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This loom has a 40" wide warp for capes and throws.
The warp has a black wool base with bright accents of wools, cottons, rayons and metallics.
Resting on the web of woven fabric is a shuttle.
The bobbin is wound with turquoise wool for the weft.
I'm often asked "how long does it take to make a scarf?" The answer is complicated because, unlike knitting or crocheting, making a handwoven garment involves preparing a warp on the loom before the actual weaving begins. And because this is a lengthy process, I will put many yards of warp on loom and do a series of pieces from that warp. Each finished piece can be different because I will use different weft yarns, but they will all be related by the warp yarns which run vertically through the completed fabric. So it's difficult to calculate the time to make an individual piece.

I like to create warps with either a dark base or a light base, but variegated with an array of colors and metallic accents to create a theme. First I choose the colors, textures and fiber content of the yarns for the warp. Next I wind the yarns onto cones -- one cone for each warp thread for a two inch section. Generally I will use 16 threads per inch or more for the warp, so I will need at least 32 cones in the array of colors I have selected. I set up the cones on the floor under a piece of peg board which is set horizontally above them on a frame, then pull the yarn from each cone through a separate hole in the peg board and then thread each yarn through a tensioning box which I secure to the back of the loom above the warp beam. A section of warp is tied onto the warp beam and then wound onto the loom to create the warp. After the desired length is wound, I will cut the threads and attach them to the adjacent section, and continue across the warp beam until the desired width is completed.


Cones of shiny accent yarns for the warp.

Warping the Loom:  Lauren is using a crochet hook to carefully pull each warp thread through individual wire heddles prior to weaving.

The loom has a warp beam across the back, a cloth beam across the front and between the two are the harnesses -- frames with heddles attached to them. When all of the warp threads are wound onto the warp beam, across the width of the loom, I thread each warp through a heddle. Once the warps are secured through heddles, they are then threaded through a reed on the beater, and then tied onto the cloth beam. When each harness is raised by foot pressure on the treadles below, groups of warp threads -- threaded through the heddles -- lift up, allowing a weft thread, carried by a shuttle, to pass under them. This weft yarn is packed in place by the beater. The harnesses are raised alternately, so each consecutive weft thread passes under a different set of warp threads, and this interlocks the weft into the warp, creating the web of fabric.

 

The length of time to create a specific warp is dependent on its length and width. For scarves, I will wind a warp of about 26 yards, at a width of 12 inches. This will yield 12 to 13 finished scarves approximately 60" x 10" plus fringes. For capes and throws I will wind a warp of about 40 yards at a width of 40 inches, which will yield about 5 capes and 4 or 5 throws. A scarf warp takes about 8 hours to prepare; a cape warp takes over three times that long.

When the warp is ready, I'll select the weft yarns, wind them onto bobbins which are snapped into shuttles and the actual weaving can begin. The time it takes to weave a garment depends on the texture and thickness of the yarn and width of the warp. Once the fabric is woven, I cut it off the loom, then either knot the ends (for a scarf or throw) or zigzag stitch them for cape and hat yardage. Next I machine wash and line dry the fabrics, and press them. A scarf or throw is finished at this point. A hat or cape requires cutting and sewing. I buy the yarns already spun and dyed, but every other part of the weaving and finishing process is done here in my studio.


A series of scarves from the "Spring Rain" warp, composed of black, white, gray and silver yarns in cotton, rayon, silk and metallic.
The weft yarns are rayon chenille.

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