A Yarn about Yarn

Last year I had the privilege of taking a rep-weaving workshop with Rosalie Neilson. I was not only thrilled with process of rep weaving, but also with myriad design possibilities of that rep offers. With shaft-thrifty blocks plus color and treadling variations, warp rep is a designer's playground, and this year I had the fun of working on Rosalie's new video, Weaving Rep, so that other weavers can discover rep through Rosalie's expert teaching. Here's Rosalie to tell you a "yarn" about the many faces of rep. ––Anita

  Rep Weave Rugs
  4-block, 4-shaft rep rugs

I always start a rep weaving workshop with a tall tale or “yarn” to introduce weavers to the versatility of warp-faced rep. Imagine if 15 weavers have warped a loom with the following: a 12” wide project of 3/2 cotton sett at 30 ends per inch. That’s 360 warp ends. And if each end is 3 yards long, that’s 1,080 yards committed to the project.

Now imagine if the weavers could tie all of their warp ends into one long string, how long do you think the string would be? It would be 16,200 yards long, or a bit more than 9.2 miles for the warp! If they were able to wind the string up into a big ball, and warp a loom at 12” wide, the project would be 45 YARDS long.

With a take-up of 20%, nine yards are lost during the weaving process. And with loom waste and a beginning sample, another yard is lost. But guess what? The finished textile would still produce a 35-yard long project, one-third of a football field, which turns out to be 1,260 inches long!

If the weavers wanted to make placemats that are 12” wide by 18” long, they could produce the equivalent of 70 placemats. And if they never changed the threading, but instead varied the tie-up and treadling sequence, each of the 70 placemats could be a completely different design!

I know this for fact because I have been weaving the technique of warp-faced rep for over 35 years—and have yet to exhaust my ideas for color and design. This is the power of warp-faced rep.

—Rosalie Neilson


Checkerboard Rep Rug
16-shaft checkerboard rep rug

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