets were a traditional style of blanket woven by the Saami on warp weighted looms. They were made of hand spun wool. The top edge of the blanket had a braid that was woven using a Saami weaving reed. The weft threads of the braid were the ends of the lengths of warp threads. This braided edge helped to provide the correct sett to the weaving and created a firm and stable border which was then tied to the top beam of the warp weighted loom.
Grene Blanket Edge
I recently worked on a commission to weave a Grene veving style Saami blanket. Since I don’t own a warp-weighted loom I had to figure out how to weave such an edge onto the blanket. Some years ago when I was visiting a textile museum in Finland, I saw a demonstration of Karelian tablet weaving. Textile fragments from Viking age gravesites have been found that feature card woven edges on aprons, and clothing edges. I thought that this method of weaving the braid after the yardage has been woven would work. Rather than using tablet weaving I wove the braid with my Beaivi weaving reed. Card Woven Braid Edging Blue Skirts and Golden Belts
Grene Veving, Rátno goddin or branch weaving has been part of the Saami culture since 600 AD. The warp-weighted weaving loom was easily constructed and portable as it was comprised of a few logs or branches that could be easily set up and moved. Grene blankets and rugs were woven with linen and wool yarns. The wool was hand spun and patterns were generally woven weft faced in a twill fashion. The warp yarns were tighly spun as singles yarn. The weft was more loosely spun singles yarn, spun in the opposite direction. To create a dense weave that would withstand the weather, the weft was firmly beaten so the warp didn’t show, except at the fringed bottom of the blanket. The wools were mainly of natural white and grey colours and decorative striped patterns were woven into the design. Because dyes were a scarce resource, these dyed yarns were mainly used in the reed woven borders that trimmed the rugs.
Grene blankets and rugs had many uses such as bed blankets, sled coverings, and tent covers. Because they were woven of wool, the fabric was was both insulating and water resistant. Grena fabric became valuable tender and the local Saami could not afford to make Grene fabric soley for their own use. The blankets were woven for payment of taxes and also sold mainly to Norwegians and others in order to purchase other supplies and goods that were needed.
Greneveving is still being woven today and can be purchased from the online store at Manndalen Husflid.
My version of a Grene style blanket. I wove this on my +100 year old Snickeri loom. The warp was mill spun wool. For the weft I used hand spun natural white and grey Blue Faced Leicester wools and wove this blanket in twill weave.
I threaded my Beaivi double hole weaving reed with dyed yarns in traditional Saami colours (Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Black) As I was going to weave only a simple ground weave and not add a supplementary warp pattern, I used only the bottom set of holes and the slots. I left the top row of holes unthreaded. You can use a standard single hole weaving reed for this type of braid.
I tied the warp ends to the top beam of my double beam loom and wound the warp around the beam. You can of course tie the warp ends to just about anything – a clamp on the edge of a table, or any post that is of the correct height.
When I cut the blanket warp off the loom, I left about 5 inches of unwoven warp at the end of the blanket. This may vary depending on how wide you want the woven braid to be. I moved a table close to the warp and laid the blanket onto the table.
Grene Braid Warp
Using the same wool yarn as I used for the blanket, I first wove a few inches of plain weave for the braid, until I got the tension correct for the width of braid.
Using a large paper clip, I fastened the end of the woven braid onto a cutting mat or art board to help hold it securely while I weave. I placed the woven blanket close to the edge of the braid and fastened it in place with a few large paperclips clipped to the cutting mat.
I opened the next shed of the braid. Using the cut end of the warp threads I picked up the first 3 warp ends from the blanket.
Grene Braid Weaving Step 1
(You will need to experiment to see what is the correct number of warp threads to pick up to fit the sett of your woven piece. For this blanket I picked up 3 warp threads)
I passed these through the open shed to the left, to weave these through braid warp.
I changed sheds and pulled snugly on the 3 warp threads to pull the braid close to the edge of the blanket warp.
