Category Archives: drawcord warp

Studio Days and Inspiration

Today and tomorrow are studio days, for working on and at looms and sock machine. My time to work here has been so broken up the last couple weeks, that I have not getting much done. Too many interruptions lately, demands on my time, errands, appointments, and I’ve called a halt.

This morning the drawcord warp was trimmed where each cord is tied to a pattern heddle. There were approximately 3″+ tails left on each when they were tied awhile back, and pulling the cords was causing those ends to wrap around themselves and their neighbors (above).

All I could see to do was cut those ends off, so they were trimmed to 1″. So far there has been no further problem. The old drawcord warp was a thicker linen with a slightly waxy finish on it, and the knots were tight and held. With the seine twine, I have not been able to tie good tight knots, so hoping they will hold.

The next task today, when I’m done here, is lashing the tie-on rod onto the apron, so large-eye needle, string, and pliers are standing by. When I’m done with that, I’ll tie the 20/2 cotton warp on, then be able to pull the pins out of the upper jacks and check to see if I have a shed and how much adjusting needs to be done (next post).

I have always enjoyed visiting artists studios, seeing how and where they work. It was something I did each summer when going to The Looms. Now, living where I do, these opportunities are rare, so I turn to books like…

those of Rice Freeman-Zacher, author of “Living the Creative Life, Ideas and Inspiration from Working Artists” and her new book, “Creative Time and Space, Making Room for Making Art.”

I also enjoy publications like American Artist’s “Studios” magazine (left), for fine artists, and “Studios” (right) by Cloth.Paper.Scissors, for artists working in paper/collage/fibers/art quilts.

WI weaver Dawn MacFall is featured in this issue. Fun and interesting reads that give ideas for my studio that may work for me here or in the future.

While ordering “Creative Time and Space” on Amazon, I suddenly remembered an article that had been in an issue of Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot (Winter 2008/2009), “Kimono as Art: The Landscapes of Itchiku Kubota.” This book and the work of Itchiku Kubota is incredibly beautiful. Pure inspiration! A treasure!

Drawloom Progress

The drawloom has been sitting here, temporarily abandoned while I have been working at weaving towels and cranking socks to sell, and today I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to have part of a day for my personal weaving interest of making progress on the drawloom.

I had previously sleyed the 440 cords (seine twine, two colors) through the reed shown suspended from the upper drawcord warp beam.

The center of the reed was marked with a red thread, also two inches on each side of the center. This space is left empty to allow the drawcords closest to the middle to pass by those center Texsolv cords as they are pulled. There are 220 cords on each side, groups of 8 cords, with an empty dent between each group.

This afternoon I pulled the long Texsolv cords, that go from the upper jacks and down through the shafts to the lamms, out of the shafts and wrapped them up around the top. Though I had previously read how to put a drawcord warp on, on p. 149 in “Damask and Opphamta,” I went about this slightly differently.

With help from daughter Sarah and son Noah (so I could take photos), the reed (with lease sticks still in) were passed to the back of the loom, over and down behind the round steel beam.

Instead of sleying both reeds at the front of the loom, as described in the book, I sleyed the first reed at the front, then passed the reed to the back to sley the second reed. Here the first reed is suspended about five inches above the second reed, making it easy to sley the second reed. The pattern heddles are directly underneath the lower reed.

The second reed is now sleyed straight across, the 4″ space in the middle of the reed is not needed on the second reed. I will leave the cords as is until the weaving warp is beamed.

At this point, the first reed was passed back to the front of the loom,…

and tied in place to the upper beam overhead.

The cords are ready to tie to the pattern heddles, after the weaving warp is beamed. Tonight, this is a beautiful sight! One step closer,…

Drawcord Warp is Beamed!

A few days ago, I had made the drawcord warp in four sections, placed the sections on the rod that fits inside the top beam, and began to spread the sections into the raddle. I discovered that although I had done my warp calculations correctly, my thinking of groups in the raddle did not match, so I had to move a couple threads every other section to their proper space in the raddle. This wasn’t a big problem, and I certainly won’t make that mistake again!

Once that was done today, the lease sticks were put in. While checking, I found 4 cords at the cross, scattered across the warp, that had not been caught in the lease sticks. I do not know if this happened at the warping board, or if we missed those cords while inserting the lease sticks. They were put properly in place, and the drawcord warp was beamed this afternoon.

The Swedish method of beaming a drawcord warp includes rough sleying a reed before winding the warp on. I chose not to do that, but to simply do my usual back to front warping method. I did, however, run the warp straight down and under the footboard of the loom as done the Swedish way. Noah and Sarah held the warp sections while I wound the warp on and inserted a few warp sticks. I then cut the ends and tied off, as shown below, to keep the lease sticks in place.

