My “Slow Fashion” Project – Part 2

I had the weft yarn for my Slow Cloth yardage project all sorted out, now I needed warp. I was not in the mood to dye and blend another pound of fleece, so I left it natural. My strategy was simple: I’d card and spin about 12 oz of singles, measure the yardage, and see how long a warp I could make with it. I was hoping for at least 6-7 yards, at about 20″ wide.  I just wanted plain yardage, so no fancy patterns. I went with a basic broken twill and used this draft from, only without the warp stripes.

It all started off well enough. I sized and blocked my singles, and wound them onto cardboard storage spools when they were dry in preparation for warping. I used the Ashenhurst Rule for determining sett, as I did not feel like measuring WPI on 4800 YPP singles. I had a starting sett of 27 EPI, and I would warp Back to Front for a change. For some reason I ended up with a five yard warp, where I had hoped for at least seven. I chalked it up to lack of experience, and start winding my warp. After I finished winding the whole warp I discovered 4 more skeins of spun warp yarn that had fallen behind the loom before I did my warp calculations. Now I understood why my warp ended up so short – I was missing about 1400 yards 😦

I had two choices. I could carefully unwind everything back onto spools, recalculate the length with the additional skeins, and start all over again, or I could keep the warp at its current length, and just make it a little wider than I’d planned. It had taken me four days to wind this warp. I went with option B.

I figured there was no need to actually count anything while I was winding the extra warp.  After all, I was threading in a straight draw and didn’t have any complicated threading sequences to keep track of.

I’m sure you can see where this is heading.

I took the warp chains to the loom and started spreading them in the raddle. It did not take long to see that I had 38″ of warp on a 26″ loom. This was not going to work. I tried changing my sett to 32, but even that wasn’t enough. In the end I left it at 32 EPI and pulled out the extra ends, setting the unused warp chains aside. Oh, and somewhere in all the rearranging of warp in the raddle I lost my cross.

I finally got it all beamed and threaded, but it was not a nice, neat, orderly warp.  It wasn’t really tangled, but there were a lot of places where sectionsof warp were crossing over each other. This, combined with the new closer sett, made the warp Very Sticky.  A warp of close-sett, semi-woolen-spun wool singles is sticky. Who’d’a thunk it (please apply sarcasm font.) Every time I changed sheds I had to manually clear the warp and make sure none of the threads were sticking together.  Every. Single. Shed. It’s impossible to develop any speed or rhythm when working like this

I did eventually finish.  It took me three months.  I’m reasonably happy with the fabric, even though it’s more warp faced than I’d pictured.  The warp stripe draft gives it a very subtly ribbed texture at this sett, as seen in the photo at the top of this post.

So what happened to the rest of that warp yarn, you ask?  When I was done with this piece of yardage I cut it off, and tied the remaining warp onto the center section.  I re-sleyed at my originally intended 27 EPI, giving me the more balanced twill I’d been hoping for.  I got another four yards of fabric, at just under 8″ wide.  This one was much faster to weave off, as the warp was beamed more evenly, and the wider sett meant no more manual clearing of sheds.

It will make nice facings, and maybe a small bag or two.


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