It can be really scary to make the leap from pattern to original design- and not because you do not have wonderful ideas bursting forth but more because it is sometimes difficult to know where to begin. One of the biggest stumbling blocks can be the amount of materials to gather. Materials can be very expensive and/or difficult to get. A lot of times they need to be ordered or special trips need to be made to stores outside our normal routines. And what could be worse than getting near the end of a project only to discover your warp is too short! (Trust me, it's awful. It happens and it is awful.) However, with a little planning (and yes, a little math) you can move forward in the creative process with confidence. This post will be part of a multi-post series about planning for a project. This post is going to focus on calculating warp length. To follow this post will be small tutorials on weft length, color choices, sampling and fiber content considerations.
Step 1: What are you weaving? How big would you like it?
Knowing what you are going to weave is really important in deciding the width and length of your project. A scarf is different from a wrap which is different from a curtain which is different from a placemat. How about if you want more than one item on a single warp? There are resources that list the standard sizes for most garments, accessories and kitchen items, or you can decide a custom size that you, the artist would enjoy.
Once you know what you are weaving and what size you would like the finished item to be, you're ready to start writing things down, gathering information and really getting into the planning of your project.
Step 2: Width in the Reed
When you weave, you must make considerations for draw-in and shrinkage. This can change drastically based on your weave structure, fiber choice and finishing techniques. The surest way to know what shrinkage you can expect is to sample. Not only does this help you to decide width in your reed and warp length, but it also gives you crucial information for your weft, which we will discuss in a later post. However, I do understand that sampling on a loom is not always easy or practical, especially if you need to order materials in advance of the project. The good news is you can make some good estimates and achieve a close approximation to your desired final project size. (And make sure to take notes, that way if you ever plan a project with similar structure and materials, you'll have sample information in your previous work.) Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself though; why do we care about shrinkage?
If you want your project to be a certain width, let's say a scarf that is 10 inches across, you need to warp your loom wider than this final measurement so that there is room to shrink when all of the draw-in and finishing is complete. So for that 10-inch scarf you may need to have a 12-inch weaving width, giving two inches for draw-in and shrinkage. Like I said, sampling is the best way to know what kind of shrinkage to expect from your materials. However, you need not try to reinvent the wheel, you can always look at reference materials of similar structures and fiber to see how much shrinkage those projects experienced and model your plans from there. If exact length and width is not critical (but this can be risky) you can assume a percentage. This approximation must consider your weave structure and finishing techniques, as well. If I go this route, I typically assume a 10-20% shrinkage depending on the fiber, structure and finishing. Silk shrinks very little and would be closer to 10% in my calculations but wool typically shrinks a lot and would likely get closer to 20% in my calculations. To use a percentage, whether determined from sampling or close estimation, you would use an equation that looks something like this:
Desired Final Width + (Desired Final Width x Percentage of Expected Shrinkage Converted to Decimal)= Weaving Width In Reed
In real numbers for our example, that might look something like this:
10 inches + (10 inches x 0.2) = 12 inches
So, for the example scarf, I would need to center for a 12-inch weaving width in my reed.
Step 3: Dent Size
The sett of your project is determined by your reed. Sett refers to the number of threads or ends per inch (epi) there are for your cloth. If you are using a 12-dent reed and warp one thread per dent, then you will finish with 12 threads in an inch or, more formally, 12 epi. There are other scenarios that can affect the calculation of your epi, such as if you wish to sley two or more ends in a single dent. There are charts available that give recommended ranges of epi for various warp threads. The most complete I have found is the "Master Yarn Chart" by Handwoven of Long Thread Media. These recommended ranges allow you to plan for what would be an appropriate dent size for your desired thread. Included are ranges for lace, plain and twill weaves and the chart is organized by fiber type. If you wish to weave a denser than average plain weave, you would need to move to a higher than recommended epi count. Likewise, if wish to weave a looser than average plain weave, you would need to move to a smaller epi count than the recommended number.
Once you have your appropriate dent-size chosen and you know how many ends you would like to sley per dent, you can begin to calculate how many threads in total you will need for your project.
Step 4: Put Steps 2 and 3 Together
Now that you know how wide you want your project in the reed and what dent-size you are using, you can calculate how many ends you will need to measure out for your project. This calculation is for both direct and indirect warping methods as it is simply the number of warp threads for your project independent of your warping style. However, when using a direct warping method, it is important to remember that each journey out to your peg contains 2 warp ends just as the journey to and fro on a warping board also contains two warp ends. The equation you will use is as follows:
Ends per inch (epi) x total width= number of warp ends
The ends per inch is determined by your dent size. Remember to double this number if, for example, you are using two threads in every dent. The total width is the how wide you want your final cloth making considerations for shrinkage and draw-in. The number of warp ends will be the total number of ends you will need to measure out for the warp of your project. In my example, the equation would look like this:
12 epi x 12 inches = 144 ends
Step 5: You Know How Many, Now How Long?
