Combining Plain Weave and Lace
I am weaving a huck-lace cloth in 8/2 Tencel that has window frames of plain weave surrounding squares of huck lace. I am experiencing two problems. One is that the warp threads in the plain-weave areas are becoming very loose (they are about 1/-2″ wide each). The loose threads on the selvedge stripes make it really hard not to pull the weft in, so the edges are drawing in a lot. The weft is also building up in the plain-weave areas, so the fell is really wavy. What am I doing wrong?
The difference in weft buildup between the plain-weave and lace areas occurs because there are more interlacements of the weft in the plain-weave areas. In the lace areas, because of the warp and weft floats, the weft can compress. The presence of the plain-weave areas can be a good thing in that they prevent the weft from compressing too much in the lace areas. Unless you are beating too hard (harder than the intended weft sett, probably 20 picks per inch for your 8/2 Tencel), the waviness of the fell will resolve itself when you have removed the fabric from the loom and wet-finished it.
The fact that the threads in the plain-weave areas are becoming loose should not be happening, however. If your piece were very long, they should, in fact, become slightly tighter because those warp threads are interlacing more than the warp threads in the lace areas and therefore taking up more. My guess is that your warp threads in the plain-weave stripes are loosening because your warp was not wound tightly enough on the warp beam. When beat, the beater hits the fell in the plain-weave areas (since they build up a bit) much harder than it hits the fell in the lace areas. If there is any give in the layers of warp wound around the beam, the extra tug on those threads tightens them up there so that they become loose between the beam and the fell. (The greater draw-in on the edge stripe will make that area build up even more, making those threads even looser, and eventually resulting in broken selvedge threads). The solution to this problem is to wind the warp on the beam as tightly as possible. I like to do this by winding the beam a turn and then pulling on 2″ sections of warp at the front of the loom very very firmly (a shown in Warping Your Loom). The warp should always go on the beam tightly enough to resist the force of whatever “beat” will be applied to it)
Posted February 21, 2014. Updated May 8, 2017
If you have a weaving question we would love to hear from you! Please email Madelyn! Pictured: Summer Lace Placemats and Mug Rugs by Suzie Liles Handwoven May/June 2017.