Why Warp Spacing Matters

This blog post is part of a series on the basics of weaving tapestry
IMG_9452Tapestry is by definition weft-faced weaving. This means that you can see the weft (the fiber that you weave back and forth) and cannot see the warp (the fiber you wrap around your loom). To achieve this, a weaver must figure out the correct combination of warp spacing (this is called "sett"), warp size and weft size.

On a Mirrix, warp spacing is determined by the warp coil (or spring) at the top of the loom. We identify different warp coils by how many dents (the spaces between the coils) are in an inch. This is called DPI (dents per inch) or EPI (ends per inch). Choosing the correct warp coil for the warp and weft you are using is very important when planning your tapestry.

Generally speaking, if you are using a finer weft you will want to use a warp coil with more dents per inch and if you are a using a thicker weft, you will want to use a warp coil with fewer dents per inch or even warp every other dent (For example, an 18 dent warp coil every other dent is equal to a 9 dent warp coil.)

warp settHow do you determine the correct sett?

Unfortunately there is not a simple trick for figuring out your warp spacing. Every weft and warp combination is different and it might take some time to begin to get a sense of what warp coil should be used each time you weave a new piece.

A good way to determine if your sett is correct is to put your weft in between your warp threads vertically when your loom is warped. If your weft threads are much thicker than the space between the two warp threads, then your weft is probably too thick and if your weft threads are much thinner than you know your weft is too thin.

One way to choose your warp sett is to look at what sett others have used with the same warp and weft you are using. Check out some of our free projects and weave-alongs and look at the warp and weft and sett that we are using. Imitation is a good way to get started!

We also have a handy crowd-sourced list of different tapestry yarns people have used and the EPI/DPI they set their loom at.

You can see the list here. You can add to it here (please do!)

Following are some examples of what correct and incorrect warp setts look like.

Here is some yarn I have woven on warp with a sett that is too close together. You can see how the warp shows.
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Below I've woven the same weft on the same warp, but this time I wove through two warp threads at a time instead of one (so instead of 8 EPI I wove it at 4 EPI). This is the correct warp sett for this yarn.
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Here is a thinner yarn on the same warp. This first picture is the yarn in the correct warp sett.
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Below is the same yarn woven over two warp threads at a time (4 EPI instead of 8 EPI). This doesn't look terrible, but the final product will be flimsy, it will take a long time to weave (because the yarn will get packed down a lot) and you won't be able to get the kind of detail that you typically want to get from a thinner yarn.
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Remember to consider your warp sett when planning your tapestry, and get a loom where you have the option to set your warp spacing!

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Topics: fiber, weft, DPI, warp, Tapestry Weaving, looms, EPI

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