Weave-Along 11 Updates!

Weaving is easy

Because the weave-along is going over many different basic things (loom set up, warping, how to weave different ways), we suggest you just have some basic materials depending on what you’re interested in.

For bead weaving you will want a bead mat, beading needles, beading thread (we love C-Lon), and some beads. If you’re just starting out, 8/0 beads are great! You may also want to start with one of our kits and warp for that. If you want to weave for bead weaving with the shedding device, you’ll want heddles as well.

For tapestry you will want warp (we like Navajo wool warp), weft (some type of tapestry wool), a tapestry beater (or fork) and heddles.

You can find all of these supplies on our website and most of it at your local bead or fiber store!

Tips for quick and easy heddling on Mirrix looms

Tips for quick and easy heddling on Mirrix looms

I love how easy it is to warp the Mirrix looms.
I’ve found that there are a few things that can make the process of attaching the heddles go quick as a wink.
Efficient is good!  :)

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The first thing that I do, after I release the warping bar from the blocks and turn them around, is to slide a piece of cardboard or masonite between the layers of warp strands at the front of the loom and the back of the loom.
It sits there, in the middle, blocking the distracting view of those warp strands at the back of the loom. :)
Then, I use a shed stick that is at least as long as the width of the loom to pick up every other warp strand.

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Then, I flip the shed stick on it’s side, with each end being supported by the shedding device blocks.
I now have 2 layers of warp strands because of this shed being open.
So, to keep the back warp strands out of view, I slide a ruler or strip of cardboard into the open shed.
Bliss! Now, I just have one set of warp strands ready for the heddles- Yay!
This makes things sooooo much easier!
I like the center brass knob of the shed changer to be as close to the exact center of the warp strands.
So, I count how many strands I need to attach to the rod, and divide that in 1/2.
I place 1/2 the heddles on 2 of my fingers, and 1/2 on the other 2 fingers.

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I loosen the heddle rod and slide it along so it’s about 2 inches/5 cm from the edge of the warp strands.

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Then, I reach behind the warp strand with a crochet hook, pluck a heddle off my fingers, and pull it behind the warp strand.
I catch both ends of the heddle loop and pop them onto the heddle bar. Slide the bar along as you go.
When I run out of the the first clump of heddles, I should be half way along the warp strands.
I work across , picking up all the strands, and attaching them to the heddle bar, then tighten up the little nut that holds the heddle bar in place.
Remove the shed stick and ruler, then rotate the heddle bar, sliding the heddles down the warp strands.
Turn the shed opener enough so the heddles open your first shed.

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Use the shed stick to pick up the warp strands that are between the warp strands that you have just heddled.
Turn it on it’s side, insert the ruler, and repeat the process.
Check to make sure that all the heddles are securely attached to the heddle rods.
When I was making the video, one little bounder escaped, which was actually a good thing.
This allowed me to show how to capture the escapee heddle and tie it back in place.

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Remove the shed stick and ruler and check the sheds, then attach the handle or treadle and Voila!
You’re ready to weave!
Here’s the video:

Happy Weaving! :D

Warping Mirrix Looms with Loom Extenders

Warping Mirrix Looms with Loom Extenders

Loom extenders for the Mirrix looms are sooooooo neat!
You’ll need to make a few adjustments when you are warping the extended loom.
Your best friends when warping the extended loom: Two chairs that don’t have upholstery or cushions:

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Place  the chairs as far apart as possible:

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This leaves a gap that allows you to easily pass the ball of warp around the loom.
You could use 2 small tables if you would prefer, but I like the height of the chairs.
The loom is still happily very stable when it’s extended.
Amazing, isn’t it?
That’s great design for you. :)
One of the other things that I have found while weaving on the extended loom is that the weaving can pull in on you.
So, to rectify this, take 2 rubber bands, and 2 paperclips.
Open the paperclips, fold the rubber bands around the side bars, and squeeze the shorter end of the paperclip closed.

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Hook the larger end of the paperclip through the selvedge, about a half inch below the fell line.
Make sure that the end of the paperclip is towards the back of the loom, as this makes it be less of a snaggle hazard.
Here’s the video:

Happy weaving! :)
Noreen

Setting up loom extenders on the Mirrix loom

Setting up loom extenders on the Mirrix loom

Normally, I tend to prefer small looms, but I have just fallen in love with using  loom extender bars on the Mirrix loom.

