Well phooey

I’ve been weaving some towels to give as a gift. I was on the last towel yesterday when I realized I’d run out of warp. Unlike knitting where you just start a new ball of yarn, with weaving you pretty much have to know how long it is going to be before you start. Then you wind the right number of ends, each of them the right length, and put the whole thing on the loom. [Process condensed for this post, that whole thing took me a couple of days off and on.]

I was loosely adapting a project I’d done before. By loosely I mean that I changed the length (shorter), the width (narrower), and the number of towels to weave (more). With the prior project’s numbers in hand I did the recalculations. Because I’m a somewhat experienced weaver and because I’d done similar projects before I didn’t bother to input all the numbers into my handy-dandy warp length calculator spreadsheet.

So, as you can see, I have three and a half towels. I was REALLY sure I’d gotten the length right. So sure, that even when I started weaving the fourth towel and there didn’t seem to be much warp left I kept going because I was SURE I’d gotten the length right.

Three and a half towels (the bottom blue band on the right is where I abruptly ended)

I’ve been puzzling over this since yesterday afternoon when I reluctantly admitted that no miracle was going to give me another 18″ of warp and that it was time to cut my losses, literally, and cut the project off the loom. Every weaving project, in it’s calculations, has a number for “loom waste”. This is the length of the warp that can’t be woven because it is used in getting the project on the loom. The inches given up to knotting the warp onto the rods at each end. The length that travels through the reed and heddles that can’t be advanced through to where you weave. Every weaver knows the loom waste amount for each of their looms and this excess, and boy do we hate to waste that yarn, has to be accounted for when planning the project.

My plan was 4 towels, woven about 32″ long (they’ll shrink in the washing) with a little extra at one end to sample and make sure I had the pattern right. I’m pretty sure now that when I finished shortening the length and multiplying times the number of towels I wanted to weave that at some point I lost the loom waste amount, which for this loom is about 34″. Because 32″ is pretty close to 36″ (1 yard) and 4 of those is about 4 yards. I wound a 4.5 yard warp. No loom waste there.

Ah well.  Live and learn (one can only hope!). It will make a lovely fingertip towel.

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Author: Jennifer Kortfelt

Owner, Heron Pond Designs, a fiber and textile exploration.

One thought on “Well phooey”

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