Once again you need to account for shrinkage. When you weave on a loom, your warp threads are under a lot of tension. When that tension is released, your cloth will relax and shrink. This shrinkage happens before you apply any kind of finishing to the project, which can cause even more shrinking. The means the shrinkage in the vertical direction is often greater than the horizontal shrinkage we calculated earlier. In addition, you have to make room for the portions of your warp you simply cannot weave on. There are some tricks to minimizing this loom waste, but the fact remains there will be some waste coming off your loom and you need to plan for this. The best way to plan for loom waste is to look at similar projects from looms that are closely related to your own. Rigid heddle looms, tapestry looms and floor looms typically produce different amounts of waste. The range, however, is typically 15-38". When uncertain, always aim high. You do not want to run short on warp after weaving an entire project. Also, if you are planning for a fringe, you need to leave space on your warp for this. Lastly, if you are planning more than one project on your warp, like if you want two kitchen towels or four placemats, you need to plan for any spaces needed between the different cloths. Whew, that's a lot to consider. Luckily they are all numbers that can easily be plugged into an equation such as this:
(Desired Final Length for 1 Project x Total Number of Projects) + Shrinkage + Loom Waste + (Fringe Hem Length x 2 for Each Project) + Space Between Projects = Warp Length
In our example, I was making a scarf. I want this scarf to be 70 inches long with a 5-inch fringe. I will assume 20% shrinkage and 20" of loom waste. I am only making one scarf on this warp. My total warp length would then be:
(70 inches x 1 Project) + (70 inches x .20) + 20 inches + (5 inches x 2 x 1 Project) + 0 inches = 114 inches
Step 6: Put Together Steps 4 and 5
Now that you now the number of warp ends and the length of your warp, you can figure out exactly how much thread you will need to complete your project. This is done by multiplying the number of ends by the total length, since each end needs to be the full length of the warp.
Number of Warp Ends x Total Length of Warp= Total Amount of Warp Needed
So, in our example, the total amount of thread I would need is:
144 ends x 114 inches= 16,416 inches. This is not a super useful number in inches, as most cones and skeins are NOT listed in total inches. However, it is easy to convert to yards by dividing my number by 36 inches because there are 36 inches in a yard.
16,416 inches / (36 inches/yard) = 456 yards
And, to get to meter, which is very useful, you simply divide your total yards by 1.09 yards/meter and round to the nearest meter.
456 yards/ (1.09 yards/meter)= 419 meters
In conclusion, I would need 456 yards (419 meters) of thread to create my desired 144 ends, each 114 inches long for my scarf. With the correct amount of material calculated, I can move forward and order the supplies I need to get warping!
I hope this was helpful. Stay tuned for more project planning tutorials!
So, there are excellent instructions in the manual for the 25" Schacht Tapestry Loom...but for whatever reason, when the loom is on my loom stand, the instructions are backwards because I cannot flip the loom so the heddle bar support is pointing down. Now, I know everyone can simply reverse the instructions like I did, but sometimes it is just easier when someone tells you how to do it. For example, when I am warping my loom while simultaneously helping my kids build legos, read books and not eat bugs, I like to not have to reverse things in my head. There are only so many tasks you can multi on before things go wrong.
Like I mentioned previously, the instruction manual has instructions for when the loom is horizontal and the heddle bar supports are pointing down toward the ground. My instruction are the exact same as these instructions except they are for when the heddle bar supports are pointing upward. This can be accomplished on a loom stand or by simply placing books or blocks under the frame of your loom.
Step 1: Using your loom stand, adjust the level of your loom so that it lays horizontal, heddle bar supports pointing straight up. You should begin standing with the loom oriented so that the bottom bar is closest to your body. Make sure you have the tension bar all the way down (so that you have the most room to tension your warp later).
Step 2: Put your warp bar in place against the rubber wedge. Make sure your warp thread is on a skinny cone or a compact ball so it can fit through all the spaces of the warping process without knocking the warp bar out of place. Tie your warp thread to the warp bar. (The warp bar and rubber stopper are located between the bottom bar and the central bar.)
Step 3: Bring the warp thread toward you, going under the bottom bar. Bring the thread over the topside of the loom toward the tension bar.
Step 4: Take the warp thread over the tension bar, down and under the loom, heading back toward the center bar. Take the warp thread under the center bar and turn the thread on the warp bar, passing once again under the center bar on the way to the tension bar.
Step 5: Once you get back up to your tension bar, you will still be under the loom. Pass the thread over the top of your tension bar and head back toward the bottom bar. You will be on the topside of your loom. Take it all the way to the bottom bar.
Step 6: Pass the thread over the bottom bar and going under your loom, take the thread to the warp bar. Pass the warp thread around your warp bar and head back to the bottom bar, passing the thread from the bottom side to the topside of the bottom bar.
Step 7: You have now completed the whole pattern of warping. You should repeat steps 3-6 until you have the desired number of warp threads on the top side of your loom. To me, the process of warping this tapestry loom is like make a series of M's and W's. Also, you should be able to run your hand (or a piece of paper) under your threads from the top of the loom down to the bottom, passing in front of your warp bar. If you cannot, that means you have crossed a thread and sadly it will need fixing before you can proceed.