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It’s really hard to convey how tall the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ version of the Big Sister 16 inch loom is when she’s got her stilts on.
With the extenders, she is 40 inches/1 m tall.
Now, that’s tall!
This means that you can achieve lots more weaving with one warp up.
(I’m working on some really fun stuff with my Big Sister Stiltie! So, stay tuned!)
My husband bought me the components for the extenders at the place he buys parts for our ancient tractor, so I didn’t have instructions on how to do this.
So, I had to figure it out for myself.
I found that there are a few tricks that make the set up easier when adding the loom extenders to your Mirrix loom.

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First, lift the top of the loom off the side rails and set aside.

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Unscrew the thumbscrews from the threaded rods, and screw them onto the extension rods.
I screwed them on so they were 5 inches/12.5 cm from the top end of the extensions.
Put the washers back on top of the thumbscrews.

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Screw the coupler to the top of the loom rod.

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Hot tip: Place the end of  a tape measure inside the coupler so you can watch to see that you have screwed it on so it is half way onto the lower rod.
I had my doubts about how stable this was going to be, because the coupler seemed wobbly to me.

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But, I went ahead, and screwed the extension rod in anyhow….

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And, then, when I tightened it up by hand, I was amazed at how it was suddenly rock solid!
WHEEE!
This is good!
Wobbly bad!
Solid- GOOD!!!
Repeat for the other side…

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Measure to be sure you have everything square, and put the top half of your loom back on.
Stand back in amazement at your loomie on stilts! Wowsa!
The best part is that the loom is still miraculously stable and works perfectly.
I find that resting it against the edge of the desk and having the lower edge sitting in my lap is the most comfortable way to weave with the extensions on.
Also, weaving standing up works well.
Having the stand for it would be sublime.
I made a video of the ‘putting it together’ process:

Happy weaving! :D
Noreen

A few notes about the Treadle and hints and tips for the Mirrix

A few notes about the Treadle and hints and tips for the Mirrix

A couple of my friends on Ravelry asked me to show them why I love the treadle for my Mirrix loom so much.
(Apart from the fact that my wonderful husband and family bought it for me for Mother’s Day, which automatically pins a rose!)

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So, I made a video about why the treadle is so great.
Of course, the whole point of having the treadle is to have it open your shed for you without having to reach up to the shedding device to  change sheds by hand.

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It does this beautifully, which allows you to create a lovely uninterrupted rhythm in your weaving.
Your hands are happily, busily doing their thing at the fell line of the weaving.
Also, if you have a wide loom, like the Joni, and short arms like mine…. then your shoulder is going to go ‘boink’.
The treadle is ergonomic heaven for sore shoulders.
I like to work my treadle with both feet, so I have it set up directly in front of me, parallel to the edge of the table.
I have to have bare feet, as I need to feel exactly where my feet are on the treadle and what they are doing.
Shoes make that impossible for me.
While I am weaving, I sit in an office chair that easily goes up and down.
I raise it as I weave up the warp, and lower it again, after I advance the warp.
A few other handy tips and hints that I have found to make weaving more fun and efficient:

  • a magnet on the wing nut is very handy for holding needles and small crochet hooks
  • having a pair of thread snips tied to the warp bar or a lease stick is VERY handy
  • placing the loom on a piece of plywood that is a couple of inches wider than the loom is a great way to deal with a table that is too narrow for the loom
  • lifting the front feet of the loop slightly by placing 1/2 inch/1 cm high blocks under them eases neck and shoulder strain because it tilts the loom back a little more
  • I don’t like marking my looms, so I cut measuring tapes to fit the upper and lower beams and attach them with velcro straps.
  • Velcro straps (AKA velcro cable ties) are one of the best inventions ever! I use them to connect all kinds of things to my looms without damaging the loom.  So handy!  I bought my velcro cable ties from Lee Valley tools (link)
  • If you use velcro cable ties as connectors, be sure to have the fleecy side out, not the loop snaggy side out.
  • I think of my Joni with the treadle attached as a floor loom. She’s so big that I don’t want to be moving her around, especially with the treadle in tow.  So, having her permanently living on her own dedicated table works great, especially since I have plastic containers full of yarn sitting under the table.  Good use of space!  Gotta store that stash! :) 
  • I drilled holes in the ends of a dowel, put split rings into the holes, and velcro strapped the dowel to the loom so I could hang the cartoon over the dowel. It works a fair treat!

