Why a weaving shrinks

When a weaver plans a project, they take a variety of details into consideration. One of those details is length. As with many things, one must begin with the end in mind. The weaver starts with how long the project should end up measuring. Then we need to figure in take-up and shrinkage. That gives the basic length for the long yarns (warp). (There are additional considerations at times, but I’m simplifying here.)

Today I’ll explain how take-up and shrinkage happen, using an inkle loom. Usually with inkle weaving only the warp yarns are visible. This produces a lot of take-up. Here is a picture showing the warp going over and under the weft.

This is the peg plan I use to start a warp with 112 inches in length.

As the inkle is woven, the warp yarns go over and under the weft (sideways yarns). Each warp yarn travels farther around the weft yarns than it would if it traveled in a straight line.

Because of all that up and down travel, is the warp is “taken-up” by the weft. If the weaver wants to keep weaving they have to change something, or else the warp yarns wouldn’t open enough to allow the weft yarn to get through.

To allow the warp yarns to move easier, the inkle loom has a tensioner, either a paddle or a sliding peg. But what happens when there is no more “give” on the tensioner? Another adjustment must be made. I have solved this problem on my inkle loom by changing pegs (if my project started out short enough).

This is the second peg plan I use.

But the warp continues the tightening process, so this is the third peg plan I use for this warp.

And still more tightening happens, so this is the fourth peg plan I use for the warp.

I’m out of weavable warp before I need to readjust the peg plan again. However, all is not completed yet. I still need to wash the inkle before it is ready to use.

The inkle gets shorter during the wash. That is called shrinkage. After washing this inkle measured 98 inches. That is a loss of 14 inches in length from the start. So, I have a combination of 14 inches take up and shrinkage by the time the project is finished.

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