Using Crammed and Spaced Warp Threads

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Warmth is such a relative thing. When I was growing up in Maine, the first close-to-spring day that registered over 50 degrees found us running about in t-shirts and shorts like it was mid-July. That same 50-degree day in September, however, was cause to break out a wooly sweater and a pair of jeans. My Sweetheart and I are hoping to have our wedding ceremony outside next month, but what Mother Nature has in store for us is anyone’s guess. We do have a back-up plan, but there’s a fairly good chance either way that a warm wrap might come in handy.

According to my mother, I can be a bit too practical at times, and so while I was determined to make myself a wedding wrap out of something in my stash, I was fortunate that I have had a few less-than-practical moments of yarn buying on which to fall back.  Cue my weakness: Habu Textiles. I have been saving for the right project, 1,900 yards of a soft and fluffy 2-ply sport weight wool yarn from Habu, in a lovely cream that will go nicely with my dress. The time has come to warp it up.

The more I weave, the more I understand how much of a particular yarn a project will require. When I first started weaving, I would stare at a wall of cones of weaving yarn and not even know where to begin. Plus, I was intimidated about the idea of asking someone to wind off 20 ounces of something when I had no idea what that meant. I started getting into the habit of pawing through my options and selecting cones that didn’t have much yarn left on them. I would then just buy the whole cone and hope I could piece all of the bits together into something interesting. I hadn’t quite figured out that sometimes it’s easier to plan your project, at least in rough estimates, before you go yarn shopping. Once you are familiar with your materials, it is far easier to improvise.

I keep a detailed record of every project I weave. This includes yarn samples, in addition to warp and weft calculations, tie-up and treadling sequences, pre- and post-wash dimensions, and other helpful details and observations. In many cases I also have a woven sample. When you are calculating how many yards of yarn you will need, it can be tricky to get an accurate result unless you understand how your yarn will react to wet finishing. I always try and remember to note actual shrinkage after wet finishing, so that if I use that same material for a project at a later date, my calculations will be more accurate. This might sound a bit tedious, but I like the science of it. I may not be a great weaver, but I am a great researcher. This is also an excellent excuse to use when yarn shopping. “I had to buy this Malabrigo, (insert pet name). It’s for a research project.” You see? Easy.

So all of that said, I just finished weaving up the wedding wrap and nearly dunked it into my tub of soapy warm water without taking measurements. Tsk. It’s just that sometimes I get so excited to see what will happen to my weaving once it’s transformed in the water, that my brain goes all fuzzy.

The Project

This project focuses on an easy way to create texture by cramming together and spacing out your warp threads. Referred to so aptly as “crammed and spaced”, this technique can easily be woven on your rigid heddle or floor loom. I wanted to create a wider wrap, so I used the full width of my Baby Wolf, but you could easily modify the width for a smaller loom.

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I opted to weave a 2/2 twill, but you could also weave this project in plain weave. If you’d like to weave twill on your Flip, Jane gave excellent instructions on weaving twill with two heddles in her blog, Violet Rose (http://www.schachtspindle.com/blog/2009/02/twill-on-rigid-heddle-loom.html). And while she didn’t think it was practical to weave a 2/2 twill, you could easily weave this in a 3-1 twill as described in Jane’s instructions.

Yarn: Habu Textiles #A-89B soft wool, color kinari, 109 yds/oz, 1,900 yards.

I used this yarn in both the warp and weft, and I am head over heels in love with the result. It so beautifully squishy and soft, that I actually had a hard time sending it off to Jane for the article. You could use any sport weight yarn appropriate for weaving and wearing against the skin with this project.

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Warp: 3 yards

Sett: Over 26” I sleyed my 12-dent reed in one inch segments as follows:

Inch 1: 12 epi

Inch 2: 24 epi

Inch 3: 12 epi

Inch 4: 6 epi (leave every other dent empty)

Inch 5: 12 epi

Inch 6: 24 epi

Inch 7: 12 epi

Inch 8: 6 epi

Inch 9: 12 epi

Inch 10: 24 epi

Inch 11: 12 epi

Inch 12: 6 epi

Inch 13: 12 epi

Rather than continue this pattern across, I opted to create the mirror image of the pattern by repeating the epi listed above in reverse. So inch 14 = inch 13, inch 15 = inch 12 and so on. You can create your own sequence depending on how wide your project is. Also, when tying your warp threads to the apron rod, you’ll need to make a bit of extra effort to get the tension of the crammed inches right.

Note: When threading, you will thread each thread in its own heddle. Thread straight draw, 1, 2, 3, 4, repeat.

When weaving a 2/2 twill, if you start your shuttle at the left selvedge, and begin treadling at 2-3 in your sequence, you’ll catch all of your warp threads. I’m still floating selvedge averse.  2/2 twill means: that you’ll lift harnesses 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-1, repeat.

A note for rigid heddle weavers: you can double the ends in your reed, but you can’t separate the ends in the slot. For example, two ends in a slot will be woven as one double end.

Weave the entire length of your warp, beating evenly. The crammed inches may give you a slightly uneven fell line (where your reed meets your weaving). Just keep beating firmly.

I opted to hemstitch both edges of my wrap in groups of three threads. Instruction can be found in Lesson Two, if you are so inclined. Be sure to hemstitch your starting edge before you wrap it onto the cloth beam. I also opted for a tiny little fringe. I didn’t want a big fringe-y look, but my yarn was really too squishy to get a good flat hem that would drape nicely. So tiny fringe it is. I like it. It’s different. I am a bit fan of using a square and a rotary cutter to get a nice even fringe. I always wash my project before cutting the final fringe so that the yarn can settle into place, and I get a nice even edge.

Pre-wash measurements:  23” x 73 1/4”

I hand washed my wrap in warm water and wool friendly soap, spun the water out in the spin cycle of my washer, and set it out to dry on my drying rack.

Post-wash measurements: 19 7/8” x 67”

I did not press my fabric. The crammed and spaced areas cause it to pucker just a bit, and I like the texture.  It truly is true love!

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Melissa Ludden Hankens

You can find Melissa designing weaving projects for the Schacht blog and E-news. Melissa is also online at www.mlhankens.com and on Instagram as mlhankens (https://www.instagram.com/mlhankens/ ).