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scarf

By Amy King

 

In the last issue I explained the basics of weaving with rigid heddle looms. Now for the fun part: planning your projects! Don’t let this step intimidate you. Figuring out a weaving project is fairly simple when you have a formula to work with. Fill out the charts below and you’ll be happily on your way to a new design. Let’s start with a simple scarf.

 

Step 1. Find your WPI (wraps per inch) and decide whether or not you want a balanced weave (more on that here). For this exercise we're going to assume you want a balanced weave and are using a standard sock yarn.

 

wpi

WPI with yarn.

Let’s assume our the WPI for our yarn is 20. Twenty divided by two is 10, so you’ll need a 10 dent reed/heddle for a balanced weave. If your yarn doesn't have a WPI that divides evenly you’ll have to use subjective reasoning. If it's 10.5, I use a 10; if it's 11, make a judgment call based on how you want the finished fabric to appear. A 10-dent reed would create a looser weave; a 12-dent  will be tighter.

 

To help you in the decision, consider how your yarn behaves. If it tends to puff a lot like a Targhee sheep’s wool then you might want to choose the smaller dent knowing any spaces will definitely fill in. If you're using a cotton that will just stay where it’s put; a larger dent would be suitable.

 

If you're embarking on a large project or using a pricey yarn, follow knitting’s golden rule and make a swatch.  If you are making a simple scarf it's much less of a gamble to just push ahead with whatever your gut tells you.

 

Step 2. Figure out how much yarn you need. Fill in the information on the handy little chart below to determine the needed yardage.

 

Warp Calculation

Desired finished length of the piece (A)

    inches

Length of fringe or turn-up length (B)

      inches

Total 1 (A + B)

      inches

   

Total number of pieces used in the project

 

Total 2 (number of pieces x Total 1)

   inches

   

Loom waste

  

10% shrinkage

    inches

10% take-up

    inches

Total length  (Total 2 + waste, shinkage, and takeup)

    inches

   

Width of piece

  inches

Shrinkage 10%

    inches

Draw-in (plan for 1-2 inches)

       inch

Total width

    inches

   

EPI  (8-dent, 10-dent, etc)

 

Ends : (= total width x  EPI)

     inches

   

Total 3 (Ends x total length)

   inches

Convert Total 3 to yards  (Total 3 x 36)

yards

 

Weft Calculation.

If you're doing a balanced weave you can plan on using the same amount of yarn, less the fringes and yarn waste. The more accurate way is to do a swatch then use this chart:

A = Pics per inch

   /inch

B = Number of inches needed

   inches

C= A multiplied by B

inches

D=10% margin of error

inches

   

C + D is your total

inches

   

Change your total to yardage

yards



You can also reverse engineer this design. This chart above helps you plan a project by the size you want the project to be, the one below will help you figure out what you can make with the yarn you have on hand.

 

Number of yards total

yards

Divide in half

Half is for the weft – half is for the warp


yards

   

Convert to feet

feet

   

Length of item wanted

feet

Waste of tie ones and take up

feet

Add length and waste together

feet

   

Amt of yarn divided by length needed **

This is the number of ends you will have to warp


ends

   

Divide by 2
This is the number of slots you'll use


slots

Round down to whole numbers.

 

My yarn is Opal Sock yarn 464 yards per ball and I wanted a 6-foot scarf. This is how my chart would look for that.:

Number of yards total

464 yards

Divide in half

Half is for the weft – half is for the warp


232 yards

   

Convert to feet

696 feet

   

Length of item wanted

6 feet

Waste of tie ones and take up

1.5 feet

Add length and waste together

7.5 feet

   

Amt of yarn divided by length needed

This is the number of ends you will have to warp


92 ends

   

Divide by 2
This is the number of slots you'll use


46 slots

 

At this point we can measure out the distance between our loom back beam and the warping peg to set up our loom with 46 looped ends pulled through the slots. When we do the final set up, cutting out looped ends, winding on to the back beam and finishing off dressing the heddle with one end (out of the two there) from each slot into a heddle hole, we'll have 92 ends.


These charts may seem a little lengthy, but much like a knitted garment calculator, once you get into inserting numbers and seeing how they work on your loom, they start to make more sense. There are patterns and kits available to make rigid heddle items but if you can set up your own, you'll find that you have much more versatility in weaving.

Once you master the simple patterns and straightforward plain or tabby weaving, it will be easier to get going on more complicated sets and changing up your colors or changing the balance of the fabric. We’ll talk about that next time.

scarf