Saturday, February 8, 2014

To Curl or Not to Curl----

What is the Answer?

"Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?" ~William Shakespeare

OH! Yes. Yes, yes. By all means we need to end them! The following question has been posed to me on more than one occasion: "How do you stop the edges from curling in?" 

I understand it is a frustrating issue.  But it is one I believe that is easily resolved. Regardless whether you are weaving on an old drum carder gear; a Knifty Knitter loom; that pretty wood one, from the world down under, currently sailing the heroic seas of Facebook; a hula hoop; a paper plate; or a circle cut and notched from cardboard, getting the tension right, in any form of weaving, is a bit of trial and error at first.  Especially when you are working with new or unique fibers, techniques, and/or looms. 

I thought I would craft an answer with two things that should be considered both before and throughout the weaving process:  1)-- The Yarn You Choose for the Warp; and 2)-- How You Weave with the Weft, which has the potential for the Double Whammy!

To answer the question as it relates to Warp, I'm going to throw a bit of Physics into the mix. To be more precise, Newton's Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Graphic courtesy the Internet
"That's a stretch." You say? [Pun intended!]

Well then what about that old Newtonian adage regarding things what go up.  You know?  Those things that inevitably find their way back down?

Unless you are working with cotton rug warp, mercerized cotton, a linen, or another fiber with little to no give or stretch, depending on the crimp or sponginess of a handspun, the premise actually translates rather well to the world of Fiber Arts: Memory.

What stretches out, has the potential to ease back to its former state.

Graphic courtesy the Internet
A LittleWeaving 1.0

Weaving involves two sets of threads.  The Warp and the Weft.  The Warp threads are the very foundation of any given project and are maintained by a fair amount of tension, regardless the style of loom.
When choosing the yarn [or thread] you want, or need, to achieve the desired result--- be mindful of choosing a handspun with a fair amount of give.  Because once you remove your weaving from the loom, your warp will likely do what it can to return--bringing the outer edges with it--to its natural state.  Something to be considered as you pull your fiber of choice taut while warping your circular loom.

To problem solve whether that might be a factor, unless it was so obvious at the time, check the finished diameter of your weaving against the inner diameter of your circular loom [knowing your stopping point], and then see whether, if at all, it shrank in size.  

Laura Abbott, HeartSong Studio
The following examples show a piece just after being removed from the pegs of a Knifty Knitter loom. The warp thread used was 100% Cotton. There was little to no discernible draw back after the overall tension was released.

[Right Click and chose to Open in a New Window or Tab for a larger view.]

Laura Abbott, HeartSong Studio

To answer the question as it relates Weft, those who are already familiar with traditional weaving know that if you pull your Weft yarns too tight it causes the salvages to pull in.  And there are two methods that can remedy that situation, depending on whether you are weaving on a floor, rigid heddle, or tapestry loom:  1)-- Lay your weft at an angle [45 degrees to start]; and 2)-- Lay the weft in an arch, or series of arches. 

Let's consider that the outer edge [or rim] of your circular weaving is the salvage.  If you draw your weft through and around too tight, you end up with an insufficient amount of weft [a loss in your circumference] for a proper woven round.  


A Little Weaving 2.0

courtesy wiseGEEK
In a good balanced plain weave you want your weft to rise and fall, going over and under the warp threads with ease.  You want to see a cross section of defined scallops in your weft.
Weaving 2.1
The Double Whammy! 

While you are weaving, if you pull your weft too tight, and your fiber of choice has a fair amount give, then there are two things that can happen as a result: 1)-- You will lose the proper amount of yarn needed to weave a balanced round; and 2)-- Memory. Your yarn has the potential to return to its natural state once your weaving is off the loom, and the overall tension is relaxed.

What's Beans Got to do With It?

