Saturday, March 9, 2013

Fuzzy Warps 3 : weave it!

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!

Mohair and alpaca warp, alpaca weft.
So, you've planned you project, you've got your fuzzy warp on the loom, you're all ready to weave! Here are a few tips that may help you weave off your project with ease.

1. Get a big shed. Now personally, I think big sheds are highly overrated for most weaving. Really you only need a shed big enough to easily scoot that shuttle right on through.

In the case of a fuzzy warp however, a bigger shed can be helpful. If you recall from my previous posts, I've been encouraging you to give your fuzzy warp yarns space - both in your sett, and in spreading them out as far as possible through the depth of your harnesses. A nice big shed will also separate those yarns going up and down. How big a shed, you ask? Well, a little bit bigger than the length of the fuzz on your yarns would be good. You might have to experiment a little to find the perfect shed for your yarns. What you want to do is separate the threads that are up and the threads that are down completely. If the the fuzz from adjacent harnesses stays together and rubs up and down with each shed change it's like teasing hair. Or felting.

If you remember to advance your warp often, you'll be able to take advantage of whatever size shed you have. Don't weave right up to the reed. As soon as stuff starts sticking, advance your warp! That will also move the fuzziest bits that have been rubbing up and down out of the harnesses, making things even easier.

2. Treadle with a little bounce. If your warp yarns still stick a little bit, sometimes you can "bounce" the treadles a little and they will work loose. I think this is preferable to having to stick your hands into the harnesses all the time to clear things up.

3. Use the weight of your loom to help you. The easiest fuzzy warp weaving I've done has been on my 8 harness jack loom. With over 40 inches of weaving width and metal heddles, those harnesses had some weight to them. If the bounce didn't work, I'd raise all the harnesses that were threaded and then DROP the ones that needed to be down. Really, just let them fall. I was, of course, confident that my warp yarn, my loom, and my husbands temper had the strength to handle the repeated crashing and banging.

The countermarch Glimakra that I wove my Fuzzy Afghan on was a different story entirely. Oh, I could bounce the shed a bit, but the harnesses, with their Texsolv heddles, are very light. I think my shed was large enough, but again, those flexy soft Texsolv heddles, as much as I love them, didn't hold the yarns as much as move around with them. Honestly, it was a bit of a mess. Which doesn't mean you shouldn't try weaving fuzzy yarns on your loom with Texsolv or string heddles! It means that I was treating my countermarch loom as if it were a jack loom. That is, I hadn't given it a thought!

4. Change the way you beat. You can use the beater to help clear some small tangles. Try this: Open your shed, throw the shuttle, pull the beater into the fell of the cloth and hold it there, change your shed (you may have to bounce a little with the treadles), then push the beater back. Only move that beater on an open shed when the yarns are as far apart as possible. This should clear any tangles by stray fibers that are extra-long and keep the beater from rubbing together the threads from different harnesses.

I hope you've enjoyed this little series on weaving with fuzzy yarns. Clearly, I didn't follow all of these guidelines when I wove that Fuzzy Afghan, but it reminded me of things that I did know, and taught me some new things too. And after all, isn't learning new stuff half the fun?

By the way, that afghan is the warmest and coziest nap blanket ever!

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