19 February 2012

I'm a weaver, not a stitcher!

I'm at a boring part of the work now. First I am stitching the header band onto a stiffening rod. When I finish that I'll lash the stiffening rod to the cloth beam. Both these tasks are essentially needlework. I am, at best, an indifferent stitcher. Although I enjoy working on the occasional hand-sewn item, and I've even turned my hand to embroidery from time to time, I just don't care for needlework the way I care for most other forms of thread manipulation.

But I feel very strongly that the more carefully this particular task proceeds, the better will be the finished product. I've had problems with the equivalent of reed marks in warp-weighted loom textiles when I have cut corners in this phase of the work. In this case, I'm stitching the band between every set of four threads (two warp loops), that is, six stitches through the warp and around the stiffening rod per inch of header band. That should give me an absolutely reliable attachment which will keep the band from developing scalloping. The fine linen I'm using for the stitching is small enough to sneak between the threads without creating any holes that won't heal.

Over the years I've fooled around with the ergonomics of this task. Normally I am working with much shorter warps, and I have a slightly different set of equipment because I'm doing it in the field, on trestles set up under a pavilion top. Most of those established techniques won't work with the setup I currently have (based on home space limitations), and I need a different tool than a tapestry needle. So now I've fiddled around with setup, seating, tools, and zone of attack until I have finally found a method that works for me and is fairly quick. That's good, because the first foot of stitching took more than half an hour. The next four inches took another half hour. That's when I fell back, reassessed, and changed what I was doing.

Now that I can stitch an inch of header warp firmly in just a minute or so, I feel like I can settle down for a long stint of work. So now I'm going to set up some music to listen to and wade back into the fray.


  1. Hi there, I'm so glad of the photographs! But tell me, I'm Australian and very bad at remembering US coinage. What denomination coin is it? All Australian coins have QEII on the rear so it's impossible to know size without knowing the denomination. Is this the same with US coins? I know it's not a penny (we don't have brown coins anymore), but am at a loss otherwise.

    1. It's a quarter, about 2.5cm in diameter.

      Glad you like the photos!