Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sixth part of the Viking Weaving Saga!

Getting the loom dressed.

Having contemplated the different outcomes of the plain weave, the checker weave and the twill weave I did decide that for this project using a twill would be appropriate. It was also at this point that I made the final decision to separate the thel and the tog, so the fibres  could be spun separately. The tog (hair) would be spun tightly for the warp and the thel (soft undercoat) could be spun softly for the weft.  
When I have to weave with hand-spun singles I usually work on my 45” LeClerc 4 shaft floor loom equipped with a sectional warping beam. Since I don’t usually set the twist in the yarn before winding the warp, taking advantage of the control one has with a spool rack, a tension box and only having to deal with 1” (2.5cm) of the warp at a time gives me great pleasure. I also need to add that I do use copious amounts of sticky tape to hold all my ends in check, so every thing is still in order when I unwind each warp bunch two turns on each section and bring the ends  up over the back beam and then thread them through the heddles and into the reed ending up with the warp-ends at the front part of the loom - exactly where I want them to be so I can tighten them up to the front apron and get weaving.

I work on one section at a time when I work with singles, never letting go of the ends once the tape used to secure the sequence of the ends has been secured. This helps me keep everything in order and it helps me not loose any twist which is quite crucial when weaving with singles. If the single is too loosely spun the whole warp might unravel and ....  fall apart. (I did try that once with a beautiful mohair single and I just hadn’t thought that project through properly - I was not a happy camper and finished that mohair project prematurely with scissors and breathing exercises)

The pieces as I have mentioned before are destined to hang as covers for storage spaces in one of the viking houses in L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland.
The openings are 65cm (26”) wide and the height from floor to ceiling is 1.75m (70”).
And here I have to say that.... growing up I lived with the metric system, occasionally hearing about ‘tommer’ (inches), but when I moved to Canada and got my first loom all the measurements were in inches and brain converted to inches, at least when I speak loom although in recent years I have been studying more and more scandinavian weaving literature which means that in the not too distant future I should be fluent in both measuring systems again.

 I set the loom up in a width of 42” (105cm), quite a lot wider than the needed 26” (65cm) .
However, I had to take into account any draw-in as I was weaving, shrinkage when washing/fulling and finally the extra draw-in which might occur when the energy of the singles I was weaving with would pull together a bit once the tension on the warp was gone when the two pieces were taken off the loom.

And here is the full width warp seen from the side of the back beam, at this point I was tired, thrilled and very happy to take a nap - setting up a loom is tiring, tedious and utterly inspiring since there is so much time to contemplate the execution of the project ahead. It is a beautiful road to travel.

Next time: Getting all tightened up and ready to roll - oh, weave!


  1. What a great commission. I hope to make it to L'anse aux meadows one day - now I can look forward to seeing your weaving. :)


  2. Your freshly beamed warp is so beautiful and am looking forward to the woven fabric.

  3. Yes Laura, you will see my weaving when you go. I am excited since the plan is that Soren and I will go up and hang them later this spring. I have never been there either.
    And Evelyn, yes the fabric is coming up soon, it is fun to relive the whole process through the pics and remembering the joys and the sweats which were all part of the process.