Ask Madelyn: Answers to the Most Popular Weaving Questions

We absolutely love Madelyn van der Hoogt! Her depth of weaving knowledge, insight, and experience are hard to match. For quite a while now, you have asked Madelyn your weaving questions and she has answered. It’s no surprise that “Ask Madelyn” is one Handwoven’s hottest blogs! Madelyn has answered questions about yarn, warp, weft, washing, drying, frowns, smiles, and everything in between. As a little treat, we have assembled some of the most popular weaving questions and answers for you here. Enjoy!


SELVEDGE

Selvedge Denting
I am starting to weaving “Simple Towels” from A Handwoven Treasury (Jane Patrick, ed., Interweave, 1989), page 60. The sett is 20 epi (2/dent in a 10-dent reed). The instructions say: For the selvedges, thread 3 ends per dent in the last 2 dents on each side. I have done this, but how do I put these sections of 3 ends in the right heddles? Do all 3 go in one heddle? Read more…

Raising the Height of Floating Selvedges
How do I get my floating selvedges to rise up higher? I have them weighted with S-hooks off the back of my loom, but they only rise about a half-inch from the rest of the warp so it’s hard to take the shuttle out from under them. Read more…

Carrying Multiple Wefts Along the Selvedges
I have been intimidated by projects that require weaving weft stripes in different colors that repeat themselves regularly. Can I carry the yarns along the selvedge in some way or do I have to cut each weft after I’ve used it, start the new color leaving a tail on the edge, and then begin again with the new color? Read more…

Two Ways to Wind Floating Selvedges
A group I belong to has been having a discussion about floating selvedges. For one weaver, the right floating selvedge was continually breaking. That caused much advice from others, and it seemed as though there were lots of different ways to treat floating selvedges. Many project instructions don’t really tell you specifically how to warp them or weight them. I wondered if you had any thoughts on this? Read more…

Floating Selvedges: To Wind Or To Hang?
I live in New Zealand and have an 8-shaft dobby loom. I have asked many weavers about floating selvedges and get lots of different answers. Do you wind it on the back beam with the warp and weight it or do you hang it over the back with a weight on it? Looking forward to hearing your answer as this is very confusing. Read more…

Too-Tight Floating Selvedge Threads
I’m weaving two 78″ (on the loom) scarves with Cascade 220 fingering-weight wool in a 2/2 twill weave, one scarf right after the other. I’m noticing the floating selvedge threads, one on each side, are getting progressively tighter. I’m almost finished and think I’ll make it but would like to avoid this in the next set. I wonder if the selvedges going over and under successive weft picks while the rest of the warp threads in the body are doing their 2/2 pattern with the weft is the cause. Read more…

How To Sley Floating Selvedges
My question is simple. I have an odd number of threads, so my last dent will have only one thread on one side. Won’t this put extra stress on that thread?  Should I add floating selvedges? Read more…

Dense Sett for Better Selvedges?
I’m a new weaver and I’m trying to work on my selvedges. I’ve heard that you can get better, stronger selvedges by setting the warp threads denser at the selvedge edges. Is this true? If so, what is a good rule of thumb for setting those areas of the warp? Read more…


TEMPLE

temple

Temples

Too Late to Use a Temple?
I am weaving a twill scarf using JaggerSpun’s 24/2 Superlamb. I am experiencing a higher than usual degree of draw-in, and the floating selvedges are breaking. The piece is so narrow that I didn’t think I’d need to use a temple. If I get one that is the right size, won’t using it change the width (I am about a third of the way into the scarf)? Is there anything else I can do? Read more…

Do I Need to Use a Temple?
You often mention using a temple in your posts. I don’t have one and don’t have issues with my selvedges. I have a little draw-in at the heading of my weaving, but after that, the width is consistent. The difference in width between beginning, middle, and end of my yardage is maybe an eighth of an inch. I also rarely break warp threads, and when I do, it is almost always because of a flaw in the yarn (slub or underspun) and not near the selvedge. Read more…

Tabby and Temple for Weaving Overshot
I want to create placemats using Murphy’s “Diaper” Weave on page 115 of Marguerite Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book. The instructions say to use tabby, so does this really make it an overshot pattern that is reversible? Would I be best to use the weft yarns for this tabby or the warp yarns to make the pattern stand out? Read more…

Unsure of How to Use a Temple
I am having a lot of trouble weaving some linen towels. I am not able to achieve the number of picks per inch suggested by the project instructions (30 ppi for 40/2 linen), and my selvedge threads are breaking. A friend told me I should be using a temple. I have purchased one, but am not sure how to use it. Read more…

Choosing a Temple to Use in Weaving
A friend remarked that I am using the wrong temple for weaving scarves, towels, runners, etc. I prefer the metal temples that allow me to “see” the weft picks while I’m weaving. Is there really a reason that I should use a flat wooden temple? I haven’t had any tears within the edges of my cloth with my current choice. Read more…

A Tale of Two Temples
I’ve read your recommendation about using a temple (stretcher) for weaving and would like to try that out. I see that there are both wooden and metal temples and that they come in a range of sizes. I’m wondering which are best and how many sizes I need? Read more…


WARPING

illustration a, b--threading the paddle

Warping stripes

Warping Stripes With a Paddle
I am planning a project that has regularly repeating stripes in the warp. There are three colors. and their order repeats after every 7 ends. What is the most efficient way to wind this warp? Read more…