One trick to keep yourself on track if you are having a little trouble crossing your threads is to wrap your loom with paper (like packaging paper or wrapping paper). Remove the warp bar prior to wrapping your loom with paper. Then, take your paper around your loom from the tension bar around the bottom bar and back up. Tape the paper together. This will require about 65" of paper length (which matches your warp length). Now you will have to place your warp bar back on your loom- the tricky part being that it now needs to be on the backside of your paper. However, this paper wrap will ensure you are going over or under when needed and will not allow for any crossed threads. Simply remove the paper when your warp is complete by sliding out from under your threads.
I hope this helps a little if your loom is turned around like mine. Really, it just gives an alternative way to warp- it is exactly the same as the recommended method, just with your heddles pointing up.
When working in the round, there are choices. Some pieces are large enough that you can simply use circular needles, spread the stitches around, and get to knitting. However, when the circumference is small, knitting in the round requires a way to move the stitches in closer proximity than what 16" circulars allow. Two of your options for knitting these smaller circumferences are either using double pointed needles or something called the magic loop method. These certainly are not your only two options, but they are both very good ones and most patterns are written to accommodate these two methods. I like both, but I like them for different things. I'll break it down for you here. This is not a tutorial on the how to execute these methods but more on how to choose which is right for you...or perhaps which is right for your project...or maybe just to inspire you to try one that you haven't yet ventured toward. This is purely submitted for your consideration and is based on personal experience and taste. We are all knitters as unique as the yarns and projects we choose, circular knitting is equally dynamic in taste and range.
Double Pointed Needles (DPNs)
With double pointed needles, you use three or more needles to hold your live stitches while using an additional needle to knit. These needles, as the name suggests, are pointed on either end so that you can knit and slide you stitches from one needle to the next with ease. Ideally, you spread your live stitches evenly on your working needles. You can use this method to knit very tiny rounds.
What I Like About DPNs
I feel like the flow of my knitting is a little smoother with DPNs. With this method, you just keep on knitting- there is no stopping to tug on cords- one needle just flows to the next. I especially like DPNs when I'm working with lace weight of fingering weight yarns because my working area is confined to just my needles and I feel I can work with a more delicate touch. There are no lengthy cords sticking out and tugging at my project, which can sometimes feel a bit tangly to me, especially with the lighter weight yarns. I also really like using DPNs when a project has few stitches or a particularly small circumference.
What I Don't Like About DPNs
When using double points, I like to shift where one needle's stitches stop and another needle's start. This is because at the join of the DPNs, the stitch is a little looser as I work. While this usually resolves itself with quality blocking, I don't like the appearance of these loose little seams in my knitting. By shifting the stitches around periodically, this problem can be avoided. However, sometimes it's more convenient to work with a set number of stitches on each needle, depending on the pattern. Also, there are three to four needles with stitches on them...and these needles have double points...and stitches like to fall off needles when you aren't looking. I would say that DPNs are less project bag friendly for this reason. There is not a great way of securing your live stitches from slipping and sliding other than being careful when handling.
The Magic Loop
This method essentially divides your knitting in the round into two rows of knitting by using circular needles with a lengthy cord. Half of your stitches go on the left hand needle to create your "front" row, the other half of your stitches patiently wait their turn on the cord in the "back" row. A long cord is necessary so that you can pull the right hand needle around to knit while still keeping a loop of cord between your front row of knit stitches on the left hand needle and those back row stitches that sit on the cord. When you finish the "front" row, it will have moved from the left to the right needle. You flip the whole operation over so that the front becomes the back, shift the stitches on the right hand needle to the cord and shift the stitches from the cord to the left hand needle. The right needle always stays the right needle and the left needle always stays the left. It really is like magic.
What I Like About Magic Loop
There is a lot to like about the Magic Loop method. First off, you do not need a special set of needles. Especially if you already have some interchangeable circular needles, you probably have what you need to implement this method. You do need a long cord- somewhere in the 32-40" range so you can comfortably maneuver your needles while maintaining your loops. I really like using magic loop on things like sweater sleeves. This is partially because I can usually use whatever circular needles I was knitting with for the body to also do the sleeves. Since you are using circular needles, everything is connected and there is very little risk of stitches falling off or things getting messy in a well-travelled project bag. Also, there are always only two areas where you can get the loose stitch seams I spoke of previously. And as a bonus, though I'm not really that great at it, you can knit two sleeves or socks at a time with the magic loop method, which is not possible with double points. The method is very versatile.
What I Don't Like About Magic Loop
I don't mind the stop and shift of rows from front to back for larger circumferences or heavier weight yarns, but this stopping and pulling slows my flow. So, for smaller projects or more delicate work, I find this stopping to be a little cumbersome. Also, for lighter weight yarns, I find that the cord wants to tug a little more at those loose stitch seams where the front and back rows meet. I know these are small complaints, but it is truthfully why for things such as socks, mittens or the tops of hats I typically stick with double pointed needles.
As with any knitting technique, it is important you find what works for you. Whether seeing double or doing magic (or perhaps a little bit of both) it is always nice to have more than one trick up your sleeve. It is also fun to try new things. As I tell my kids when they refuse to try my latest vegetable concoction- you never know, you might be missing out on your new favorite thing.
