Our loom is ready!

clarissa on loomThis week, Clarissa, Susan and I worked with Clare – the master weaver, who has been weaving our Allen Farm blankets for over 20 years – to load the warp for this winter’s round of blankets. It was a refresher course for Clarissa, the original Allen Farm weaver, and she jumped right back in!

For those of you interested in the steps of loading a warp, feel free to follow along:

First, we prepped the spools of worsted wool on the pegs behind the loom. 20 spools for 20 threads in each section. And there are 29 sections.



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We tied the ends to the threads in the tension box, and pulled them through to begin loading our first section. As soon as Clare checked for all 20 threads after her first revolution, she was off and running – spinning the warping wheel around and around until the 52nd revolution when it was time to set our cross and tie it off.

The rest of us moved a bit slower. I kept watching my 20th thread to make sure it didn’t slip over to the next section. And all of us were on the lookout for knots. Clare taught us a strategy (which I have named the “pre-emptive knot attack”) to watch for knots before the thread gets to the tension box. We’d find one, cut and retie, and the knot would slide right through the reeds without breaking. Much easier than having to search for the lost ends of the thread after it has broken….

After 12 sections, we reloaded new spools and continued on our way. As it began to get dark around 4:15, we slowed a bit. But I was anxious to finish. As Clare would say, having a full warp is like having your shed stacked with all your wood for winter. I can’t think of a more satisfying and inspiring feeling. So I managed to finish a few more sections until the overhead light began casting strange shadows on the wool, distracting me from the meditative state I had reached.

The next day we finished the warp. And it looked beautiful. The last step? Tying each thread (here’s some math: 20 threads per section x 29 sections = 580 threads) to the leftover warp threads.

As we speak, I am on section 5. Slowly becoming a master at the square knot (right over left, left over right). I’ll keep you posted…more blankets to come!

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