Be brave!* I’m not sure why or what triggered it, but evidently I was traumatized by the pick-up weaves class I took at Yarn Fest in 2015. As much as I wanted to practice what I’d learned, I could not make myself do it. So I took the back way in—practiced plain weaving. I used up two shuttles of already-wound yarn. This was good practice because I needed to work on my selvages and had never woven with “thin” yarn before. (I used a 10 DPI heddle. Previously had only worked with 7.5 DPI.)

Bottom right is the results of my class followed by two sections of plain weave with different thin-nesses of yarn. Two sections of experimentation follow.

 When you get to the very end of the warp, after removing the pick-up stick, leave the piece of mat board in place. (Betty Davenport recommends using a strip of mat board between the down and up warps so you can easily see the down shed warps when placing the pick-up stick.) You can use this to help you get every last inch out of the warp.

Mat board strip is the dark piece near top of photo.

When in the down shed position, turn the strip on its edge to make a wider shed opening.

Turn strip on its edge to widen down shed.

When in the up shed position, flatten the strip and push it as close to the back beam as possible. This widens the up shed.

Flatten strip and push toward back beam to widen up shed.

If my shuttle is not overfull, I can weave to within 2 inches of the heddle in the up position. You can get one more pick in the down shed, but if you like to finish on a particular side of the loom, you may need to finish with the heddle in the up position. It’s rather difficult to get the heddle back into neutral when the weaving gets so close to it.

Ever the cheapskate, I don’t like to waste ANY warp.

When the heddle is in the neutral position, you have about three inches of warp in front of it—plenty of room to do finish-stitching.

Heddle in neutral for finish stitching.

I didn’t take a photo of this, but you can do your finish stitching from right to left even if you finished weaving on the left-hand side of the loom by turning the loom around so that the back bar is directly in front of you. It’s less-comfortable to stitch that way, but it was easy enough to do.

Here’s the finish stitching after the piece is off the loom.

Now, on to greater things. Two heddles, here I come!

First pick-up pattern in over two years


*I may have misapplied the idea of fear. It’s easier to use a word like fear than to explain deeper concepts of the human psyche. I said I was traumatized by the class, but I should have said “traumatized by the learning experience”—which includes extreme fatigue after a long, cold drive, inadequate rest (because I don’t sleep well in hotels next to train stations), and the unaccustomed excitement of being in a totally new environment filled with fiber-frenzied folks such as myself—it was my first time at a fiber fair, after only about four months of exposure to fiber arts. There’s also a basic sort of resistance in people to learn new things. Not that we don’t want to learn new things, but we know it will require a lot of energy, discipline, and frustration. We know mistakes are good for us, but we still don’t love making them. So, maybe that helps explain the emotions associated with learning to use pick-up sticks.

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