Next, I believe I will be able to suspend the reed directly underneath the lease sticks, pick the threads from the cross, and sley the reed, one cord per dent, 8 cords of teal, leave a dent empty, 8 cords of terra cotta, leave a dent empty, and continue alternating colors across the reed.

Once the sleyed cords are secure, I will remove the raddle, then unwinding enough drawcord warp, move the reed and warp ends back across the loom, over the steel beam, and down, so I can pick threads from the first reed, to sley the second reed. The first reed will then be moved back to the top beam and secured there. After the 20/2 weaving warp is beamed, I will be able to tie the cords to the pattern heddles.

What is all this for? The single unit drawloom is a double harness loom. It has a front ground harness, in this case 10 shafts available, and a pattern harness, which on this loom consists of four rods/shafts on which the pattern heddles hang. The pattern heddles will be set up and hang as if they were a straight twill. Each pattern heddle has a maillon through which 1 to 8 threads are threaded and works as a unit.

The ground shafts will be most likely set up as a 5 shaft satin. A design will be graphed out, and the the cords of the drawcord warp are used to pull up units of threads to create the design.

I will try to do a better job explaining this as I work through the process of setting up this loom. It has been a long time since I’ve done this, and all I have to go on are memories, a few books, most in Swedish, the CW Double Harness Study Group, and a little creative thinking. My ideas may or may not work, but either way, I will learn from them.

I’ve been searching for 20/2 mercerized cotton, on cones, so far without success, so I’ll be continuing that search this evening. While waiting for the 20/2 cotton to arrive for the warp, weaving will continue for spring, summer, and autumn at the galleries and a couple art shows. Towels, runners, rugs, and bags, and more ideas keep coming. All that plus working on my studio and home. Each day is a challenge or an adventure, sometimes both.

Drawcord Warp, Prep for Beaming

The drawcord warp was finished two days ago, and made in four sections as I don’t overlap threads when making a warp. I placed a label on each section (Drawcord Warp 1, etc.). The warp was made in groups of eight threads, and alternating two colors, teal and terra cotta (my names for them). These colors were chosen first because they were colors I could live with, and second because they weren’t too dark to see against a wood ceiling and beams, during the day, anyway.
This warp has 400 “cords,” a lot to start with, but done on the advice of a respected weaver who wrote I should make the warp for as wide and as many cords and units I thought I might like to weave. Since I’d made 400 pattern heddles, I thought this was a good place to start. 400 or so will be the maximum, but I’ll start by using a lot less. Unused cords will be tied together and tied off to the side until needed. If a future project needs more, I’ll need to make a new warp.

Above, you can see the top beam which has groove in it. There is a rod to slip the warp sections onto, then the rod is set into this groove and tied into place on each end so there is no chance of it falling out when the ratchet is turned. The raddle is taped into place and the lease sticks will be behind the raddle. String, scissors, lease sticks, and the firsts of two reeds are standing by. Basically I will be warping “back to front,” only the direction I’m working is reversed, and working on the top front of the loom. As this is a short warp, it should not take long to wind on, then picking each cord from the cross, I’ll sley the first reed.

This is how I recall doing this process long ago when Ken Colwell drive to our home to show me how to do this, and how to tie the cords to the pattern heddles. Unfortunately, some details have faded from memory over the years, so I’ll simply be inventive when needed.

The reeds, both 12 dent, 42″ long, 4″ wide, stainless steel, arrived a couple days ago. I was a bit afraid the reed for the back might be a bit too long to slide into the holders, but it slid in fine. From what I understand, the second reed is threaded on top then moved back, but because of the length of the reed I ordered (the book shows a shorter reed there which would slide easily into the holders), I expect it will be threaded further back.

More pics and description will follow as I work through this process for the first time in close to 23 or so years. I am using the book “Damask and Opphamta” by Lillemor Johansson as well as the video (also available as DVD) “Dressing Your Swedish Drawloom” by Becky Ashenden. Both are very helpful in understanding this area of weaving.

I was again watching the video last night, looking to see if there was anything on beaming a drawcord warp on an older style single unit drawloom. Although Becky covers the new method with pre-cut cords, I did not see what I find what I was looking for right then. If I find it on this video or elsewhere, I will post about it. This is an excellent video/DVD and I highly recommend it. I know I’ll be watching and learning from it again and again.

For anyone interested in drawloom weaving, Complex Weavers has a Double Harness Study Group. You must be a member of Complex Weavers ($25/year which includes 3 journals per year, membership list, lending library, study groups, and more). The Double Harness Study Group is an additional $5 per year (at present) which includes 4 newsletters per year and the option of participating in a private yahoo group.

