Broken threads, skipped dents, and crossed threads, oh my! Don’t worry, Dotty, I got you.
When first starting to weave it can feel like so many things can go wrong, and to be honest, a lot can. But that doesn’t mean you’ve wasted yards of thread or hours of time. Here are a few tricks to help you recover from those mistakes more quickly.
Unfortunately broken threads are sometimes just a part of weaving. If you have a lot of them you might be doing something wrong, like uneven or too high tension, or there might be something pulling on a thread you don’t realize. For the most part, this is, at most, an occasional occurrence.
Weavers all have their own little methods of fixing broken threads and there’s lots of ways to go about it, but I’ll walk you through what I do.
To start, when I notice a thread either has a knot in it (which can cause a break when beating) or is starting to look weak, I will move the compromised area behind my beater – that way I can weave right up until the knot or weak spot. Then, I do one of two things. I will either
- Trim the yarn that is about to break, or broken, about an inch away from my woven cloth and thread another piece of the same yarn from the back of the loom through the same heddle and dent and pin in to the woven fabric. I pull this straight from the cone and add a little weight to match tension. That way I’m not wasting thread I’m not using,
- If the knot or broken end is long enough I will simply lay the loose end on top of my woven fabric and keep weaving. Once the fabric reaches where the other end will meet I weave in my loose end with a needle in the same pattern I was weaving.
In both circumstances I keep weaving until the other end of my broken thread is long enough to secure with a needle and weave back in.
There are all sorts of things that can go wrong in threading as a beginner, but the scariest ones seem to be skipped dents and crossed threads… or just threading in the wrong pattern in general. Sometimes there is a quick fix for these, but sometimes it will still mean rethreading your entire warp. Check out my tips on warping faster and more accurately here to help combat some of these issues. I warp front to back, but these tips all really happen once the warp is loaded on the back beam anyway so it should matter too much.
Checking if a thread popped or if you missed a dent helps from having to correct the problem again later.
If I see that I’ve skipped a dent I first check to see if I’ve also skipped a heddle. If there’s a skipped dent and an extra heddle hanging out in the correct place behind it you may have lost a thread somewhere and it’s best to just add another thread from your cone.
If there is no skipped heddle and your threading pattern behind the beater looks alright you can use your threading hook to move the ends over one at a time until the skipped dent is all the way out of your weaving width. Obviously this is much more annoying if the skipped dent is in the middle.
Crossed threads (and minor mis-threadings)
Every once in a while as I start to weave in my scrap yarn I’ll notice a thread stuck in the middle of the shed – this usually signifies a crossed thread because the thread is being lifted against its will be another thread.
If you have the patience you can undo your ties onto the front beam and simply rethread the two crossed threads in their correct pattern and then tie back on and continue.
I, however, often don’t have the patience for this. Instead I will trim the crossed thread as close to my knot or front bean as possible, weave a couple rows with my scrap yarn, then rethread the end back in and secure it with a pin. after a couple more rows I can take the pin out and it is secured.
This is also what I tend to do for minor misthreadings. Be careful though, if you’re having to fix several in a row it’s better to go the route of untying from your front beam and rethreading through the beater so as not to mess with the integrity of your warp.
I hope that’s helps you to feel a little better about running into some of these problems. They happen to the best of us! I also have a short article about tension and things that can go wrong here if you’re running into things like slack or messy selvages, tight threads, or uneven weaving rows.