You Had Me at Ends Per Inch: Finding the Perfect Sett
As a new weaver, I was told (and I believed) that having an equal number of ends per inch (epi) as picks per inch (ppi) marked good weaving. It became a goal in my weaving, as if a balanced weave was perfection. Eventually, I had to let that goal go when it was interfering with my enjoyment of weaving. I found that for me, it worked better to find my sweet spot when treadling, rather than trying to hit someone else’s idea of perfection. The foundation of my method is adjusting my sett rather than trying to change my beat.
My sweet spot lives at the combination of sett and beat that creates the fabric I want to weave and allows me to beat in my most usual way, with a soft placement of the weft rather than forcing the weft into place. (Not to say I don’t whale on my loom when weaving rep or other warp-faced weaves.) For many yarns and weave structures, I know how to sett my warp from past experience. For other combinations, I do the time-honored yarn wrap to figure out a starting place and then sample. I also rely heavily on the Master Yarn Chart for tips on a new-to-me yarn’s sett, although I still sample. To be honest, I’ve gotten to the point in my weaving career where I almost can’t weave unless I sample first.
When I have a problem finding my sweet spot, I use a formula to help me. If things look off, I measure my ppi on the loom, add that to my epi and then divide by 2. For instance, if I don’t like how my fabric looks with a ppi of 30 and an epi of 20, I add them for a sum of 50 and divide by 2 to get 25. Next, I re-sley my warp at 25 epi (more or less) and then resample. I might repeat the process or make an educated guess to go up or down in my sett. Because I am so picky about my sweet spot, I even invested in a 14-dent reed for additional flexibility in setting my warp. It allows me to sett at some of those in between numbers that can’t easily be captured with the standard reed sizes.
For me, weaving is equally about the process, the project, and my enjoyment. If the 3 aren’t working together, it seems rather pointless. I encourage you to find your own sweet spot when you weave. Don’t worry about what is right, but instead about what is right for you.
Featured Image: Harris Tweed, weaved on the Isle of Harris. Artist: Luca Sage. GettyImages
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