Grene Braid Weaving Step 2
Holding the warp edges firmly to the edge of the blanket, I then wrapped and passed 2 of these warp threads back through the open warp (to the Right).
(I left the third warp thread on the left side of the braid so that I can sew this in later to help further secure the edge of the braid and to fix any possible skips etc. Thought you can weave this through at the same time if you wish)
Grene Braid Weaving Step 3
I then picked up 3 new warp threads from the blanket edge and passed these through the same open shed (to the Left)
Then I changed sheds, tightened the warp ends and beat the weft into place with my fingers.
Grene Blanket Braid Weaving Step 4
Continue weaving the rest of the braid to the blanket repeating the steps above.
Pickup up 3 warp ends
(To the Left) Weave these through the open shed.
Change shed and pull the warp ends to adjust the tension.
Drop one of the warp ends and weave the 2 remaining warp ends through the open shed. (to the Right)
Pick up 3 new warp ends from the blanket and weave these through the same open shed (to the Left)
Change shed and adjust tension.
Weave to the end of the blanket, and then using the same type of yarn as the blanket warp, weave another 2 of inches of braid.
Cut the warp ends and sew the braid end to finish.
Grene Blanket Braid
Trim off the woven edges of the warp close to the edge of the braid. Using a sewing needle weave the remaining warp ends (from the outside Left edge of the blanket back through the woven braid to further secure the braid to the blanket.
How to Weave A Grene Saami Band onto a Woven Blanket Video
Simple finger-woven bands, soda-straw loom bands,hungarian-loom bands,twining-loom bands,rigid-heddle bands,band weaving on the american inkle loom,card-woven bands andweaving variations for special effects.
Having read India Flint’s wonderful book on eco colour and printing, I discovered that you can get some beautiful natural dyes using Eucalyptus leaves. So during a recent holiday in Corfu, I gathered a bag full of Eucalyptus leaves from the trees that were growing along the roadsides and thought I would give it a try.
The leaves had dried out by the time I started this project. So I sprayed them with a bit of water to moisten them. Then I layed the leaves out onto one side of a silk scarf that I had dampened with water.
Eucalyptus Dye on Silk
When I had spread out all the Eucalyptus leaves, I turned the scarf over to cover the leaves.
Eucalyptus Dye on Silk
I then rolled the scarf around a cardboard tube.
Eucalyptus Leaf Dye on Silk
I tightly wrapped the dye package with linen yarn so that all of the bundle was covered.
Eucalyptus Leaf Dye
I then placed the silk scarf dye package into a dyepot and let it simmer for a few hours – no mordant was used. Then I turned the heat off and put a lid onto the pot.
It can take several days for all of the colour to disperse from the Eucalyptus leaves and to imprint onto the silk fabric.
I let this dyepot sit untouched for about 3 weeks. The dypeot will get a bit smelly as the dye ferments, so it is best to leave it outside while the dye matures.
Eucalyptus Leaf Dye
The Eucalyptus dye project looks very hopeful as I begin to unwrap the scarf. The linen yarn that I wrapped the dye package with has a nice colour.
Eucalyptus Dye on Silk
Eucalyptus Dyed Silk Scarf
It worked! I am quite happy with the result 🙂
Eucalyptus Leaf Dyed Silk Scarf
There is still quite a bit of dye colour in the dyebath, so I think I will try to reuse the dyebath and dye something else.
This pattern is woven in tabby but use different types of yarns giving an interesting effect. The placemats and table runner are woven using 22/2 cottolin for warp. This is woven in a thick/thin rep weave, using paper yarn and hemp single ply tow yarn as the weft. You can substitute the hemp with a single ply linen yarn, a cotton yarn or the same type of cottolin that you used in the warp.
This pattern will make 4 placemats and 1 table runner.
Warp: 22/2 cottolin, 3160 ypp
>Warp Length: 6 yards
Black – 40 ends
Navy – 180 ends
Black – 40 ends
Sett: 20 epi
Width in Reed: 13 inches
For the edges of each placemat, weave 2 inches of tabby using the 22/2 cottolin yarn.
