How to search articles on

Google " 8-shaft"

Some time back, I published an online magazine, WeaveZine. When I went back to the workforce I had to shut down the business. Because I love the content, however, I’ve kept the site alive.

To make hosting it relative inexpensive and hacker-proof, I converted the site from a Drupal CMS to a flat-HTML site. In the process I lost the ability to have Search on the site.

But there’s a way you can search the site using Google. If you go to and type before your search terms, it’ll search just on the WeaveZine site. For example, try the following in Google: site:weavezine 8-shaft

It’ll return all the articles that mention 8-shaft weaving.

(And yes, looking at the results, I see that I need to go in and manually change the titles to the actual author’s names so it doesn’t look like I wrote everything. That was a side-effect of my conversion process way back when.)

Anyway, this Google trick works for any site. Try, for example: 8-shaft

Happy Googling!

eBook version of Inventive Weaving

The ebook version of my rigid-heddle book, Inventive Weaving, is on sale during the whole month of November for $2.99. Which is something like 90% off. Please help spread the word because I don’t want anyone who’d like to take advantage of this offer to miss out.

What’s happening is that Storey’s added my book to their Fresh Picks selection this month, along with books on cooking, solar panels, and electric fences. All of these are available in 5 different ebook formats.

If you’re new to ebooks, you don’t have to have a Kindle or iPad to read them. You can download a free app (Windows or Mac) that makes it possible to read the ebook on your computer or on other devices. For example, I buy Kindle-format books from Amazon, but usually read them on my phone or iPad.

And finally, Here’s the link to the Kindle version of Inventive Weaving.



Emmy’s New Home

This past Thanksgiving I had an adventure. I spent the day with my family, then bright and early on Friday, hopped in my car and drove from Seattle, WA to Mountain View, CA. A thirteen-hour, one-way road trip, by myself, in Black Friday traffic.

What would induce me to do such a crazy thing? Why a new loom of course! I was driving down to purchase Tien Chiu’s 40-shaft AVL Production Dobby Loom. She’d stopped using it since getting a Jacquard loom, so I was happy to get it out of storage and give it a new home.

Driving down was amazing. The parking lot of every mall I passed was entirely full. The only highway traffic I ran into was three lanes slowed down so much that I thought I had reached the inspection point to cross into California. Nope! All that traffic was from people trying to get into and park in an outlet mall. Yikes!

This is why I don’t shop in Black Friday sales. Though the irony that I was spending all day in the car the day after Thanksgiving to go buy something was not lost on me.

Ruth Temple and her wife Lise, generously offered me crash space for the night. I was supposed to get in around 8pm, but with one thing and another (I drive slow and sometimes get lost) I ended up there around midnight. Ruth was very kind and offered me a bed and a cup of herbal tea. I mumbled something like “You are a goddess of generosity” and passed out.

The next day, Ruth offered to help me pack and move the loom, which is a substantial gift of time and labor considering the many parts of an AVL loom. I generally have a hard time accepting help, but this time I gratefully accepted.

We dropped by Tien’s house to pick up keys to the storage facility. Right after Thanksgiving is when Tien does her massive chocolatiering for charity, which was fun to see in progress. Many hands packaging tasty things. If you ever have a chance to buy a loom from someone the same weekend that they’re finishing up creating 80 pounds worth of gourmet chocolates, do so. Tien generously gave us some samples of the goodies and they tasted as wonderful as they look on her blog.

The last question I asked about the loom was whether it had a name. Tien said that she’d named it Emmy, after Emmy Noether, a mathematician known for her landmark contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics. I usually like to come up with my own names for looms, but I like this one. It may stick.

Packing the car was…interesting. The question was, can you pack a 40-shaft, full-frame loom into a mid-sized SUV? The answer was, yes, barely.

Ruth excited that it all fit in the car

As you can see, Ruth and I were both happy that it all fit in the car. There may even have been happy dancing involved.

Then another 13+ hour car trip home! This time I stopped and spent the night in Grant’s Pass, OR, because the road was getting icy and slushy. Had a good night’s sleep and then the guys unloaded the pieces and parts into my studio.

Next step?  Assembly…


That’s only part of the loom. The compu-dobby and other e-lift aren’t pictured. Good thing I like puzzles!

Mending Sleaziness

I’ve been mending and burling the Birthday Blanket. This means painstakingly going over the fabric looking for flaws and fixing them. Most errors, like skips and floats, are easy to fix.