I'd love to hear about what method you use. Do you have an arsenal of circular knitting tricks or do you stick to one that is tried and true?
I always get the words mixed up, but I believe there is a modern proverb that goes something like; "Neccesity is the mother of invention." Sounds good even if its not the right phrasing. And I think more to the point is how true the sentiment is. The other day I was warping a rather large project on my PVC loom, and somehow or other, about four of my warp threads ended up being a yard too short. I could hazard a few guesses as to how it happened, but the how it happened at the time was not nearly as important as how in the world I was going to fix it. My first impulse was to just cut my losses and make my warp a yard shorter than planned and cross my fingers I included enough warp waste in my calculations. That seemed very risky, though. Especially since I was planning a lot of weaving on this warp- it would be awful to get to the end and be just short of a complete project.
Then, my husband pulled out his phone and did some internet magic. (He is really good at that.) As a sat, aimlessly staring at the problem, he asked;
"What's a weaver's knot? It looks like it could help." I love that man.
A weaver's knot is pretty much magic! It solved my too-short-warp-thread problem with such ease, it was almost unreal. And the beauty of this particular knot is that you add length to your thread and the knot simply gets tighter under tension. You don't have to worry about it slipping about or coming undone. How awesome is that? And I did complete the beast of a project I was working on, and the knots did their job without fuss. I will say that the one consideration is the reed. You want to be careful as the knots need to pass through your weave if the thread was a tight fit in the reed. I had to manually push a few of them through, which took some time until I got past them. But really, even though it added time to the weaving process, it saved me a ton of time from having a project that did not work out quite right.
Here is how to make this wonderful knot:
1. In the thread that has come up short on you, make a standard slip knot. Do not pull it tight yet. You do not have to leave a long tail, the knot is suppose to be so strong you can clip the tails right off when you're done. I left tails on mine and wove them in because I'm a scaredy cat. In my example, the thread being lengthened is yellow.
2. Thread your new yarn through the loop of the slip knot. Again, you should not have to leave a long tail as you thread the new yarn through the loop. However, you can leave a tail long enough to weave in later if you're nervous (like me). In my example, the new thread being used to extend the yarn length is blue.
3. With the new yarn threaded through the slip knot, pull the slip knot tight by pulling the two yellow thread ends. Once it is secure, pull a little more. You want the slip knot to pull your new thread through the twist of the knot. I have shown both when the slip knot is pulled tight and then once the new thread as pulled through the knot. I have found that the thread makes a satisfying little popping noise when it makes it through the knot. This pull-through is what gives the weaver's knot its power, because as you pull, the knot now only tightens on itself. In my example, you can see the little peak of blue looped through the yellow knot in the completed weaver's knot.
4. The knot is not complete. The yellow portion of the thread is the yarn that needed to be lengthened. The blue portion of the thread is the new extension to your yarn. You will have a tail from the old thread and a tail from the new thread.
Do you ever have those times where you know you're supposed to do something, you know it's supposed to be fairly easy, yet you don't really know what you're supposed to do? Well, oiling the flyer on my spinning wheel was one such thing for me. I knew I was supposed to keep the thing lubricated, but I wasn't really at all sure where to put the oil or how often. I was also confused when I read that I should oil every hour of spinning. Should I deconstruct my flyer just to oil it every hour or was there a way to oil with the bobbin on and the spinning uninterrupted? I did my homework and thought I'd share with you how to oil your flyer and keep your spinning wheel happy.
The first and most important thing for you to do is to read your manual. If you have a modern spinning wheel from a prominent company, there are manuals available online. If your spinning wheel is an antique or perhaps not from a larger manufacturer, proceed with caution and perhaps try and find literature on how to maintain such wheels. For example, I have a Schacht Ladybug wheel. The manual explicitly states that the wheel hub should not be oiled. Had I not read that, I would have naturally assumed the wheel would be one of those places that should be oiled often. I would have been very wrong.
Go ahead and slide your bobbin on over your oiled flyer and assemble your Mother of All as you would any other time you change bobbins. Make sure your hands are clean before you start handling your fluff, though!
I was warping my latest project on my rigid heddle loom and it just made the most sense to use a direct warping method. I needed to hold the thread double, and unless you have two cones on the color you are using, this means extra work on a warping board. With the direct warping method, I could simply pull my loop through each hole and each slot and, presto, double threads! Bonus: No need to move any threads around, everything is done as soon as that last loop is pulled through!
My only hesitation when using the direct warping method is that I have three children aged five and under. It is dangerous, for many reasons, to leave warp strewn across a space when there are little people running around. It is almost a guarantee that I will not finish warping my loom before something happens and I need to stop. I had a "aha" moment, however, with this latest project. You can warp in small bundles with a direct warping method, too!
Perhaps this is something that you already knew, but since it has taken three years for this bolt of lightening to strike me, I thought I'd share. In a nutshell: Warp what you can. When you come to a point where you need to stop, pull your threads off the warping peg and use the same hand crochet chaining you would use for storing indirect warp threads to create a braid. Drape this braid on your front beam. No more warp threads dangling precariously around the living room! Haha!
