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.
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.
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.