Team Colors Weave-along: Sidelines Coaching for Better Weaving
I hope you are enjoying the weave-along and have warped your Team Colors Scarf and are happily weaving along. Here are some weaving tips from designer/weaver Elisabeth Hill that you may find useful for this project or your next one.
Weaving these team scarves beautifully and in time for the big game will be fun and easy with the aid of a little coaching from the sidelines.
Weave with confidence using a template
All four of the Team Colors Scarf downloads include instructions for making and using a grosgrain ribbon or twill tape weaving template. (Both grosgrain ribbon and twill tape are available online or in fabric stores.) A ribbon or twill tape template shows all color changes for the entire length of a scarf. This helps you keep an even, regular beat without having to reach for a ruler or tape measure every couple of inches. You will know by the first or second mark whether a firm or light beat is needed to get the desired picks per inch (ppi).
For instance, if the color change comes after 8 picks and you’ve only woven 4 when you reach the change mark, you will know that a firmer beat is necessary. Conversely, if you have woven 12 picks when you reach the change mark, you will know that you need to ease up on your beat. It should not be hard to get 8 ppi with either the Jagger Spun’s Mousam Falls and Halcyon Yarn’s Victorian 2-ply, although you will find that your beat has to be somewhat firmer for the Mousam Falls and lighter for the Victorian 2-ply.
Your template will also help keep track of your pattern and let you know when to stop so that you don’t potentially start a pattern repeat without enough warp to finish it. (Ask me how I know about this particular pitfall.) Remember to keep the tail of your tape free from the cloth beam so that it doesn’t distort your cloth on the beam, and hopscotch 2 straight pins to attach the tape to your cloth as you weave.
Hide your ends for a sleeker looking scarf
All weavers have their own techniques for hiding ends, and sometimes the yarn and type of project dictate the ones used. Here are the techniques—some of which are included with the pattern downloads—that I recommend for the Team Colors Scarves:
- Unply to reduce bulk at weft color changes: On an open shed, clip the end of the color you just finished 1-2″ out from the selvedge, unply the yarn by untwisting it, bring one strand up through the warp about 1″ in from the selvedge, wrap the other strand around the outermost selvedge thread, back into the shed and up through the warp at the same point that you brought up the first stand. Change sheds and start the next color the same way. By doing this, you are never doubling the weight of your weft in the cloth, and once the piece is washed and trimmed, there is no discernible bump at the color changes.
- Alternate sides for starting and stopping color changes: If you finished your last color on the right side of your scarf, start the next color on the left side.
- Unply to eliminate bumps when adding more weft: Leave your shed open, unply the end of the old weft, bring one strand up through the warp and the second strand up about 1″ beyond the first. Then insert the refilled shuttle into the same open shed and in the same direction, unply the end and overlap it so that the two unplied strands are coming out of the warp at the same points as the old yarn. The overlapping inch will be the same thickness as the rest of the weft and undetectable after washing and trimming.
- As you progress through your weaving, distribute your overlapped wefts across the width of the scarf so that they aren’t all lined up on one vertical line.
Use good weaving practices to achieve nice selvedges
- Advance your warp frequently (at least every 2″).
- Aim for firm, even tension every time you advance your warp.
- When advancing your warp, keep your heddle in the neutral position, and let the tension off the cloth beam before letting it off the warp beam.
- Pass your shuttle through the shed at an angle and—here you may diverge from floor-loom practice—gently pull your outermost selvedge thread while snugging your weft against it. Set your shuttle down, change sheds, and beat.
- If you notice that one of your selvedges is not as nice as the other one, scoot your chair over an inch or two toward that side. Sometimes, that’s all it takes!
Resist the urge to twist your heddle
Always hold your heddle parallel to the fell of your cloth, and pay attention as you beat to make sure that your weft is settling in evenly across the warp.
Protect your scarf!
When your scarf fabric is long enough to roll onto your cloth beam, insert paper or a paper-towel roll sliced lengthwise over the beam cords to protect your cloth from getting distorted by the cords. This is especially important for the Victorian 2-ply because it is a very open weave before it has been washed.
I agree with Elisabeth on all her coaching tips—especially the last one. The point is to enjoy yourself. Perfection is highly overrated. The fan in your life lucky enough to receive a Team Colors Scarf from you will be beyond pleased at the thought and love that you put into their scarf. No one cares whether one of your selvedges is wonky, and most people won’t see it anyhow—unless, like me, you have the weaver’s compulsion to show your errors. That I can’t help you with!
Featured Image: The Team Colors Scarves are great examples of how beautiful rigid-heddle weaving can be. Photo credit: George Boe