Here it is in more detail:
3. Begin to chain your threads by pulling a small section through the crossed loop you created after taking the threads off the peg. If you look at the cross you made for your first loop, you will need to pull the section of warp thread through the back of your loop toward the front. This way your loop will hold. If you pull your section through on the same side as the top layer of your crossed threads, it will all come undone. Continue to chain your threads. The more chains you make, the better it holds.
4. Rest your complete chain on your front beam. Now all of your warp threads are safe and tidy. When you are ready to warp again, tie on to the back apron beam as though you were starting from scratch and simply warp as you would if you had never taken a break. You will have a section of warp that is chained on your front beam and warp threads running to the peg. Don't worry about the tension of the chain. As long as you measure and place your peg in the same location every time you go to warp, this will all work out when you wind your threads on the back beam.
6. Once your threads are all where they need to be (holes and slots all threaded according to your pattern) tie on to your front beam just as you would have had you not taken any breaks in warping your loom.
The simplest and most...well...direct way to warp a loom is the direct warping method. This method has a lot going for it. It does not require a lot of equipment, it's perfect when you do not need a lot of warp length for a project, there is little risk of your warp threads getting tangled, and it can be used on any loom, though I think it lends itself better to rigid heddle looms. It is particularly nice when you have a lot of warp color changes on a small warp space. I will describe the technique and then outline a few of the pitfalls, too.
Brief Description of Method
With the direct warping method, you use your loom's back beam and a peg to do your warping. You measure from your back beam toward the front of your loom and continue measuring until you get to the spot that is equal to the length of warp you desire. At this measured spot, you clamp your peg. For example, if you want to make a warp that is three meters in length, you would measure straight from your back beam (in the direction of the front of your loom) out three meters in an unobstructed path. At the three meter mark, you would secure your peg to, well, something. I've used step stools, the edges of tables, bookshelves; it's really whatever is either currently in that spot or something that you can move to that spot and be confident it will not easily move from that spot. I would say this technique is much easier with rigid heddle looms, as you can move these smaller, lighter looms around to more convenient locations for peg clamping. However, you also need to secure your loom! You don't want your loom to slowly inch its way across a table while you're warping it so that you last warp threads are a foot shorter than your first warp threads. Many rigid heddle looms come with clamps (for both the loom and the peg) and a peg, as well as detailed instructions for this method.
With the direct warping method, you secure your warp thread to your back beam, make a small loop around your finger and pull the thread toward your rigid heddle or heddles in the shafts of your loom. Using your warping hook, you pull this looped thread through either a slot in your rigid heddle or through a heddle in the desired shaft of your loom and continue pulling until you reach the peg. You place the loop around the peg. You should then have what looks like two threads running from the back of your loom to your peg. Walk back to your loom, and this time making sure to pull from under your back beam, repeat the process with another loop around your finger. *This would be the method if you want one thread in each slot and hole of your rigid heddle. You warp all the slots, wind your warp on your back beam, then cut your loops and move one of the two threads in each slot to the hole adjacent it. It takes a little more planning if you are using a loom with shafts- you will need to plan on which heddle in which shaft should remain empty for you to later move the warp thread. You would need to leave these heddles empty as you move across your warp, even if you are changing shafts with your loop. To be honest, I have never used the direct warping method with a four-shaft or greater loom. You would also need to make different plans if you want more than one thread in each slot or hole in a rigid heddle. (Like if you are holding your thread double for the warp, you would need to warp the slots AND holes as you walked back and forth from your loom to the peg.)
Things to Keep in Mind
This is the quick and dirty explanation of the direct warping method. Like I said, it is really great for rigid heddle looms, you can easily make warps with more than one color and it's great exercise. However, there are some pitfalls. Once you start warping, you sort of need to finish. That is unless you have a space in your house where threads three meters in length strewn across the room don't get in the way. Also, small children tend to like to tangle themselves in these warp threads. It is not the easiest way to warp a floor loom or a loom with multiple shafts, though it can be done. It is great for smaller projects, but I would caution using it for very large projects that have a lot of warp threads. All of your threads need to fit on your peg, and when you start to get in the 300's for warp thread count, it can get crowded. (Not to mention walking back and forth for 300 warp threads can be a lot.) Also, if your peg or loom moves, you'll have a little trouble on your hands. Not insurmountable, but it is something to pay attention to.
This is a method for immediate warping on the loom. The really nice thing is that once it is measured and threaded, you can get straight to weaving. The warp threads are measure right on the loom, so there is no transfer of warp threads in this method.
Indirect warping is when you measure your warp out using something like a warping board or warping mill and then move this measure warp from your board or mill to your loom. You can use this method to measure out warps for multiple projects and store the warps for a later time. Typically, you can take your time measuring the warp threads because they are nicely contained in a smaller, more compact space. I have a tutorial on using a warping board. Warping mills work in a similar way but reduce the amount of reaching because they spin, therefore reducing the demand of movement from you. The indirect method can be used easily for any type of loom. I also have a quick tutorial on warping a small rigid heddle loom with the indirect method and plan on making one for a four-shaft loom as soon as I finish my current project. This method is really nice for super long warps and also for warps that have a large number of warp threads. This is my preferred method of warping, though I certainly use the direct method, too.