If anyone is interested, please contact me at You do not have to have a drawloom to join, just an interest in this type of weaving. For information on Complex Weavers, or to join, go to their website at:

Drawcord Warp in Progress

The long-awaited drawcord warp is in progress. As you can see, the warp is being made on a warping board instead of a mill because I couldn’t do a short enough warp on the mill without excessive waste of materials and time. In “Damask and Opphamta” the suggested warp length is about 4.5 yds; I am making about six yards to allow for a little extra and in case of any wearing in future, I may be able to cut it back, advance the warp and re-tie back onto the pattern heddles.

I am using 12/6 seine twine in two colors to make pulling cords easier when working from a graphed design. I have two kinds of graph paper, sent by a friend, set up with four and eight squares per block, so I am making this drawcord warp 8 threads followed by a space, across the reed, and alternating the two colors, so the drawcords and graph paper will work together. There are other ways of setting this up this kind of warp, but I’m going to see how this works out.

I had planned to make this warp in two halves (because of the Texsolv cords running down from upper jacks to lamms, but as the pegs on the warping board fill up, it will likely be made in quarters instead, we’ll see.

Back to the warping board. Check in tomorrow. I am still working on exactly how we are going to beam this warp. Hopefully the reeds won’t take long to arrive.

Single Unit Drawloom, Starting Over

Today I decided I would finish stripping down the Glimakra single unit drawloom and really start over as it had been in storage for 13+ years. The newly washed cords for counterweights are back on the loom, and the counterweights are in a box nearby.

The old drawcord warp was made from a wonderful well-sized linen of a quality that is no longer made. After unwinding the warp and finding a few of the cords broken or chewed through, it was removed from the loom. I am using the information in “Opphampta and Damask” for length of the new warp.

I’ll also be ordering two new reeds for the drawcord warp, one for the overhead warp beam, and one that sits in the reed holders behind the round metal beam and over the pattern heddles. The reed removed from overhead today had a removable cap, and despite being tied, it had opened on one end while in storage.

The Texsolv cords on the sides of the shafts as well as the long “V” cords were also removed today, examined, and washed; two of the “V” cords need to be replaced.

Tomorrow I will remove what is left of the old warp. Since the loom has been in storage for so long I expect there would be considerable breakage of the fine cotton threads when weaving. Rather than set myself up for problems, I will re-warp the loom with new cotton.

Tonight, I am continuing research on what to use for the drawcord warp, as well as what sizes would be good for warp and weft. If all goes well, everything will be ordered tomorrow.

While waiting for the orders to arrive, the loom will be wiped down with a slightly damp cloth to remove dust (a log home/studio has dust, plus we get some of our heat from a woodrange in the kitchen), and the rest of the newly washed cords will be placed back on the loom. Meanwhile, there are more towels to weave, and socks to crank.

This morning, Shirley, another co-op gallery member, asked if I had any socks her size as her feet have been cold. I’ll be taking a selection over for her to choose from.

Drawloom, A Work In Progress

Earlier this year, my kids and I brought out and re-assembled my Glimakra Single Unit Drawloom which had been stored for the past thirteen or so years. With no directions, only my memories of assembling it long ago, we put it together. More parts, lamms, treadles, etc. are currently residing on the floor under it, but as yet do not need to be added.

After straightening out and counting the old string heddles, I found there were about 100 on each of the first nine ground shafts, with the tenth shaft having none at the moment. I must search through bags of string heddles and see if I have more of them, but expect I’ll need to order a cone of seine twine, make a jig, and make not only the needed heddles, but more for all the shafts.
After reading that the plastic maillons were no longer available, and not believing it, I wrote to Sara von Tresckow, of Woolgatherers in Fond du Lac, WI, who said she would be able to order the needed maillons from Sweden; they arrived several weeks later.

I knew I needed more lingos, and was told by a couple places that only the new U-shape lingos were available. Fortunately, Becky Ashenden of Vavstuga wrote me she had around 450 of the old style lingos (above) and would sell them to me at what I considered to be a very reasonable price, which was wonderful news. A short time later, two very heavy boxes arrived. I wiped each lingo off with a damp cloth, dried them, then wiped each one down with lemon oil, then “dried” them again.

After the maillons arrived, I found the cone of fine, very strong thread I had purchased from Ken, and set to work making new pattern heddles. I could have bought the newer U-shape lingos, and bought Texsolv pattern heddles, but preferred setting the loom up as before, in a more traditional way. So this is the point I am at now, some pattern heddles made, more are needed.

Now I must decide what to make a new drawcord warp from, do my calculations, and get it ordered. As I wrote previously, I am moving these looms down to the main floor of my home, so need to do that before I can go much further.

In the meantime, the remainder of the striped warp is waiting to be woven off, so the countermarche loom can be moved, too. Progress on weaving off the warp, making pattern heddles, making the drawcord warp, and moving the looms will be posted as I continue this journey.