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Posts from the ‘Looms’ Category

Thailand, Laos and the Textile Track – Heddles

vertical heddles

Vertical heddles in Ban Haabtai village of the Tailue, North Thailand. Pattern rows are stored in the heddles with fine sticks.

Well I started with the previous post using the spinning of Thailand/Laos as a feature but now it’s the heddles.If you are a weaver you’ll be bowled over by the heddle overload in these countries.  Heddles are strings (in this case) which have an eye or loop of some sort allowing a weaver to pick up specific warp threads according to a pattern. The heddles here are quite complex and have many ‘rows’ of weaving pattern stored to create beautiful and regular patterns with an extra supplementary weft to enrich the ground fabric (this is often plain weave).


Here vertical heddles are at the bottom and are merely pieces of string rather than fine sticks to designate each row of lifts.

Most often we see heddling that is horizontal but I really went to Laos to see the unique vertical heddles. Here you can see each row of pattern held by sticks but they can also be with just pieces of string. Each row is pulled down and a weaver’s sword placed between the selected wefts for the row and woven. The pattern stick is transferred to the heddles underneath the weaving and stored until it is ready to start reversing the pattern and taking the bottom sticks for every row, weaving and transferring to the top.  It is totally ingenious.

Weaver Kay Faulkner

A lovely shot of weaver Kay Faulkner weaving on a loom with horizontal heddles – maybe 40 pattern shafts with 2 shafts for plain weave.

I expected to see these vertical heddles as the only ones in use, but I also encountered horizontal heddles which would be similar to something I would use, if inclined! You can see noted Australian weaver Kay Faulkner weaving on this type of loom near Luang Namtha in Laos.

heddles and weaving

A set of heddles on one side only – for supplementary weft patterning

Even more unusual, to my eyes, was partial pattern horizontal heddles. I mean why set up heddles right across the weaving just for the sake of symmetry?

Seeing mastery of weaving at this level is exhilarating. The looms are so ‘can do’ with a series of sticks and strings. I really wanted to sit with the weaver all day…even to make her cups of tea and soak in it. But then I would still be there getting in the way and the tour must go on.

A day in the life of looms 2015



Happy, happy 2015! What a start to the new year with a studio full of weavers! Albeit  little relatives.  Thank you to Meg for initiating this reason for snapping photos of our much loved looms. Yes, I’m a little late but this time of year is busy doing kitchen and cleaning things and I couldn’t really leave my post until this moment. As you can see we have been busy weaving too, of course.

As to my looms, I always have a custom warp on a Saori loom as well as a pre-wound one and I’m currently setting up my 24 shaft Toika again to get a bit on the complex side too. My niece wanted a bag strap on the inkle loom too which is always nice to work with. My 11 year old niece also wound and threaded her first warp with five different colours. Very quick to complete and she is half way through the weaving all in an afternoon.

This year will bring much more studio time and workshops in the studio. I will be teaching at the Sturt Winter School in Mittagong if you are able to commit to a week of pure craft luxury and relaxation too. Keep weaving, for insight, health, pleasure and  rewarding textile creation! We love weaving here and we especially love the ease and freedom of Saori!

Memories and pre-wounds

Holding the pre-wound warp at the front of the loom whilst beaming.

I recently had a great day involved in the repair of a very special local community loom .

Years ago as a young newly enthralled weaver, we used to holiday at Forster beach. The very special north facing and beautiful main beach had a craft centre right on the water. It was filled with all manner of crafts but had a large floor loom and table loom with work in progress. Every holiday I would go and spend ages just looking at the looms although no-one seemed to be working them! So you can image the joy when asked to repair and bring back to life the same loom at the albeit now not-so-scenic re-located Forster Arts and Craft centre.

The whole loom had steel components that were rusting in the coastal air. The loom hadn’t really been touched or maintained for over 16 years. The string heddles fell apart when we touched them and the rusted components needed to be replaced. I should say that sometimes older looms aren’t worth repairing if they are missing parts or too badly damaged but this one was worth just replacing the all cords on the  lamms and heddles with Texslov. The loom has a lovely, easy treadling and is a good one for group use. I hope it now gets the WeaveLOVE it needs to thrive and create. It is so nice when I can touch my weaving past in such a way.

Tie the warp to the back rod. Here it is pre-sleyed in the reed and I’m using it like a raddle.

To set up the loom for use I wound a 12 metre Saori black cotton pre-wound warp onto the loom. I would probably still be there winding and beaming if I had to prepare a warp as well as repair it so the pre-wound warp was a fantastic time and energy saver. Many of my customers ask about using the pre-wounds on non-Saori looms but it depends on what type of loom it is and what experience you have.  The pre-wound warps do not have a cross as such but have the threads ordered with some tape so you can take each one in its turn to thread etc. I have a customer who buys the thirty metre long 60cm wide wool warps to put on her loom as there are very few places you can buy weaving warp yarns in Australia and she gets an ‘impossible to wind yourself‘ thirty metres to weave off. Read more

Starting with purple

Firstly a very happy and healthy new year to all my readers. A new year seems to be a time of reflection and new beginnings and it’s a good opportunity to get motivated about something entirely different.

My new studio is just about complete and it is wonderful. It is light and airy which I think helps to clear my mind when I’m working.

I’ve been weaving on one of the Saori looms which I warped up with purple and greens. The resulting cloth turned out well and I’m now shaping it into a top. It was a relaxing weave to get me in the mode for something more heavy duty on the Toika.

The Toika, as a now manual loom,  still isn’t up and balanced as I have to place a warp on it first – which is in progress. I still feel sick when I think of the high cost of the loom as a compu-dobby and now have to discard all my 24 shaft patterns and associated dreams with them.  Dreams have their issues –  I’ll look to contentment with what I have as a safer reality for 2012 and beyond.

On another note I’ll be offering the new SAORI WX60 folding loom with a great new year special discount to Australian customers in the next few days.

The countermarche tie up

Decision time again with my countermarche tie up.

I don’t really want to have crawl under my 144 treadle ties to get this loom going for new patterns. I want to be able to control them at a higher level, preferably on top of the lamms.

I tried these instructions first which offer a good overview of the traditional tie up.

Read more

Manualizing a Loom?

It’s unheard of, I know. Manualizing the loom.

A method and word so unheard of that manualizing isn’t even a word! Although it’s sitting here as a conundrum with  a glaring deficit of explaination.

One reference in google is to creating a manual transmission from an automatic one in a car. This is what I’m doing with my loom. Moving from the hitherto dream of a 24 shaft loom powered with a touch and having countless options of treadling via a computer screen to driving a 12 treadle foot dance operation. Read more

What has handweaving come to?…..hexagons…

My tardiness in getting to blog posts is getting predicable.Weaving has become difficult with continuing problems on my digital loom. The replacement card seems to be a bit different to the previous one and the mechanics need some modifications. However, it’s all helping me feel more confident in what is behind the workings of the loom and I think it will be better than ever once sorted. Read more

Loom fixed

loomproblemWonderful news! My loom is now fixed.

I had some long distance consultations about the problem, but Toika assessed the issue immediately. They sent me a new card with instruction to replace in the computer box of the loom.

I really took my time, some of it based on my screwdriver skill challenges, but managed to follow the instructions and replace the card. If I can do it I’m sure it’s pretty straightforward. My husband checked that the screws were as tight as they should be and also drilled a hole for a new resistor for me. So on the whole I can say I did it by myself…well nearly. Read more