August 19th, 2015

Warp Speed Ahead

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Greetings from the Weaving Room! Let’s talk warping, shall we? I’m not talking about how to get it on the loom, but figuring out how much you need. It’s one of those things that seems so basic once you know how to do it, but until you cross that threshold of ‘knowing’, it can feel as intimidating as solving algebraic equations the first time. I am here to be your empathetic life coach and gently show you that you can be the master of this, you can free yourself and weave 4 towels when the draft is written for 2, and you can use online tools to help!

Begin with what you are making. How about some towels? I want them to be 28″ long when they are finished – off the loom, hemmed and washed. Hemmed (or fringed) means that I actually weave a bit more cloth to turn under for the hems or leave out for fringe. That means I will add 2 more inches (1″ for each end) to the total length for each.

Figuring warp yardage, some simple measurements and a handy online calculator. Read more on the WEBS Blog at blog.yarn.com

Now, how many towels do you want? We’ll go with a lovely set of 4 for Aunt Betsy and 2 for me, but remember the finishing I mentioned above? We have to account for that, too. When you take the cloth off the loom, the yarn relaxes and there is some take up where it goes over and under the weft threads rather than lying in a straight line. Additionally, the towels will probably shrink some in the wash. It’s important to allow for this in your planning. A general rule of thumb is to add 10 – 15% to the length of your warp.

Finally, we arrive at the all-important ‘loom waste’. This is the beginning and end part of the warp that attaches to the loom, but is never woven. It runs from the warp beam in back to the back of the heddles, and in the front it is the amount used to tie the ends to the front apron rod. Necessary, but never part of the woven project, this amount must be added to your total warp length. You may know the amount your loom uses for waste, and in cases of yarn shortages or expensive threads you may want to measure it precisely. But for most floor looms 36″ is sufficient unless your loom is very deep.

You can use this handy calculator from Weavolution to do all the math for you, but here we come to the part where I beseech you to err on the side of excess. I round up to whole numbers, partly because it’s just simpler with my warping board, but mostly because of the freedom it gives me to play with weft colors, different treadlings and sett. And – gasp – I will often add an extra yard just for such purpose.

And that’s how simple it is! And now that you get that part, you’ll see how easy it is to take a draft for 2 towels and add enough warp to make four.

Go forth and warp with confidence.

Leslie Ann
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Leslie Ann

Weaving and Spinning Manager at WEBS - America's Yarn Store
I came to WEBS as a knitter around the turn of the century and have added weaving and spinning to my fiber passions. I love to feel color running through my hands and delight in the daily inspiration of colleagues and customers. Working in the fiber candy store is a good balance to home life with a spunky teen daughter about to get her driver's license.
Leslie Ann
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