The Weaving Process
Weaving is a very slow and labour intensive process. Our looms are both hand looms and are not computer guided. This means that every colour area in a wall hanging is entered separately by hand, line by line of weft, each line just the thickness of four thin strands of wool. But before we get to weave,
1. We have to wind the warp (the lengthwise strands of the weave) on the warping mill. We usually wind a 15m long warp, enough to make 6-7 of the larger size wall hangings or about 10 of the smaller ones.
2. The loom then has to be 'dressed', which entails first attaching the warp to the back of the loom, spreading the 60-100 'ends' (strands) of the linen warp across the back beam by means of a 'raddle' (a special open grid with teeth 1cm apart). Then the warp is wound through the raddle and around the warp beam, usually requiring two people, one to hold the warp in tension and the other to turn the beam.
3. After that each end is threaded through the eye of a 'heddle' (a kind of string loop attached to one of four 'harnesses' which are raised and lowered during weaving to create the spaces for the weft to pass through).
4. Next each end is threaded through a slit in the 'reed'. This is a closed grid for keeping the ends in order. The reed sits in the beater, which, as the name suggests, is used for beating in each row of weft or 'shot'.
5. Then the ends are tied along a bar attached to the cloth beam (for winding on the finished weaving) taking great care to give each strand an equal tension to make sure that the weaving does not buckle.
6. The final thing to do, before you can wind your weft onto shuttles or into 'butterflies' and start weaving, is to tie the harnesses to the pedals.