weaving is a learning process

I have spent much of the last 6 months weaving with 2/17nm 2 ply merino lambswool. Some things have gone well, other things haven’t and whilst I think my weaving with this yarn has improved I know I still have much to learn. Inevitably, that will always be the case. The yarn is fine and is spun in spinning oils which I understand is used to prevent the fragile yarn from snapping. What I love most about this yarn is the fact that when it is washed, the oils are removed, there is a degree of shrinkage and almost by magic the interlaced fibres turn into the most luxuriously soft and warm fabric. I thought it might be useful to summarise what I have learnt in case anyone else would like to weave with this yarn and I would be delighted to hear of any tips other weavers might have – I know I definitely don’t have all the answers here!

  1. I weave this at 15epi – this seems to work well for both tabby weave, twill and even doubleweave.
  2. I do have problems with it snapping when winding onto the back beam. In fact, winding on the back beam is a very slow process with the fibres often tangling on the lease sticks or raddle and snapping. I try and tie my knots onto the back beam with the ends of each thread at the same point. However, it does end up being a constant yo yo movement between winding the warp onto the back beam and trying to untangle any developing knots in the threads at the front of the loom.
  3. Putting ties on the warp threads on the warping mill/warping board at more points seems to be a good idea.
  4. With wider warps I have had issues with threads snapping at the edges (usually for me it is the right hand edge). Keeping the threads on the front in line with the threads on the back beam through the reed seems to help. I now start the weaving loosely being careful not to get too much draw in at the start. Using a temple has helped, as has doubling up threads through the heddles and reed at the edges.
  5. I like to weave with a floating selvedge and I double this up, normally this works well.
  6. Removing the puppy from the room when winding the warp is also helpful – on one very sad occasion he got so excited that he bit the back beam mid wind and cut several of the warp threads which I then needed to repair!
  7. I attended a course with Janet Phillips and after that I have used her tip of using floor lino to separate my warp threads on the back beam. I only have a 6m long piece so with longer threads I need to resort to the using the sticks but I think starting with the lino is good.

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