Category Archives: Weaving

Adventures in rigid heddle weaving using the Schacht 15″ Cricket and Universal Yarn

Weaving Fabric for Moto Jackets

And the adventure continues! You can read the first two posts in my moto jacket series here and here.

After warping my loom with my monstrously long and wide warp – 280″ long x 36″ wide using Deluxe DK Tweed Superwash, I was delighted to weave the fabric. I wove the same herringbone pattern that I used in my sampler scarf (seen here).

This piece of fabric I’m weaving will be for two jackets. My warp is color 414 Charcoal in Deluxe DK Tweed, and the photo below shows color 413 Smoke as the weft.

One bobbin of yarn lasted for about 3" on my 36" wide warp.
One bobbin of yarn lasted for about 3″ on my 36″ wide warp.

Back when I was winding my warp, I thought to tie some bright thread around some of the warp threads at the halfway point. I’m going to be changing my weft color halfway through since the jackets will be slightly different in color. This thread reminds me it’s time to switch colors!

This contrasting thread tied to the some of the warp threads lets me know I'm at the halfway point.
This contrasting thread tied to the some of the warp threads lets me know I’m at the halfway point.

Not too long into the second half of my warp, I realized I had a couple of problems. I managed to mis-thread two heddles, which resulted in a glitch in the patterning. See below for one example.

Uh oh!
Uh oh!

I could have fixed the problem right there – I could have broken the warp thread, threaded an afterthought heddle and tied on a new strand, but I opted to leave the mistakes in place and fix them after the fact.

If I had noticed sooner, I would have fixed them right away. But because I had made it this far and knew I’d be doing some repair work anyway, I figured I might as well do the whole length at the same time.

 

Cutting doesn't have to be scary!
Cutting doesn’t have to be scary!

After cutting my fabric from the loom, I simply knotted the warp ends together – no hemstitching. I then zig-zagged the edges with my sewing machine, and also sewed lines at the halfway point. I figured it would be a lot easier dealing with two 3 yard pieces of fabric rather than a 6 yard piece. I then cut the fabric apart at that halfway point.

Fixing my warp mistakes.
Fixing my warp mistakes.

After my two halves were cut apart, I threaded a tapestry needle and wove the correct placement for my mistaken threading. It was a little tedious, but very doable and wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be.

And here are my yardages basking in the sunlight prior to washing. I threw both of the pieces of fabric into my machine and washed and dried them on gentle cycles. Because I wove a fairly dense fabric, the fabric changed very little after finishing. But I already knew that would be the case since I was a good little weaver and did a sampling first.

Zippers, lining, fabric: go!
Zippers, lining, fabric: go!

My jacket will be made from the stack on the left – gray on gray fabric, teal lining, and gray zippers. Yonca chose cream to go with her gray for the fabric, matching gray lining, and bold lipstick red zippers.

My goal is to be finished with these jackets by next weekend’s TNNA. So if you’re planning on attending, stop by our booth and check them out. Otherwise, I’ll be back in a couple of weeks here on the blog with all the sewing details.

 

Warping for Herringbone Moto Jackets

After my successful sampling with my herringbone scarf a couple of weeks ago, I got set to wind a much larger warp – enough to make fabric for two moto jackets. I neglected to get photos of the warping process. I used the warping board I’ve shared photos of on this blog before. And this warp was so long, I almost didn’t have enough warping pegs!

Here are the specs for this giant piece of fabric I’m about to weave:

  • Yarn: Deluxe DK Superwash
    • Warp color: 414 Charcoal, 13 balls
  • Reed: 12 dent
  • Weaving width: 36″, 432 ends
  • Length of warp: 280″

My pattern calls for 2 1/4 yds of 55″ wide fabric. Because my loom has a maximum width of 36″, I had to do a few calculations in order to get the total square yardage I need. What I came up with was a really long warp!

280" of tweedy goodness.
280″ of tweedy goodness.

432 ends means 432 heddles to thread. And then, 432 ends to feed through the reed. Whew!

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When I’m threading the reed, I like to do it 4 ends at a time. I take my left hand and grasp the next 3 ends as shown below, holding my hand behind the reed.

It's important to make sure the ends coming from the heddles go into the reed in the correct order.
It’s important to make sure the ends coming from the heddles go into the reed in the correct order.

