Nancy to the Rescue: Greatest Hits

Nancy to the Rescue: Greatest Hits

Posted by Weaver Nancy on Apr 12th 2016

Ask Nancy

Got weaving problems? Stumped by your spinning? Our resident expert Nancy will answer all of your burning questions in this new regular feature! Previously only available on our newsletter, we are moving Nancy's informative column over to the Woolery blog for easy reference. To kick things off, we'd like to share some of her greatest hits from our past newsletters. To ask your own question, email or click here to post your questions in our Ravelry group

All the Best,

Wave, Perri, and the entire Woolery Team

Q: Over the past 6+ months I noticed that my projects on my Ashford 20" Knitters Loom (cotton towels) are weaving crookedly. A seasoned weaver suggested that it might be the beating that's doing it and not the loom. I have the loom stand, and I can't say I noticed this issue when I first used it. I've tightened all of the screws too. Help!  

ashford loom

A: My first guess for the issue described would be loom failure due to too much tension; I find that many weavers are asking more of these little looms than they were designed to take and putting far too much tension on them. I am always telling my students “no banjos” to remind them not to put more tension on them than needed - just enough tension for a clean shed and error-free weaving is the right amount!

The next most likely cause is as the other experienced weaver suggested, the beat. The force of the beat needs to be centered as much as it can be, and the placement of the hands is critical. Right-handedness (or left-handedness!) will also play a part, as one side or the other of the body will be stronger than the other. I see this less often in floor looms, because you are always operating the beater with alternate hands, as the other hand is holding the shuttle after catching it; the hand that threw is the hand that beats, and that switches with each weft pick.

Finally, if we can rule out bad habits, it may just be that the screw holes in the wood have elongated and the screws are not holding in consequence. The remedy for that is a wooden matchstick in the hole, to give the screw threads fresh wood to bite on; that will tighten up the loom, and fix the racking.

If none of the above fixes the issues, let me know (with photos!) and we will work on it some more. I do really suspect tension issues though, particularly since cotton wants to be woven at a higher tension than wool, and will in fact tolerate a much higher tension before breaking. That is a siren song that needs resisting because it destroys looms; just enough, and not too much.


Q: Hi, I am trying to figure out which reed to buy for my Baby Wolf loom. I want the 8 dent reed, but the info in the listing is confusing. It states to not order by weaving width, yet the drop-down box is labeled "weaving width." I understand the weaving width is 26". I also measured the reed that came with my loom which is approx. 26.5". Do I choose the 26" size for my loom? The part that confuses things is the language below saying not to order the reed by the weaving width. Thank you! 

 A: For that loom, you’ll order a REED-26-8. You only order actual width when it’s a special-order reed; the rest of the time we go by weaving width.


Q: I just bought an old Ashford Traditional at a yard sale, and it is missing a lot of parts to get it up and running again, including (from the research I have been able to do on your website) the flyer and bobbin. The flyer is the U-shaped object with the hooks, right? And the bobbin sits in the middle of it? The website wants a distinction between single-drive and double-drive parts; how do I tell? And there’s only one foot pedal, too. Does that mean single drive?

A: Congratulations on your find! Depending upon the condition and the number of missing parts, this can be a great opportunity for a very reasonably-priced wheel.

Let’s start with the drive wheel that you didn’t even know to ask about; looking at it end-on, give it a turn, and see if it spins freely and without a lot of wobble. If it wobbles, you’ll most likely want to give up now; it’s warped and not fixable, and new parts to get it up & running will start at $195 just for the wheel; add axles, connecting rods etc, and the price only goes up. If it simply does not turn well and freely, it usually is a matter of bearings; $5 will fix that.

Next, the treadle issue (that’s a foot pedal to a newbie); standard on an Ashford Traditional is single treadle (though there are upgrade kits to a double); that has nothing to do with single or double drive. To figure out what you have, look at the MAIDENS; those are the 2 upright posts that the flyer-and-bobbin array sits between. The FRONT MAIDEN is the one closest to the spinner as she sits at the wheel and spins; the REAR MAIDEN is on the back side, away from the spinner.

Again looking at the drive wheel end-on, does the groove in the drive wheel (that holds the string drive band) line up right behind the front maiden or just inside of the rear maiden? If it lines up next to the front maiden, your wheel is single-drive; if it lines up by the rear maiden, it is double-drive; you can buy your parts based on that. It’s really very easy!

Be sure to email or click here to post your questions in our Ravelry group!