Warp Speed Ahead

Warping The Loom

Blue is the first shape to weave. Black is my hem.

Blue is the first shape to weave. Black is my hem.

I have my Loom built, my cartoon prepared, yarns picked out, and I’m ready to start weaving.  All I need is a warp on my loom to weave.  I’ve decided to warp my loom with 8 ends per inch.  This is a comfortable number for me, and most weft-faced projects I’ve done have been on this set.  One way to determine the proper set for the weft is to hold the weft between the warps.  If it fills the space, then you should have a good fit.  I’ve chosen a wool blend for my weft, and while I’m accustomed to a wool warp I’ve chosen Cotton Seine.  There are three projects on this DVD, and I plan to complete all of them.  I’ve decided to use two of the projects to make a pillow.  I have something special in mind to join them together, and I’ll share it when the time comes.  Once I have my loom assembled and adjusted to allow for “take-up” as I weave, I check to be certain it’s level.

Attempting to warp by going around and around the loom

Attempting to warp by going around and around the loom

Many tapestries on this type of loom are warped by taking the warp material around and around the frame (in a circle).  In most instances, there are half as many rounds around the loom as ends per inch – then the warp in front and behind are brought together.  Alternately, you can wrap around the same amount of times as ends per inch and have enough warp to weave the front and back.  I opt for the later so I’ll have my next project already warped and ready to weave.  Once I had two inches warped I realized I had a difficult time maintaining proper warp distance and I kept loosing count (embarrassing), also the tension was a real issue.  So I took my small amount of warp off and decided to warp half as much would be just fine, but keeping an even tension was still an issue.  So I removed what little I had warped the second time.  Finally, I decided to warp as I would for Navajo weaving, sans the twinning and lashing.  The loom is warped in a figure-8 fashion for Navajo weaving, I think this method is superior in keeping an even tension.  This proved to be the best way for me.  I can practically do this in my sleep.

Loom warped with sticks to preserve the sheds

Loom warped with sticks to preserve the sheds

Once my loom is warped I slid two sticks in to preserve the crisscross or my two sheds.  Since this isn’t Navajo weaving, the top stick will be pushed down for the bottom shed and I’ll form a new one on the top.  I used some warp to run from the left side of the frame to the right, going through my first shed, then back a total of three times.  This helps space my warp at the bottom of the loom and gives me something even to beat against.  After I manipulate the warp with the tip of a bobbin to establish proper spacing, I tie double half hitch knots around warp pairs to secure the base of the weaving.  I prepare a string heddle for one shed, and I leave the top shed stick in place to hold the alternate shed.  These two sheds are aptly named a pull shed, and a stick shed.

Double half hitches on warp pairs

Double half hitches on warp pairs

Weaving a hem at the base will spread the warp out to the proper spacing and give me a band to fold under.  I weave the hem with the same yarn I’ll use to weave the body of the tapestry.  After weaving row after row, I realize the yarn is too soft to use for the tapestry.  While I could make it work, it will take twice as long and over-complicate my project.  I decided to nix the yarn I had set aside and use the Brown Sheep brand yarn I use for Navajo weaving.  I know this will work for the warp set I have and be firm enough.  I’ll use the other yarn for a different project.  Once I have the warp spaced out with the hem I’m ready to start weaving.  I hung the prepared cartoon from the top beam, lining the bottom line with the top of the hem.  Now I can get started weaving my project.  I’m excited about this project.  It is full of curves and slopes.  Once I can tackle these slopes, I’ll be well on my way to creating many of the projects floating in my mind.

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