The one that’s been puzzling me is sleaziness.

Sleazy spot in the fabric

In places where there are two consecutive shots missing, it’s easy, simply needle-weave in two new shots of weft.

But what do you do when you only missed one shot? Needle-weaving in two shots of weft in a space only big enough for one would result in fabric that was too dense. Needle-weaving in one shot would mean doubling the thread in one pick and also stand out.

I puzzled over it last night and then went to bed.

This morning I woke up with an idea: split the two-ply weft into two single plies and needle weave both singles in separately.

splitting the plys

The first step is to needle-weave along one of the wefts, in the same shed. To make it easy to come back the other way, I made sure that the new thread was always on top of the existing weft.

needle-weaving in first singles

Then I came back the other way, weaving between the normal and the singles weft that are in the same shed. As you can see on the left, I’m getting good results. The fabric density with the two singles closely matches that of the rest of the cloth.

weaving in the second singles

Here’s a before-and-after shot of what the sleaziness in the cloth looks like, and the repair (pointed out by the needle ).

before and after, repairing sleaziness

If you look closely, you’ll see singles ends sticking out of the cloth. That’s a repair where the single ply broke while I was weaving it in. You could prevent this by adding twist to the singles after you un-ply them. In this case, I was working with a sticky wool, so I just fixed the error and continued on.

And that’s my new trick for repairing sleazy areas in cloth!


Weave on…


Why you don’t let your cat help you warp

Maru got excited while I was warping the last of the blanket warp. Given half a chance, he’d run into my studio and full-on attack the warp. Grabbing paw-fulls, and raking it with his back claws.image

Needless to say, he got booted. Not only for the sake of the warp, but for his own. The barbs on a cat’s tongue mean that they can’t spit out yarn. Once they get it in their mouth, they have to keep eating it. Which can lead to wads of yarn in their stomach and other intestinal woes.

So if you have kitties, keeping them away from yarn is a very good thing. Since we got Maru, my studio has been almost pathelogically clean (yarn-wise, anyway.)

I’m currently working on the mending of the blanket. It’s taking longer than I’d like, but that’s how things usually go.

Today’s weaving tip: If a warp thread breaks, fix it immediately. Don’t tell yourself that you’re close to the end and can just weave it in after the cloth is off the loom; you’re not that close to the end.

Cutting off the Birthday Blanket warp

This is what 9 yards looks like, wound onto the cloth beam.image

This is the third warp. I’ve woven 27 yards for this project. The next step is mending, in which I fix any errors and skips in the fabric.

There are a non-trivial number of errors, but not as many as I feared there would be. When I started this project, an experienced weaver told me that it’d be impossible to weave — that all of the different threads, with their varying sizes, fibers, and amount of stretch would create bad tension.

There were only a few threads that needed special handling, those were easily dealt with using some additional weights.


The weights I’m using there are brass weights with hooks on the top. I got them from American Science & Surplus several years ago and find all kinds of uses for them in the fiber arts.

I’m actually looking forward to the mending. It’s symbolic of forgiving and fixing my own errors and flaws.


I was recently interviewed about my work and Inventive Weaving on episode 176 of the Craftsanity podcast.

If you want to know more about the story behind the book, give it a listen. It’s a great way to pass the time while threading a loom, which is what I was doing when I played it.

It was tremendous fun chatting with Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood on the phone, and it reminded me how much I loved talking to other artists when I was producing Weavecast.

So much so that I’ve revamped the Weavecast website, separating it out from the now-archival WeaveZine site.

I also plan to produce new episodes, not at the monthly cadence I did before. But quarterly.

In other publication news, I recently heard from my editor at Storey that Inventive Weaving is going into a second printing! That means people are finding and enjoying the book. A big thank you to everyone who’s reading the book and recommending it to friends.

After spending years weaving and writing for a book, it’s great to have that book find its audience.

Happy Weaving!

How to replace a right treadle cable on an AVL PDL

I was weaving along on the Birthday Blanket at a good clip when the right treadle cable broke. This was frustrating, but I take it as a sign that I’m now a “real” weaver. Though as soon as I type that, I hear Laura Fry in my head saying, “Not until you fix it, you’re not.” Fair point, imaginary Laura, fair point.

Broken cable

I ordered a new cable from AVL and the following steps show how I replaced it. My loom is an Production Dobby Loom built in 1984. If your PDL was born in another year, these steps might not work for you.

