Last July, I tried one of my cotton drafts (woven usually around 33EPI) on a merino warp with a merino/mohair weft at 18 or 20EPI. I hated it. I knew the draft would be magnified, but until I saw how much and in what way, I had no idea it would turn out so ugly. That piece sat under my couch until early this year when I gathered all the unfinished pieces from various hiding holes and finished them.

When I think of scale, I think of warp vs. weft yarn sizes, sett vs. pick, and the elements of pattern (color change, draft repeats) vs. the overall piece size. Only in relation to overall piece size do I take the human factor into consideration, but rather vaguely.

Fast forward to the present cotton warp. After all the hoopla of threading, sleying and first sampling, I started to see there is another issue with scale, and for want of a better term, I'll call it the human scale, until you tell me otherwise. .

If I held a grain of rice and told you I had composed a haiku and written it on that grain, you might believe me because I said so, but you probably don't care, and I doubt you'd worry about the literary quality of the haiku. My sample feels like that.

If I showed you my sample with a Schacht end-feed (red pirn) shuttle for comparison, and told you I've 96 ends of 2/60 cottons in the warp and 2/20 and 2/60 cottons in the weft, and also showed you the draft, you might believe me, but you mightn't care, and I doubt you'd worry about the aesthetics of the draft, because it is just too tiny to see in a way the pattern registers.

Likewise with a less fussy draft.

Part of the reason this didn't work is the sett is too close and the cloth looks warp-faced, which is not what the drafts were intended for. When I weave with 2/20 both ways, the sett and pick are roughly balanced at around 33EPI/PPI. On closer inspection, the 2/60 warp threads have fluffed in the finishing, but the same sized wefts have not, looking steely and unattractive. Do you know why this is?

More importantly, though, at this scale, it is difficult to see individual warp ends without getting your nose right into the cloth, and they seem to need to be treated in groups. There are, in fact, areas which looked so dull in draft, but not too bad in the cloth, and I suspect it is because of this.

So it's back to the drafting table. I could weave the whole thing in plain weave, which would make a colorful obi for a child. I could resley so I can weave in a more balanced way. Or, I could concoct a few more drafts to suit the threading and sett.

Not liking the color transition seems to be the least of the problem now. I need to raise the pleasure/hard-slog quotient.


  1. It's a challenge, that's for sure. Just remember that it's the things that take you out of your comfort zone that increase your learning.

    Simpler probably is better in this case.

  2. Yes, but can you see me going ahead with a plain weave? I've been wondering how long it would take to resley...

  3. The last thing you want to do is resley!

    I can't really see you doing plain weave either, but: how would this look with a straight treadling and a twill or plain-weave tie-up? You'd get a kind of pseudo-crackle with the occasional twill line.

  4. Good thinking, Watson! I've been just glaring at it all afternoon I really hadn't thought of anything constructive yet! That's not a bad idea... (she says as she still considers resleying...)

  5. I would think these drafts are too fussy for the very fine threads, though the second is less so than the first. There is a lot of tabby in the treadlings which could make the sett too close. Please keep playing and don't resort to plain tabby. I think you need some texture to give the colours movement.

  6. I'm a bit taken aback - not disappointed - as to how this didn't work out, DD. I need to get over this surprise before I can come up with something!

  7. ya'll are way out of my league here! I better get back to my simple frame loom now.

  8. Different, Dana.

    The sample is dry now, and the fussy-draft bits have a nice, solid-but-pleasant hand, whereas the plain weave bits are on the stiff side, but slick and attractive in a different way. I'm relieved I wasn't completely away with the fairies when I planned this, because I wasn't sure yesterday.

    I like the shadow/light effect of the fussy bits at night, too.

    But I still don't understand why the wefts didn't fluff up like the crammed warps.

  9. A thought, is the warp sleyed for tabby, twill, something in between or warp faced. I've never been brave enough to work with such fine thread. Try a sample with a softer beat just to see what the hand is.

  10. Sleying, DD. This is embarrassment. I went for 96 because it was hit-or-miss this-should-be-about-balanced-with-same-weft sett. I decided 96 in Dec when I was in a hurry for that textile awards thing, without sampling. I only sampled at 60, which was too gauzy. I knew it had to be between 90 and 96 - 96 was a nice even number to make it 16EPD/96EPI, and get 16 inches wide. And if I had enough warp ends, I could always resley if too closely set, as opposed to adding more warps.

    96 ended up being much too warp-faced for my liking, but the hand isn't bad. Softer beat would make it... even more unevenly balanced, no? Though you KNOW I'll sample it anyway; thanks for the suggestion.

  11. Well who says it has to be balanced? If you were making garment or upholstery fabric maybe but I'm guessing this is for wraps, light and floaty. Warp faced by its nature has to be unbalanced. I'm getting an early (for me) start on my loom today.

  12. Last word. The sett for twill and tabby is different anyway so it has to be unbalanced! I'm going, I'm going, weaving calls.

  13. It was originally going to be this breeze, spacy, installation style thing, ergo balanced, (and plenty of warp for sampling,) looking close to how the drafts appear in the software without changing yarn thicknesses.

    Balanced is usually a safe place to start for me, but in this case, because there are so many ends, I thought it easier to start on the very-crammed side, because I find it easier to resley making the setts looser.

    I know plain and twill setts are different, and that would be why I usually sample with three to five setts when I try out new yarns. I had it in my mind I need to rush this, which I guess I don't.

    Anyway, I feel so "harassed" when I use many colors that many other considerations go out of the window.

  14. In fact, I've resleyed from draft to draft with different twill-based drafts. I'm thinking this warp may need that kind of a treatment.

    This is why I like sampling. After I get the desirable combination, things can go downhill. :-<


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