Brief Description of Method
I will be very brief here, as there are various ways to warp a loom using this method because the warp threads are free to be moved. Some people enjoy warping from the back of their loom to the front, and others like going from the front to the back. I'm a front to back kind of gal, but one method is not better than another, it's just preference. The key points that make this an "indirect" method are these:
With the indirect warping method, you measure out your warp threads ahead of warping your loom. It can be intimidating at first, but once you try it out, it is really a great way to warp a loom. Let's say you need seven meters of warp. Using your warping board, you find a path that is seven meters long without doubling back or crossing the path on the board (or mill). Then, you grab your warp thread and go to town moving up and down this path. (You create a "cross" at one end; please see my tutorial for warping boards for more details on this.) A trip down your path is one warp thread, a trip back up is another warp thread, so each completed trip gives you two warp threads. You tie choke ties in the necessary places along your measured warp, then carefully removed it, braiding it as you go. This braided, measured warp can then been stored for later use or carried to your loom to begin the actual warping process.
Things To Keep in Mind
The start-up for this method is a little more costly, as warping boards and/or mills can be expensive. You can find alternative means to the commercially available options- people have made bookshelves, the bottoms of chairs and paint cans into warping boards. My husband actually made my warping board, saving us a few bucks and adding a ton of sentimental value. A quick search on the internet can give you some ideas on creative alternatives to the "official" boards and mills. This method also creates a little more waste in your warp threads, as the warp has to be tied on both the back and the front of your loom, so keep that in mind when planning your final warp length. Sometimes, particularly on rigid heddle looms that you have planned shorter warp lengths, smaller warp thread counts, and simple weave structures it is easier to just use the direct warping method. Also, attention has to paid to that cross I mentioned earlier when you actually do sit down to warp your loom. If you mess up the cross, your threads may get tangled in the most hopeless of fashion. That means if you have very large bundles, you need to be prepared to sit and warp that bundle...don't put it down! In my house, large bundles are impossible because as soon as I sit down, some emergency happens and I need to get up. To get around this, I make small bundles, even if my warp is all one color. This reduces the amount of time I need to sit in front of my loom- I can warp a lot or a little.
I hoped this cleared up some terminology. Don't feel constrained by the categories, though. I have seen people use warping boards fastened to tables to do direct warping! So clearly, with a little imagination, there can by hybrid methods that work for you.
Warp speed ahead!
I'm sure this happens to more people than just me- you look at your stash of yarn, complete with this mushy, half-used balls wound into an enticing menagerie of color and wonder what in the world to do with it all. I compulsively buy a little extra when I have a project in mind that I would like to knit, that way I'm ensured to have enough. However, once the project is done, there are the leftovers. And just like with food, it can be money saving, fun, and sometimes surprisingly tasty to use leftovers. Other times it can be lack luster, disappointing, and/or a little disgusting. I think my biggest fear of using one of those squishy, half-used balls of yarn in my stash is the mystery of whether or not I will have enough to complete my goal. Nobody wants to spend the hours knitting a project just to be short a few meters at the end. What if the yarn is discontinued and there is no hope of getting more?! With food, I often resort to the sniff test when questioning whether or not a leftover should be used. What's the sniff test for yarn?
Well, it turns out the answer to that is much more scientific (or rather, mathematic) than sniffing. I guess I should preface this with the statement that you should ALWAYS keep your ball band. (The ball band is the little bit of paper that you get on a ball or skein of yarn that has all that important information on it- like length, weight, needle suggestion, gauge, etc.) I love to shove the ball band in the middle of my yarn cakes so it stays put even when I move my yarn stash about. Even if you have a great memory, I doubt there are many people who can boast a memory great enough to keep track of the yards per grams for all of their yarn. Not saying it's impossible, just saying it is probably outside most of our spheres. There is still hope if your leftovers are lacking in ball bands. Please see note at the end of post.
All you need to get started in unraveling the mystery of how much yarn is left is a scale (any small kitchen scale will do), your yarn, a calculator or pencil and paper, and your yarn's ball band.
Once you turn your scale on, many kitchen scales boast a feature of being able to switch from ounces to grams. You will want to reference your ball band and see exactly how your length per weight is reported. If it is recorded in yards per grams, you will want to make sure your scale is set to grams. Likewise, if you have yards per ounces you will want the scale set to ounces. Whether your yarn is measure in meters or yards does not matter for this step, but is important to know for pattern reading purposes. (If you are not using a digital scale, you still need to pay attention to whether you are measuring in ounces or grams. There was life before digital things and you can even use a triple beam balance for this if you feel so inclined. I will not get into that here, but if you have a triple beam balance, I will assume you know how to use it.)
