Weaving How To's – GIST: Yarn & Fiber
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What size and kind of rigid heddle loom should I buy?

Schacht’s two rigid heddle looms, Flip and Cricket, are both great options for the new rigid heddle weavers. How should you choose between them, and what size should you get?

First, let’s talk about sizes! The width of your loom indicates the widest possible project you can weave on it. A 10” or 15” loom is most suitable for scarves. On a 20” loom you could start to weave placemats and handtowels. A 30” loom will allow you to create shawls and even fabric yardage to sew into something. On a wide loom you can also weave narrow projects, but you can’t weave wider projects on a narrow loom.

The Cricket Loom, starting at $180 for a 10” loom and $199 for a 15” loom, is the most affordabale option for getting started. It’s made in Colorado from a high-quality maple plywood and is left unfinished (you can use as is or finish it yourself). It is lightweight and portable, and a perfect gateway rigid heddle loom!



The Flip Loom, starting at $290 for a 15” loom, and going up to $389 for a 30” loom, is a more versatile and sturdy rigid heddle loom for the intermediate to advanced weaver. Flip looms have the capability to add an additional heddle, allowing you to use much finer yarn suitable for up to 24 epi. They also come in wider sizes allowing you to weave wider projects.

July 05, 2018 by Sarah Resnick

Introduction to Rigid Heddle Looms

A rigid heddle loom is smaller (and often more portable) than a floor loom, and has a firm, rigid (to state the obvious!) heddle with both slots and holes.

rigid heddle loom

Warp yarn is threaded through each slot and hole on a rigid heddle loom - the yarn in the slots can move up and down freely, and the yarn in the holes stays fixed at the same height. This means that when you move the heddle up or down you have an open shed that allow you to put the shuttle between the threads and weave easily.

Rigid heddle looms come with reeds in a range of sizes, usually 5 dent, 8 dent, 10 dent, and 12 dent. Dent = the number of threads per inch, so a 12 dent reed will have 12 slots/holes per inch. The lower the dent size, the thicker the yarn you need to use for your warp.

Having a variety of reed sizes will allow you a greater diversity of thickness of yarn to work with. Usually when you purchase a rigid heddle loom it comes with one reed size to start with, and this is perfectly fine to start getting used to your loom and weaving!

What is a reed? What is a shed? What does DPI mean in weaving? 

Learning anything new can be a little daunting, but don’t be discouraged! Here are a few loom terms you should learn.

Reed: This is the main piece of the loom that lifts and lowers the warp threads, creating a shed so that you can weave. This is also called a Rigid Heddle.

rigid heddle reeds

Shed: The open space between warp threads when the reed is lifted up or down, to allow you to pass a shuttle through

Shuttle: The tool that you wind your weft thread around, and pass through the shed

weaving shuttles
Bobbin: Plastic tube to wind yarn onto for boat shuttles

DPI: Dents Per Inch. This corresponds to the number of holes and slots in 1” of your rigid heddle reed, and is sometimes abbreviated to dent. For example, if a pattern calls for 10 epi (ends per inch), then you want to use a 10 Dent reed.

Warp: The yarn that you wind onto the loom vertically before starting to weave. This yarn must be strong enough to not snap under tension.

Weft: The yarn that you weave over and under the warp yarn.

 

July 05, 2018 by Sarah Resnick

How do you calculate how much weaving yarn you need?

How much weaving yarn to I need?
Well the first answer is...you can never have too much yarn ;-)

But if you mean, how much yarn do you need for a specific project, here's a calculator I made for you! You will input the finished width and length you want, your sett, and a number of other details, and it will calculate exactly how much yarn you need. Don’t get nervous if you don’t know exactly how to input the predicted loom waste, takeup, and length shrinkage. You can use my estimates or your best guess. And then to be better safe than sorry, I always buy a little extra yarn and warp a bit more on the loom than I expect to need.

Want to learn more about weaving yarn? Download my free 14-page guide to choosing yarn.

September 13, 2017 by Sarah Resnick

Understanding Weaving Yarn Sizes

Understanding weaving yarn sizes

Weaving yarn sizes can seem like gibberish when you’re starting out, but there is a method to the madness! First, some definitions:

ypp = the number of yards per pound. Within a specific fiber, the higher the number, the thinner the yarn. Of course, some fiber is lighter than others, so this isn’t a good measure of telling the difference in diameter between fibers.

wpi = wraps per inch. This is calculated by wrapping your yarn around one inch of a ruler, snugly but without overlapping. The number of wraps you have is your wraps per inch, which is used to calculate epi. Because everyone wraps a bit differently/more or less
snugly, there can be some variation in how two different weaver’s calculate wpi for the same yarn.

epi = ends per inch. This is how many ends of warp yarn you will have per inch of your reed. Epi is determined by the size of the yarn, the type of weaving draft you plan to use (tabby, twill, etc.), the end use of your fabric, and how heavy or drapey you would like
the end product to be ppi = picks per inch. This denotes the number of weft threads you
have per inch of woven fabric. Again, this will vary based on the size of the yarn you use, but also based on the end use of the fabric and how much drape you would like it to have.

What do all those numbers mean, for example 8/2 cotton yarn?

In simple laymen’s terms, in the US system, the lower the first number, the thicker one ply of the yarn is. The second number denotes how many plies the yarn has. To complicate matters, in other countries these numbers are sometimes reversed, but typically the smaller number is the number of plies. If you know the standard formulas for each different fiber, you can use these numbers to calculate how many yards per lb. your cone of yarn will have. If you’re interested in a fantastic and in-depth explanation of the numbering system, see Peggy Osterkamp’s blog here.

