Twill Warp

23 Jan

The current project on the loom is 15 yards of basic twill. This is my first non-tabby weaving project ever. It feels like moving from the kids table to the grown-ups table at Thanksgiving. The warp is all sorts of different grey tones, with cream, brown, and black accents.

I wove and cut off two blankets just before Christmas, which left about 11 yards of warp. The next phase is weaving up eight yards to make a long-length double-breasted winter coat. I’m using a hand-spun weft, which I’m spinning as I go along.

The most time-consuming part of the entire process is picking the washed wool apart. I purchased scoured fleece, and I don’t think I’ll do that again. The first issue is that it’s not just one fleece – it’s a mix of lots of different fleeces, and some of them are too course for my projects, and some area really fine. The second issue a lot of little pills, blobs, and little felted bits. I’ll take the nuisance and occasional grossness of washing a whole fleece right off the sheep over dealing with lots of little  nubblies any day.

The original plan was to have this warp done by the end of February. I’m trying to move up the deadline because it’s cold and I want to be able to wear this project ASAP. I have to pick three ounces of wool a day to meet the new deadline of mid-February. I have a feeling there is a lot of movie-watching in my immediate future.

I am pleased to report that the warp has fully recovered from the worming incident. I had a nice lesson-learned moment, and wanted to share both the problem I ran into and the solution.

I started this project using a ten dent reed. 99% of the yarns in my warp worked fine with that spacing, but a 1% failure rate is enough to take all the fun out of the project. The culprit was a black rayon/cotton blend yarn with big slubby bits in it. The ten-dent reed didn’t allow enough room for the slubs, and the yarn reacted by shredding, over-stretching, and generally not participating in my woven fabric.

It was clear I needed to change reeds, but this meant I had a mathematical proportion problem. When I started out with ten warp ends per inch (e.p.i. in weaving jargon) and a ten dent reed, I had one space in the reed for each thread.  When I needed to change over to my 8-dent reed, the ratio of threads per inch and spaces in the reed didn’t match up any more – I had two extra ends per inch.

To solve the problem, I put one thread through per space for three spaces in the reed, and then doubled up the next two. I repeated this pattern across the whole warp. I still have my ten ends per inch even on an eight dent reed.

It’s generally a good idea to keep your spacing even if you can. If I’d had one, a five dent reed with two threads in each space would have made a more even spacing than my threading solution (i.e. your spacing would be 22222 rather than 11121112). The spots where you have two threads together can make a ridge in your final fabric.

That’s it for today’s update and helpful hint. Happy crafting!