How to Measure Projects on the Loom


I am wondering what is the best way to measure a project on the loom. I try to keep track as I’m weaving, but am not sure I have kept accurate notes. Then, I’m afraid to unwind to check, for fear I’ll disturb the tension on the warp.



Hi Vicky!

Weavers have adopted many different weaving techniques for measuring the woven length of a project while they are weaving it. Complications are involved: for example, if you release the tension and measure, the cloth will relax a bit, and therefore be shorter than if you measure under tension (growing shorter the longer you wait to measure). For that reason, Handwoven projects indicate “woven length measured under tension.” That way, you know that the finished length will be shorter and can allow for it (paying attention to the number of inches indicated in project directions under “take-up”).

Even then, the designers of the project may not have been completely accurate in relaying those numbers, since we don’t really have a consistent system for doing so. Measuring under tension, though, is likely to be a more consistent measurement and not as dependent on the behavior of specific yarns (some are very stretchy, for example).

Some use weaving techniques such as pinning cloth measuring tapes to the woven cloth as they weave. This seems awkward to me (and the tape could possibly shift in the process). What I usually do is put a fat-headed pin or a safety pin in the cloth right at the selvedge after every 15 inches of weaving (that’s the amount I can easily measure under tension, from above the cloth beam to the fell). If it’s a fairly long piece, I write down each time I put in a pin. If I were to forget to do that, I can always count the number of pins in the roll of cloth around the beam.

You don’t have to be afraid, however, to unwind the cloth on the cloth beam to check your measurements. When I do that for a long project (removing floating selvedge weights first), I like to have someone help me so that I can put a rod under the warp above the breast beam and step away from the loom holding warp and cloth under tension with the rod while someone else unrolls the cloth beam. After I measure, I hold the rod as the helper turns the cloth beam to rewind the cloth.

I have also done this without the helper, turning a few turns and then pulling on the rod to make sure the cloth goes back on the cloth beam evenly. For short warps, unrolling and rerolling can be done without as much care.

Hope that helps!
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