Then I feed the next end from my left hand and grab it with my threading hook. It’s a good way for me to stay organized during this process.

Opposable thumbs are really awesome.
Opposable thumbs are really awesome.

Tying onto the front apron rod means I’m almost ready to weave!

Gotta be evenly tense here.
Gotta be evenly tense here.

I’m just getting started here. Once I’ve woven this giant piece of fabric, it’s onto jacket making. And this project is going to go quickly since my deadline is next month’s TNNA show. Stay tuned!

 

 

Weaving Wednesdays – Herringbone Sampler

I’m pretty excited about this current weaving project. For years now, I’ve wanted to weave my own fabric for a custom-sewn jacket. And finally, I’m going to make it happen. In fact, I’m making two of them! Yonca, our sales director (and my boss) caught wind of my plan and requested a jacket for her own. You be able to find us at next January’s TNNA in our matching jackets.

Years ago, I sewed a moto jacket from this Burda pattern.

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Here I am wearing my version, circa 2009 or so.

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I’ve been wanting to weave with our Deluxe DK Tweed Superwash ever since we introduced it earlier this year, and I decided this would be the perfect project for it. I toyed around with a few ideas for the type of weaving draft I’d use, but in the end I decided on a herringbone tweed. I love the idea of classic herringbone and tweed modernized in the ultra-cool moto jacket.

Before beginning, I knew I need to make a sample of my woven fabric. I mean, if I’m going to be weaving yards upon yards of fabric for two jackets, I need to know I’m going to like it, right? I was also having trouble deciding on colors, and saw this as a perfect example to introduce a little plaid into my tweed and herringbone.

First, I selected five colors from the Deluxe DK palette that I’d been considering:

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Next, I set out to warp my loom with a section in each color. I read that it’s a good idea to use a denser sett (ends per inch) when weaving twill, so that’s what I did. For a DK weight yarn such as Deluxe DK Tweed Superwash, I would normally weave with a 10 dent reed. But for this project, I opted for a 12 dent.

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I’m using a four harness loom which makes weaving twill a breeze. But with if you have a rigid heddle loom, with the use of pick-up sticks this is totally achievable.

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As you can see, my warp has 5 different colors. I also wove with the same 5 colors to see how they all interacted with one another. I found it interesting that the same 2 colors played differently depending in which was warp and which was weft. The color that is the warp (in this particular twill) shows as being more dominant that the weft.

It’s nice to do a “practice” piece of weaving that I’ll actually use and wear!

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The colors that I ultimately selected for my jacket are the two that I would have picked anyway, but I’m so glad I did this exercise. It also gave Yonca a chance to see the different colors so she could make her choice as well.

Stay tuned for more herringbone twill and moto jackets!

 

Weaving Wednesday – Sparkle Windows

Last time on Weaving Wednesday, I talked about warping for my lace stole in Universe.  Once I got over relearning how to warp my floor loom, it was smooth sailing!

Here are the specs on this project:

  • Yarn: Universe, color 10-07 Woolen
  • Reed: 10 dent
  • Total ends: 241
  • Width on loom: 24″ (desired finished width is 20″)
  • Warp Length: 100″ (desired finished length is 60″)

(Update: There is now a written version of this pattern available here)

My warp is 40″ longer than my desired length. I know that there will be a good 10% take-up in finishing. Plus I left plenty of extra length at each end for fringe.

Since I knew I was going to be doing some different lace patterns, I actually kept good notes on just what I wove in my beginning header so I could repeat it on the other end – go me!

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After tying on to the front rod, the weaving fun began. I started out as I usually do, with a few picks of waste yarn to even out my warp, followed by some hem stitching.

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I knew I wanted to do some kind of a lace sampler for this project. I decided to do a “header” at the beginning of the project, a matching header at the other end, and an all-over pattern for the main body of the stole.

I began with a type of “finger controlled” lace at the beginning called Brooks. “Finger controlled” means that I am literally moving the warp threads with my fingers and passing the yarn between it, rather than using the shafts to raise and lower warp threads.

The first type of Brooks I did is worked on an open shed, meaning I pressed down on one of my treadles that holds half the warp threads. This caused half the warp to raise.

