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Tool Hacks – How to make Bunnings your weaving supplies shop

If there’s a solitary truth about weaving, it’s that it takes a hell of a lot of tools. Some tools make life more convenient, and some are essential to the process.

When I first began weaving, I had a free second hand table loom (here’s a link to getting started with weaving while on a budget) and a bit of yarn that came with it. I started warping on dining chair legs, and had a tiny stick shuttle for weft. I’d woven before, when I was about fifteen, but had let the hobby go until my youngest was about six weeks old (when is a better time to restart?). So I knew the basics and knew what tools I was missing.

The first project I’d woven in 10 years: a scarf.

First and foremost, the tools you require for weaving really depend on what type of weaving you want to do. For example, if you have a rigid heddle loom which is directly warped, then you won’t require a warping board.

I like weaving yardage to use for sewing (my tips on sewing handwoven fabric are here). I had a large floor loom with a 90cm weaving width, and generally wove between 5m and 8m on a warp.

Below I’ve categorised the tools I’ve personally made or acquired in places other than weaving specific spaces.

The information below is Australia specific (as that’s where I’m located), but can definitely apply internationally.

Warping Board

A warping board for measuring your warp is a must if you aren’t directly warping your loom. How big you want yours to be depends on how many metres you want to weave.

Kmart (Australia)

Kmart has pegboards which are around $20 and are perfect for measuring warps. They come with multiple holes and pegs so that you can adjust the warp length by changing which holes the pegs are slotted into.

As well as this, if you buy two peg boards, you can get up to 15m of warping space. The longest warp I’ve ever measured is 12m and I did it on a double pegboard.

A Kmart peg board with a 4m warp on it.

The thing to watch with these is that the pegs can shift under the pressure of the warp threads. You can see above that some of the warp is looser, simply because the pegs have moved inwards.

Bunnings

Bunnings sells hardwood dowels in the timber section, as well as 2×4 of hardwood. In order to make a warping board, the dowels need to be inserted into the timber, rather than glued or screwed onto the wood.

The crossbars of the warping frame also needs to be squared with each other, in an a-frame.

If building a warping board, remember to sand and lacquer, because threads will snap if snagged on a corner or a splinter.

Tensioning Device

My first warp on my floor loom was a tension disaster, and not only because it was an unbalanced counter-balance loom. I’d used books to hold the tension of the warp chains while winding on and the result was some less than perfect tea-towels (gifted to family, of course).

After this, I looked up Joy from Joy of Weaving and found this article   about an easy tensioning device. I highly recommend that you take a look at it, as the tools for the job can be easily acquired from Bunnings.

Remember with tension, it doesn’t have to be tight, it just has to be even.

My tensioning device also holds my cross, so once the warp is wound on, I bring the dowels forward and thread from them. This avoids having to tie up angels wings to use lease sticks.

Tensioning device in use.

Raddle

I warp back to front, so use a raddle to wind on. Making a raddle from scratch is super dooper easy, and involves a 2×4 of timber, and some well placed nails. I work in inches when winding on, so my raddle is in half-inch spaces.

Mark out your wood, nail in inch-long nails, and you’re done! Most raddles have a wooden cover that stops the threads from jumping from their allotted half-inch space, but elastic bands work just as well.

Raddle in use. Elastic bands prevent the threads from skipping.

Treadle tie-ups

My first floor loom used cord and knots to tie up, and being a counter-balance loom, they needed to be really accurate in length. Not only this, but when I received the loom, it hadn’t been used in years and the tie ups needed replacing.

Usually, you would buy some tex cord and count the links to match up the length. Another version of this is to buy lengths of chain at Bunnings and link, or delink, the amount that you need. I partnered this with screws and washers through my treadles. This made it easy to change a tie up, as well as being a cheap solution.

Bobbins & Quills

In the early days, I had a non-standard (read: 80 year old) shuttle, and only paper quills would fit. I only had 1, so used it as a template to create more.

I used cardboard and packing tape, and wound them onto a pencil, taping as I go. This makes them fairly uniform, and strong.

Other stuff you can do!

Here is a list of things that can be made out of stuff from Bunnings and Kmart, but I haven’t done it personally.

  • Warping Paddle (using a piece of wood, a drill, and some sandpaper)
  • Bobbin winder (using a drill)
  • Shuttle (bit of wood)

If you’ve tried any of these and have further tips, let us know in the comments!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask below or email me at hello@sonderhandwovens.com.au!

Happy Weaving!

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How to Achieve Flawless Threading

Want perfect threading? Me too!

Firstly, there are two things to know about me: I am not a perfectionist, and I love complexity. These two things often intersect, and complexity in weaving often requires perfect technique.

That’s where this threading method comes in. It involves rigorous and perfect counting, but that’s about it.

Below I will provide a step by step guide to how to ensure that your threading is perfect, every time.

A shadow weave sample on a loom, as seen from above.
Shadow weave with a 94 thread repeat.

 

Firstly, analyse your draft.

Threads

The draft for the above weave is a 94 thread repeat and is on 8 shafts. This technique works with any number of shafts and any number of threads and repeats.

If you feel that your repeat is too long to manage in a section, break it up. 50 is my threading limit in a section, so anything more than that gets broken down into smaller chunks. In the above example, I broke the repeat into two different sections, A and B. From here on, treat these sections separately.

Threading pattern of a weaving draft halved into sections A & B
Separated sections A & B

Section A and section B both have 47 ends. Together they make up the 94 thread repeat of the draft.

Number of threads on each shaft

The next step in analysing your draft is to determine how many ends are assigned to each shaft. You can see above that in section A, there are 7 ends to go into heddles in shaft 8.

Threading pattern on a weaving draft
Section A with numbered threads on shaft 8

Write down the corresponding number of ends per shaft onto a piece of paper and set aside. Do this for both sections.

At the loom

Count your bundles

Your warp is wound on, your cross is ready to go, now it’s time to thread. I weave back to front, but I’m sure this technique can be adjusted to your weaving technique.

So far you have the number of threads per section and how many threads per shaft written down. I’m the type to print out my draft as I’m threading. This is basically the only thing I print out ever for weaving.

Starting from the edge, and using the corresponding section in your draft, count how many threads there are in that section. Because of how my loom is set up, I thread from the left, so in this example I would start with section A.

Continue counting until you get to the end of your work. Remember to account for floating selvedges if you’re using them.

Your threads should now be held in little bundles just behind your shafts.

Bundles of multicoloured yarn knotted with hitch knots.
Little bundles ready to thread.

Count your heddles

All of your heddles should now be at the edge of your loom. Using the numbers of threads per shaft you analysed earlier, move the heddles across so that they’re distinguished from the not-yet-used heddles.

In the example above, I would move 7 heddles on shaft 8, 6 heddles on shaft 7, 5 heddles on shaft 6, and so on until the section’s heddles were all together on the loom.

Grouping heddles and threading
Groupings of heddles

Threading

Thread your heddles as per your draft.

As you get to the end of the group, you should have the same amount of threads and heddles left. This is an easy way to check that you have threaded correctly.

As a result, it’s easy to find out where you have gone wrong by counting the number of heddles left on each shaft and tracing this back to the mistake.

Furthermore, it means that once you discover the mistake, you only need to look in the relevant section to find it, rather than through the warp.

Green handwoven baby blanket
A finished handwoven product

 

I hope that this has assisted you in getting your threading perfect every time.

Please add a comment below if you have any questions!

Happy weaving!