Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Weaving 101: Sleying the Reed

Sleying the reed, pronounced slay-ing, is a short step. The first part of putting the warp threads onto the loom. This is when you need the very important warp cross keeping all of your threads in order. All you're doing is putting each thread into its own slot in the reed. The reed keeps all the threads spaced evenly and also acts as the beater when you're weaving. This top picture shows the end result. (Note that I've tied groups together temporarily on the other side of the reed to keep them from coming back out!)

Here I'm using the sley hook to pull a thread through a slot. I apologize for not getting a close-up shot. I'm inside the office at Missouri Town, which explains the costume. I'll most likely be in costume in all the following shots.

Here is the basic sleying process: first, you take one of your warp chains (that you measured previously) and find the warp cross. Place the cross in your left hand with fingers between each of the four sections of the cross. This will protect it while you're working. Then you can untie your strings holding the warp cross in place, also untie the string at the closest end of the warp chain. Then you get to cut the loop at this end (scarey!). Now you have a lot of loose ends of thread only being held in order by your precious warp cross.

Next, to start threading the reed, take the top thread from your cross and make a small loop at the end. Then use the sley hook to pull the loop through to the other side of the reed. (You can make a great sley hook from a paper-clip by just straightening it out except for one hook at the end.)

One down, 300 to go! It took me about an hour and a half to thread 300 ends through the reed. Make sure to leave a generous tail hanging through the other side, and when you finish a warp chain, tie the loose ends together in an overhand knot to prevent them from falling back out of the slots. An important thing to know when you're starting this step: once you cut the loop and have the warp cross in your hand, there's no turning back. You really can't stop in the middle of this to get up and do something, like use the restroom or answer the phone. Which is another reason to divide the warp chains instead of having one giant chain. Once you finish a chain, you can stop and come back later if you need to.

Are these instructions making sense, or is it really worthless without step-by-step illustrations? I'm just curious.

Next step: threading the heddles, which determines part of your pattern.


Anonymous said...

Wow, just caught up on your most recent posts on weaving. I'm really in awe. I had no idea it was so meticulous and complicated.

Christy said...

It's not bad once you get used to it. But it is a time investment!

Grace =) said...

Wow! I would love to learn to weave. Are looms very expensive?

I'm having a giveaway on my blog. Feel free to check it out!

Ellen said...

This is really interesting. I love to see the process behind things. I think its good with more photos though, cause I might be imagining the process wrong! Looking forward to see how your coverlet turns out.

Christy said...

Grace, good question, looms can be very expensive ($3,000+ new) or you can find a used one for anywhere from $200-$2,000. The price usually depends on the person selling it, if they don't know what it is or if they really want to get rid of it then that's when you get a great deal! Check for a weavers guild or group in your area and they should have classified ads for equipment.