If all this still has your head swimming, don’t despair! You truly don’t have to understand the intricacies of yarn sizing to get started. Many weaving yarn shops will tell you the ypp and recommended epi and sett, so you have a jumping off point. And even if you don’t have that, once you have the yarn in hand, you can calculate the wpi to determine your epi, and you’re off to the races! 

Some final suggestions: Doing hand towels? Try 8/2 cotton or this 3-ply linen. Want to weave a warm scarf? Try fingering weight weaving wool, or alpaca. Want to weave a warm blanket? Aran weight wool is a great option.

Want to learn more about weaving yarn? Download my free 14-page guide to choosing yarn.

September 13, 2017 by Sarah Resnick

How do you tell if yarn is suitable for a warp for weaving?

The warp yarn is the vertical threads that go through your heddles when you warp the loom. It is important that this yarn is strong enough to handle abrasion between the heddles as you lift your shafts up and down, and also that it isn’t so stretchy that you lose your tension. The type of weaving you plan to do influences the type of warp you’ll need.

For tapestry weaving, rugs, and other weft-facing projects that you will beat hard, you will likely want a very strong wool or cotton warp designed specifically for those projects. If you are making a wool, silk, or alpaca shawl, you likely won’t be beating as hard, so you just need to make sure that your warp is strong enough for what you plan to make. As a general rule, plied yarns (yarns that are twisted with more than one ply) will be better for warp, but that doesn’t mean that a single spun yarn can’t be used successfully!

One common test is to snap the yarn hard between two hands - if it breaks, it’s not suitable for your warp. Linen yarn is very strong and won’t typically snap, but may still abrade and wear down while weaving - the best way to know is to test it yourself, or ask your weaving friends or shopkeepers.

Want to learn more about weaving yarn? Download my free 14-page guide to choosing yarn.

These are the yarns I stock that are suitable for warp.

September 13, 2017 by Sarah Resnick

Is there a difference between weaving and knitting yarn?

is there a difference between weaving and knitting yarn

It’s common that people will start weaving after already falling in love with other crafts like knitting or crochet, and many people wonder if they can use the knitting yarn that’s already in their stash for weaving. Great question!

While there are sometimes differences between yarn that was manufactured specifically for weavers as opposed to specifically for knitters, that doesn’t meant mean you can’t weave with a yarn that was “meant” for knitting. Typically, yarn manufactured specifically for weaving is a bit stronger and less stretchy so that it can stand up to the abrasion of rubbing against the heddles as the shafts go up and down. Also, weaving yarn tends to be sold on cones which are easier to wind a warp from, whereas knitting yarn is often sold in skeins.

But a big part of the fun of weaving is experimenting with different kinds of materials, and allowing yourself to be inspired by whatever strikes your fancy. If you’re just starting out, I would encourage you to do a few projects with some 8/2 or 10/2 weavers cotton to get a feel of your loom and process. This cotton is inexpensive and easy to work with. Then after you have a few introductory weaving projects under your belt, I encourage you to explore whatever yarn your heart desires.

Want to learn more about weaving yarn? Download my free 14-page guide to choosing yarn.

September 13, 2017 by Sarah Resnick

What is wpi? How do I use it to calculate sett or epi for weaving?

what is wpi and how do you use it to calculate epi and sett in weaving

Wpi

Wpi stands for wraps per inch of yarn, and is used to help you figure out how many ends per inch of yarn to use for your weaving warp. Calculating the wpi of your yarn is simple! All you need is the yarn, a ruler, and a smooth stick or pencil. 

  1. Measure out exactly one inch on your stick or pencil. Make two marks that show the inch, to most easily calculate the wpi of your yarn.
  2. Wrap the yarn around the stick in between the two marks that denote one inch. Wrap snugly with no space between the yarn, but make sure you aren't scrunching up or overlapping the yarn.
  3. Count how many times you wrapped the yarn in one inch.
  4. That's your wpi, or wraps per inch!

OK...so how do I use that to figure out my epi and sett? 

Epi stands for ends per inch, which means how many strands of yarn you will have in your warp in each inch. Generally speaking*, the rule of thumb is:

  • If you are doing plain tabby weave, wpi / 2 = epi. So if your yarn had 24 wraps per inch, you will want 12 ends per inch in your warp.
  • If you are doing a standard twill weave, wpi * 2/3 = epi. So if your yarn has 24 wraps per inch, you will want 16 ends per inch in your warp.

*However! This is only a basic guide to get you started with sampling. How many ends you will want per inch will depend on several things: 

  • What weaving draft do you intend to use?
  • How dense do you want your finished fabric to be?
  • Do you want it to be warp-facing (the threads most visible are the warp threads), weft-facing (the threads most visible are the weft threads), balanced (both warp and weft threads are equally visible), or somewhere in between?
  • Are you using different kinds of materials for warp and weft that will shrink in different ways when wet-finished?

The only way to get the right sett for your materials and your vision is to sample! Enjoy the sampling process, it's a big part of the creativity of creating a new weaving project. 

For more in-depth resources on calculating sett, check out Leigh's Fiber Journal, Weavolution's Weaving Sett Calculator, and the Anchorage Weaver's and Spinner's Guild Sett Chart.

Hope that is helpful! Please reach out to me with any questions, and I'll try to answer them on a future blog post.

Looking for weaving yarn? Explore the shop.

July 15, 2017 by Sarah Resnick