Making Woven Design More Intuitive + A FREE TOOL
IN THIS ARTICLE
- Understanding the effects of warp spacing.
- Sizing and aligning shapes for best results.
- How to design using warp spacing as your guide.
+ Get our FREE tool ‘Weaver’s Graph Paper’
I’m really passionate about weaving. Have you noticed?
I’ve spent several years now immersed in frame-loom weaving and tapestry. I’m a little obsessed.
Something that’s been on my mind lately is how can I test my design before committing weft to warp?
The problem I’ve found is that designing specific shapes and then weaving them accurately can be quite tricky.
You might have had this experience - you have your design idea, it’s great by the way, you throw in the variables of your warp sett and chosen weft yarn, and you start weaving.
Suddenly that eye-pleasing shape you envisioned, with its faultless proportion and symmetry, starts to get a little wonky.
Your shape becomes too wide, or maybe too narrow. You push the weft around, try and straighten things up, but you just can’t get it to sit right.
You stare at it, it stairs back at you. You lose interest, it gathers dust. This one was never going to cut it, you’re a perfectionist after all.
This experience has left me with the question - How can I ensure my designs are going to translate to weaving and can I make the design process more intuitive?
So, let’s get right down to the cause of the problem – the warp sett.
The warp sett or spacing of the warp, often described by the number of warp ends per inch (epi), determines the position of each dot of weft as it passes over the warp.
For example, if you have a warp spacing of 4 ends per inch (4 epi), for each full pass (two rows) of weft you have four dots of weft. So, for every horizontal inch of fabric you weave you have four dots that you can use to control the placement of colour, and in turn control the formation of shapes.
The limitation imposed by the warp spacing means you can’t weave shapes in infinite detail. Every predefined angle and curve of your design must correspond to one of these ‘dots’ of weft.
This can be challenging to get your head around at first but stay with me. The diagram below might help you better visualize the concept.
By carefully scaling and aligning your design to your chosen warp sett, or choosing a sett that compliments your design, you will be able to make the most of any pattern or shape.
To further illustrate this I’ve drawn up some examples that show you how the alignment of a shape against the warp might affect its proportions.
I’ve purposefully scaled the shape at 1 inch (2.5cm) as I know this has the potential to produce a round circle at either 4 or 8 epi. For more notes on weaving circles I’d suggest checking out LINE SHAPE TEXTURE.
The differences in each illustration are subtle, but as you can see, the alignment of the circle does affect the the symmetry of the shape.
So, to overcome that problem I described earlier your design must be carefully dimensioned to fit the spacing of the warp and positioned to maximize the use of those ‘dots’ per inch.
So that’s the theory, how can I help you make it work in practice?
I had the idea when I was developing the shaped weaving blog post. To get this design right and ready for weaving the sizing and placement of the shape against the warp had to be just right.
My first step was to draw up a series of carefully spaced vertical lines to represent my warp sett. From there I could sketch out and proportion the shape.
Having defined the warp spacing I was able to map out the angles and curves of the shape while visualizing the placement of weft to achieve symmetry within the design.
To help you sketch your own designs I have taken this concept one step further and developed what I call - Weaver’s Graph Paper.
Essentially, it's a precisely lined graph paper that replicates the warp spacing so you can sketch elements of your designs and accurately size and position these elements against the warp. Once you have your design perfected on the graph paper you can transpose it directly onto the warp and start weaving.
I really believe that sketching with warp sett in mind will help improve the way you plan key elements in your pieces. And with practice, it will become an intuitive part of your design process.
THANK YOU FOR READING!
Our 'Weaver’s Graph Paper' is available as a FREE pdf download.
Click button below and get sketching now!
Graph Paper Notes:
In this first version of Weaver’s Graph Paper, I have used a warp spacing of 4 and 8 epi, reflecting the warp spacing on the Loom & Spindle range of frame-looms.
To make the graph paper as functional as possible I’ve included both a metric and imperial scale where practical to reference as you sketch.
I’ve included the following printing notes on the graph paper: Paper Size, A4; Set scale to 100%; Page orientation, Landscape.
Using the graph paper does take practice! I would suggest starting with a rough sketch to help you define your concept. Then sketch out your design again, this time on the graph paper, being mindful where your design sits in relation to warp.
Please feel free to print it as many times as you need :)
With your help this will be an ongoing project that we can refine together. I’m hoping it will establish a way in which we can consistently develop and share design ideas for frame-loom weaving.
If you have any thoughts, questions or suggestions on Weaver’s Graph Paper I’d love to hear from you!
PS: Tag your sketches #loomandspindle so I can follow your progress!