8/2 Cotton in an 8-Dent Reed
I have a 4-shaft jack loom and an 8-dent reed. I'm interested in using 8/2 cotton to make kitchen towels but only see 12-dent reeds recommended. Do I need to purchase a new reed or is there a pattern that would work with what I have? I thought this would be a fun project to get back into weaving. Thank you for your help.
You can definitely use your 8-dent reed. What you'll have to do is figure out the order in which to place threads in each dent that will give you the number of threads per inch required by the draft for your towels. Usually, if 8/2 cotton is woven in plain weave, the recommended sett is 20 ends per inch. To get that sett with an 8-dent reed, you'll need to sley 3-2; that is, you'll alternate 3 ends and 2 ends in the dents (3-2-3-2-3-2-3-2 in eight dents equals 20 total ends). If your required sett is something else, you'll just have to do the math (I usually draw the dents and put the threads in them as little dots and count them, I'm embarrassed to say.) You can usually use most any reed for most any sett with a few restrictions. If your yarn is very thick, you could not sley it in a 15-dent reed at every third dent to get 5 ends per inch because the thread would rub on the bars of the reed. If you have too many ends in a dent (6 in a 4-dent reed to get 24 ends per inch), the separation made by the reed bars may show in the finished cloth.
The important thing to remember is to distribute the threads as evenly as possible. If you have several threads clustered in one dent and the next dent has only one thread in it, the clustered threads may still be a bit clustered in the finished cloth.
There are several sources (Interweave's Weaver's Companion is one of them) that give sleying orders for common setts using all reed sizes, but I really like the pencil and paper method best.