Things I need to learn about

What have I learned this week?  Well, my friends, here we go:

  1. A reminder that I hate being sick.  Hate.  Hate, hate, hate.  Thing to look up later: What *is* the maximum volume that normal human sinuses can hold?
    1. In my initial, less-than-five-minutes attempt to find this out, I have discovered that there is such a thing as the American Rhinologic Society.  Add that to my list of things that shouldn’t be surprising but somehow are.
  2. I have learned that I need to learn more about tea.  I consumed vast quantities of tea this week–white tea, Darjeeling, lapsang souchong, oolong, green tea with jasmine, and my more normal orange pekoe.  I know that lapsang souchong has a whole thing about being smoked… and isn’t oolong fermented, maybe?  But all in all I have no idea what makes these teas different from one another.  There are a couple books in the collection at work that I expect to be reading by this time next week.
  3. Snowshoeing is fun.  It’s probably not best undertaken on one’s first day of (relative) health after being flattened for a week, but I couldn’t resist my first chance to try out that Christmas present.  Somehow I had expected to “float” more on top of the snow than you actually seem to, but I have confirmed with multiple sources that I was mistaken in that belief.
  4. I have begun to read The Weaver’s Idea Book.  I had no idea so many things were possible on my rigid heddle loom!  Stay tuned for lots of weaving posts.
  5. I have also begun to read Needlework.  Lots of broad strokes in this one; it’s your basic historical overview.  Plenty of good pictures, though.
    1. I’m learning that when it comes to western embroidery, I generally prefer the aesthetic of pre-1700s work.  That’s always good to know, I suppose.
    2. Also stumpwork (aka “raised embroidery”) is a thing–embroidery in 3d.  I need to find some kind of directions/tutorial for a stumpwork project that isn’t hideously ugly.  Who doesn’t need to up their embroidery game to involve three dimensions??
      1. AND, someone wrote this book, which I need to ILL asap: Stumpwork, goldwork and surface embroidery : beetle collection

So I guess this week has been more of a week for “Oooh, I need to learn about that,” than anything else.

How Not to Warp a Loom

I have a Cricket Loom.  Generally speaking, I am very fond of my Cricket Loom.  I am less fond of my Cricket Loom on warping days, and today was
a warping day.  The cat loves warping days, but I usually just end up swearing steadily as I try to figure out what I’ve screwed up this time.

Theoretically, warping a rigid heddle loom like mine is supposed to be easy.  I mean, check out this video:

Piece of cake!  Except it never quite goes that way.  At least, not for me.  Not so far.  I’ve done this three whole times now, and something different goes wrong every time.

Anyway, I feel like I should record some of what I’ve learned about warping my loom so that I don’t forget.  Possibly also to remind myself that I *am* getting better.  Or at least I’m making different mistakes, and eventually that should mean I run out of mistakes to make, right?

cat looking smug in front of *finally* finished, warped loom.
The cat likes to take credit for the warping, even though she had to be locked away so she didn’t chew through the yarn and pull everything crashing to the floor.

1. The first rule of warping is that you should never attempt it in the presence of a cat.  I don’t care how innocent the cat looks.  It’s a lie. Banish the cat and accept that the guilt of her crying “Abandonment!” is part of the warping process.

2. Don’t attempt to warp with your loom sitting on a small, not-terribly-sturdy tray table.  The table will tip over, your yarn will become a snarled mess, and you will not be happy.  If you *must* use the tray table because you don’t have anything else you can clamp the loom to, put a small (full) bookcase in front of it to prevent tipping.  See?  There’s a reason I need so many loaded bookcases!

3. If you’re doing direct warping, be careful not to pull the warp too tight while you’re doing it.  This will lead to nothing but misery as the warping peg slides around and eventually tips over, dumping your yarn on the floor.  Yes, this could probably be avoided if you had a second sturdy item of furniture to attach the warping peg’s clamp to.  Presumably if it were clamped, it would not tip over.  If, however, you have merely tied it with yarn to the back of a kitchen chair… well.

Pro tip: Vacuum before warping, so that if your yarn *does* end up on the floor, at least it won’t get covered in cat fur while it’s there.

4. Do not, under ANY circumstances, think that it’s a good idea to tie together two pieces of yarn so that you have enough length for your warp.  Those knots will catch in the heddles/beater and slow your progress to a crawl.  They have a good chance of also making unhappy lumps and holes in your finished weave, too.  So–no knots in the warp.  Not ever!  If you are going to switch yarns, do it on the apron rod.

5. Definitely attach your warping to the apron rods and not to any of the other horizontal rods in the loom.  Having to switch after you’ve already (incorrectly) warped eats boatloads of time.

6. Those rods at the top of the loom, front and back?  I forget their names, but they’re there for a reason.  The reason is that your warp should go over the back one, and you cloth should go over the front one.  You know what happens if your warp doesn’t go over that back one?  You get to find a way to take the warp off the back apron rod without losing the rest of your work, so that you can switch the apron rod’s position, so that the warp can go over that back rod.  That’s what happens.  And yeah, you can just slide off the two side apron cords, piece of cake.  But that middle apron cord?  Getting at that sucker means taking off half your warp.

Pro tip: You can slide that half your warp onto a pen to keep it in order while you slip off that apron cord and rearrange the apron rod’s position relative to that back rod whose name I really should learn.  Then you can slide the yarn back onto the apron rod.


I’m pretty sure I’ve learned other things, too, but they’re slipping my mind except for this one, which isn’t directly about warping:

Yes, you *can* make a very simple shuttle out of cardboard.  And it works ok.  But it would probably work better if you stiffened the cardboard somehow.  Maybe a double thickness of cardboard?  My improvised shuttles are bending because I put the yarn on them too tightly, and that makes them considerably harder to get through the shed.