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It’s happened to all of us—we warp up a gorgeous yarn, so excited to weave a beautiful project for ourselves or someone else, only to discover once finished it’s not at all the size we anticipated.  While few people love sampling (don’t we all just want to get right to the weaving?), it is an incredibly helpful tool that can save you a tremendous amount of time, money and heartache. 

Knowing the accurate shrinkage of your yarn for the project you want to weave before you start will give you a far better result than just guessing – or as I call it, Pick and Pray.  

Here is a quick lesson in how calculate you take-up and shrinkage. I always weave a 10x10” sample because it yields a large enough size to give me a good sense of the hand of the fabric, and it makes the math easier!  

Calculating Take-Up and Shrinkage in Weaving

Here I wove plain weave that measured 10x10” under tension. 

Calculating Take-Up and Shrinkage in Weaving

But after washing and drying it measured 9” wide and 8.5” long.  

Ok—you’ve got your measurements, now what?

While there are different approaches to calculating shrinkage, I prefer to think of shrinkage as the relationship of what I started with to what I ended with.  

Dividing my beginning measurements by my ending measurements will give me a ratio that will tell me how long and wide a warp needs to be for me the get the finished measurements I want. 

So in this case, my 10” long fabric ended up 8.5” long. Dividing my starting measured length under tension (10”) by my finished length (8.5”) I get 1.176 (10”/8.5”), or the ratio of my beginning measurement to my ending measurement. 

Therefore, if I want my finished woven fabric to be 10” long, I multiple my desired length by the ratio I just calculated to get the length I must weave. In this case, 10 inches x 1.176 = 11.765 inches. 

If I wanted a 15” long fabric, I would weave for 17.64” (15’ x 1.176). 

Similarly, for the width, I dividing the 10” I started with by the 9” I ended with I get a ratio of 1.111. So my warped width, to achieve 10” finished, is 11.11” wide at the reed (or 10” x 1.111). 

For a 15” wide fabric, I would warp 16.65” wide. 

Now you know how to calculate for take-up and shrinkage! 

About Christine Jablonski

In addition to being GIST's Operations Manager and Wholesale Director, Christine is a weaver and exhibiting fiber artist. She scampered down the rabbit hole of rigid heddle weaving several years ago as a way to use up her knitting stash and never looked back. In addition to very practical cloth woven to adorn home and body (tea towels are her favorite home linen projects to weave), Christine also weaves conceptual works that explore themes of mood and memory, strength and fragility, and often reflect on the current political and ecological landscape. Her work is held in private collections across the country and is shown regionally in New England galleries. To see more of Christine's work, check out her Instagram.  


November 05, 2020