There are just some lessons you know in theory, but have to learn in practice. In weaving, you're told to check your yarns to make sure they're suitable for use as a warp.
What yarns are suitable for warping? Generally, you want a strong yarn. It's going to be under lots of tension on the loom, and subject to lots of friction from the heddles and reed. One way to test the strength of a yarn is to try to break it with your hands. The harder it is to break, the better. If it drifts apart easily, you're probably out of luck - your yarn is underspun, and not strong enough for warping. Another test is to rub the yarn against a hard table edge about 50 times. If it holds up, it will probably be able to stand the friction of the reed beating against it as you weave.
These are very useful tests, if you use them.
Last weekend, I was searching around for something to use as a warp. I was low on my current favorite, an alpaca lace, and needed a creamy color. My eyes landed on this handspun Finn wool, a laceweight yarn that's really too fine and fuzzy for me to want to knit anything with.
After I'd finished measuring out the warp, I thought it might not be strong enough. Parts of it most certainly failed the warp strength test. But I thought I'd already gone too far, and I might as well see what happened.
I sett it at 24 ends per inch. I beamed all eight yards of my warp. And I just love the way it weaves up with Noro Silk Garden Sock as the weft. Still, the wool was just too soft and underspun to be a warp. It was literally dissolving in the heddles as I wove with it. So, even though I loved it, I knew it would be terrible to weave with, and had to change gears to a different warp.
The weft I'd been using, Noro Silk Garden Sock, scores better on the warp test. It's still not a beginner-friendly warp, but I find determination also goes a long way. My mistake with the first warp was just that I was too determined, and now I know the limits.
The Noro was much thicker than the original warp, so I sett it at 12 ends per inch, though I think 15 ends per inch would also look great. I also switched to a new weft, a 100% yak yarn that is absolutely the most luxurious thing ever. An early Christmas present to myself, to finally weave with it.
The final product will be a binding for my Noro Log Cabin Blanket. The knitting is done, and I've decided to put a backing on it like it's a "real" quilt. The whole thing is big and heavy and will be wonderfully toasty warm, and I can't wait.
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