Weaving Knowledge: Introducing the Shed Stick
In this series on weaving knowledge, we are going to talk about a tool that you may see carpet weavers using frequently. It is the shed stick, also known as the weaving sword. It gets its name shed stick from its use in the weaving process. It gets the name weaving sword from its shape.
What is a Shed Stick and what is it used for?
The shed stick is a flat piece of wood with a beveled edge and rounded tip like a sword. Although it is not sharp and cannot cut anything, this shape makes it easy to separate the warp threads so that the yarn can be passed between them easily. It may be noted that a weaving sword is not necessary, and that it is just one way of doing things. The shed stick is seen in manuscripts dating back more than 1,000 years, and it appears to have changed little into modern times.
A shed stick, also known as a weaving stick or shed wand, is a simple tool used in the process of hand weaving. It is a long, flat, and narrow stick, typically made of wood or another sturdy material. The shed stick plays a crucial role in creating the “shed” during the weaving process.
In weaving, the shed refers to the opening or gap between the warp threads (lengthwise threads on the loom) that allows the weft (crosswise threads) to pass through and create the woven fabric. The shed is created by raising some of the warp threads while leaving others in a lower position.
Here’s how a shed stick is used:
- Setting up the Loom: The warp threads are first wound around the loom, which is the frame used to hold the threads under tension during weaving.
- Creating the Shed: To weave, the weaver needs to open the shed, which is done by using the shed stick. The shed stick is inserted horizontally between the layers of warp threads. By gently lifting the shed stick, some of the warp threads are raised, creating an opening or shed.
- Weaving: With the shed open, the weaver can then pass the weft thread through the shed using a shuttle or other weaving tools. Once the weft thread is in place, the shed stick is lowered, and the warp threads are pressed together to secure the weft thread in its place.
- Repeating the Process: The weaving process continues by repeating the steps of using the shed stick to open the shed, passing the weft thread through, and then securing it in place.
The shed stick is particularly useful for simpler looms or in certain weaving techniques where a more complex shedding mechanism is not available. It allows weavers to create a shed quickly and easily, making the weaving process smoother and more efficient.
As weaving technology has advanced, more sophisticated looms with automatic shedding mechanisms have been developed, reducing the need for shed sticks in modern industrial weaving. However, shed sticks are still used by some traditional and artisanal weavers, especially those working with handlooms or certain weaving styles that benefit from their simple and reliable operation.
How the Shed Stick Works
To explain how the shed stick works, let’s first discuss the setup of the warp for weaving. Warp threads are the vertical threads that are strung on the loom under tension. The weaving is produced by passing a weft thread, which runs horizontally, alternately over and under the warp threads. Every row alternates which threads were passed over and under in the previous row.
When the warp is placed on the loom, it is often wrapped around a board or rod. This means that one row of warp threads is behind the other. There is one that runs in the back of the rod and one that runs in front of it. The space between the two rows is called the shed. This is the area where the weft passes through during the weaving process.
To create the alternating over and under rows, it is necessary for the threads in the back to be pulled in front of the warp threads on the front of the rod every other time the weft is passed through. The threads in the back are often tied to a heddle rod that can be lifted to pull the back thread to the front.
Each time the threads are switched, it creates a shed for the weft to be passed through. These are often referred to as the “pull” shed and the “open” shed. When the pull shed is being used, the weft passes through one set of warp threads in the “up” position. When the open shed is being used, the weft passes through the opposite set of threads in the “up” position.
Sometimes the two sheds are created using two heddle rods or a heddle tool. Other times, heddle rods are not used at all, and the shed stick is used to create the two sheds. To do this, the point is used to pick up every other thread. It is laid parallel to the warp threads and used to pick up the threads to be in the up position. Then, the sword is turned so that it is perpendicular to the warp threads. This creates the shed, or space, through which to pass the weft threads.
Sometimes, the weaver will use the shed stick to create both sheds, and sometimes they will use a heddle rod for one shed and the shed stick to create the other shed. There are many different ways to do it, and there is no right or wrong way. The shed stick makes it easier to create the sheds than by picking up every warp thread by hand.
Now, you understand a bit more about what the weaver is doing when you see a carpet being created. Please feel free to look around and enjoy our magnificent selection of hand-crafted carpets.