A Sampler vs Samples

One reader suggested I talk a bit about sampling. How much to make, wasting “good” yarn, when and why, etc. etc.You can save yourself a lot of heart ache if you make a sample before weaving something and find out that it shrinks too much, or “doesn’t turn out.” You might make a sampler or weave samples. Read below how the two are different.

Beginning Sampler (click to enlarge)

A sampler is generally a warp designed to sample a variety of weaves and ideas. I’m making one in the studio right now. I feel like it’s a big gamble because I don’t know how it will turn out. But because it’s “only a sample”, there is no pressure to make it wonderful (although I hope it will be) and I can be free to try anything. I am not sure about the sett for what I’m visualizing so I need to weave with the sett I decided on and see if it works for me. I am worried that my sett is too open–but I know I can try different techniques (eg.fatter wefts, or beat lighter) if I don’t like the initial look. I can re-sley the reed if necessary. My warp is only 4″ wide so I’m not wasting much yarn–and 3 yards long. I planned the length to try to get a good piece or two after my sampling.
The sampler I have all my beginning weavers make  is shown in the illustration and is found beginning on page 93 in Weaving for Beginners.

Sampling: I had a student this week who wanted to make a baby blanket. Since it is a fairly wide project I suggested that she make the warp a little longer and weave a sample at the beginning and cut it off and wash it and be sure it suits her. If it shrinks too much or doesn’t look right. She can then make changes before weaving the entire project without wasting all the yarn and time. Use the two-stick heading from my new book, Weaving for Beginners, to reconnect the warp without wasting yarn to tie the threads back onto the front apron rod. You cannot make a narrow sample and expect the information to directly translate to a wide warp. Since there will be more friction in the reed, the wefts in a wide warp won’t pack down in the same way as for a narrow warp. I suggest allowing 6-8 inches, minimum for the sample. I really like to add an extra yard for sampling. That allows plenty to sample at the beginning and usually there is warp left for me to try out more ideas at the end. (This is when I am the most creative.)

Optical Illusiion Weavings

Optical Illusion (click to enlarge)

These three little pieces were in my show. The triangles and rectangles were woven with a simple inlay technique. That is, the yarns for the shapes were on separate bobbins or in butterflies and put into the regular weft sheds where needed. I’ve played with transparency and illusions over the years. It fascinates me.

Sett (ends per inch) and Ashenhurst

There is a comment asking for more information and clarification about sett and Ashenhurst and  various sett charts in other sources. My reply follows. What do you find confusing about my descriptions in my Book #1, Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle, and in my new book, Weaving for Beginners? Your input will help me address all of this.

Most sett (ends per inch) information is determined by the yarn and the structure. We know twill and plain weave require different setts. When a different weave structure is described, usually the appropriate sett for the structure is given–eg. “use a plain weave sett”, or “use a sett more open than plain weave”. When a sett chart gives 3 setts, two are the usual plain weave and twill which we might think of as medium and close. The third sett may say for lace, but we could also think of it as open. So, for a given yarn you are given 3 options for each yarn–depending upon the weave structure. Ashenhurst offers a way to calculate the sett and gives more specific setts for various purposes. The words, calculation and purpose are the operative words here. A yarn for plain weave for upholstery would require a different (closer) sett than for a delicate shawl. With the three-choices charts, you might choose the open or lace sett for the shawl, but you wouldn’t know what to use for upholstery.
Can anyone help me with my discussion of Ashenhurt? Do you understand what he calls diameters? Where should I start to clear up this important, important subject?

I look forward to hearing from you.

I am Weaving–Hooray!

Neal Howard Warp (click to enlarge)

I’m weaving a lovely warp I bought as a kit at Convergence in Albuquerque last summer. It was made by Neal Howard. She dyed three warps and told how to thread them in the heddles to integrate them. Each one is different, so it is great fun to weave along and see the color changes–in one or all of the stripes.

Neal Warp Showing Separate Selvedges

I’m not following her idea–so I’ll report later if my idea for the cloth works out. Dyeing is Neal’s speciality– I bought one of her jackets at the previous Convergence. She offers yarns and woven pieces.

Japanese Spool Collection

Silk Spools (click on to enlarge)

I have a small collection of the spools that fit my various Japanese spool winders. The dark one on the left goes with the Mingei winder in yesterday’s post. There are two spools that don’t fit any of them.

Very Large Spool

One is huge–18″ high and has fiber wound on it that I think might be wisteria vine thread. I also have a tiny one–about3″ tall. I have no idea whether it is a toy or a real piece of equipment.