There… I think that I have covered all the hints and tips in the video….
and without further ado, here is the video about the wonderfulness of the Mirrix treadle.
I think Claudia is a genius to have come up with it.  :)

Happy Weaving!
:o) Noreen

Cheap and Cheerful alternatives for tapestry bobbins

Tapestry bobbins have a  mystique around them and  they can be expensive.
But, what do you do if you need a lot of tapestry bobbins and have a limited budget?
Well… you improvise.

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First you analyse, then you upcycle!

After all… a tapestry bobbin is a yarn delivery device. 
What does it need to do?
It needs to hold yarn in a way that allows you to pass it through a fairly small shed.
It should have a tip that will allow you to tap your weft yarn into place.
It needs to be able to hang from the tapestry while it’s parked.
So…. there are things that will work quite nicely for you as you feed your piggybank, but weave your tapestries in the meantime.
I make my own quirky, but perfect for me tapestry bobbins from upcycled wood: Link to post

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Recently, I noticed that one of my fave bobbins looks a lot like a little spoon…
and of course, that started me thinking…
would a little coffee spoon work as a tapestry bobbin?
It seemed rather outrageous….

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So, I took a little orphaned silver coffee spoon that had been in a box of sandbox toys that I bought for my grandson at a garage sale, and hammered the poor thing flat.
It works BEAUTIFULLY as a tapestry bobbin! 

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This made me think…. hmmm…. metal spoon…. hmmmm…. ~metal bobbins~…. hmmmmmm….
So, what about a 4 inch nail with a bead on the end?  Would that work?
Yup. Wash it well first, and if the tip is snaggy, sand it smooth or file with a nail file.
You could paint it if you want, or coat it with a clear gel just to ensure that it won’t discolor your yarn.
Stuff a bit of tissue into the opening of the bead to secure it.

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I learned about using bamboo forks as bobbins on Ravelry.
I like them!
But, I have found that they work much better if you stick a bead on the end.
Squish the tines of the fork into the bead center and you’re set to weave.

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I love tatting, and used to carve tatting shuttles.
I’ve discovered that my Little Bird shuttles work beautifully as tapestry bobbins.  Whodathunkit?  :)
So, be creative and think outside the box when you are contemplating tapestry bobbins.
I mean, really… spoons and forks?
Yes!
If you are willing to experiment, you’ll find all kinds of things that will work really well in your weaving!
Here’s a video that I made about cheap and cheerful alternatives for tapestry bobbins:

Noreen

How to weave inkle bands on Mirrix Looms Part Four

This is the fourth video tutorial about how to weave inkle bands on Mirrix looms.

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A dear friend asked me: “Why are you spending all this time figuring out how to weave inkle bands on the Mirrix loom? You have inkle looms! “
Yes, I do… an open sided one, a closed side one that my husband built me from upcycled pallet wood, and a mini.
And, I love them…. but, I find that the open side and mini inkle looms both kind of flop when I have one end on the desk edge and one end in my lap. This is the way that I like to weave with inkle looms, and I find the wobble/flop rather frustrating.
I really like how stable the Mirrix is when I have the lower edge in my lap and the upper edge against a workbench, table or desk.
Also, I love the precision of the tensioning on the Mirrix… those thumbscrews are sweet!
And, I also love the shedding device………. soooooooooo smooth.  :D
Besides, the Mirrix takes up sooooooooooooo little room to store it- inkle looms do take up a chunk of space in the studio!
That’s four good reasons that have made this rather challenging learning curve worthy of the time I have invested.
Here’s the video for the finishing process of weaving inkle bands on the Mirrix loom:

When you have woven your bands to the point that the warping rod is sitting on top of the loom, you will need to remove the spring:

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Loosen the tension up  a lot….