The placemat is woven in tabby using 2 shuttles alternating shots of:
Paper yarn – 430 ypp (White)
6/1 Hemp – 1800 ypp (various colours)
Weft: 16 ppi
To weave with paper yarn, the yarn must be damp. Wind the yarn onto a bobbin. Fill a bowl of water and soak the bobbin for a few minutes to wet the yarn. Wipe the bobbin with a dry wash cloth to remove the excess water.
Placemat Pattern length: 16 inches
For these placemats, I used a different colour of hemp weft for each placemat, so that each one is slightly different, but complementary.
Table Runner Pattern length:
The table runner was woven with varied stripes of colour: red, green, blue, yellow.
Cut the hem between each placemat, and sew.
Care and Washing
It is best not to wash paper placemats in the washing machine. Rather, they can be wiped clean with a damp cloth, or can be gently handwashed.
Tenntrådsbroderi, or embroidering with pewter or tin thread is almost a lost art. The Saami used tin thread since the 1600’s to decorate their clothing. The tin was obtained by melting down old pewter plates and dishes and was spun into thread. The use of pewter thread has recently become fashionable in jewellery items such as pewter braided reindeer leather bracelets worn by actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch.
Tin thread is quite difficult to work with and requires a lot of patience and practice to make. This is a how-to project for making a reindeer leather keychain with tin embroidery.
Working with tin and leather can also be quite hard on your hands so if you have any hand, wrist or shoulder problems, please do not try this project. If you do this project or any other needlework project be sure to take frequent breaks and or work on a different type of project, to give your hands a rest.
Reindeer Leather Keyring
You will need:
a small piece of reindeer leather, about 9 cm x 7 cm
a narrow strip of reindeer leather, 1.5 cm x 24 cm
Tin thread, about 1 meter length
a small square of wool felt, wadmal or a sturdy piece of wool cloth, about 7 cm x 7 cm
light iron on interfacing, linen fabric or natural cotton fabric, about 7 cm x 7 cm
fine leather needle
silk thread or good quality polyester thread
invisible sewing thread
metric graph paper
fine permanent marker felt tip pens
Sketch the pattern onto metric lined graph paper. This pattern has been drawn on 5 mm lined graph paper.
Snowflake embroidery pattern
Trace the pattern onto iron on interfacing using a permanent marker. I have marked the end points of each snowflake with dark blue ink. This makes it easier to see the end of the stitch when you are embroidering.
Iron the interfacing onto the back of the small piece of wool felt or fabric. In this example I have used a small piece of handmade wool felt but you can use wadmal (which is a woven wool fabric that has been felted) or other sturdy wool fabric. I have also used linen fabric for the pattern rather than interfacing, because I happened to have some in my stash.
I have stitched the fabric onto the felt using a basting stitch.
Tin Thread Embroidery Pattern
You will need about a meter of tin thread for this project. If you have a longer length of tin such as on a spool, don’t cut it at this point. Instead I sew with it while it is still on the spool and cut the end when I am done, so that I don’t have any waste as the pewter thread is quite expensive to buy.
Tin thread comes in a number of thicknesses ranging from .25 to .5 in diameter. For this project I have used .3 but you can use a finer tin thread .25 or a thicker one if that is what you have on hand.
Tin Thread Unraveling
To make it easier to thread the end through to the back of the felt, you will need to unravel a bit of the tin from the core thread. The tin has been spun around a core thread. Pinch the end of the thread between your thumb and forefinger about 2 cm from the end. With your other hand give a bit of a twist to the thread. The tin will untwist and can be stretched out.
Tin Thread Unwound
Starting at the centre of the snowflake thread your sewing needle through the felt and pull the unraveled ends of the tin thread through to the back of the work.
Tin Thread Sewing
Tin Thread Sewing
Tin Thread Embroidery
Thread a sewing needle with the invisible nylon thread. I find it best to tie a couple of knots at the end of the thread, one on top of another to make a secure knot.