For anyone who likes analogies:

If you do any sprouting--- some people cut cheese cloth and secure it at the opening with a rubber band instead of a purchasing or using store-bought sprouting lids.  If you remove both the cloth and rubber band together, the cloth will pucker as the rubber band relaxes.
From Ask Madelyn:
You can always tell if you do need to adjust the weft angle, though, by noting whether or not some of the picks are causing too much draw-in. In that case, you'll want to use a steeper angle. If the angle has to be especially steep (as for wide, weft-faced pieces), you'll need to bubble [an arch] the weft to make the distribution of the yarn consistent across the width of the warp. 
Laura Abbott, HeartSong Studio
From Needle Weaving on a Circular Loom:
Here is where you will want to modify how much of an arch you work with as you pull your Weft Thread through and around.
I mention this further in A Little of This-N-That. You do not want to see the warp threads leaning one way or the other; depending on which direction, or by what hand you weave.  If you start to see any distortion of your warp threads, you are likely pulling your weft too tight. 

It is so easy to do as the warp threads radiate further apart, and you progress toward the outer edge, or rim of the loom.  You want work with an arch [or scallop], and ease the weft into place, whether by doing so using your tapestry needle; a small tapestry comb; a wide/large tooth hair comb; or by a fork.

 Bottom Line?
It truly is nothing more than learning and/or understanding how your fibers of choice, whether commercial or handspun, are going to respond or retract after you remove your finished weaving from your loom. 
Laura Abbott, HeartSong Studio
YOU DO NOT want to pull your weft yarn straight across, and/or give it a bit of a tug.  Actually--- it's OK to do that in the very first few rounds, as you work to even out the warp threads around the center knot.  But after that, you need to detemine the appropriate arch for your fibers.
What the weft angle must accomplish is to allow enough give in the yarn to make the over-and-under interlacement with the warp that the weave structure requires without pulling in the edges of the cloth once tension is released. The wider the piece, the more actual inches of "extra" weft will be required. If the piece is weft faced, more "extra" is required than if the structure is plain weave.
To problem solve whether your weft is too tightly woven, lay your circular weaving in front of you.  Get the bottom portion flat, and then slowly move your hands up and around either side [working to keep your piece flat], and if you see a bulge forming around the upper rim---  If your piece did not shrink back in size due to a stretchy Warp thread--- then it is possible your Weft is too tight.  And if there was any stretch to the Weft yarn, then that may have retracted as well, making for the possibility of a Double Whammy!
So take a look at your earlier weavings and see what might have been the contributing factor, and don't let any frustration ruin your creative possibilities.  It's all a learning curve. 

Navajo Weaving Way, by Noel Bennett and Tiana Bighorse, has a good photo on page 90; with an explanation of regulating Weft Tension on page 91.
Navajo and Hopi Weaving Techniques, by Mary Pendleton shows a beautiful example on page 44; and discusses Weft Tension on page 45.
Weaving Today -- Ask Madelyn
Leave any questions you may have in the Comments. 
Or Facebook Friends can Private Message me.
Bye for now, and Blessings~
And Happy Weaving!


  1. thanks so much for this blog.

    1. Hello Dorothy B.

      I'm making my rounds apologizing for not seeing everyone's Comments.... 1) the email notifications were going to an older email that I rarely use, and 2) I'm not getting flagged, in the Dashboard area.... So, my sincerest apology.

      Now, You are so very welcome! It has truly been my pleasure. I'll be updating new post soon. Happy Weaving and Blessings~

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this information with us all (newbies and those further along in our weaving journey). You have put this together in one place and explained it so well!! <3 <3 for taking the time to do this for us!!

    1. Hello Patty,

      I am so very sorry for missing everyone's posts!! as I said to Dorothy B, I'm making my rounds apologizing for not seeing everyone's Comments.... 1) the email notifications were going to an older email that I rarely use, and 2) I'm not getting flagged, in the Dashboard area.... So, my sincerest apology.

      Now, You are so very welcome! I truly have enjoyed creating this place and sharing what I know, and have learned. It has a pleasure. And I am happy to have been of help. I'll be updating new post soon. Happy Weaving and Blessings~