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Submitted by Anonymous on Sun, 07/12/2009 - 01:21
I'm absolutely new to tapestry. I have a Mirrix 16" loom. I am confused as to how tight the warp should be. In some pictures it appears that the warp is lifted easily with the finger to pass the bobbin through.
I'm not familiar with the Mirrix loom, but some looms have a tensioning bar - the warp would wrap around this rather than the top of the loom & the bar would be adjustable. (This would be comparable to the back beam on a regular loom.)
Simple frame looms generally don't have this. In that case you want the tension to be even across the loom, loose enough to work the warp as far as you need, but not so loose that the warp sags. I think the Mirrix has a wire spring at the top the help keep the warp in place. Would this also help in tensioning?
Joan in Jamestown
Thanks Joan. I have been playing with it and think I have a workable tension. I wasn't allowing enough give to pass a bobbin through part of the warp, just to pass it through the whole shed.
It sounds like you have it under control now. You want your tension to be firm but with enough give to get your bobbin through. I usually keep it a little bit firmer than what I have on my weaving loom. Test with the palm of your hand to make sure it feels the same all the way across. What type of warp are you using? Some types are more giving than others. Cotton (I use Norsk cotton <http://www.norskfjordfiber.com/catalog/tapyarn.html>) is best for a beginner, but I have heard of some people using Linen. Linen keeps its shape and creates a firmer tapestry but is not as easy to work as cotton.
Good luck and keep weaving. I have been weaving for about 3 years now and still feel like a rank beginner.
Thanks for all the help. I used seine twine #6 for the warp and am using tapestry yarn for the weft.
I like to use linen for my warps, even on my smaller tapestry looms. This is a 4-ply very smooth linen, rather heavy. At Grand Rapids Convergence I picked up a bag of it, maybe 15 skeins, in many different colors from one of the vendors. I think that gives me a lifetime supply. There are times when I allow the warp to show through, so the linen is a visual element as well as a structural one.
I have just been trying to weave Navajo tapestry on a frame loom and although I got a little better, there were wobbles on the selvedges. I found that if a few warps were just a little loose, then the weft piled up there and caused a bump that just got worse. The warps in that area also crammed together, adding to the problem. So I learned that the warp must be very evenly tensioned.
I started again, this time tightening the loose warps a little and doing another row of weft twining. Now I over-compensated and put too much weft in, and I started to get vertical waves. This was a much easier problem to deal with, and as I wove I kept lessening the weft until the piece was just the width I wanted. The last half of the second piece was flat, square, and reasonably dense. Hopefully I'll retain the intricasies of the technique and my next attempt will be better.
I would not want to try weaving on this frame using a linen or cotton warp -- just too unforgiving. The 3-ply, 850 YYP wool that I used came under a lot of strain as I tried to achieve the tight tension I'm accustomed to on my floor loom.
I get better results on my Mirrix looms when I keep the tension as tight as possible, so that strumming the warp threads feels like strumming guitar strings. I'm using 2 ply cotton seine twine or a singles wool warp most of the time.
The other trick to the Mirrix is to keep that warping bar as level as possible, which is no easy thing, sometimes. I use a tape measure and a level every time I move the warp. If the bar is slightly off level, your warp tension can vary dramatically from side to side.
Congratulations on getting those selvages straight. I am still struggling with that myself. I know what you mean by the bump. In my effort to make sure I don't pull in on the sides I too am leaving too much on the sides and getting that bump towards the center. It is so hard to find that happy medium of straight but firm edges. Kathe Todd-Hooker, in her book Weaving 101 suggests that the bump is really a matter of your weft being too loose, not the warp. I am working on that now to see how to make the turn is loose enough to not pull in but tight enough to keep the line straight. Ah, it is a difficult lesson to learn.
Good for you for working it out on your Navajo piece. Have you posted it to the projects area yet? I just posted my Philly Cars piece.