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I found Brooks lace quite simple to do – easier than I had imagined. I passed the shuttle containing the warp yarn around a section of the raised warp threads (6), along the entire width of the piece.

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I adjusted each of the wrapped sections so they were at about the same height and then worked 3 rows of plain weave. They look like little bows – so pretty.

After this first pass of Brooks, I decided to do another row, but offset from the first row.

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And then another row offset again.

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As pretty as this was, I was getting a little bored and was ready to move on. That’s half the beauty of a sampler!

And look, so it’s so sparkly!

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Next, I tried Brooks lace, but worked on a close shed. That means when I wrapped my weft yarn around the warp, I went around all threads across the width of the piece. I did two repeats of this with 3 passes of plain weave in between. I was less impressed with the appearance of this on the loom, but decided to keep it in the piece in hopes that I’d like it better after finishing (and I did!)

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Next, it was time to move on to my main lace pattern: Atwater Bronson. This type of lace produces little blocks. I warped my loom for the most basic of Atwater Bronson – a single repeating block of lace. There are many incarnations of this lace. And it is quite possible to reproduce this on a rigid heddle with use of a pick-up stick.

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While the Brooks lace is considered a finger controlled lace pattern, Atwater Bronson is a type of “loom controlled” pattern. That’s because the loom is doing all the work of raising and lowering the warp threads. Well, at least my feet are doing the work of pushing the treadles to make this happen!

I really enjoyed the weaving part of this. I’m sure much of this was the ease of weaving on a floor loom, and the wonderful rhythm of the beater bar, treadles, and boat shuttle. But it was also easy to memorize and just overall very pleasant.

Here it is after a few repeats. Not too exciting!

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After more repeats, I could definitely see the pattern forming. But again, not that visually stimulating. I had to keep reminding myself that the magic would really happen off the loom and after washing.

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From an angle, you can kind of see the blocks in the pattern.

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When the back bar with the end of my warp tied to it almost reached the back beam, I knew it was time to weave my other header. I reversed what I did for the beginning header and cut it off the loom.

Because my yarn, Universe is several elements – cotton, linen, and metallic – all wrapped with a sliver of nylon, I knew I didn’t want to leave loose fringe. If I had, that nylon would have come unwrapped and the elements would have splayed out. Which, now that I think of it, might have looked cool. But it wouldn’t have worn well. So I busted out my handy fringe twister and made twisted fringe. This allowed me to knot the ends, securing the yarn without fear of it unraveling.

After doing the fringe, I was excited to dunk my stole in a bath to see what happened. And what happened was a much more intense transformation than I anticipated. Both the Brooks lace and the Atwater Bronson lace opened up a lot. The Atwater Bronson looks like little windows that the Brooks iterates above and below. I couldn’t be happier with how this turned out!

On Molly:

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When it’s laid flat, I can really see those little “windows” formed by the Atwater Bronson.

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And somehow this turned out larger than I imagined it would. Finished measurements without fringe are 23″ x 66″. Which is fine with me – that’s a great size for a stole!

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Join me next time for my biggest weaving project yet – matching woven motorcycle jackets made from Deluxe DK Tweed Superwash!

 

 

 

Weaving Wednesday – Getting my Sparkle On

Ever since we added Universe to celebrate our 10th anniversary last year, I’ve wanted to weave with it. A mix of linen, cotton, metallic, wrapped together with nylon, I swear there’s a bit of magic in every strand. The combination of plant fibers and sparkle mesmerizes me.

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It’s beautiful in knitted items, such as the Planetary Shawl:

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Or the delightful Universe of Snowflakes:

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But I knew Universe would make beautiful weaving, too. I decided this was the project I would finally warp up my poor, neglected floor loom. My Fanny Leclerc has been sitting as a backdrop for my rigid heddle weaving these last few years, as though I’m mocking her abilities as a workhorse weaver. She’s a sturdy 4-shaft loom procured a number of years back at a reasonable price via my local Craigslist.

But first things first. It’s been years since I wove on Fanny, and I needed a refresher on warping. Luckily, I had my trusty copy at hand of “Learning to Weave” by Deborah Chandler.

