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Zig-zagging with Warp Rep
By Holly Brackmann

Handwoven, Issue 128, January/February 2006

Although mainly thought of as a rug technique, warp rep can be used very effectively on a more intimate scale. Warp rep produces strong designs when it is used in combination with high contrasting warp colors. By using dyed bamboo skewers as the thick weft and discontinuous thin wefts, a variety of weavings can be created from a single warp.

The potential effects of warp rep have intrigued me for years. In warp rep there are two alternating warp colors and two alternating weft sizes, a thick and a thin.  The resulting cloth shows smooth weft wise ribs in a choice of two colors in any block. 

Eight shafts provide four independent blocks of warp rep.  For these pieces I used a simple straight threading of the blocks (ABCDABCDA) with each block the same width.  Playing with colored pencils and graph paper, I found I could create designs of stair-stepped zigzags, straight verticals, and branching horizontals. 

Start with a Sampler

Weaving a sampler is an important next step.  I like to sample on the actual warp I will use for the final piece, so I always make sure there is extra warp length. This way I can experiment with the designs and see how the sett and beat really work together.  Many times I find new treadling combinations that would not have occurred to me on paper.

I used the sampler as a way of envisioning how dyed bamboo skewers could be used to enhance the design and form contrasting color areas.  Then, I chose several colors of dye (fuchsia red, turquoise, green and orange) for the bamboo skewers.  The colors harmonize with the warp, but add a completely new design.

Steps for Weaving the Ziggy Sampler and Art Pieces

Step 1.  Wind a warp of 522 ends alternating 1 blue/1 yellow 4 yd long. Wind the 2 ends together, keeping them separate with a finger but placing them together in the threading cross. At the opposite end of the warp from the threading cross make a raddle cross with 40 ends/group. Tie both crosses and several choke ties and remove the warp from the warping board without cutting the end loops.

Step 2. Place the raddle on the back beam and a rod in the end loops near the raddle cross, secure the rod to the warp-beam apron rod, and spread the warp in the raddle at 40 ends/space (42 in the last space). Beam the warp with firm tension, Packing the layers with sturdy paper.

Step 3. When the threading cross reaches a comfortable position for threading, place lease sticks in the cross and secure them to the castle. Thread the shafts following Figure1and sley 8 ends/dent in a 10/dent reed or 4 ends/dent in a 20-dent reed.

Step 4. For the Ziggy sampler: Weave 1" (20 picks) plain weave with 10/2 cotton for hem. Wind a stick shuttle with 5 ends Luster Sheen (first wind the skein into five small balls) for the thick weft. Alternating 10/2 blue cotton (thin weft) with the Luster Sheen (thick weft), weave the treadling sequences from Figure 1 that are indicated beside each row of the sampler in Photo a starting at the bottom (see directions in Figure 1); end with 1" hem as at the beginning.

Step 5. To weave Ziggy One: Weave 20 picks plain weave for hem with 10/2 blue, starting from left to right. Row 21 begins the body of the weaving. With treadle 7 (sequence c), insert bamboo skewer and also weave 1 pick 10/2 (left to right). The bamboo skewer will extend about 3 ⁄4"on each side. (A pick of 10/2 is always inserted with the skewer to help keep the warp from splitting on the skewer.) Then weave the thin pick of 10/2 with treadle 8 (Row 22). Repeat sequence c three times, ending with Row 28.

Step 6. Row 29 begins the first “open” area (the Block B that is on the left side of the warp) where only the skewers will show when the fabric is removed from the loom and finished. Wind two more shuttles with 10/2 blue, one that will weave on the right side of the open area and another that will weave with the warp in the open area (these threads will later be cut, turned under, and hemmed to the back of the piece. Using treadle 5 (sequence b), weave from left to right with the 10/2 shuttle you have been using, bringing the shuttle out of the shed at the left of the yellow threads raised in Block B (on the left side of the warp). With a second 10/2 shuttle, weave from the right side and bring the shuttle out at the right of the same yellow threads. With a third shuttle of 10/2, weave 1 pick under only the yellow threads in the “open” Block B. (This pick begins weaving the “flap” that will later be cut away.) Then insert a skewer in this same shed, but pass it under all of the warp threads in the “open” Block B. With Treadle 6, weave with 10/2 in all three areas as before. To keep the warp secure in the “flap” above the skewer, alternate treadles 5 and 6 four more times and weave with 10/2 in the “flap” only. Repeat from Row 29 three times. Continue as above, following the treadling sequences, passing the skewers underneath the open areas, and weaving the flaps above the open areas with several picks of 10/2 (5 total flap picks for each skewer; adjust this number if the weft builds up too much or too little). End with 1" plain weave for second hem.

Step 7. You are now ready to design your own pieces. Skewers can be colored with commercial dyes (see Project at- a-glance), paints, or permanent markers. You can use graph paper to decide whereto place yellow, blue, or the open areas that show the skewers.

Step 8. After you have woven your pieces, remove the fabric from the loom and machine sew two lines of straight stitches 1⁄4" apart between pieces. Cut pieces apart between stitched lines. Turn ends under 1⁄4", turn again to the back and sew hems by hand. Cut the flaps on the front of the open skewer areas 3⁄4"from the edges of the weaving, turn under, fold to the back and stitch down by hand.


Project At-A-Glance

Structure for Ziggys
Warp rep

8-shaft loom, 7" weaving width; 10- or 20- dent reed; raddle with 1⁄2"spaces, 3 shuttles.

Warp: 10/2 pearl cotton (4,200 yd/lb), blue and yellow, 1,044 yd (4 oz) each. Weft: 10 pearl cotton (4,200 yd/lb), blue, about 200 yd (2⁄3oz). 3/2/2 acrylic (Luster Sheen, 1,340 yd/lb), 5 threads used as one, 17 yd (85 yd total), dyed bamboo skewers, from 25 to 40 for each weaving.

Yarn sources
10/2 pearl cotton is available from most weaving retailers, Coats and Clark’s Luster Sheen in 335 yd/4 oz skeins is available from craft stores, skewers from grocery stores, dyes for the skewers from Dharma Trading Company or PRO Chemical & Dye.

Warp order and length
522 ends 4 yd long (allows 36" for 30% take-up and 24" loom waste) alternating 1 blue/1 yellow.

Warp and weft spacing
Warp: 80 epi (8/dent in an 8-dent reed, 4/dent in a 20-dent reed). Width in the
reed: 6 2⁄5".
Weft: 5 1⁄2thick/5 1⁄2thin ppi (an additional thin pick is placed with the skewers). Woven length (measured under tension on the loom): a sampler 11 1⁄4"long and nine weavings about 8 1⁄2"long each.

Finished dimensions
After hemming, amounts produce 1 sampler 6 3⁄4" x 9 1⁄4"and nine pieces 8" wide (skewers add to width) x 6 1⁄2"tall each.


Holly Brackmann
I approach weaving as a positive experience for my students and me. My mantra is always: Do not worry; it can be fixed. Students learn confidence by my attitude that there is no weaving problem that cannot be confronted and overcome. I can often tell the first time a student warps a loom whether he or she has what it takes to be a weaver. Some do not have the manual dexterity or patience, while others soar and embrace weaving from the first. Sometimes students are just impatient with life in general and want instant gratification, which is not always compatible with weaving. They do not realize what a meditative process weaving can become after the basics are learned.



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