Make sure your scale is zeroed (For digital scales, the screen should not have any numbers but 0 on the readout. If your scale is reading out some numbers to you, you can zero your scale by pressing the "zero" button.) Then, place your yarn on the scale. If your yarn is in a higgilty piggilty mess, you can always place a bowl on the scale, zero your scale, then place the yarn in the bowl. (Or record the weight of your bowl when empty, add your yarn, record the value of the yarn and the bowl then subtract the weight of the bowl from the total, leaving only the weight of your yarn.) Read the number on your scale.
In my example, my yarn weighed 95 grams. I had used a small portion of this ball of yarn to knit a sample and ended up choosing a different yarn for the project. The critical question in my head was whether there was still enough yarn left in this ball to knit a pair of socks. The next thing I did was look at the ball band and find where my length per weight was recorded.
In this particular case, for this particular yarn, there are 462 yards/ 100 grams. Now it's time for a little algebra.
I know there are 462 yards per every 100 grams of this yarn, but I want to know how many yards I have left after my sampling. After measuring my current ball of yarn, I know I have 95 grams of my yarn left; how does that translate to yards?
Dividing 462 yards by 100 grams simplifies down to 4.62 yards per 1 gram. (I simply put 462 in my calculator and divided that number by 100.) I have 95 grams. I can now multiply my 95 grams by 4.62 yards/gram. (Again, I used my calculator. I typed 95 and multiplied it by 4.62.) The units of grams cancel and I am left with 438.9 yards. This lets me know that I have roughly 439 yards of my yarn leftover and can plan my project accordingly.
Here is an equation you can use if perhaps my example was a little confusing or not quite close enough to your numbers to be helpful. It should work for you whether your yarn is measured in meters or yards, grams or ounces.
length of leftover yarn= (length/weight recorded on ball band of yarn) x (measured weight of leftover yarn)
I hope this helps clear up some of those leftovers off your shelf and leads to some beautiful projects!
***For those leftovers lacking a ball band: It's a little trickier, but you can figure out the length per weight on your own. Using your scale and starting with the end of your yarn, make a little pile of the yarn on the scale until you get 1 gram or ounce. Mark your yarn where this occurs or use some scissors to snip the yarn. Measure the length of this piece of yarn. You should now have the desired length/weight to multiply by the measured weight of your leftovers. It's not perfect, but it'll get you pretty darn close.
I think many of us who have delved into the world of rigid heddles are very familiar with the direct warping method. Using a peg and measuring from your back beam to some chair or stool or odd object you can clamp that peg to, you walk back and forth and feed your thread in loops through the slots of your heddle. Then, you wind that bad boy up, clip the ends, distribute your threads to the holes as well as slots, tie on the front apron rod, work on your tension and call it a day. However, this is not always the most practical way to warp your rigid heddle. Don't get me wrong, it is a great method, but sometimes having a line of yarn strewn across your kitchen just isn't going to work. Or sometimes you have time to measure out warp threads but you don't have time for all the threading. Whatever the reason, you can use your warping board for your rigid heddle loom and pre-measure and prepare your warp threads. I have a tutorial on using a warping board, so if the concept is new for you, please take a look here.
In this tutorial, there are two colors that have been pre-measured and braided for this project.
The next step is to wrap these braids onto the front beam of your loom. This yarn is the warp for a cowl. It is a bulky yarn and the braids are not very long. If I tried to wrap the braid around the front beam, it just wouldn't stay. In cases such as these, it is okay to unbraid your warp thread and wrap them around your beam that way. If you have measured a very long warp or used a fine thread and your braids are long, it may keep things tidier to just leave them in the braids when you wrap on your front beam. VERY IMPORTANT: Your cross should be free from the braid with enough slack to reach your heddle in the neutral position, plus a few extra inches so when you thread your warp through the heddle, it will stay put and not try to fall out back toward the front of your loom and undo all of your hard work. I am warping two colors in this project, and both colors could be wrapped comfortably on the front beam without overlapping. If you find things are getting crowded or confusing, just wrap one braid at a time. Note that the cross is draped comfortably over the heddle.
Make sure you have all your supplies within reach. To warp your heddle you will need scissors and your heddle/reed hook to sley your reed.
Next, pick up the cross from a braid and thread your fingers through the loops where you have your choke ties. You will be undoing those ties, so you want to make sure your fingers will preserve the cross even after these ties are gone. I have taken a photograph to show how I place my fingers comfortably through the cross. You will want at a finger between the top to ties above the cross and a finger between the bottom two ties below the cross. If you are right-handed, as I am, I hold the cross in my left hand. I am not left-handed, but I would imagine things might be easier if the left-handed crowd holds their cross in their right hand. Really, you should do what is most comfortable for you. Whichever hand is left free from the cross is the one that will be threading the reed and manipulating the reed hook.
With your cross secure on your fingers, take your scissors in your free hand and cut the top loop (highlighted in the photograph my finger- please note that I am not preserving the cross here, merely showing which loop you should cut). Then, while still holding your cross secure, untie or cut your choke ties.
