Thursday, November 16, 2023

Who Needs Warp Packing?


A few months ago I was looking for this photo and couldn't find it.  Can't have anything to do with the literally thousands of photos I have on file, now, could it?

Anyway, I don't remember who was asking for a photo of this, but if I remember I'll pass it along.

There was a discussion on how to beam a warp when you don't have access to any kind of warp packing, and I commented that in some places where resources have historically been thin on the ground, people realized that they could beam a warp with NO warp packing...IF they used high enough tension and shaped the warp on the beam in a way that would facilitate beaming and then weaving the warp off.

Pictures, they cried!  Well, I couldn't find any, nor could I find the one I thought I had in my photo files.

And now, looking for something else completely, here it shows up.

This technique relies on the warp being beamed at a high level of tension, such that the ends cannot cut down into the lower layers when weaving tension is applied to the warp.  The warp begins wider than weaving width, and, as the layers build, the warp is narrowed, usually by using the reed to 'pinch' the warp.  The sleyed reed begins straight in it's alignment with the back/breast beam, and then to narrow the chain, the reed is moved on an angle to the beams.  The warp shape takes the form of a 'lozenge', tapering in width as the warp builds up on the beam.

So when I suggest that people beam with tension, I am thinking along these lines and applying the principle of a well tensioned warp leading to better results.  

In the photo, notice the thickness of the warp on the beam.  This is NOT a short warp, it is many meters long.  If the weaver was to introduce sticks or other warp packing into the beam, the circumference of the beamed warp would become very large.  By not using warp packing, very long warps can be beamed and the labour involved in dressing the loom amortized over a greater output.  Not to mention, there may be very little to use for warp packing available in their environment.

But we can learn from other cultures, other societies.  Learn the principles.  Apply them to our own practice.

I'm not saying everyone has to beam this way.  If the weaver is only ever dressing the loom with a few yards, warp packing and lower tension is probably fine.  But scale up and problems may begin to appear.

(Ask me how I know...)

Change one thing, and everything can change.

The more tools we have in our toolbox, the better able we are to choose appropriate tools/processes.

Be open to other cultures and their practices.  Just because the loom they use is largely sticks and string doesn't mean they don't have a perfectly good loom.  It's just different.

It is not the tools the weaver uses, but how the weaver applies their knowledge and manages their tools.

Which brings me to the news that I just found out David Xenakis has died.  

I met him at a 'conference' back in the early 1980s and was blown away by his thinking.  If anyone is interested in rigid heddle weaving beyond using a single heddle and willing to turn their brain inside out, look for his book(s).


Carol said...

"It is not the tools the weaver uses, but how the weaver applies their knowledge and manages their tools." This principle needs to be stressed more. I see too many posts from new (and not-so-new) weavers that imply a belief that if one buys the correct product or tool, all weaving problems will be solved. Our brains are the ultimate tools.

Nancy Reid said...

When I worked in a weaving store, I had a customer call to order a compu-dobby loom. I got done taking the order, and realizing as she talked that she had no clue how to weave, I asked her if she possibly wanted a good instruction book to guide her in her journey. She said “what, doesn’t the loom do that? It’s a computer!” And I had to (as gently as possible) explain to her that all the computer did was choose the next pick to throw, and that she still needed to do the design work and all the setup. She canceled the order, of course; she wanted the machine’s brain to do all the work instead of her own.