Sew a few stitches to secure the ends of the tin thread to the back of the fabric.
Using the pattern drawn on the back of the work as your guide, follow carefully along the lines as you stitch the tin thread to the wool felt. Pull the needle to the front of the work, and stitch the tin thread to the wool felt. Work your way along the pattern being careful to keep the stitches in line with the pattern. Use very small stitches to sew the work.
Tin Thread Embroidery
When you get to a corner, push the needle through to the front of the work, and wrap the tin thread around the needle to form the corner. I give the tin thread a bit of a pinch to help hold the shape. Sew the corner securely in place. Pewter thread is quite soft. The thread can break while you are working with it, so do this carefully.
Tin Thread Embroidery
Tin Thread Embroidery
Once you have stitched your way around the pattern cut the tin thread leaving an end of about 2 cm. Pinch the end of the thread and unravel it as before.
Thread this through to the back of the work.
Tin Thread Embroidery
Draw an outline cutting pattern for the key fob on a piece of graph paper and cut it out.
Key Fob Pattern
Using this paper pattern cut the embroidered felt to the shape of the key fob pattern.
Cut a piece of reindeer leather using the same pattern.
Put the cut reindeer leather and the embroidered felt together. Using the leather needle threaded with polyester or silk thread, stitch around both of them using a whip stitch. Fold the end section of the reindeer leather under and stitch into place.
To make the key fob a bit thicker insert a small piece of plastic or other thick material in between the felt and the leather.
Reindeer Leather Snowflake
Reindeer Leather Edge Finish
Fold the 24 cm strip of reindeer leather in half and cut a small slit in the centre. This will fit over the top part of the key fob.
Reindeer Leather Key Fob
Leather Key Fob
Sew the leather edge to the key fob using small backstitching.
Reindeer Leather Keyring
Paivatar Yarn on Etsy
I hope that you will visit my shop on Etsy and add a like.
I had heard that it was possible to dye yarns using black beans but have never tried it before so last week when I went grocery shopping I looked for some. I purchased a 500 gram bag of Turtle Black Beans from my local Waitrose grocery store.
I placed all of the beans into a large plastic jar and covered them with ordinary tap water. Overnight, the beans expanded and filled the whole jar, so then I split the bean solution into 2 jars and added more water. I let this bean stock sit on my kitchen counter for 3 days. The water in the jars started to look quite blue so I was hopeful that this would work.
Meanwhile, I spun 100 grams of white wool and divided the wool into 2 50 gram skeins.
I mordanted the wool in a 5% solution of alum and water. (5 grams of alum to 100 grams of wool) I left the wool in the hot mordant for about an hour, then I turned off the heat and let the yarn sit in the mordant solution until cool.
I then strained out the dye water from the beans into 2 plastic bowls and placed the skeins of wool into the dye solution. I refilled the bean jars with water, as I am hoping that I will be able to extract more dye from the beans.
Wool in Dye Bath
This is the wool in the black bean dye bath after about 2 hours.
Black Beans Dyepot
I let the wool sit overnight in the black bean dye bath – pH 5.
Black Beans Dyepot pH5
I removed the wool from one of the bowls and added some washing soda to the dyebath to change the pH to 9. Then I put the yarn back into the bath. Almost immediately the colour changed to more of a grey-blue shade.
Wool in Black Bean Dye pH9
Black Bean Dye Batch No. 1
On Left – wool dyed with black beans and alum – pH5
On Right – wool dyed with black beans and alum – pH9
The blue wool turned to a greyer shade of blue when the pH was changed to 9 with the addition of washing soda
Wool Dyed with Black Beans
I am pleased with the results so far. My only concern is whether they will be very colorfast or will fade in daylight. I will put some into a sunny window for the next month to see if any fading occurs.
I am also going to repeat this experiment using a different mordant solution, so please stay tuned.
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