Friday, April 3, 2009

Sley that Warp

I am always happy to learn a faster more ergonomic/efficient way to approach the various tasks related to weaving.

About 18 months or so ago I was visiting with Syne Mitchell and as we chatted she was sleying the reed on her loom. She was doing something completely different than I'd seen anyone else do so I asked her about it. She said she had learned the method from Peggy Ostercamp (a long time student of Jim Ahrens.)

What blew me away was that it was almost identical to the way I had been threading in terms of using minute hand movements and dealing with multiple ends at the same time. How come I never twigged that the reed could be sleyed the same way????

As soon as I got home I started practising the new (to me) method of sleying and have been happily using this method ever since. It took about 6 warps before I could accurately sley the reed. It was well worth taking the time to learn this method.

I use Harrisville's brass threading/sleying hook. For threading I use the small hook, but for sleying it gets turned over and the large hook is used. Notice the orientation of the hook - it's downwards, not up. It is being held as one would hold a pen.

I begin by finding the next dent I want to fill by inserting the hook into that dent near the bottom of the reed (so that I can more easily identify the correct dent by lining the hook up with the last dent filled.)

The hook is then inserted into the reed and lifted to about the half way point in the reed.

Here I am inserting and beginning to slide the hook upwards. I then reach for the group of ends desired and pull the loop through the dent as shown below. The entire loop is not drawn through, but left on the stem of the hook.

Using the hook as a sort of auto-denter, I leave the loop on the hook and slide it over the spline and re-insert it into the next dent to be filled. The next group of ends is then caught on the hook and pulled through to the front.
When all of the ends in the bout have been brought through to the front, all of the ends are brought through the reed at once in one movement and tied.

The groups are tied with a slip knot in amounts suitable for tying onto the apron rod.
Even if only one group is sleyed through one dent at a time, using the hook in this orientation means that a very small hand movement is all that is required, not the entire arm. When a wide warp with lots of ends is being prepared, reducing hand/arm movements as much as possible means that more work can be accomplished with less effort.
And that is A Good Thing to me. :)
Watch for a guest post in the next few days.


Sue Bye said...

I'll be trying this on my next warp. I love learning new tricks!

Laura said...

Hi Sue, I should have posted the link to the threading hook...

They only cost $10 US and when I ordered a bunch for my latest batch of students, Harrisville even gave me a refund on the stated shipping charges for the small packet.

Now that's customer service!



Sharon Schulze said...

How do you keep the yarn in the heddles in order? I love the small movements - threading heddles that way has now made it possible for me to thread many-ended warps (just finished a 1040 end on) in way less time than it used to take me for much narrower (200-300 end) warps.

But what slows me down in sleying the reed is keeping the ends in order as they come through the threads. Is there a trick to that?

Laura said...

Hi Sharon,

I tie the groups as they come through the heddles and then deal with each group in turn by interlacing them through my fingers in the same manner as with the threading.

Not sure if this is what you mean?



Sharon Schulze said...

I think that is what I mean. I fiddled around with it last night and I think the sleying hook is my problem in doing that. I'm using one of those short chubby like brass hooks that is the same on each end and It's too rounded to catch threads.

I was hoping you had some magical easy way to do the finger interlacing but I expect practice is the key there. :-)

Laura said...

Hi Sharon,

Yes, some purposeful focussed effort will help. Each time you learn something new you generally have to either learn new muscle memory or more difficult, un-learn and learn new muscle memory. :)

Practise, practise, practise! :D



Amelia, belle of The Bellwether said...

This is a really handy technique -- I'll be sure to try it on my next warp. Thanks!