Update to the Ribbon Loom Project

It has a been a few days, and I can finally take a breather from weaving  and file a report on my progress. My current  configuration is successful. I can handle up to 100 threads, I wove a test length of 5 1/2 yards with no tension difficulties. No broken threads, no frustration and no errors. IMG_3369IMG_3356

I modified my loom design to include a creel arrangement rather than use the bobbins to create a “sectional” beam. The sectional beam  idea had developed tension problems the longer that Ribbon LoomI wove on the loom. Using the creel option, I accomplished a few important things. The length the the material to be woven is controlled by the amount of thread on the bobbin – bobbins can be changed out as needed. The creel tensioning arrangement I designed permits fast assembly and easy rearrangement without tools. I used one creel box for unheddled threads and another for the heddled threads.  Each creel box has a capacity of 30 threads. I also had the ability to adjust tension of each thread individually if necessary.  The creel design simplified the loom design considerably.

The loom is now principally a structure on which the creel threads are dressed for weaving there are no warp beams needed.  I used the same coroplast structure as before and left the wooden dowels and the existing “cloth beam” in place.IMG_3359

The blue tape, was  used to cover the slots I had made in the loom in order to insert and remove the sectional beams during my earlier design tests. I used painter’s tape to ensure that the fine threads would not stray into the open slots while threading.

Interweave Store

I also picked up a couple of tricks that made using this loom design even more inviting. Simplicity has a product called the SideWinder – a portable bobbin winder.  I made use of this tool to wind my bobbins for this project.  I also picked up a inexpensive yardage counter by Boye that made it convenient  for me to measure the thread as it wound on to the bobbins.  I placed the spools of thread on a spindle in the creel, threaded the thread through the yardage counter that was held to the work surface by suction cups, and continued the thread through the bobbin winder as specified in its instructions. Thirty nine bobbins with just the right amount of thread in less than 15 minutes. Awesome.

Threading the loom was a breeze. I lined up the bobbins matching the inkle draft, drew the thread through the holes on the sides of the creel next to the bobbin.  I then threaded the top creel through the heddles and alternated it with a thread from the bottom creel. I was ready to weave in less than an hour.

The creel was made using a package of foam hair rollers cut into “washers” , 12″ pieces of all thread, and sewing machine bobbins. The case for the creel was picked up at a local dollar store. Its primary feature is that its perforations held the all thread rods and the length would support 15 bobbins.    Please use the comment box  and let me know if you are interested in obtaining plans for this loom.

 

Designing an Inkle style ribbon loom

I have been preoccupied with loom design in the past couple of days. There are things about a traditional inkle loom that just bug me. Remember, I am fine thread weaver by nature! To me regular tapestry looks like burlap.  My problem has been that inkle looms are so much overkill  (too much wood, too bulky) if you want to weave pretty little hair ribbons. I also hated the fact that you had to thread everything on the loom before you got started (one thread out of place and you had to start all over) and the fact that so much of the design was warp dependent (too much commitment.)

I have been playing what if: I want to weave lengths of ribbon that could be longer than a traditional inkle loom permits (enough to trim a dress), what if I wanted to change colors midstream? Can I handle supplemental warp(s) in such a way that I do not have tension problems over time. What if I wanted to handle 100 threads not 36? What are the cheapest materials I can find that do not require the services of a woodworker. (I don’t have my own private carpenter).IMG_3310 Can I use recycled materials? Will this loom be portable? Can the loom be taken apart for shipping or storage?

I have found that I can create a creditable ribbon loom that meets my needs out of some pretty humble stuff I found at my local HOME DEPOT.

  • A Blank Coroplast Sign
  • #8-32 Threaded Rod 12″
  • #8-32 Wing nuts
  • #8-32 Nuts
  • #8-32 Washers
  • 3/16″ Wooden Dowels – 12″ long
  • drawer knobs – that fit the #8-32 threaded rod.

Other things I had at home:

  • sewing machine bobbins – old straight ones are fine I used some of the metal ones.
  • Empty sewing thread spools.

Tools usedTools I used:

  • Scissors (the little Fiskars type) to enlarge holes in coroplast
  • Exacto knife and blade (to cut coroplast)
  • An inexpensive small hacksaw (to cut threaded rod and dowel) I picked up the $8 one in the store. It had a handle and a blade  – no fancy stuff.
  • A sharpie – to mark cutting lines
  • A 3″ wood screw — used as an awl to start the holes in the coroplast. Requires little hand pressure. Finished heavy work with the scissor.
  • A French Curve to get pleasing curves on the sides of the loom.

IMG_3313IMG_3306   IMG_3317IMG_3287  I’m still tinkering with the design so I am not quite ready for print out final measurements. It is my intention to share this from this post when I am sure that it will work for most people.
The yardage counter was used when I wound thread from spools to bobbins. It does work nicely. My bobbins also fit on this dowel nicely for transfer to the “sectional” bobbin on the loom. It would be great to have a baby tension box someday for winding these packages.