Warping Question: Raddles and Warp Spacers
I have a roll of single-sided corrugated cardboard, but have read that if I use it to separate warp layers, it might squash when I yank each section of the warp, leading to warp tension variations and/or wonky selvedges. Do you think I should discard the corrugated cardboard and use only plain (tear resistant) paper, instead? P.S. I want to avoid sticks for separating warp layers, as space at the rear of my heavy loom is limited, and many sticks would be needed for a 5-yard warp. Read more…

Complete Warping Steps
Fear of warping is one of the main things that holds new weavers back—but don’t let it scare you! You can take joy in the methodical process, and the more you do it, the easier it gets. Of course, having detailed step-by-step instructions at hand is a must the first few times you warp your loom! That’s why we’re here to help. Read more…

DIY Spool and Cone Rack for Warping
I recently bought a kit for towels. The thread is wound on spools. They don’t fit on my cone holder, so I’m wondering what is the best way to wind the warp using them? Read more…

Warping Back to Front with Two Crosses
Contrary to popular belief, warping a loom back to front isn’t any easier on your warp threads than warping front to back–unless you wind with two crosses! Use this method for warping a loom with very fine, sticky, or highly-twisted warp yarns. Read more…


WEFT

Keeping Fine Weft Threads From Becoming Distorted
I tend to beam my warp under tight tension, and I like to weave that way, too. Recently, as I have been working with finer threads, I am finding my weft gets distorted, becoming like waves as I advance the warp and the fabric rolls over the breast beam. Sometimes the threads straighten out with wet finishing, but often they do not. What can I do to prevent this? Read more…

Tips for Beating the Weft
I am having a lot of trouble knowing how to beat in the weft the right amount. My pieces don’t always look like the photos (if I’m weaving from project directions in a kit or in Handwoven magazine), and I’m never sure what “firm” beat or “gentle” beat really means. If I weave more than one piece on the same warp, the first one usually looks too loose and the last one usually looks too tight even though I was trying to beat them all the same. Do you have any advice for me? Read more…

Weaving a Project with Many Weft Color Changes
There is a project that I’m interested in that has lots of weft color changes. I’m worried that my edges will build up more than the rest of my weaving because won’t I be increasing the picks per inch at the selvedges if I overlap the weft tails there? Read more…


SETT

How to Sett Turned Taquete
I want to design some towels in turned taqueté, which I have not woven before, but I love the possibilities with patterning. The only problem is I have no idea how to sett the warp using 8/2 cotton. I’ve looked at a few different projects online and in the magazine and each one is sett differently: 20, 24, and 30. How does one determine the sett for turned taqueté for 8/2 cotton or any yarn for that matter? Read more…

Sleying the Reed for Specific Setts
I’m wondering what I should do to sley a 10-dent or 12-dent reed to get a sett of 16 ends per inch. Read more…

Dense Sett for Better Selvedges?
I’m a new weaver and I’m trying to work on my selvedges. I’ve heard that you can get better, stronger selvedges by setting the warp threads denser at the selvedge edges. Is this true? If so, what is a good rule of thumb for setting those areas of the warp? Read more…

Determining Sett for Doubleweave
I have only been weaving for three years and am fascinated with doubleweave. I wove a scarf in 3-block doubleweave on twelve shafts. When I finished the scarf, I thought it felt somewhat stiff. Should I have a looser sett or a gentler beat or both? It occurred to me that with multiple layers each layer gets beaten multiple times which caused me to wonder if I should be doing something different with setts and beats as I add more layers and blocks. Read more…


REED

How to Divide the Reed to Sley Multiple Ends Per Dent
I am a front-to-back warper, but sometimes have trouble with warp threads twisting during beaming when more than one thread is sleyed in each dent. Is there a solution to this or do I need to warp back to front when sleying orders call for multiple ends in a dent? Read more…

Converting Metric Reeds to Inches
I have two looms: one has reeds that indicate the number of dents/inch; the other has metric reeds (labeled as a 40/10 and a 25/10). Is there an easy way to convert metric reeds in order to follow project instructions that give the setts in the number of ends per inch? Read more…

How to Re-Sley a Mis-Sleyed Reed
I just set up a project on a Glimåkra floor loom and realized my warp sett is wrong. I have sleyed 1/dent in a 12-dent reed and I want to sley 1/dent in an 8-dent reed. What is the easiest way to do this? Read more…

Eliminating Reed Marks and Transferring the Cross
Whenever I have a weaving project that calls for a closer sett, which then requires me to double or triple up a certain number of dents, my woven piece often has lines through it where I have threaded the dent with multiple ends. What can I do when I’m warping a loom to prevent this from happening in my finished piece? Read more…

Choosing a Reed for Even Sleying (Or Close)
I’m buying a 40”-wide loom. It comes with an 8-dent reed, but I’m already planning on choosing a reed with more dents per inch than 8. I can only buy one new reed at the moment, so I’m trying to decide between a 10-dent and 12-dent. I know that I plan on weaving with 8/2 cotton for baby wraps and bath towels, if that helps. Which size reed should I get first? Read more…


weaving questions

This list is by no means exhaustive! You can find even more “Ask Madelyn” posts here! If you have a weaving question please email Madelyn!

Featured Image: Silk Scarves by Madelyn van der Hoogt found in Handwoven Presents: Best of Handwoven: Deflected Doubleweave eBook. Originally published in Handwoven January/February 2007, pp. 68–71; also included in Weaving with Silk, a Best of Handwoven eBook.


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