I spent eight hours yesterday getting the color-study warp onto the loom. That is, of course, an excruciatingly long time to spend beaming on a single warp, but this was an extraordinarily complex warp, with four separate colorways that needed to be interspersed in the raddle and then beamed on together.
I started by putting the bouts into the raddle, one bout at a time. That meant leaving gaps for the other colors, which in turn meant a lot of counting. Now, I was a math major and am therefore incapable of doing simple things like counting and addition (“A solution exists and is unique. Don’t bother me with the details!”), so this took considerably longer than you might expect, checking and double-checking and correcting mistakes. But I eventually got all four colorways into the raddle:
Then it was time to tie onto the warp beam. Because my warping wheel doesn’t create end loops, I needed to gather the ends for each section, align them so the color changes matched, and tie them in a knot so they could be attached to the warp beam. Then I had to even out the tension across the entire warp.
Here’s what it looked at the beginning:
Looks like a tangled rat’s-nest, doesn’t it?
After an hour or two of fiddly adjustments, though, it looked a lot better:
It looks like the color changes are misaligned near the viewer, but that’s an optical illusion: they lined up nearly straight when viewed from the front.
I wound up using a triple trapeze to keep the warps from fouling on each other. My trapeze is a rod hung from the ceiling, so I just added two more rods:
Each of the colorways is on a separate rod, except for the white one which shares a rod with another colorway. As there were only 40 threads in the white colorway, that wasn’t much of an issue.
I was pretty smug about how the color changes lined up. Here is the warp beam near the end of the beaming process:
There is only about three inches of variation across the entire warp – not bad after 12 yards of winding-on!
I made a technological advance on this warp. A weaver named Ulrike Beck had written me an email after seeing my fine-threads article in a recent issue of Handwoven. Ulrike mentioned using acrylic tubes rather than wooden lease sticks, so I had to give that a try:
They are a dream! Unlike wooden lease sticks, they are perfectly smooth and perfectly round, so they just glide through the warp. And they are flexible enough to bend instead of breaking. I love them. So thank you, Ulrike!
(My new lease sticks are 1/2″ round tubes of clear acrylic – they have no holes, but as I tape together my lease sticks rather than fussing with strings through holes, that doesn’t bother me a bit. I suppose you could drill holes if you wanted to, but tape is so much faster than string!)
The next step will be to thread the warp, but that may have to wait a week or so. I’m flying out to Colorado on Wednesday for Fiber Celebration 2014, where I will be jurying the show and teaching a workshop on the design process in craft. I’ve made a ton of changes to the workshop, and still need to write one handout and two presentations. So that will take priority, at least for today.
Meanwhile, here is Tigress, demonstrating on the blinds how she would “help” me beam the warp onto the loom. Somehow, this has not convinced me to let her into the weaving studio…