Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Warp to weave

Where to begin?

There has been a Weavers' Study Group in The South Jersey Guild of Spinners and Handweavers off and on for years but there was concern that enthusiasm was flagging. The community is great. Study and growth, not so much. 

The study group leader, Helena, and I wondered why. To find out, we surveyed guild members who had indicated interest in weaving. We wanted buy-in and we wanted to know what the weavers wanted to do. And to help plan a program, we also wanted to know what kind of equipment is in use? What are the levels of expertise? What are  comfort levels reading a draft and warping a loom? And what kind of project are members most interested in pursuing?

As expected, we found a wide range of interests, equipment and abilities. So where to start?  Several people didn't feel comfortable reading a draft or warping a loom by themselves and certain, we settled on a program that started with the basics--reading a draft and warping a loom. A weaver can't do one without the other. 

Weaving Basics: Warp to Weave

The resulting program started with drafts and progressed through warping a loom. Helena  walked everyone through reading a draft. She included both commonly found types of drafts, American and Swedish. Then we moved on to warping.

We talked about nitty-gritty preparations ranging from how to calculate uptake, etc. through winding a warp, tying a cross, and securing the warp. And as we talked, we did it. 

An interesting point of discussion centered on calculations and was a repeat of a conversation between Helena and me: How to calculate for take-up and shrinkage in a project's width. For years, I've simply added about 15 percent. Online calculators such as Weavolution also use what I'm calling 'the add-on' amount. But another way of calculating the width is to consider the desired width as 85 percent of the total, which would calculate take-up and shrinkage by dividing the total width by 0.85. 

The numbers don't differ a great deal on smaller items, but on a wider piece could be significant. Of course, these calculations aren't necessary if the diligent weaver has made a sample and processed it. Raise your hand if you always do that. I didn't think so.

When it comes to warping a loom, several participants seemed relieved that the process is not an 'either/or.' In fact, there is only one absolute to warping a loom and that is to maintain control of the threads until they're threaded and beamed. 

Personal preference guides whether to warp back-to-front or front-to-back, too. Experienced weavers more commonly start at the back of the loom but that doesn't mean starting at the front is wrong. It's not. 


As weavers share, each of us constantly picks up tips or a little trick to make the job easier. For me, it was shoelaces. Tying them on the front beam and using them as connectors makes it easy to adjust tension. Great tip. Thank you, Helena. (Click here to see how one weaver explains it.)

We moved on to demonstrate warping the loom. I had an undressed loom and a wound warp and Helena had brought a loom that was mostly warped so we could move from the getting it on the back beam to threading.

If you're in the South Jersey are, join us on the first Saturday of each month. And if not, look for a guild near you.

Click to access the Warp to Weave handout, which also has links to online resources, including one to a video on warping a loom back-to-front.

No comments:

Post a Comment