It’s All in the Process

People ask me about weaving and my first response is “It’s all about the process”. The questions range from “how do all those threads get on the loom?” to “what’s the difference between knitting and weaving?” to “what’s a loom?”

The answer to the first is —keep reading!

The answer to the second is–keep reading.

The answer to the third is in there, too.

I really do have answers and I hope I answer them here.

Step 1

The first thing is warping. If you read my previous blog you are up to speed. ( If you didn’t, the short answer is that warping is the placing of the threads on a contraption that looks weird but let’s the weaver string the threads in order. It is usually done on a board or a wheel. After a certain number of threads get together this way, they are called a bout and they get tied up.

(Truly, I have no answer as to the naming of things in weaving. It is a language that has come through the ages.)

Threads on the warping wheel

That makes it easier to transfer them from the warping wheel to the loom. It forces the threads to stay together in the order intended. Now, occasionally some of the threads like to defy gravity and social norms and go wandering a bit. Weavers frown on this. It causes “issues” later on if not caught early! But we will discuss those errant threads a bit later.

Step 2

To get the warp on the loom, the first step is to tie it onto the “warp beam”.

Threads on the warp beam

Look back at the picture of the warp on the wheel. See the big yellow tie at the top right? That is holding all the threads that loop over the end stick that is there. That loop is were the cloth bar goes. It is a steel or wooden rod that ends up tied to the warp beam and the warp gets wound on to that beam with a hand crank. The rod in the picture is underneath the cardboard. And the cardboard is there to keep the threads from sticking together as the beam goes round and round. There is a lot of yanking and pulling and straightening of threads as this part of the process continues.

A Little Help From My Friends

Meet my weaving buddy, Jan, who yanked and pulled and straightened with me. Taking out your aggressions on wayward threads is cathartic and a lot of fun! The yanking is done to make sure that the threads go on the warp beam with the same tension. Loose threads are not a good thing!

Jan yanking on the warp

Step 3

Once the warp is wound onto the warp beam, it is time to get picky. Real picky. It is time to thread the heddles.

The WHAT???

They are called heddles. And without getting too deep in the weeds, they are the ultimate holder of each and every thread. They are also, in conjunction with the treadles, the ultimate maker of the pattern.

So what does that look like?

Threads in the heddles

The rule is, in general, one thread in one heddle. And to assist in this process, there is a very necessary little piece of equipment called a threading hook. With that hook each thread is grabbed and pull through the eye of the heddle. (That does sound like a song!)

So each and every one of those wayward threads has its own heddle. And that way they stay where they are suppose to be. To say that it can be tedious would be a truism. But, for me, it is Zen like. I can focus and let the world go by—until I mess up and put the wrong thread in the wrong heddle or cross the threads or miscount. There are a number of operator errors that can occur at this stage. It is usually the time that the Spouse finds another spot in the house. There are times when the calmest place for spouses is outside.

Step 4

Once that is done, the threads are treated to a trip through the reed. It’s a contraption that is the final hoop for those long suffering threads. The threading hook is used here as well. It pulls anywhere from one to four thread through the reed spaces. So, depending on the size of the reed and the desired closeness of the threads in the final product, they may get to socialize again by sharing a dent in the reed.

Through the reed and tied to the cloth bar

And this is where the final step of tying on to the “cloth beam” happens. If it is all done correctly and if all the threads are aligned properly, then, tomorrow we will actually weave!

My Final Answers

Oh, the answer to question #2 is—knitting doesn’t need a loom. Or is it that weaving doesn’t use long needles? Well, both loop the threads together and make very nice things! And, I think that answers #3 as well!

And if you want to read more about weaving and my adventures that led to the creation of Penguin Designs go to

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