Warping a SAORI loom

Here’s my process pictures for my first time fully warping my SAORI loom with the “chair warp” from my last loom-related post. First, I remove the beater and flip it over, resting the legs of the beater on the harness of the loom. I undo the braids from my prepared warp, and use the warp cross to keep the warps in order, and then cut the colored yarn I used to keep the cross intact (visible in the picture below). There is a tool that is a series of posts and grooves to hold this as well. I don’t have it. I’m wondering how I – or it! – can hold all the warp if I were to warp its full 23″ width. This is 56 warps. The loom holds 300.

This is sleying the reed. I use the reed hook to push the warp through the dents.


I’ve tied bundles of warp threads together below the reed, and turned over and reinstalled the beater.

Now threading the heddles. I’m sitting at the back of the loom, holding a bunch of warp threads in my left hand, interlacing them between my fingers. I can’t keep it interlaced like this; it keeps sliding off my pinky, but I can keep it solidly between my first and middle finger. Inside my left hand is a bunch of heddles, from both the front and back harnesses. As I use up the warp in my left hand, I grab more warp and more heddles.

Here’s using the hook to grab the next warp to pull through the heddle. Standard warping is to alternate from the front and back harness (and one warp per dent in the reed), which is what I’m doing here. I can put more than one warp through the same dent and heddle. I can skip dents. I can do two front or two back heddles in a row. I wanted to try a plain warp first, so one warp per dent and heddle, and alternating front and back harnesses it is!


As I’m looking back at the instructions, I see I’m supposed to be tying bundles of warps together as I complete warping. Oh.

Pulling the warp through to the back of the loom, with the tying rod resting on top of the warp.

I have to use two hands for the rest of this (and a knee at one point), so no pictures. Here’s the frustration picture. I’ve tied the warp onto the tying rod (the diagonal dowel you can see at the upper left), and I’ve got to try to roll it onto the warp roller while holding onto the warp at the front of the beater. So I’m sitting cross legged on the floor to the left of the loom, my right hand is holding the warp at the front of the beater, I’m rolling the warp roller with my left hand, and pressing the warp control pedal with my left knee. Looking closely at the pictures in the book now, I see the warp control pedal is disengaged by the angle of the pedal – but it’s not written in the instructions to do so. I will have to try that next time. The warp roller fell off twice because I didn’t have the metal widgets correctly on it.

That’s done, now to attach the warp to the front clipping tying rod. I just have to put this strip of wood into the slot in the dowel, catching the warp.

Warped! Or at least I think so.

Weaving right along. Isn’t this yarn great/terrible? Microfiber chenille, from one of two Craiglist yarn lots I purchased for very little money. I keep thinking of caterpillars.

So, I try to advance the warp and it’s not working. I check the pedal and advance the warp, more than once. Also, why is the beater hitting what I’m weaving? It’s because I need the warp to go up and over the front beam. I correct this by removing the clipping tying rod and reinstalling it correctly. Now I’m making some sort of animal skin print with my caterpillar yarn!

Okay, off to finish this warp.

Antique African Djenne trade beads

Meet the oldest beads I own. I have strung these Djenne beads into a 27″ triple strand necklace with Italian seed beads as spacers. Lois Scherr Dubin, in The History of Beads, writes that “all the glass beads excavated from Djenne in Mali date to the later phases of the Islamic period, c. A.D. 1000-1400.” They are beautiful things, some with the iridescence that glass can get when it is buried for a very long time. I am honored to be their custodian.

Chair warp

I received my loom and assembled it on a Thursday in January. I had a mid-morning appointment on Friday, and the rest of the day off. I didn’t want to begin weaving before I had to leave, so I decided to try to prepare a warp. I used some heavier cotton than was pre-warped on the loom, a cream color that I had thrifted. Generally speaking, unless you are weaving something very light, you want to warp with a darker color. My thinking was that I wanted something I didn’t care about to practice the process of warping, using one color and a short length. Meet the chair warp, and my Christmas tree that was up until mid-January. I didn’t even measure, I just put the chairs as far apart as I was able without moving furniture. I think this was about 7′.

Looking at the SAORI book, it shows the use of a warping board. I didn’t purchase one; my husband made one for me later. In a broad overview, a warping board is a frame of wood with pegs on the uprights, and you zigzag the warp across and down to the length desired. The SAORI warping board is a meter across, so it’s a way to measure the length of the warp too. At the beginning, before the first full zigzag, you pass over and under a couple of pegs. In the next pass, you start by going under, then over. This keeps the warps in the order you want to install them on the loom. Below is using the chair leg to create just one cross.

You tie the cross to keep the threads in order, and in a few other places to keep the bundle of warps together.

I cut the yarn on the wooden chair leg, and chained the warp to keep it neat.

When I got to the cross, I cut the warp loop on the metal chair, and then braided each half of the warp after the cross, tying the ends. This is one 1 4/10 ounce skein of cotton crepe “fashionable dress yarn” by Unger from Holland. (Holland! How old is this yarn? And 4/10 oz?) I think I counted 38 warps, so I get to practice threading 38×2 times. I think I’ll try for accuracy this time, to see if I can.

SAORI One complete

This is 16.5′ of SAORI sampler, 11″ wide. I had a lot of length to try different techniques with these four yarns – and there are many more things I can try.

Next up on the loom is a simple sample warp, with some fun/terrible yarn as the weft. It gives me the chance to warp the loom with a consistent yarn before trying fuzzy and irregular ones.

Knit glass from Carol Milne

I’ve been aware for a couple of years that the Glass Art Society has a fashion show at their conferences, and have seen pictures of some really fun creations. Before their last conference, I read in a Northwest Designer Craftsmen newsletter about a project that Carol Milne was doing for the fashion show, and immediately, I wanted to be a part of her crowd-sourced piece. Carol Milne creates knitted glass.

I just love this. The costume that Milne created is many of these linked together. Simplified, this is lost wax casting. I believe she knits in wax, then creates the mold from the wax piece. For my contribution to her glass costume, I received one unit of the final piece. I am working on a different, simple cord to replace the waxed cotton. Enjoy a brief video of the finished costume below!

Tin Thread necklace

I took a class today at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota with Katherine Buenger. It was one of their Try It! classes, which are mostly one session. I love Sami bracelets – I purchased one several years ago at an American Craft Council show, and enjoy wearing it – and Katherine designed this necklace using the same techniques. The tin thread is pewter wire, containing 4% silver, wrapped around a cotton core. The leather and antler closure are reindeer. Below is my completed necklace. It is flexible enough to drape nicely, and I like the closure visible on the side in the front.

A closeup of the clasp.

A closeup of the braid.

Now, I did the braid correctly, but I didn’t fully follow directions on which hand held a particular pair of threads at a point in the braiding process – at least that’s what we determined, because below is how the braid should look. In my defense, I have long hair that I wear braided. I am practiced at braiding flat.

Mine is flat, and looks the same on both sides. Hers is cupped, with a different side profile than mine. My finished necklace is done with the gauge of thread of the center sample, and 28″ long.

If you want to make a necklace like mine (but with the right profile!), or a bracelet, check out Katherine’s classes at Bead & Button.