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I bought this book when I first acquired ol’ Fanny, and it has proven to be an indispensable  resource. Deborah has so many little tips “woven” throughout this book, along with super helpful illustrations. Though the book covers warping a floor loom front-to-back or back-to-front, I’ve only ever done the back-to-front method.

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Rigid heddle looms are wonderful and can typically be direct-warped. This is not the case with a floor loom. So off to my warping board I went to begin the process.

This part of my warp shows the ultra-important figure 8 cross at the end. This will help me keep all my strands aligned when I take the bundle over to the loom.

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I like to look head-on at the cross periodically as I’m winding my yarn to make sure things are going accordingly. As you can see below, I made a mistake that had to be taken out:

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Get a load of that shimmer!

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It’s crucial to tie the cross end in 5 places to keep it intact during the warping process.

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That board with the nails in it that’s clamped to the back beam – that’s called a “raddle.” It’s just another tool that helps to separate the warp every inch-worth of warp threads.

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After attaching the warp to the back rod, it’s time to thread the heddles. With rigid heddle weaving, the heddles are all part of a rigid piece of plastic (usually). With my floor loom, all the heddles are individual little pieces of metal.

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So shimmery!

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The main lace pattern that I’m going to be weaving is a repeat of 6 (more on this later). So I have to thread the shafts in this order: 1, 3, 1, 3, 1, 2. After each group of 6, I tie the 6 ends together in a little bundle to help keep them separate, and also so they don’t accidentally slip out of the back side of the heddles.

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Once my warp was attached to Fanny, it was time to get ready to weave! I love to use boat shuttles with my floor loom, especially when my weaving width is wider than 12″ or so. With a flick of the wrist, the shuttle glides effortlessly over the warp threads. Though I don’t mind a stick shuttle and can eventually get a nice rhythm going, a boat shuttle just feels easier.

My boat shuttle takes small bobbins that the weft yarn must be wound onto. I could do it by hand, but it goes super-fast if I use the bobbin winder on my sewing machine. So that’s what I do!

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Join me next time when I get down to business and start weaving!

(Update: there is a written version of this pattern on our website here.)

 

Color Pooling: Finishing with Twisted Fringe

Last time on Weaving Wednesday, I showed you how I warped for my Bamboo Pop color pool scarf. Over the last couple of weeks, I had a chance to do the actual weaving which went incredibly fast.

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After weaving a few picks with scrap yarn, I did a bit of hemstitching with my weft yarn, Whisper Lace.  I left a good 12″ before beginning this in order to have long enough ends to do my fringe. I did a simple plain weave throughout the entire scarf, beating with a light hand to give my finished scarf nice drape.

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This scarf was a joy to weave. The motions and weaving were simple and the colors a delight to watch. Each time I advance the warp and a new section of color came into view, it gave me a little lift.

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After hemstitching at the end of my scarf, I cut it free, leaving the beginning end still attached to the loom. I then trimmed all the fringe evenly, to about 11″.

Fringe is the easy and obvious way to go when ending a scarf. It eliminates the need for a hem. Fringe also adds a nice little bit of heft, allowing a scarf to hang nicely. An easy way to spruce up your fringe is to make it twisted. I’ve done this by hand before on a few projects, but it’s tedious and I don’t enjoy doing it. This time around, I decided to splurge and bought myself a battery operated fringe twister. Sometimes, you just need the right tool for the job.

See the two little prongs jutting out from the top of my tool? The item actually came with 4 prongs, but I removed 2 of them for this project.

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Each of my stripe sections of the scarf is comprised of 8 strands. I’m making 2 twisted fringes for each stripe, so each fringe is made up of 4 strands. To use my fringe tool, I attached 2 strands to each prong.

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I didn’t get a good photo of this step, but those little metal pieces in the top of the prongs will extend, grabbing onto the yarn, and then retract back down.

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Next, I push the button on my tool into position 1, which twists each strand independently. To get consistent twist on all my fringe, I counted to 30, (sort of in rhythm to the noise of the tool) as the tool was spinning.

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Once the strands are nice and twisty, I push my button down into position 2. This rotates the entire top of my tool in the opposite direction than the prongs rotated, twisting the strands around each other. During this step, I found that counting to 20 made a perfect balance of countertwist.

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Then, release the ends of the yarn from the metal prongs and tie in an overhand knot. The twist stays twisted!