Plastic and Wooden Spools

The white one in the picture is plastic and the size of the regular spools–about 5-6″ tall. It comes apart so can be stored as the legs and the center pieces.

Warping Paddles

Slot and Hole Paddle

For many weavers, “paddle” is a mysterious word. Perhaps they’ve tried and never quite figured out how to make it work. It may have seemed awkward, confusing—but always seductive. How liberating to be able to warp multiple ends at once! But keeping one thread organized and moving freely onto the warping board or reel can be a challenge—how much

All Holes Paddle

more dexterity it must take to manage four or six or a dozen! But that is exactly the advantage of using a paddle. The paddle lets you measure many threads with every pass up and down the board or reel. Becoming proficient with the paddle need not take any special dexterity—in fact, its use has developed precisely because it acts as an extension of your own hand. See the Weaving Tip: Why Use a Paddle?

See Chapter 1: Using a Paddle, in my Book #1, Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle.

Weaving and Teaching Studios Update

I’ve decided to give up one room–my teaching studio. I think I began to notice how much I had accumulated when I posted the photos of my studios in December. I realized that both rooms were filled with stuff that I no longer needed. So, I gave notice and will give up the teaching room on March 1st.
Today I gave up 400 pounds of very good weaving yarn! There is a bit more to go, plus magazines and other stuff. It felt good. Now I know what I’m likely to want and it is time to pass on what I thought I might need someday to younger weavers who can actually use it (or keep it for their own “someday”).


Jim Ahrens’ Warping Reel

My Weaving Studio (click to enlarge)

In my photo of my studio, Jennifer Hill noticed my warping reel which Jim Ahrens built and used. She wrote: “Is that a warping mill attached at ceiling and floor in the back? Can you give whys and wherefores of having it so tall, but having only a smallish section to wind on the warp? Or am I totally mis-identifying the tool?”

It is indeed a warping mill or reel. It is so tall because Jim was tall. He liked a vertical reel (gravity helps when winding) so made his to be attached at the floor and at the ceiling.

There are two reasons why the section for winding the warp is small. First, he used fine silk threads like the ones I’ve been using–at around 100 epi or so. The threads are so tiny they don’t build up much on the reel which allows for more spirals that can be made closer together.

The other reason is that he only wound one section for his sectional beam at a time. This is a technique he talked a lot about because a lot of spools aren’t needed. He called it “Combining Sectional and Plain Beaming.”  You see, you wind one section’s worth on the reel just like normal. Then take it off and put it in a section on the beam. I’ve described his method in Chapter 12 of my Book #2, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps. In a post to follow I’ll talk about a modification of this technique that is more weaver friendly.


An Illustration Found!

I have been very unhappy that an illustration in my Book #2, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps, wasn’t correct. Today,  I found the correct version of the illustration in my own Book #3, Weaving & Designing Your Own Cloth.
It’s on page 43. See the comment I got about this technique.

Concept for Tying On New Warps Behind the Heddles

The incorrect illustration is  in the Tying On New Warps chapter, right at the beginning. (Page 99, Figure 142.)  It is meant to show the concept for tying on new warp threads BEHIND THE HEDDLES. It really is a much better way of doing it. Most weavers don’t know about this method. Read more in the Weaving Tips section of the blog. Here is the way the illustration should be.


Search Button

Today I put up a new question–about what to do when the warp is too big for the warping board. When I was going back and forth doing the editing, I could find my place with the Search Button on the home page. Try searching for bouts.
Clicking on the link will get you there, of course, but if you want to search the whole blog for a word or phrase, use that handy button. It’s on the right side near the top, right under “Ask Peggy.”

I spent all afternoon on this one question and answer–I sure hope things get easier. At one point I lost everything. Often what my teacher told me I’d see wasn’t there and something else was–and wouldn’t go away. What a day!!


Option for a Skein Too Tangled to Unwind

Instead of giving up on a skein that is too tangled to unwind, I cut it which gave me a large hunk of yarn. Then I broke down that hunk into smaller hunks–some about the thickness of a pencil, some fatter, and some thinner.  I cut them to the sizes I wanted. Then I laid them into the sheds in various ways. This can be seen in my silk pieces in the gallery section of this blog.
I also used this idea when I cut off a warp that was a “dog on the loom”.  In that case, I just used the hunks of warp as thick wefts–didn’t cut them and have them extending outside the selvedges.