Notice that once the choke ties are gone, you can still see the alternating ups and downs of your cross. At this point, you are ready to start sleying your reed. Starting with the outermost warp thread on your finger, use your free hand to remove it from the group (without disturbing your other threads). I like to sley my reed from right to left, but I do not think it matters what side you choose to start on, as long as you have measured out where your project is centered in your reed. I am sleying my entire reed, so I could start on the edge. If your project is smaller than your full reed, you may want to mark the slot with a piece of tape where the edge of your project should be. That way, you will easily find it when you go to warp and will not have to count or measure, which is hard to do when you have a bunch of loose threads in your hand.
Taking the outermost thread on my cross, I use my hook and thread it through my read. Unlike the indirect method, you will need to thread slots and holes as you go, not just the slots. Passing your hook from the backside to the frontside (through a slot or a hole) of your reed, grab your thread and pull it through the reed. I like to hold my hook pointing down, I find it easier to grab my warp thread this way and pull it down and away on the backside of the reed. This is a personal preference, you should find what is comfortable for you.
Now, my pattern required that I warp my reed in a 2x2 pattern. So, after threading two teal threads, I needed to leave space for two white threads. You warp all of one color first and then go back and warp the second color. (This would apply to three or more colors, as well.) Really, you want to warp all the threads in your braid, because the cross is what is keeping your threads organized. If you put your threads down, it is very hard to maintain the cross. This also means you should plan ahead. Either allow yourself enough time to warp all the threads in a larger braid or make yourself smaller braid bundles...even if you do more than one braid in the same color. Having smaller braids will give you more opportunities to take breaks when your warping your loom without having to worry about tangling threads.
Leaving spaces can make your eyes cross, so make sure you check regularly that you have left the appropriate number of slots and holes. It is much easier to fix a mistake when it happens than to have the majority of your reed threaded only to find out you need to shift everything over a slot. As you can see in the pictures, two threads mean one slot and one hole. So between every teal pair, I needed to leave one slot and one hole for my white warp. I made sure to stop and check my work every few pairs.
Once I have warped all of my teal threads, it is time to warp the white threads. I repeat the same exact process, threading the white warp through the slots and holes I left for them. If you are using more than two colors, it may be useful to keep a diagram and mark with painters tape the slots and holes for your second color before you pick up the cross and begin sleying.
Once you have warped all your threads, looking at your loom from the backside, you will see your beautiful warp threads dangling through your reed. It is time to tie them onto your back apron rod. Make sure you grab bundles of yarn that are only about an inch. I know its a lot of tying, but it will give you more balanced tension. I like to use a square knot and a bow when tying on to the apron rods. I know my mom likes to use a surgical knot. Whatever you use, make sure it is secure under tension but adjustable if needed. (I would never recommend a double knot.)
I think this is the point where there are more stylistic differences when warping. I will share with you what I like to do, especially if I do not have a helper. Sitting in front of your loom, grab all of your warp threads in one hand. You use this hand to pull the threads for even tension. Make sure you have paper or sticks ready so you can wind them in as you pull your threads over the back beam. (If you are unfamiliar with this, putting paper in between the layers as you wind your warp helps maintain more even tension. It prevents your threads for sinking into previous layers or catching.) Then, slowly, begin winding. Use your free hand to move your crank as you hold the warp threads with even tension. The threads should pull out of your braid evenly and remain orderly. If you need to stop cranking and gently comb some threads, do so, but remember your reed will act as a comb, as well. Continue this process until you have wound nearly all of your warp to the back of your loom. You will want about 15 inches of warp thread on the front side of your reed so you can comfortably tie on to your front apron rod. You will notice that the ends of your warp are looped, you will have to cut these before you tie onto your front apron rod. I do not recommend cutting them before you are ready to tie on- they are a bit of a security check, your threads cannot pull through your reed when they are looped.
You're nearly finished! Tie on to your front rod starting in the middle and alternating from there to the left and right sides. You want to tie your warp with as even tension as you can manage. This means once you have everything tied on, you may have to go back and tighten your threads again. With this in mind, tie your square knot first and once the tension is even go back through and make your bows or surgical knots. Then, believe it or not, you're ready to weave. I was a dodo and completely forgot to take a picture of the finished warp- but here is the project that I started weaving. Proof it does work!
7. In my example, I wanted the medallions to be across my entire project. (I worked out ahead of time what size medallion would allow me to achieve this without being left with a less-than-full-sized medallion at the end of my row. Word to the wise, plan your medallion sizes according to the number of warp strings in your project.) For the last medallion, I snuck my crochet hook up through the fifth and sixth warp threads in the medallion instead of after the sixth warp thread. This way, I could create the loop, even at the end on my selvage.
8. If you wish to stack medallions, after you have completed your first row of medallions, change sheds, and pass the contrasting color shuttle through, end to end, to create a new bottom medallion border. Then, change your shed again, and pass your main body color through for the number of picks you wish to include in your medallions. Proceed as shown above to create a new row of medallions.
You can have a lot of fun with these medallions and they are surprisingly simple for how complicated they can look. Try using a larger weft thread for your medallion borders, play with your medallion sizes, stack them all over your weaving or just keep it simple for a nice border. Playing with colors can be fun, too. Go crazy! It is a really nice hand-manipulated weaving technique that can add some spice to an otherwise plain weave.