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Using Handdyed Warps

As a dyer, I create colorful warp chains in a limited number of ends (threads), for example, 4 to 10 yards of 100 to 300 ends. This is the maximum I can wind using a warping board. My goal is to dye four warps at one time, so there should ideally be 400 to 1200 ends that could be used. An occasional question I get from other weavers is: how do you know how to use this in a project? What if you want to make a project that's larger than the number of handpainted warps available?

Simple Projects

Let's get the math out of the way first and talk about sett. Sett refers to the number of ends (threads) per inch. It varies with the thickness of a given yarn. For instance, if you have a 5/2 cotton, it needs to be sett at 15 - 20 ends per inch (epi), depending on the weave structure and drape desired. 6/2 tencel, maybe 18 - 22 epi. 10/2 cotton, as high as 30 epi. So a little simple math shows that the 200 ends in a 5/2 yarn will give me a range of 10 inches to 13.3 inches wide on the loom. The finished piece will be somewhat more narrow with the natural draw-in that occurs when weaving.

This does not limit you to scarves, although scarves and cowls are wonderful to weave and to wear. You can warp up half of your handdyed yarn to create a band about 5" wide. This is a great piece of accent fabric for a simple "waterfall" or kimono jacket or vest. It could be sewn using handwoven fabric, or something fabulous from your local fabric store—think high contrast in texture, like a lightweight wool boucle, a sweater knit, or a rich rayon velvet, all of which have a lot of drape, which is essential for this type of garment.

Mixing Handdyed Warp with Similar Yarns

This is a warp of 4 3/4 yards, 200 ends that I'm sending off to a customer today. She is interested in making a ruana, but 10" wide isn't going to be enough. This got me thinking about ways to use handpainted warp chains without spending a fortune on a project. One way to "extend" a handpainted warp like this is to mix it with yarns of a similar size and fiber content.

Here's an example of what I mean:

The warp that I dyed is a very soft and drapey 6/2 seacell/cotton blend. Using it as a focal point for the front bands of the ruana plus a few random stripes of mixed sizes in a simple twill patterns could work beautifully. I would use either the same base yarn or something similar like a softly spun 6/2 cotton or silk in this case.

One important thing to factor in is that the handdyed warp is pre-shrunk in the process of dyeing, so it's important to pre-wash the complementary warp as well, and not use it directly off the cone.

I hope this gives you some ideas about using handpainted warps as accents in your weaving. Thanks for reading!

1 comment

1 Comment

Mar 13, 2023

Can't wait to use this idea in this gorgeous warp! BTW, I really like your writing style. Now please go dye some more of these beauties!

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