Double Your Warp To Create Emphasis, Visual Interest, and Strength


Did you know that you can double your warp when you weave tapestry?

Something so simple can have a really big impact on your weaving.

Occasionally, something may happen in the studio that you didn’t really plan – but it can actually turn into something great! This happened to me one day in the fiber studio at Virginia Commonwealth University. I didn’t properly plan out my weaving and I was left with a lot of extra warp left on my floor loom…

Oops.

I didn’t want to waste the warp, but since I didn’t have a plan for it I figured the best thing to do in a time like that is to improvise! My next weaving didn’t need as many warp ends as the first so instead of taking out half the warps or just starting over – I decided to double the warps on the next weaving.

double tapestry warp and tapestry pick up
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This isn’t that weaving, but the left image shows doubled warp and the right image shows the same tapestry using a pick-up stick to create even more emphasis.

Warp Channels

This meant I was weaving over 2 and under 2 instead of the usual over 1 and under 1. I wasn’t totally sure how well it would work out.

I liked it.

Doing this made larger warp channels and it allowed me some room to play around with different textures! The warp channels are the vertical tunnels that are created by the weft completely covering up the warp in your tapestry. The decision to create larger warp channels can be purely aesthetic and based on how you want your weaving to look.

If you are weaving on a simple frame loom then doubling your warp yarn is as simple as putting twice the amount of warp on the loom and following the over 2, under 2 pattern.

Setting up a floor or table loom to weave both double and single will require 4 harnesses. You will thread your heddles for a straight draw and combining heddles 1 + 2 and 3 + 4 as well as the more traditional 1 + 3 and 2 + 4 for your tie-up. The treadling would alternate depending on if you were weaving single or double. The weaving draft would look like this:

weaving draft for double warp
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Not sure how to read a weaving draft? Check out THIS blog post. 

Why would you want to do all of this though?

double warp tapestry titled Who, When, Where by Nicole Bunting
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Nicole Bunting Who, When, Where 2016

Create Emphasis

Take for example this small weaving I did back in 2015. Who, When, Where was woven on an 18×24 simple frame loom with fabric as the warp. Even with the unconventional warp choice I utilized both single and double warp weaving methods.

This creates areas of weft floats and allowed me to use 1 white cotton weft for the entire weaving (with a few spots of fabric woven in) and still create texture and interest throughout. I used the floats to outline different areas of eccentric weft (the non-linear areas) and emphasize them. You can see the double warp areas throughout especially well against the single warp areas.

It’s amazing what you can do with basically just one color weft!

I am also using double warp on my current tapestry. This tapestry is utilizing more than 1 color, but the idea is the same. Changing up areas of the different warp channel sizes emphasizes different parts of the weaving and creates subtle texture. The areas that utilize the double warp will sit just a little bit higher than the single warp areas.

double warp woven rug
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Strength In Numbers

Double warp is also a technique that I like to use when weaving weft-faced rugs.

Most rug warp is sized at 8/4 and can easily be used single when weaving rugs with no issues. You don’t have to double your warp in order to make a woven rug.

That being said, if you like the look of the larger warp channels then doubling your warp yarn will create the larger channels without sacrificing strength. I personally like the larger channels on a rug.

Personal preference.

The double warp used will fill up the entire warp channel and create a rug that is stiffer and will therefore wear better. There is always the option to just use a smaller EPI with single warp to create larger channels – but you would lose some of the strength of the rug. Considering you (or someone else) will be walking on it – I don’t recommend that. You could also use a larger sized single yarn – but those can be hard to find.



The Downside(s)

There are 2 major downsides to doubling your warp that you should consider before implementing this technique.

1. Doubling your warp yarn means using more warp.

Yes, this seems obvious, but the more yarn you use the more yarn you have to buy! If you are on a budget or unable to procure enough yarn then this might not be the ideal option. If you like the look of the larger channels, but you don’t want to spend the money to use twice as much warp yarn, then just like I mentioned above – you can use the single warp with a smaller EPI. Just know that the tapestry will have a more draped quality than traditional tapestry. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but just something to keep in mind.

2. Doubling your warp also means spending more time setting up your weaving.

Counting your warp ends and dressing your loom will both take twice as long.

So just make sure to keep that in mind if you are on a deadline! Luckily, the actual act of weaving doesn’t take any longer with doubled warp.

If your least favorite part of the weaving process is setting up your loom, then this may not be ideal for you. Depending on your finishing technique of choice, you also have extra warp ends to deal with when you are done weaving. This may or may not be an issue.

Basically, just play around with your warp! These are easy things that you can do to change up your weaving and have some fun.

Tapestry doesn’t all have to be traditional plain weave and mixing it up can lead to exciting and interesting results!

If you ever had a happy accident like this in your studio – let me know!

-Nicole
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