Saturday, April 26, 2014

Bertha is fit to be tied

I spent yesterday at Linda's,
warping Bertha.

Bertha is the hundred inch loom.
We put warp on seven feet of warp beam.
Tying new warp ends onto the guide threads left in the tension box.
The tension box is on the back beam,
held in place by the very large C clamp.

I cranked fifty revolutions into each of forty three two inch sections.
I haven't dressed a loom for more than ten years.
("Dressed" is the proper term for putting on warp.)
One shoulder is sore today.

Linda watched that the warp went smoothly between the thread guides.
We warped from the middle to each end.
About half down the first half of the beam.

Half done, we went for a break.

Putting on a new set of spools of warp.
You can see the spool size left from the first half
won't get us through the second half.

Ready to rock and roll, second end.
Can you believe the amount of stuff Linda has stacked up between the back beam and the harnesses.
It will need a new home if there will be any weaving here.

This is Chappie, wanting in.


If I had opposable thumbs, I'd be in there!

The end!

No fooling, it's over, except for the clean up, and...

Counting, to be sure.

The equivalent of measure twice and cut once, if you're a fellow and have followed so far.

This is an old picture of Linda, tying a new warp onto the remnants of the last warp. The new warp will be pulled through all the heddles and tied to the take up beam's apron. Then the weaving can begin.
Linda hates this picture.
But, she did include it with a show application once, when a picture of the artist at work was required.
She titled it "You wonder what we do!"

Here are two more pictures of Bertha.
This is in New York, when Bertha arrived in boxes and needed assembled.
I can't even guess when this was taken. Mid nineties, perhaps.

Still New York.
Bertha originally had one inch sections. I could not convince Linda to pull every other pin and have two inch sections. I helped her warp the first time, into those tiny one inch sections.
My daughter Beth (yellow shirt) and Linda's niece Lynne were there for the second warp.
Beth is a weaver, too.
She told Lynn, these one inch sections have to go, and they did it.
Linda's mother was horrified at the audacity of the two girls!


  1. This is all very clear, except what is a warp?

    1. Oh, dear. They are the threads that run vertically in woven fabric. They are held under tension on the loom and lifted in sequence by the heddles in the harnesses so the weft can be passed horizontally, row after row, and build up the fabric.

  2. Scottie, weft-factor 9! Impressive.

  3. Looking forward to seeing Bertha's finished produce.

  4. When I was there helping warp the other two looms a few weeks ago, we found out why Chappie gets to stay OUT until the threads are done moving!

  5. what an amazing and mesmerizing process it must be to be to see someone in person weaving on that wonderful loom, and the cute cat at the door asking please.

  6. warp and weft
    the weaver's deft
    creating woven beauty
    hope we see photos of the finished product.

  7. I still think it is done by the fairies. I love the words warp and weft, but I am so glad I wasn't named Bertha.

  8. This is interesting to me because as a student I boarded with a weaver for four months one year between university terms. She did all her weaving during the day while I was at work, though, so I only saw her at the loom once. Now I wish I could go back and learn from her. She sold her words to supplement her old age pension, and I treasure the items I bought from her and that she gave me as gifts. We stayed in touch until her passing a dozen or so years later.

    Chappie looks like a Hitler impersonator. Don't suppose you've heard that before? Ha ha ... even to the "hairstyle"

  9. Dear Joanne,
    that was a very impressive lesson in preparing the act of weaving! (And I learned some new words). Hard work, I'd say. I saw weavers in Worpswede, an old artists' colony in Northern Germany. They made so beautiful things! Are you weaving too, or 'just' help your friend to prepare?

  10. One more proof that women's work is not for sissies. And it's not hard to see where Chappie got his name.

  11. I have never in my life weaved a thing. And now I sincerely do not wish to....

  12. I've always loved weaving. It is something I would never attempt myself. At least not on the enormous loom you guys were preparing. Looks like complicated and hard work!

  13. Wow. I had thought that the bobbin lace my mother did was complicated (which it is). This adds a whole new dimension to my appreciation.
    And another plea for photos of the finished product. Please.

  14. Hari OM
    ...only one shoulder...??? YAM xx

  15. That looks like one huge effort. Every time you said warp, I thought of Star Trek.
    Weavers at warp drive!

  16. This is so neat. My daughter is fascinated by the loom. I have seen some in India, but this one is more detailed.

  17. From now on, I will look at hand-loomed fabric (of any sort) with a new appreciation. Heavens.

  18. I cannot imagine the work that went into that! Thanks for sharing the process; I don't think I would have learned about it if you hadn't. I can see why she is called Bertha!


  19. I looked through the comments, didn't see what exacly is done on Bertha. Rugs?, Blankets? It's an amazing looking piece of work.

  20. ...and only Joanne would spend the day with me to accomplish this task.I never appreciated math when i was in high school but there is a lot of math in weaving. We warped 43 sections with 24 threads/section-a total of 1032 threads. The beam we wound them on measures 18" around but that is only the first time around-it increased with each revolution but i will base the huge # on the original 18". I calculated that in inches we wound on 928,800 inches.....Yes, go back and read that # again!!! Is there any other reason Joanne's shoulder would be hurting? I tied up 26 of those 1032 threads today and will do some each day.A very boring job of sitting inside the loom and tying a new thread to a corresponding old thread. Need a really good movie to watch on the TV. The first rug to be woven on this will be a 7ftx8ft wool, rag style rug..Do not anticipate that until about June 1st. Will ask a local weaver to sit at one end of the loom while I sit at the other end. I will do pictures as I go along and you will see the finished rug..Also plan on doing 6 other rugs of various widths before the loom is empty. Cannot remember why she is called Bertha but the Big is self-explanatory.

  21. What a job ! That kittie really wanted to come in !

  22. I knew there was a lot of hard work involved in hand weaving of rugs, but to see even just this part and how exhausting it must be, well, that opens my eyes a bit.
    It's worth it of course, Linda's rugs are so beautiful.
    If I was rich, I'd have one in every room.

  23. Chappy came from a rescue where they had named his Hitler. I couldn't deal with that so he became my Charlie Chaplin kitty.Yes, he wants in-that big fuzzy body walking and rolling when threads are in motion is not a pretty sight.

    1. Charlie Chaplin look-alike - Yes! Much better than the old name :)

  24. Well, I don't know the terminology so I didn't understand a lot of the description, but with the pictures, I got the gist of it. I do know that the warp is the threads that are woven on!