Just Beat It (Gently)

I was super excited to work on the color-and-weave section of The Weaver’s Idea Book. I love color. I love playing with color. I love seeing how one color works with another to form patterns. Weavers have an endless world of possibilities when it comes to color.

I just had one slight problem with the patterns in this section: My beating was too tight!

  Accidental Weft-Faced Fabric
  Whitney's accidental weft-faced
color-and-weave coaster.  

Flashack: I wove my first color-and-weave coaster sample on my rigid-heddle loom. It was supposed to have a vertical-striped pattern on one side, and when it was flipped it over it would have horizontal stripes on the other side (this is achieved by warping one blue end and one red end repeatedly and then weaving one blue pick and one red pick repeatedly). However, when I finished weaving this particular sample, I had vertical stripes on both the front and the back. I had successfully woven a weft-faced cloth where not a single warp thread was visible.

Undeterred, I tried again with a different sample, this time houndstooth. Again, my beating was too hard. The weft threads became too tightly packed and the pattern was completely lost. It was frustrating to say the least. What was worse is that I have successfully woven other things without this problem, so to suddenly start having my beat become an issue was a real thorn in my side.

Polka Dot Sampler  
A change in sett and a lighter beat
resulted in a more balanced weave 

But I can’t let little things like this keep me from continuing my weaving journey, so I had to figure out how to fix my beating challenges. First, there was the obvious: just don’t bring the reed down so hard. I used a lighter touch, and that certainly helped. The pattern in the color-and-weave houndstooth pattern was starting to show up, but that wasn’t enough.

So I switched my reed. According to my calculations, the yarn I was using should have worked fine in the 8-dent reed, but I thought that maybe moving to a 10-dent reed would yield better results. I hoped that more friction created by having more warp threads would keep me from beating so freely. So far it’s been working (along with the lighter beat). It’s a teensy bit tight for the warp threads, but nothing to concern me yet. I’m going to redo all the color-and-weave samples on this reed and see how I fare. I will definitely post an update when I’m done!

In the mean time, I might watch my copy of Life After Warping again and see if Liz Gipson has any tricks on how to be a better beater. 


Whitney Dorband

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