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Lift the spring rod out of the spring.
Release the ends of the springs from the knobs.
Gently, ease the spring out of the warp strands by spreading the warp strands out slightly and pushing on the spring to disengage it.
Continue weaving until the shuttle almost can’t make it through the shed.

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Weave one row.
Keep the shuttle in the shed, and place a darning or tapestry needle in the shed with the point pointing in the direction that the shuttle exits the shed.
Weave the next row, and repeat with a second darning needle.
The needles now point in opposite directions.
Weave one more row.
Cut the weft strand, and thread it into the first needle.
Pull it through, and remove the needle.
Thread the weft strand into the remaining needle and pull it through.
La de dah! you have finished your inkle band!
Wheee! :D
I always weave the tail end in a little bit more before I trim it off.
Loosen the tension wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy off, and slide the warping rod out of the loops.
Trim the ends, and pull them through the heddles.
Congratulations, you’ve woven some scrumptious new inkle bands! :)
Happy Weaving!
~Noreen

How to weave inkle bands Part Three

Part 3 of the video tutorial series on how to weave inkle bands on Mirrix looms is about the weaving process:

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Something that I learned as I trundled up my ever so steep learning curve with figuring out how to weave inkle bands on the Mirrix loom:
I started out by weaving one row on one band, putting it’s shuttle down, then picking up the second shuttle and weaving one row on the other band.
Sounds slow and clunky, doesn’t it? Well, you’re right.
The most efficient way to weave 2 bands at once is to weave as far as you can on one band, then set that shuttle aside, and weave away on the second band.
Oh… speaking of shuttles, here’s the tracing of my most favorite inkle shuttle:

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I designed this one several years ago, and I love it. Works like a charm.
Here’s the video that shows the weaving process:

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When you need to advance the warp, loosen the tension quite a lot.
Support the spring as you gently ooze the warp rod around and up the back of the loom.
Pat the warp strands back into the channel, and tighten up the tension again.
Remember, you do not need to have the tension as tight as when you are weaving a tapestry or beading.
You’ll find the perfect tension that suits you best.
Keep on weaving until the warp rod is sitting on top of the loom, and then check into the 4 th video in the series:
How to finish the bands.
~Noreen

How to weave inkle bands on Mirrix looms Part Two

This is the second stage of the video tutorials that I made on how to weave inkle bands on the Mirrix loom.

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There are two bands on the loom, because in this video, I am working on the 16 inch loom.
When you work on the 8 inch loom, it’s okay to just weave one band at a time, as the warping bar doesn’t flop around.
But, on the 16 inch loom, you do need to either warp up 2 bands, or secure the other end of the warping bar with a cord so it will stay perfectly horizontal.
I tried weaving 3 bands at once on the 16 inch loom, and didn’t like it, as the center knobs on the shedding device got in the way.
Two bands are just great though.
AND…. if you want to weave longer bands, and have either a 12 inch or 16 inch Mirrix loom then the loom extenders will be your friend :)
I use a crochet hook and a weaving stick to make the heddling process go quick like a bunny.
Here’s the video tutorial:

Start by placing a piece of cardboard between the layers at the front of the loom and the back so you can’t see the warp strands at the back of the loom.

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Place the shed changing device into the brackets.  Unscrew the little knob that holds the heddle rod in place.
Pull the heddle rod back so it’s about half way along the warp strands.

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Place the heddles onto the fingers of your non dominant hand.

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Look down at the warp strands that are at the lower edge of the front of the loom.
There’s a gap between the strands that have gone in front of the warping bar and behind it.
Slip your fingers into the gap and scoot them up to the shedding device.
Slide a shed stick into the gap.
Voila! (which is how ‘walla’ is really spelled :)  )
You have shed one ready to heddle!

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Now, slip the crochet hook behind the first warp strand, pluck a heddle off your fingers, and pull it forward.
Catch the other end of the heddle loop and place both loops on the heddle rod.
Go slowly, and be sure that both ends of the heddle loop stay politely on the heddle rod.

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When you have all of the warp strands heddled, slide the heddle bar into position in the knobs, and tighten the lock nut.
Repeat the heddling process on the second set of warp strands for your other band.

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Push the first set of heddles down as you rotate the shedding device.

