Help! Designing my warp for sewing a jacket

I have analysis paralysis!  Decided to weave my very 1st jacket out of tencel as I don't want to worry about moth damage in future.

I want it to be fun and colorful and totally random with multi colors of tencel and a few warps of something with "texture".  I will be using plain weave.

I don't want to make stripes!  Are there tips that I  should use so many colors in warp (5, 6, 7 etc) and pick one for the weft to avoid any stripey look??

How do you achieve a totally random look without stripes is the question!

I haven't ordered any fiber yet so anxiously await your expertise.





Posted on Sat, 02/25/2012 - 23:09

There are several ways you can approach this.  You can start with a hand dyed varigated yarn, then pull solids of some of the colours in the varigated out to go with it.  If you have a sectional beam you can just use a variety of different colours in the bout.  If you warp with a paddle, ditto.  If you are winding a warp by hand on a board or mill, you can do four colours at once by having each colour in a different 'slot' between the fingers of your hand, and then thread them randomly.



Posted on Sun, 02/26/2012 - 00:30

Thank you so much Laura.  I will be hand winding the warp on a board.

If 4 colors randomly threaded are good then are 6 or 8 colors even better or can there be too many?  I have just enough inexperience to not be able to visualize completely the affect of the warp across the colors!  I appreciate your expertise so much!



Posted on Sun, 02/26/2012 - 02:33

There is no rule of thumb about how many colors you can use.  Use what looks good to you.  There are a lot of different methods people try - almost as many methods as weavers!  Here are a few:  Keep all the yarns in the same color family - like different shades of blue, extend the "family" and mix in greens and yellows - another way to look at this is take two or three neighboring colors on the color wheel. Use only dark colors (or use only pastel or light colors), use all the bright colors you want and unite them with a neutral weft such as black, white, gray or beige or unite them with one of the yarns used in the warp.  Take your color mix from a photograph, a painting or a flower and copy the colors in the same proportions...I could go on and on.

More importantly - to see if the colors you are picking out look good together, many weavers put the cones of yarn in a group together and look at them - squint- change the lighting -spend some time with the mix - or put them together and look at them once each day for a week.  take out colors, add colors until you are satisfied.  You can use paints, colored pencils, or crayons.  You will have some surprises when you mix shiny yarns with matte yarns, and if you add in textured yarns.  Yarn woven together creates different effects than when you place two colors of paint side by side.  The weft will change everything - any weft/every weft.  It will probably look entirely different if you weave it in a twill vs plain weave.  It is all about learning.  But you need to try it out for yourself and it will be beautiful.  even if you don't like it.  It is funny - sometimes I don't like something and put it away only to discover it years later and love it!

Good luck.

Stephanie S.


Some people like to make color wrappings - take a small piece of cardboard maybe 1" by 8" and wrap the yarns you are considering in the proportions you would like.  Sometimes people even weave in some weft with a needle - that's a bit much for me.  If I am satisfied with the warp mix I will put it on the loom with at least 15 extra inches planned for experimenting with wefts.  

Posted on Sun, 02/26/2012 - 02:54

Stephanie's suggestions are all good.  If you are winding by hand, 4 is about the maximum I recommend.  If using a paddle you can use a lot more (although I've never found success with a paddle, many people have).

A recent warp that I beamed sectionally had 20 different colours.  I posted a photo to my projects - it's the baby blanket warp done last month (or December, I don't remember exactly).

Today I cut a warp off the loom that had four different colours (actually 5 but two of the colours were wound together).  I chose to do a stripe for my towels.  I started with a varigated yarn and chose colours that I thought would go well with them.  The previous warp had 7 different colours - a varigated again and then stripes made up of two different shades of a colour.  Both the warp from today and the previous one are in my projects.

When choosing a weft colour, if I want to emphasize the warp, I select a colour that is darker in value than the warp yarns.  For the two towel warps I just did, I wanted to tone down the warp yarns a bit and chose a weft colour of a lighter value than those in the warp.





Posted on Sun, 02/26/2012 - 04:12

Remember that Tencel needs to be sett more closely than cotton of the same size. Tencel does not bloom when washed and it has a slick surface. If your sett is not close enough, it will be harder to sew and will not wear well.

Plain weave will give you the thinnest cloth you can make from a given warp and weft.

You want to add a textured yarn? Look for one in some form of rayon (bamboo, viscose, soy, tencel) and/or cotton. Stick with cellulose fibers to be safe.


Posted on Mon, 02/27/2012 - 00:43

Let's say you have already finished weaving the yardage for your first project!   Leave enough of the warp hanging so you can tie on a new warp to wind.  Make several new batches of warp of different colors/textures and tie each of these one batch at a time to the old warp spreading it out across randomly as you tie on.  When you finish each batch of warp lift it out of the way so you can easily tie on the next batch.  It's a little tricky but works well with warps that are not too long, 3-4 yards.  I've done many warps this way, sometimes combining leftover yarns that wouldn't be enough to use for other projects.

If you don't mind spending extra time, you can start by threading and sleying a "dummy" warp and then tying on the new warp to it.

Happy weaving!

Eva Stossel 

Posted on Tue, 02/28/2012 - 00:35

Laura, Bonnie, Stephanie, Eva

THANK you all for your wonderful responses!  I am so excited to get my fibers all lined up and get my colors selected.  My goal is to have my fabric woven by June so I'll post pictures in a few months.    I can't thank you enough for your excellent comments!!

Stay tuned!

Posted on Tue, 02/28/2012 - 22:18

I always put "randomness" in quotes when talking about weaving, as it takes rather a lot of planning and attention to pull off without accidental patterning.  When attempting a random warp I find more colors is better as it allows smoother transitions.  It's nice to warp these with a tension box so you can see all the colors on the rack and quickly adjust the transitions, then wind a section, skip a couple, wind a couple, etc.  until you reach the end.  Then you can go to the rack and switch out some tubes to move the colors you think are most likely to stand out and so avoid striping, and do another pass.