Peggy’s Weaving Tips > Sett: making your weaving easier

This is a weaving trick for sett used in industry: a balanced looking fabric is actually a bit more warp predominant than precisely balanced. It looks balanced at a glance, but upon inspection, you will see that there are more warps per inch than wefts per inch. We handweavers can use this principle, too. And I almost always do when I want a generally balanced weave. The way to achieve this is to take 80% of the maximum sett using the Ashenhurst method.

Why it’s so wonderful to weave with a slightly closer warp sett:

  1. The edges of the cloth (selvedges) don’t draw in as much, so the selvedges don’t break. The extra warps hold out the warp width.
  2. You don’t have to make sure the weft is put in very loosely. The natural diagonal the shuttle makes when you throw it through, from the last row of weaving to the beater, is usually enough slack for the weft’s pathway. (If the weft is put in without any slack, it will pull in the edges of your cloth.)
  3. There is less trouble with warp breakage. Fragile warp threads can be used because there are more of them to pull their weight on the job.
  4. There are fewer wefts (picks) per inch so the weaving goes faster. Now, don’t those reasons sound enticing?

In general, whenever I’m debating between two numbers for a sett, I’ll choose the denser number for the above reasons. That means, if I were debating between 6 and 8 epi, I’d tend to choose the higher number of 8. If I’m weaving an open shawl, however, I want it more open than the 80% number, for sure. Of course, my sample will be the ultimate test.

When you don’t want to use the 80% figure

You need to account for the texture of the thread when you are considering how low a sett to choose (minimum sett). Hairy yarns wouldn’t be good for the 80%. Woolens are meant to shrink, so the 80% wouldn’t work for them either. Smooth, slippery silk or rayon threads need to be sett closer than 80% (more warps per inch) than woolens because the slippery yarns will create unwanted spaces after you wash your cloth (called slippage), spaces that hairy yarns would fill up.

More information in Weaving for Beginners and Book #1: Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle.


1 thought on “Peggy’s Weaving Tips > Sett: making your weaving easier”

  1. I’m trying to figure weft amount needed for a scarf but don’t know how to get the PPI. The yarn is probably no longer produced but it is pearl cotton OPERA, 50g/230m, made in Portugal by COATS and has a fairly tight twist. I did a wrap at 36 wpi, I’d like to weave a twill so thought of setting it at 22-24 epi but have no idea how many PPI I would get. Is there a way of at least approximating the PPI without having to do a sample? There is an estate sale tomorrow with tubs and tubs of yarn and I’d like to take advantage of this but only if I know how much of a specific yarn I would need for a project.
    Many thanks, Donna


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