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After I made all the twisted fringe on the final end of my scarf, I cut the beginning end from the loom. To keep this end of my scarf from moving around, I just set a heavy book on top.

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After handwashing and laying flat to dry, I had myself a very colorful scarf!

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My finished scarf, before fringe is 62″, and is about 78 ” with fringe. With one ball of each color of Bamboo Pop and 1 ball of Whisper Lace, I could have gone about 20-30% long if I had wanted.

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I’m extremely happy with how this scarf turned out. It’s quite lightweight with amazing drape. It’s so very wearable. I could envision this in many different color combinations of our Bamboo Pop.

Join me next time for a lace weaving adventure with our anniversary namesake yarn, Universe!

 

Color Pooling: I Meant to Do It!

Have you ever heard of color pooling in the worlds of knitting, crocheting, or weaving? Briefly, color pooling is when a patterned yarn “pools” in particular colors sections. This pooling may or may not be intentional. It is very common to see unintentional pooling in variegated-type yarns, where the color repeats are very short.

An example of unintentional color pooling that looks really cool can be seen on the front our Siren Sweater, knit in Infusion Handpaints.

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See the argyle thing going on there? Though unintentional in this sweater, it is very possible to intend to make argyle from a yarn like this.

Even printed yarns with longer color repeats can be intentionally pooled. A good example of this is the Pennant Scarf, designed by Erin McKenna Halsey for our Uptown Worsted Spirit Stripes yarn. (You can find a crochet version of this scarf here)

Again, we see an argyle pattern form. The reason for this pattern, my dear friends? Math! By knowing how long each color repeat is and how much yarn a stitch consumes, it is possible to figure out how to make your patterned yarn do amazing things!

However, the weaving project I’m going to share today is a much simpler way of intentionally pooling color. My project was inspired by recent Little Looms Magazine by Interweave Press.  The image on the cover of the magazine is actually a close-up of the scarf I decided to make.

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After looking at the other photos of the scarf inside, I realized our Bamboo Pop multi colorways would be perfect for this project.

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For my scarf, I chose Bamboo Pop #218 Stripe (multi) and #112 Black (solid) for the warp. I’ll be weaving with Whisper Lace #111 Ebony as weft. It’s a lighter weight than Bamboo Pop, and will allow for a warp-faced weave.

To warp, I first tried direct-warping my 16″ Cricket loom with my Bamboo Pop multi sections. The secret to this scarf is all about finding the point at which the color sections in the multi yarn repeat. I discovered that 110″ was my ideal point to wrap around the warping peg. The color repeated back on itself at that length (and also did at shorter lengths, but I like a long scarf and want to plan for fringe). But I found that it was very difficult to keep my color sections lined up with this warping method.

Plan B: use a warping board. I happen to have a warping board that I made several years ago. You can make smaller versions of this, or you can buy them. Or you can simply use two warping pegs clamped a certain distance apart. But the nice thing about a warping board is that it allows you to wind a long warp over a short distance, by wrapping the yarn back and forth between the pegs.

In this particular project, it was super helpful to have all those pegs. It allowed me to find the perfect distance in which my colors repeated. To begin, I first tied a guide string.

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Then I wrapped along and around my pegs until I found my perfect distance. Then I tied the other end to the last peg. A guide string is just that – a guide that the warp will follow as you’re wrapping it around the warping board.

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But, as you’ll see, I ended up having to adjust my path because the colors were not quite lining up.

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I took about a million pictures of this warp – it was so pretty!

When direct-warping to the rigid heddle, it’s easy enough to count my warp ends. But when using a warping board, I like to use a string to help. I knew that I was going to have 8 stripes of my multi, at 8 ends each. So I just wrapped my contrasting yarn around the warp every 8 ends.

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After warping my 9 stripes-worth of black, I was all ready to tie-on. In retrospect, I could/should have only cut one end of my warp. If I had done that, I could have simply looped one end around my back dowel, rather than having to tie all the ends on. It’s been awhile since I used a warping board!

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After tying all the ends on, I made sure they were even and ready to be wound on.

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After winding:

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And after tying onto the front dowel.

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You can see that my color sections are not perfectly lined up, but that’s okay! I really love the way they sort of bleed into each other. I can’t wait to weave this scarf.

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