IMG_3304So far, I am pleased  with the weight, size, and the fact I can adjust the tension individually on each bobbin. The weaving area is about 8″ long. I have a great shed. It took only a few minutes to thread and get started.

I am modifying the design to make it easier to change the bobbins on the fly. I have found you can use existing inkle patterns or make use of standard weaving drafts. I will be exploring more pick-up work and additional shaft control options shortly. My goal is to be able to make beautiful silk ribbon by hand.

 

 

Double Bow Knot Coverlet

Woven sample of Double Bow KnotAn old pattern in overshot weaving that has had many names over time: Muscadine Hills, Hickory Leaf, Blooming Leaf.  The Double Bow Knot name comes from the leaf like square  that forms the larger portion of the design. The dark square is called a table. Because there are two motifs used the pattern it may be most properly described as a Double Bow Knot and table design.

This design can be woven with only four shafts in an overshot structure. Overshot blocks can share shafts, which is what makes them so efficient. It is a structure that will require you to have planned your design carefully before you thread your loom. The threading typically is the most limiting design factor. coverlet - francis goodrich with coverlet

The goal of traditional overshot weaving is to be able to “square” the blocks as they are woven from the lower right hand corner of the loom to the left most block, which will result in the leaf or bow portions being square also. The coverlet in the photo on the right was not a perfect square and did not “match” when sewn together. This could be from the choice of threads for pattern and weft, and it may also have been impacted by how tightly it was beaten when woven.

DoubleBowknot_Pattern - old drafting methodEarly copies of drafts for this coverlet were written with a different notation than weavers use today. Draft of Pattern from Edward Francis Worst The only threads listed were pattern threads. Weavers were expected to  know where the plain weave threads were to be placed. The draft to the right is a modern version of the draft on the left. All of the needed threads are shown for the pattern. It is read from right to left and top to bottom. What it does not tell you is anything about the needed tie-up or the treadling.

Not to despair, these early weavers knew some basic weaving information that may not be apparent to weavers today. If you look closely that the draft above on the right, every other thread appears on either the first or second shaft, this is our clue as to where the plain weave background will come from. The first treadle will need to be tied to shafts 1 and 2 and the second treadle will be tied to shafts 3 and 4. When you alternate these using treadles you will achieve a plain “tabby” weave. When translating a historic pattern I suggest simplifying it into a profile draft to demonstrate the order and number of blocks that must be threaded on the loom.  When you do this you can now use any block structure you would like.double bow knot profile draft This design can be woven using any loom that can support 4 blocks of the desired structure. This pattern in overshot will require 744 threads. If sett at 24 threads per inch a single repeat will be  31 inches wide when woven. In the photo of the full coverlet above the coverlet was woven with 2 and 1/2 repeats in each piece. The documentation for the coverlet indicates it was sett at 40 ends per inch (epi). It would have likely to have been woven on a 60″ wide loom.

This profile could be woven as:

  • Overshot or Crackle on a 4 shaft loom
  • Spot Bronson, Bronson Lace, Huck Lace, Summer and Winter, Even Tied Overshot, Half-satin, or Bergman,  on an 8 shaft loom
  • Turned Twill, Patterned Double Weave, or Beiderwand, or Twill Lampas on a 16 shaft loom
  • Damask will require 20 shafts.

There are a ton of possibilities based on your choice of profile and structure,  we haven’t even begun to talk color, or choice of materials.

Because of the large size of the profile draft, it is not expected that the coverlet will require a border. The table portion of the design can function as a border if it is placed on both sides of the warp.
Primary Weaving Resources:

  • The Shuttle-Craft Book of American Hand-Weaving  Open Page 182
  • Foot-power Loom Weaving  Open Pages 96-97
  • The Book of Handwoven Coverlets  Open Pages 22-23
  • Of Coverlets: the Legacies, the Weavers  Open Pages 347-352

Additional Weaving Resources: (Use Resources search page for a complete listing)

    • A Basic Approach to Designing and Drafting Original Overshot Patterns  Open
    • American and European Handweaving Revised  Open
    • An Introduction to Turned Overshot  Open
    • Contemporary Approach to Traditional Weaves: Overshot and Summer and Winter  Open
    • Creative Overshot  Open
    • Creative Overshot  Open
    • Foot-power Loom Weaving  Open
    • Functional Overshot: Basic Source for Modern Fabric Design  Open
    • Handwoven Overshot Figures on 8 Harnesses  Open
    • Master Weaver Library, Vol. 7: Contemporary Approach to Traditional Weaves: Overshot and Summer & Winter  Open

Drafting Files for Download:

WIF File Download File - Profile Draft Only

Download a Profile Draft to use in your weaving software

WIF Files Download File

Download the FULL Weaving Draft to use in your weaving software.

Zip File Download File - No Software

Download a Zipped (Compressed) file with the Full Draft images of threading, treadling, and tie-up. Does not require you to have weaving software.

Project File Download File

Download a Double Bow Knot Shawl Project. Package includes both a PDF file with a complete weaving draft and a WIF for use in weaving software.