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Leave the shed stick in place, and use the crochet hook to pick up the warp strands for the other shed.
Take the warp strand from the back to the right of the one in front, and onto the hook,
take the hook over the front strand, and pick up the next strand and carry on across.

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Slide the weaving stick out of the first shed, and slip it along the crochet hook to transfer the warp strands from the crochet hook to the weaving stick.

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Turn the weaving stick on it’s side, and then pick up the warp strands one at a time and capture them with the heddles just as you did for the first set of warp strands.

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Repeat this process for the second band.
Check your heddles carefully to make sure that they are opening the sheds properly.
Ahhhhh! a warped loom is a thing of beauty!

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Attach the handle to the shedding device and adjust the tension by turning the thumbscrews.
Open the first shed, and insert a craft stick, then open the second shed and insert another craft stick.
Squish the warp strands together to establish the width of your band.

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Weave one row, leaving a 6 inch/15 cm tail.
Change sheds, and weave the next row.
Pull up firmly on the tail end and weave it through the same shed.
Repeat several times until the tail end is woven in, and the band is established.
Next video: The fun part! Wheeeeeee…. weaving…… 
~Noreen

How to weave inkle bands on Mirrix looms Part One

I love weaving inkle (warp face) bands.
I use  in dollmaking:

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Link to purchase pattern for Inkle dolls: Inkle Dolls
And, they are wonderful for trimming handwoven clothing:

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Link to post that shows how to shape inkle bands to make a yoke or other shaped pieces of garments: Warp pulling
Over the years,  I have also made hat bands, book marks, all kinds of jewelry, key fobs,  vests, bags, bag handles, the garters for the men’s kilt hose for my son’s wedding, shawls, freeform pieces that combine inkle weaving, knitting, embroidery, spool knitting and crochet, as well as rugs.
Yep. I love inkle weaving.
So, as I have been exploring the possibilities of weaving with my Mirrix looms, I had to give inkle weaving a try.
I found that it was quite challenging at first. But, I don’t give up easily :)
I ended up spending waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more hours than I should have, experimenting and obsessing over making inkle bands on the Mirrix.
Well… I finally succeeded.
Since it was so challenging, I figured that I should share what I have learned, so that other intrepid inkle weavers can leap right in, without all the trial,  error and frogging that I went through!
There are definitely tricks to weaving inkle bands on the Mirrix looms, and I have made 4 videos to share those tricks.
Here’s part one of the video:

Here is the draft for the bands that I wove in the videos:

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To read the draft: Each square represents one warp strand.
You can check your warping by looking at each shed to see that it has the same number of strands, in the order that they appear in the line.
You will be  putting a total of 8 green strands on, followed by 4 orange strands, 3 sets of  (1 orange, 1 green) for a total of 6 strands, then 4 orange strands and ending with 8 green strands.
At the top and bottom of the loom, you’ll see the full count of warp strands.
At the warping bar, the 2 sheds will be separated into their correct (we hope!) configuration for each shed.
The chart will give you bands like this:

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The upper band is the band on the right hand side of the loom in videos 2 – 4.
I only used the center of the draft for it, without the green border strands.
The yarn is Lion Brand Cotton.

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Setting up the loom for inkle bands is different than normal warping.
You need to have the warping bar at the front of the loom.

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Tie the green yarn onto the warping bar and take it up and around the loom, just the same as if the warping bar was in the back.

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You will need to cut the warp strand of color 1 to tie on color 2 at the warping bar, for EVERY color change.
WHAT?!?!?!
Yes. really.
It sounds insane, but this is the biggest key to making the whole inkle thing work on the Mirrix loom.
Trust me. You ~can~ twist your yarns around each other, and are welcome to, I’m sure, if that would make you happy….
BUT…. the quickest, easiest way to have problem free warping for inkle is to cut those little darlin’s and tie the knots between the colors.

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Yay! Warped!  Insert the spring rod into the spring to keep the warp strands locked into their notches.
This is sooooooooooo important!  (yep… voice of ‘oops’ experience here :( )
And in Part 2…. it’s on to the heddles.
I have a nifty, super friendly way of using a crochet hook and weaving stick to make the heddling process go like a breeze.
That’s coming up next…. so stay tuned! :)
Happy Weaving,
Noreen