Thursday, February 9, 2012

How I Avoid Threading and Sleying

If you've been reading my blog this week, you've seen how much energy it is to properly thread and sley a 60" wide beam.

Today I'll tell you about how I avoid having to do this work very often. Really, I just need to thread and sley when I get a new loom. I don't see it happening again any time soon.

The secret is knots and being willing to disassemble the loom. First, notice how every section ends in a knot? Those knots will keep the sections straight and keep the threads from pulling through the heddles.

When I remove the last piece of cloth, I do it carefully and tie a knot in each section, in front of the reed, to keep the sleying intact.

And here's the trick that helps the most... I tape the harnesses to the rods so that they can't slip. The heddles are held in place by tension from the springs pulling down on the lower harness bars. When that tension is removed, the heddle ends like to slip past each other on the harnesses. This sort of tangles them and takes time to fix. I'd rather just avoid it altogether by using tape to maintain the tension when they're removed.

And here's the final result: a set of harnesses and a reed that can be removed from the loom in preparation for the arrival of the beam, harnesses, and reed from the setup loom. See those knots hanging down from the back of the heddles? Those are the knots from the end of the beam, the knots that I tie at the beginning of winding a section when I'm setting up the loom.

Each section has its own knot, and this is very important for the next thing that will happen with this harness and reed setup: I'll tie the next beam onto it. Making sure that there's one knot for every section will let me double-check that I wound the right number of threads for every section as I tie them on.

This method of working is the reason that I chose a simple pointed threading for my work. I haven't yet, but I can change the cloth dramatically just by changing the treadling. There are a lifetime of production-ready variations that can be woven without needing to rethread.

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