Before I start this post, let me apologize for the number of pictures. This page is probably taking forever to load. I promise that they’re necessary and interesting…
In production weaving, it’s normal to settle on a threading pattern and avoid having to rethread every project. You tie one warp onto the next and pull it through the heddles and reed at once. This reduces threading errors and saves time. This warp join was tied by hand – 2400 threads, 1200 little knots.
In May, I was reading a post on Sandra Rude’s blog entitled More on the Boyce Weaver’s Knotter. It sounded like such a useful device that I decided to get one, especially if I could find it cheap.
I went to eBay and did a search for “weavers knotter”. I set up “My eBay” to notify me of any new listings that matched. If you’ve never done this, it’s like magic. When someone, somewhere in the world decides to sell the item on eBay, you get an email a few hours later. How cool is that!? Well, one showed up last week in Brooklyn. (The first one to appear in three months, I might add…) I was the only bidder and paid about $40 including shipping. It arrived in perfect working order, but with enough wear that I know it’s seen years of good use already.
This device is left over from the days when the U.S. had a lot of textile mills. It is designed for precisely the use that I’m making of it: weavers used them to repair broken warp threads quickly and with no “tails” to snarl the weaving. If they tied whole warps together, you can bet they used it for that, too. It’s pretty simple to operate: you lay two threads into it and pull the trigger. It ties them together and snips off the tails.
(Pay no attention to the one long thumb nail in these pictures. It’s very convenient for someone who spends all day fiddling with thread.)
Here’s a step-by-step photo essay of the workings inside the device as it goes through its motions.
Two threads ready to be tied together. They are just laid on either side of the big black guide hook on top.
Plates on either side push the red thread under the green one.
The tiny “finger hook” inserts itself between the two threads as it turns
It keeps turning, getting ready to grab the green thread
The green thread enters the fingers
This is a little tough to see. The fingers have clamped onto the green thread and now a tiny pair of scissors on the far side of the device trims the thread ends. If I wasn’t holding the camera in my left hand, I would be holding those tails, ready to toss them into the trash after they’re cut.
After cutting, a blunt hook comes up between the two threads to pull the red thread and tighten the knot. (At the beginning, when the red thread got pushed under the green, the pushing mechanism clamped onto both threads. This clamp is holding the thread as the hook tightens the knot.)
The hook continues its motion, pulling the knot up and clear of the mechanisms.
When the trigger is released, the whole device resets itself and the clamps release the two threads which are now tied into a sturdy knot.
The whole operation happens in about half a second. To tie the same knot by hand takes 5-10 seconds without trimming the tails (if I’m quick, that is). Multiply that by 1200 threads in a 60″ warp and this little device will speed it up by over two hours. And since it’s already nearly 100 years old, I think it will serve me well for many years to come.
Keeping Threads Organized