In the very oldest looms the method was that of darning, the needle or shuttle was carried over one thread and under another. But in very early times a method was devised to hold up a series of alternate threads. The shuttle was then passed through, and the arrangement of threads changed so that the series which had been above is now below; this process is called shedding. Back of the heddles two sticks are inserted which keep the crossing of the threads perfect. These are called shed sticks, or lease sticks. The shed is formed in a modern two-heddle loom by drawing up alternate threads by raising the heddle through which they pass. This is done by pressing the foot on one pedal, lowering the corresponding heddle which causes the other to raise. The warp leaving the yarn beam is first threaded through the heddles, sometimes called healds, the group of heddles is called the harness or shaft. The heddles are sometimes made by hand of string, as in the second illustration in which they are made of seine cord. Sometimes they are of cord with a metal eye, and sometimes of brass or iron wire. The essential part of the heddle is the mail-eye. The heddles set in frames are much the easiest for an amateur to use.
An Old New Hampshire Loom With Blind Tom Weaving.
Directly in front of the heddles is the swinging batten or reed frame. Reeds are generally made nowadays of steel, but in Colonial days they were sometimes made of bamboo or whalebone. The warp is threaded through the interstices or dents of the reed made by threading two threads in a hole for six or eight dents.
A Heddle or Heald Showing the Mail Eye.
Stitcher and Shuttles.
A stretcher with nails at the ends formerly called temple or tenterhook, is used to keep the goods stretched across or of uniform width. The old expression to be "on tenterhooks" possibly arose from this connection with weaving.
A loom having been obtained and the various parts of the outer frame adjusted, the heddles and reed being left till later, the first step is preparing and putting on the warp. This is frequently done even in schools by a professional weaver, but it is not always convenient to get one when desired. Another plan is to have the warp put on the beam by a professional before the loom is set up. It is, however, much more interesting to do as much as possible one's self and the process of beaming the warp is a particularly fascinating one. The making of a leased warp can also be done by amateurs, but it is wiser not to attempt this on the first warp. Warping consists in arranging in parallel lines as many threads as are required to weave the desired width, and as long as the piece of goods is to be. This must be done a few threads at a time. These threads must be crossed near the end so as to make a crossing similar to that in the shed. A detailed description of this process will be given later on, but the first warp may be procured ready-made. The number of threads or "ends" required may be estimated by multiplying the number of inches the finished goods is to be by the dents in one inch of the reed. Twelve threads to the inch is an average number for rag weaving. The first warp should be that usually required in rag weaving. A sample from a rag rug may be sent to the dealers. White or cream colored warp is best to begin with. In a piece thirty-six inches wide with twelve threads to the inch, 432 threads would be required; allowing for a few double for the selvage, 450 ends is a good number. Twenty-five yards is as much as a novice can handle easily. The warp can be procured at wholesale rates and delivered express C. O. D. from Tinkler & Co., Philadelphia. It should be stated in ordering that it is to be chained - that is, after the lease is put in the whole warp is chain-stitched at the factory to avoid tangling.