First you need to loosen the set screw on the collar holding the cam shaft in place.Loosen set screw

Then slide the shaft out. (No sniggering, I can hear you!)IMG_3127_2

Next, unscrew the three screws holding the cam on.IMG_3129_2

It is a good idea to take a pencil and mark how the cam lines up before you remove all of the screws. This makes it easy to line up later.IMG_3141_2

Remove the cam.IMG_3142_2

The plug end of the cable is held in place by a ring of metal with a slot in it. The hole in the wood is big enough to put the plug and cable through, the ring with the slot covers part of the hole, effectively making it smaller.IMG_3143_2

It is a good idea at this point to measure your replacement cable and make sure it is the same size as the broken cable. (Ask me how I know…) And yes, I am wearing a leopard-print polartec adult onesie. It’s cold in my house; don’t judge.IMG_3144_2

Using a screwdriver and a hammer, gently tap the metal ring until the slot just barely clears the hole in the wood. Do not pound it all the way out, that would make it harder to put back in place.IMG_3145_2

Now you can slide the plug end of the cable out of the hole.IMG_3148_2

Reverse the previous steps to insert the new cable into the cam and attach the cam back onto the loom.

Take the cable up and OVER the cam.IMG_3153_2

When threading the cable down to the treadle, make sure to go over the wooden pulley. If you fail to do so, the cable will rub on the metal rod the pulley rides on and break again soon.



Attach the loop end of the cable to your treadle.IMG_3152_2

And viola! You’re back to weaving.IMG_3119

Friday: Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival

I had a wonderful time at the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival. It’s a new festival, I believe this was it’s fourth year.  It was small and had a great vibe, reminding me quite a bit of the Madrona Winter Retreat in Tacoma.

Friday night, there was a book signing with all the teachers and authors attending the event. I had the pleasure of meeting another Storey author, Lea Redmond.

IMG_2998She wrote Knit the Sky, which is about applying the creative process to knitting. It’s an innovative and lovely approach. In one project you use a scarf as a weather journal, in another you track the growth of a child. My favorite was the moon cowl. Half is white, and the other black, and you adjust how you wear it to match the current phase of the moon. Here I am wearing the cowl in the half-moon position.

IMG_3001Judith MacKenzie, my first weaving teacher was there. It felt full circle to have her there, sharing my journey from non-weaver to author of a newly published weaving book.

IMG_3021Another full-circle moment was re-connecting with Sarah Anderson. Once, traveling back together on an airplane after teaching at the Golden Gate Fiber Institute, she quietly confessed, “I just sold a book to Storey.” I leaned over and whispered back, “Me, too.”

She finished her book first, but I got there in the end.


The fun and irrepressible Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka The Yarn Harlot) decided we needed a selfie, so this happened. I’m impressed she was able to fit us all in there.


She offered to send the photo out to anyone who had Instagram, so five minutes later I had it installed and running on my phone. If you want to follow my feed, I’ve registered as @synemitchell.

In other news, I am back on the writing wagon. Today I wrote for 30 minutes.

Spinning Socks in the Cloud

One of the fun things about working at Google is that you get to work with smart and creative people. The photo below was created with Cloud Spin, a demo project that shows how to use Google Cloud Platform to build services for mobile apps.

The folks running the demo at the GDG conference were bemused when I showed up with my sock and a ball of yarn.

This is my representation of juggling a craft-filled life.


It would have been even more fun if I’d had several unfinished projects to juggle, but I had to work with what I had on hand.

The way the technology works is that you have a set of mobile phones arranged in a half-circle. You jump, and each phone takes a wee bit of video. The app controlling the phones inserts an audio “beep” as a marker when you jump. Then the phones upload the videos to code running in the cloud, which extracts the frame corresponding to the audio marker from each video and compiles it into a single animated GIF.



The team that created this demo did it on a nearly nonexistent budget, in three weeks. I edited the blog posts they wrote about the project. If you’re interested in the technical details and/or building your own version check them out:

Cloud Spin Part 1: 180-degree animations on Google Cloud Platform

Cloud Spin, Part 2: Building mobile apps to orchestrate video recording

Cloud Spin, Part 3: processing video using Google Cloud Platform service

And yes, seeing this photo does make me want to eat better and get more serious about exercising regularly. But you know what, if I wait until I’m thin to do fun things, that might be a long time… and I’d miss out on adventures in the meantime.

P.S. I have totally fallen down on my NaWriDaMo pledge. Epic fail. I blame the wool fumes at the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival.