Friction and Fraying Threads

Handwoven Magazine Ask Madelyn

Hi, dear Madelyn,


Once again I have a question. I am weaving a tartan plaid blanket (60" x 70") in a 2-ply wool (3,700 yd/lb). I am using a reed that has 10 dents per centimeter, which would be a little over 25 dents per inch, with 1 end sleyed in each dent. The weaving is going quite well, except that I notice that the warp threads are being frayed to the point that they weaken and then break. This seems to be happening in areas that have large sections of a single color, but I'm not sure color is related. I'd like to know if there is some substance, such as a solution of lanolin or other substance I could spray on the reed to reduce the friction. Or do I need a different reed?


Many thanks for your so useful help. Have a nice day!


Philippe in France



Hi, Philippe!


This is not a problem that a weaver in this country would be likely to experience since very very few of us have reeds that are anywhere near as fine as 25 dents per inch. I'm not sure I've seen a reed with even as many as 20 dents per inch, let alone 25, though I know such reeds exist. I think that your reed is much too fine for that yarn. It's likely that a yarn at 3,700 yd/lb is as thick as, or even thicker than, the space in the dent itself, which means there would be a LOT of friction. I'd go for a reed that is twice as open or more. If you did want a sett of 25 ends per inch, I'd probably use what we call a 12-dent reed (12 dents per inch) and put 2 ends in each dent for a sett of 24 ends per inch. But that sett, 24 ends per inch, seems a bit close for wool at 3,700 yd/lb. Setts for plain weave for wool that thick (consulting the Master Yarn Chart) range from 15 to 20 ends per inch. For the tartan twill, a closer sett would be appropriate, so I would actually probably try 20 ends per inch, or 2/dent in a 10-dent reed. Weaving it at a slightly more open sett will also allow more room for fulling. Only sampling with your particular wool and then finishing the sample would give you the optimum sett. In either case, with 2 ends in a dent, fraying from reed friction will be much reduced. (I don't think spraying anything on the reed would ever be a good idea.)


Hope this helps!



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