I finally finished my first weaving! So happy! :)
I tried a shawl of 40cm (15.7 inch) width and 180 or 190cm (71 or 75 inch) length. The yarn had more shrinkage and draw-in though than I expected (see notes below on using knitting yarn for weaving), so the shawl turned out with a length of 186cm/73.2 inch and a width of 38cm/15 inch.
Initially I wanted to keep track of the time it took me to do all the different steps from calculating over winding the warp, threading, weaving and finishing, but I didn’t manage. I lost track (because of being distracted by knitting and work). And I guess I needed much longer than an experienced weaver, because I had to follow every step multiple times on the Craftsy Video. Like… which way do I wind the warp?… How do I secure the cross?… So, I just noted how long it took me in the beginning, which was:
- March 8, 2015: Warping time: 3h
- March 15: Beaming the warp and threading heddles: ca. 4h
- March 21: Tying warp to front apron rod and weaving header, ca. 2h.
- March 22: Begin real weaving, ca. 1h. …. lost track. Too much knitting in-between.
But I think, for the next project I will try again to keep track of the time. I think it’s very important to have a rough estimate of how long you take for a project – for planning purposes.
Anyway, I used the Handmaiden Casbah Sock Yarn in the colorway Glacier. It’s a fingering weight merino and cashmere blend, 3ply, with nylon for strength, gorgeously soft too:
- 81% Superwash Merino, 10% Nylon, 9% Cashmere
- 325m / 115g – 355yds / 4oz
- Suggested needle size & gauge: US 2/3mm; 26st/4″
As it took me a few months to complete this shawl (but with weeks pausing in-between), I had a lot of time to practise weaving. “Lessons learned” for me were:
- I don’t need to beat as if I would want to form a brick… ;) … in the beginning, I beat far too strong, so the fabric got a little stiff. This changed during the last half of the shawl, when I beat less hard.
- To keep an even beat, count threads per inch/cm (when the fabric is like you want it to be – mostly between really dense and too loose = you can see your hand through the fabric very easily. Seeing the contours of your hand is okay though) and check this count during weaving repeatedly, to ensure a consistent density of the fabric.
- When tying the warp to the front apron rod, don’t make large bundles of threads as shown in my picture – you need to weave a huge header otherwise (the grey yarn) and the gaping is ugly. Smaller warp bundles are better. I retied them after taking the picture.
- To advance the fabric, loosen the back ratchet first, then turn the front beam. For me, the tension was more even as when I tried to tension the warp again with the front beam.
- Keeping an even tension is really essential. When it’s not really even, your weaving will get diagonal. Happened to me after I loosened the tension for a few weeks where I couldn’t work on the loom and tried to tension it again with turning the front beam. Turning the back beam brought better tension (at least here).
- Using knitting yarn for weaving is more difficult as this yarn is spun differently than yarn intended for weaving. Knitting yarn has more twist and is more elastic – which can cause problems keeping an even tension (as I experienced as well). This results in a heavier draw-in of the fabric when the warp is very tense – or a shrinkage of the finished piece, when the yarn “springs back” after you cut the piece off the loom. My plan for the stole was a width of 40cm (15.7 inch – 43 cm/17.3 inch in reed), but the final stole is just 38cm/15 inch wide.
- To keep knitting yarn evenly tensioned, prepare the warp with only little tension and also put only little tension on the warp when winding it on the loom, just as much as to open a proper shed.
I also still have some questions left, which I need to figure out, like – when I put tension on the warp after cleaning it, the yarn slips back a little through the slots and the tension on the warp which was already on the beam seems to be gone. How often do I need to re-tension the warp again to keep tension even?
Do I have to keep tension on the warp while I turn the beam and wind the warp onto it to prevent this? I tried gripping all of the cleaned threads with my right hand and putting tension on them while at the same time turning the beam. It works but I’m not sure if I’m doing the right thing….
Well, as for so much in life, practice makes perfect, and I hope to figure out my other questions too one day.
For the fringes I decided to just secure the warp with an overhand knot and not to twist them. For now. I noticed that the yarn starts fraying at the ends, so maybe I need to add knots there as well – or twist them.
I’m also so glad that my calculations worked. Took me ages to understand how to calculate the amount of yarn for warp and weft. First I followed the instructions of Angela Tong from the Craftsy beginners course on Rigid Heddle Loom weaving, but as calculations are not exactly my main area of expertise (ahem ;)), I cross-checked them with the online weaving calculator by Weavolution. It’s all in inches though (which I always have to transfer to cm), but worked like a charm:
– 1 skein = 115 gr = 0.25 pound / 355 yards
– 4 skeins = 460gr = 1 pound / 1420 yards
– I have: 345gr bzw. 1065y/973.8 m
Total yarn required (Summary): Warp 484.4 yards + Weft 396.5 yards = 880,9 yards = 804,6m
– Finished length of one piece: 75 inches (–> final length of shawl: 186cm/73.2 inch)
– Loom waste: 18 inches
– Take-up: 10%
– Finished width of one piece: 15.75 inches
– Width Shrinkage: 10%
– Warp Sett: 10epi
– Yards per pound: 1420 ypp
Warp length is 101 inches (2.8 yards) = 256,54cm = 2.56m
Length to weave is:
– 83 inches (under tension) = 2.1m
– 75 inches (relaxed) = 1.9m
– Width in reed is: 17.3 inches = 43cm
– Number of warp ends: 173 (-> 176) = 88 crosses
Total Warp Required: 484.4 yards (5.5 ozs.) = 443m (442.9m)
– Picks per inch: 10 ppi
– Take up: 10%
– Yards per pound: 1420 ypp
Total Weft required is 396.5 yards (4.5 ozs) = 362.5m
Total yarn required (Summary): 484.4 yards + 396.5 yards = 880,9 yards = 804,6m