We know that weaving can be confusing.  It relies heavily on terms that are unfamiliar to many non-weavers.  Let's try to clear up some of the confusion.  You may also want to take our Virtual Tour!

Q:  How much yarn does it take to make a product?
A: 
We estimate the following amounts based on averages sizes.
Scarves  5-6 ounces each
Wraps 12-13 ounces each
Throws 26-30 ounces each

Q:  What is warp?
A:  Warp is the term used to refer to the individual threads that are held in place vertically on the loom.  The number of warp threads (called "ends") combined with the number of ends per inch will determine how wide the weaving project will be.
Tip:  Placing the warp on the loom (setting up) is generally the most time consuming part of a production weaving run.  For maximum cost efficiency, you will want to get as many units out of one warp set up as possible.  Try to choose as many patterns from the same set up group as possible.

Q:  What is weft?
A: Weft is the term used for the thread that is worked horizontally through the warp threads.  Each pass of the weft through the warp is called a "pick" or row.

Q:  What is the difference between weaving and knitting?
A:  Weaving is worked on a loom.  It is comprised of a series of individual threads (called warp threads) that are kept vertically under tension by the loom.  The weaver then places horizontal rows of "weft" threads through the warp to make the cloth.  The warp and the weft are always perpendicular to each other.  Knitting is worked on a set of two pointed sticks (knitting needles).  A single thread is worked in loops to make a row.  Subsequent rows are built on the previous row to make the cloth, still using the same single thread.

Q:  How many units will fit on the loom?
A: 
This is often a trick question.  Many non-weavers have the inaccurate vision of several scarves strung "across" the width of a loom, being woven all at the same time.  While this is a valid technique in industry, most handweavers use the "end to end" technique instead.  The warp is only  as wide as the finished product would be, but is long enough to make the total number of units desired.  When the warp is completely woven, it is removed from the loom and the individual units are cut apart, creating the fringe at the ends.  To correctly visualize the loom setup, think of a roll of wrapping paper.  The bulk of the warp is stored on a beam, similar to the cardboard roll that wrapping paper is stored on.  The number of units that will fit on the loom varies with the thickness of the yarn, just as thicker wrapping paper will "build up" on the roll faster than thin wrapping paper will.  Generally, we can fit 25 yards of sport weight yarn on the loom, which is usually somewhere around 15 scarves.   

Q:  What is WPI?
A:  WPI stands for 'wraps per inch'.  It is the number of times a single strand of yarn can be wrapped around a ruler to fill one inch of length with each wrap of the yarn just touching the one beside it.  WPI is very useful to define the thickness of a yarn, also known as it's weight.

Q:  What is EPI?
A:  EPI stands for 'ends per inch'.  It is the number of warp ends per inch in a warp.  EPI is determined by WPI and by the weight of the desired cloth.  A heavier cloth thickness would require more EPI than a lighter weight cloth.

Q:  What is involved in "loom set up"?
A: 
Loom set up is the process of getting the warp onto the loom and ready to be woven.  This process includes 1) calculating the number of warp ends needed for the desired width, 2) calculating the number of yards of warp needed to complete the total number of units desired, 3) "winding" or measuring the warp and the correct number of ends, 4) threading the warp thru the heddles and the reed, 5) attaching the warp to the loom under even  tension throughout the width, 6) "programming the loom" or "tying the harnesses to the treadles" to establish the appropriate pattern.
Tip:   This process is generally the most time consuming portion of a production weaving run.  For maximum cost efficiency, you will want to get as many units from each set up as possible.  Try to choose as many patterns from the same setup group as possible.

Q:  What is a unit woven?
A: 
A unit refers to the actual end product.  One unit could be one scarf, one wrap, one throw, etc.  Weaving one unit refers to weaving the portion of the warp that meets the length requirements for the specified unit.
Tip:  For maximum cost efficiency, you want to include as many units in each production run as possible.

Q:  What is a weaving production run?
A: 
A weaving production run refers to the number of units that can be woven from a single warp/loom set up.  For example, you order 12 scarves with various patterns, but all from the same set up group (see patterns page).  We set the loom up once and run your entire production run.  You are charged one set up fee (which is based on epi times the width of your run), plus 12 unit fees for scarves.  On the other hand, if you order 12 scarves with patterns from each of 3 different set up groups (see patterns page), we will need to make 3 separate production runs (one for each set up group).  You will be charged for 3 set up fees, plus 12 unit fees.
Tip:  Make your set up fees count!  Stick to patterns from one set up group for at least 6-12 units. 

Q:  Why can't I use my handspun yarn for my warp?
A: 
Warp yarns are placed under a significant amount of tension and stress during the weaving process.  Most handspun yarns are wonderfully lofty by design but tend to be more fragile than yarns spun at a mill.  They are generally problematic when used as warp threads and do not hold up well to the stresses placed on them.  To insure the highest quality end product possible, we have chosen not to use handspun yarns in our warps.  However, we will gladly use your beautiful handspun yarns in any weft you choose.

Loom Waste:
Each production run requires a certain amount of loom waste.  Loom waste is caused by two factors.  First, each warp thread must be tied to the loom at both ends.  Up to 6 inches of extra warp is required on each end for these knots.  Second, there is a portion of warp towards the end of each run that cannot be woven because the warp cannot be advance past the rear loom harness.  This length can be anywhere from 12-24", depending on the run.  We do our best to keep loom waste to a minimum; but we do recommend adding one yard to each warp end to allow for such waste.

Draw In:
The sides of a woven piece will generally pull inward during  the first few inches of weaving because the weft pulls slightly on the outer warp threads as it is woven in place.  Generally, we expect to see a 10% reduction in the width of the piece due to such draw in.  This means that if we place an 8 inch wide warp on the loom, the resulting scarves will measure approximately 7" in width when they are completed.

Take Up:
The length of a warp will be reduced in the finished piece by the amount of each warp thread necessary to go under and over the weft threads.  In other words, a warp is flat when it is tensioned on the loom.  When the tension is released, the warp threads relax and shape themselves around the weft threads.  Generally, we expect to see a 10% reduction in the overall warp length due to take up. 

Pattern Variation:
The appearance of the patterns you choose will vary due to the weight of the yarn and the combination of colors.  Generally, dark and light combinations will give much more definition to your pattern while solid color or light on light combinations will mute the pattern but give a textured effect.  Heavier yarns will create larger patterns with fewer pattern repeats than finer yarns.

 

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This page last updated 11/21/11.

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