Continuous warping for tapestry: the Mirrix example

Continuous warping for tapestry: the Mirrix example

I've been teaching people to warp a Mirrix and other pipe-like looms with a continuous warp for years now. There are people who immediately understand how it works and don't have a problem with the pattern the warp must follow as you warp. There are other people who struggle with this a lot.

I believe this stems from a particular spatial ability some of us have and some of us don't. (Don't worry, if this isn't your skill, you can still learn to warp a loom. You undoubtedly have many skills the rest of us don't.) I have particularly good spatial abilities. In fact I'd say that my memory is very spatially oriented. I am especially good at remembering places and paths. I hiked the 500-mile Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango in 2003 and can still tell you details about all parts of the trail just by positioning myself there in my memory. When I have re-hiked hundreds of miles of the trail recently, I realized my memory from 2003 was quite accurate. But I most likely can't tell you the plot of a movie or TV show I watched last week and I'll never be able to tell you the name of the actors. I remember books that put me someplace in my imagination and I won't remember much about a book that doesn't--even if I really enjoyed reading it... unless I hold the book in my hands again and can somehow dredge up the sensory experience of the place I was while reading it or can flip through it as an object and see comments I wrote in it.

When it comes to warping, I think this ability to imagine things in space is very helpful. But there are many people who don't have this sort of brain.

Warping the countermarch loom...

I am happy to say that my Harrisville Designs Rug Loom is now warped. It took about 4 hours longer than I thought it would. It always does. I ran into problems at the end with the tie-up. Apparently after a year and a half in storage and three years of never changing the treadling before that, I have forgotten how to tie it up. After some pondering, I managed to make basket weave with this tie-up:
(where O is a raised shaft and X is a lowered shaft)
Basket weave was nice and all, but not quite the tapestry structure I was looking for. So I tried again with this tie-up (I double the treadle tie-up so that I can reach them easily no matter which side of the loom I am sitting on--you would really only need two treadles):
Bingo. Plain weave.
At one point I was so flustered that I tried to find a diagram online for a countermarch tie-up. The information available is remarkably scare. I will definitely be making a video about this subject before too long. Geez! I am sure there are weavers out there who warp their looms as infrequently as I do (after all, how often do you do a tie-up for your tapestry loom? Only when you take it apart to move it!) and I imagine them all madly googling "countermarch tie-up" and finding nothing much useful.

I went to high school in an age where I did my research in the library with a card catalog and index cards. I copied down information from the books BY HAND. When I was in college I think the card catalog was on computer, but I still was using books (you know, those wads of paper bound together on one edge) for the actual research. By the time I got to graduate school I had a computer into which I typed the information I was copying from, you guessed it, books. But now, I expect to be able to find information like how to tie up a countermarch loom in plain weave (for goodness sake!) on my smart phone in about 5 seconds. The information wasn't there. There was an excellent article by Madelyn van der Hoogt, but it was super hard to read on the tiny screen and the photos were for a different sort of loom than mine and my brain was tired. (The article was from Weaver's magazine, Issue 26 which I believe was printed in 1994.) In the end I dug out Rachel Brown's The Weaving, Spinning, and Dyeing Book. She had a draft for twill for a countermarch loom in there and from that I realized what I had to do. Problem solved. Thanks so much Rachel. You always come through for me.
(The writing on my equipment is courtesy of my grandmother. She didn't have a single piece of weaving equipment that wasn't written on. Mostly it is endearing except perhaps for the first edition weaving books that are underlined within an inch of their lives.)

I am pretty glad to be done with this part of the warping especially. I am 5' 10" tall and when I have to climb inside the loom I do understand the greatness of Cranbrook's extended back space. That sectional back beam isn't a very comfortable back rest.