Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fuzzy Warps 2 : planning and warping

 This is part of a series of three posts on weaving with a fuzzy warp. I'm putting this out there in the hopes that you might find some of it useful. I am in no way saying my way of approaching this is the Right Way. It's just my way. You should use it as a springboard to find out what works best for you! Every yarn, loom, and weaver is different. Your mileage will, most certainly, vary!
A seriously fuzzy warp on the loom and ready to weave.
Welcome to the second post in my little "Fuzzy Warps" series. This time I'm going to write a little bit about planning your warp and getting that fuzzy puppy onto your loom.

1. Let it breathe. If you're committed to your fuzzy warp for whatever reason, it's time to start planning. If you look at a fuzzy yarn, think of it as two parts. The core, that part that creates the actual structure of the yarn, and the fuzzy bits that stick out from the core. When you figure out the ends per inch to sett your yarn, you do a wrapping around a ruler and then count how many wraps to an inch or a half inch and base your sett on that number. But if you wrap your fuzzy yarn so that the cores touch, you're not really leaving much space for the fluff to bloom. Open up that sett a little bit. Maybe do a small sample weaving on a little cardboard loom. See how it looks and feels. I'm guessing that you've chosen this yarn because you want to make a soft, light, floaty, fluffy fabric. So give that fluff a little breathing room.

2. Look at your weave structure and figure out how to spread those yarns out through the depth of your harnesses. You may have to re-write your draft to achieve this. Instead of threading your plain weave on 1-2-3-4 you will want to thread it on 1 & 4 only. That's an easy example. Plain weave basically goes over one thread and under the next, so the conversion to two harnesses is simple. If you've chosen a more complex weave structure you will have to do some thinking, and possibly drafting. This will make you a stronger person and a better weaver. Give it a try.

That said, let me go on for a bit about the wonders of plain weave. It's simple. It's easy. It's has endless possibilities for design using color, sett, texture, and beat. If you want a light, floaty, dreamy, mohair shawl please consider plain weave. If they interest you, you should absolutely explore the wonders of other weave structures. But for your first time working with a fuzzy warp chose a delicious yarn in a color you love and let plain weave handle the rest. For your first fuzzy warp you'll want to concentrate on the fuzziness of the thing, what works and doesn't work with your loom, sett, beat, things like that. A more complex weave structure gives you just one more thing to worry about. Save it for your next project.

3. Don't choke your warp (too much). I was taught to weave by someone who had obviously seen some warp disasters in her classroom. As a result, we were taught that before we took our warps off the warping board and over to the loom we had to truss them up tight so they wouldn't get away. Honestly, I still do this unless I'm working with a fuzzy warp. If you do this to a fuzzy warp you are going to have a matted tangle to deal with when what you really want to do is just pull off that choke tie and get on with the warping. So here are two bits of advice:
  • use a slick yarn to make your choke ties - perle cotton is ideal
  • tie your chokes just enough to hold things together and then trot that warp chain right on over to the loom and at the very least get it set in your raddle (we're warping back to front, see below)
4. Warp back to front. The less rubbing together that fuzz does, the better. You've got to take this principle all the way back to your warping method. You front to back warpers will need to learn a new trick. The advantages to back to front warping are as follows:
  • you get all the warp on the loom before you start threading, so it can't tangle or get out of order.
  • you avoid having to pull all that lovely fluff through the reed and the harnesses twice. Front to back warping threads the reed, the harnesses, then winds the yarn on the warp beam. Then you wind the yarn back through the harness and reed as you weave. Twice the rubbing, more chance for tangles.
The only reason I can think of to not warp from back to front would be if the architecture of your loom makes it super uncomfortable or awkward to do so. I'm really lucky to have two looms that are well suited to this method. With the Glimakra I can take off the breast beam and sit inside the loom to thread. So, if you've never tried the back to front method of warping, read up on it, find a friend who's done it before to give you some help the first time through and go for it.

That's all for now. In the next episode of Fuzzy Warps we'll talk a little bit about weaving your fuzzy fabric.

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