Table loom weaving gets high tech – custom software

In my earlier post, I wrote about a liftplan and how it helped me save time when it came to working the levers of my table loom.

So I finally had my next project set up, and I  happily had a printout of my lift plan next to me, along with a nifty ruler so I wouldn’t lose my place.

After only minutes of weaving, I was struggling – I was losing my place often, and I would squint at the printout, not sure what line the ruler was on. Actually the ruler bothered me quite a bit. When I set my shuttle down, I had to use both hands to adjust it properly to the next line. Often I had wondered if I had woven the line the ruler was on or if I should have moved it forward.

An answer came to me in a heartbeat. The execution would be another story.

During my spare time, I craft a lot. Before the interest in the textile crafts, I was creating images in my darkroom, or playing instruments. But my day job – and what I studied, was computer engineering.

It may sound like crafting and engineering are not alike at all but in some ways they are. Learning to program as a career provided a (in my mind at the time) an easily sustainable way to create things.

What I was making was virtual and just a long series of 1’s and 0’s but I was applying specialized knowledge to create software from my own design. Just like a weaver weaves so that they can make their own unique cloth, I could make a program that reacted and looked exactly the way I wanted it to.

And that’s what I turned to to solve my weaving problem.

It took some time to get it going. Programming is an involving effort, much like many other crafts. The above is the main screen of what I wrote.

I thought it would be great if a program could just feed me, one at a time, what levers I had to depress. I didn’t have to deal with flipping a liftplan or wondering what row I was on – the computer screen would always tell me – I just had to worry about advancing the pattern.

I can go backwards, and I can note which line of the treadling I’m on in the bottom left corner of the seqeuence if I want to return and don’t know where I left off.

Later on I entered a system to keep track of how much fabric I have wovem. Once I measure off a recently completed woven section, I hit spacebar and i get the following dialog:

Then the number I input is added to the bottom right corner of the screen.

And entering the pattern couldn’t be any more easier. This is the Pattern Input Dialog:

All I do is draw the tie-up with the mouse and write down my treadling sequence. Voila! The program basically calculates its own lift plan and shows the sequences to me one at a time.

And since I can make the program look any way I want, I chose to depict the levers in positions that would correspond with my voyageur loom. I also colored the levers to close approximations of what the levers look like on my actual loom. It’s surprisingly easy to look at the screen and set up the levers properly.

With this system, I believe I have set up my table loom weaving to be as fast as it possibly can. I still have to set the shuttle down. I still have to flip the levers. I also have to advance the sequence on the software. But I have freed my hands any way to flip the levers – so that last point is not so much an issue. If only I can get my hands on a usb foot pedal.. 😉

It would also be nice to implement some sort of save feature!…one rainy day…