20 February 2012
This is the hard part of what I did yesterday. Here you see the header band laced through every four threads to a stiffening bar. The bar is resting on top of the shed rod, just for convenience of photographing.
Normally I use a dowel as my stiffening rod. But with a warp six feet wide, it made more economic sense to use lumber than look for a dowel that long, and so this time I have a stiffening bar. This piece of lumber is a 1x2, which means it actually measures .75" by 1.5".
Originally I began using a stiffening rod on the warp-weighted loom for two reasons. First, it gave me better control over the header band than I had simply by stitching it to the holes of my Icelandic style loom's cloth beam. The holes in such a beam are fairly widely spaced. The one time I tried to attach a warp only through those holes, the header band scalloped so alarmingly (more than 3") after I weighted it that I decided that must not have been how it should be done. At the time I hadn't seen any museums' attempts to solve this problem, so I was interested to find out later that other people working with the warp-weighted loom had solved it in a way similar to mine, i.e., with the addition of a stiffening bar.
I also intended my warps to be removable from the loom. The Icelandic loom was built as a teaching and demo device. I wanted to be able to warp it and then, if necessary, remove my working warp entire in order to take the loom someplace and warp it with a teaching warp. By putting the header band on a stiffening rod, I found I could easily remove and roll up an entire warp, weights, chained spacers, heddle rods, skilskaft and all, and set it aside for later if necessary.
I don't intend this current warp, or indeed this loom, to be portable. However, I am so sold on the utility of the stiffening rod that I cannot imagine working a project without one.
It was, therefore, quite a delight to discover in the archaeological record an example of a header band that still retained stitching believed by the examiner to represent lacing to a stiffening rod.