Yes yes loom!

So now I’m started. As I haven’t woven with a loom for almost 30 years, I started with plain weave and poppana rags, the industrially produced thin rag weft that was so popular in the 80s here in Finland. You can still buy it in weaving shops. I found my old poppana in the attic, and also some of my grandmother’s rags, probably from the 60s. She used to sit in the sun in the summers and cut old clothes into rug weft. She would hurt her fingers from all that cutting, so she wound some of the rags around her thumb and middle fingers to protect them.

Hubby went to work the day I was to wind on, so I decided to do it on my own. It’s good to have thick, heavy books in your shelves! I put weights on the warp, wound on, opened more of the warp chain and adjusted the with, fetched a bucket and filled it with heavy books and attached it to the warp, wound on 10 meters of cotton… it’s not the best wind on you’ve seen, but I think it’ll work even if I’ll probably have to adjust some warp threads when finishing the fabric. That’ll be easy, as I weave short pieces like place mats.

Winding on the warp
Threading the heddles
Sleying the reed
Weaving poppana

The most difficult thing was to crawl into the loom to tie up the horizontal lamms and the treadles. And then I had to crawl out again! I’m not in the same shape I was 30 years ago. But after the third time I felt I was ten years younger – what a work out this is! When I asked people at the Väv 14 event in Umeå what kind of loom I should get for the needs I have nowadays, quite many said “not a counter march loom”. I was quite surprised, because 30 years ago that was exactly what you should get if you were a serious weaver. The explanation was even more surprising: it’s difficult to tie the treadles!

But I’m not afraid of tying the treadles, and after having tied the lamms for the first time I won’t have to do it again, as they are always the same, only the treadles vary. I have good books with clear instructions. I’ve done it before. I think it’s good for me to do difficult things, and besides, it’s difficult only the first time you do it. So contrary to the advise from these well meaning persons I now have a horizontal counter march loom, and I love it. It feels wonderful to grip the beater and have a go at it. The sheds rise perfectly, which is one of the advantages of the counter march.

I have more fun to learn: weaving terms in English and Swedish. I learned to weave in Swedish, but the weaving book we used was in Finnish, so I learned most of the terms in that language. The Finnish book is the best I’ve seen, and luckily I still own it. Many of my Finnish readers will know it: “Kankaita kutomaan”, written by Arja Hauhia and Marja-Liisa Paavola.


And otherwise? It’s soon November. This cactus, Schlumberga truncata, is called “November kaktus” in Swedish, because it often blooms in November. It was out under the rowans in the summer, and now it thanks us with lots and lots of pink flowers.


  1. Susan

    First of all how happy I am to see that you have some of your grandmothers ‘rags’. I love that you will be using them and yes! I have favourite Heavy books, one being Peter Collingwoods rug book 🙂 I too have an 8 harness counter march loom and yes the tie up are a pip, mine are done with chains which make it quite heavy for some of the block twills I do. It is true, once you get the rhythm of the tie ups they ARE good for you/me, shoulders etc 🙂 It will also keep our minds occupied! Your warp looks good and I like that metal tenterhook/temple/stretcher bar. I have one also but usually use wooden ones for my linen warps.
    Happy weaving.

    • Barbro Heikinmatti

      Yes, looms are good for your shoulders and back. I can already feel a change to the better. My stretcher bars are from Toika Looms, I have several in different widths. Peter Collingwood – what a weaver he was! Happy weaving to you also, Susan!

  2. mazzaus

    We call this flower zygocactus. I have some orange ones that have just finished flowering! It;s great you are back at your weaving. I look forward to seeing how it goes…

    • Barbro Heikinmatti

      And we call this Schlumberga “November cactus” because it often blooms in November. There are other Schlumbergas we call Christmas or Easter cactus. I like them, they bloom so willingly!
      Weaving is going well, but other things have occupied me the last two weeks.

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