Sometimes we want floats in our weaving. Sometimes we don’t.
When you don’t want floats and they sneak up on you – DON’T PANIC – it is not the end of the world! Like most things in weaving, floats are fixable.
They are also avoidable!
Let’s take a look at how to keep ourselves from creating accidental warp and weft floats and how to fix them if we do.
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What are floats
First things first, what are floats?
A float in your weaving occurs anytime your warp goes over or under more than 1 weft or when your weft goes over or under more than 1 warp.
We have talked about floats a few different times here on Warped Fibers, so if you are interested in creating floats on purpose then make sure to check out these posts:
How to use pick-up sticks on your rigid heddle loom
As you can see, you might want to have floats in your weaving if you are going for a certain look or you are using a pattern that includes floats (pretty much any pattern other than plain weave – overshot, waffle weave, or huck lace).
How to avoid floats in your weaving
But what happens when you don’t want weft floats? The best thing to do is to avoid them to begin with if they do not fit into your weaving plan. There are a few good ways to help keep your weaving float free if that is what you want!
Your shed is important.
The size of your shed can make a big difference when it comes to avoiding floats in your weaving.
As a reminder, your shed is the opening created in your weaving while using certain types of looms that are created when the warps you want to weave under are pulled up or the warps you want to weave over are pushed down.
Your shed plays an important role in avoiding floats because the larger your shed, the easier it will be to bring your shuttle through without grabbing or missing any unwanted threads. If your shed is small and narrow, then you may struggle to glide freely – making it easier to make a mistake.
To avoid this, make sure to advance your warp whenever you notice your shed shrinking. As a plus, this can also help keep your selvedges straight because you don’t have to struggle to get your shuttle through causing you to pull too hard on your selvedges.
Always be touching your heddle or reed
Regardless of the size of your shed, it will always be widest right next to your reed or heddle. Whenever you are bringing your shuttle through your shed it can help to slide your shuttle against the reed in order to help you avoid unwanted floats.
Something to keep in mind, “sticky” yarns will create more accidental floats if you are not careful. A sticky yarn would be one that is not smooth but instead is probably hairy. These little hairs tend to want to combine with others making them “stick” together. This can create a “messy” shed instead of a clean one. This is not a technical term, just what I like to call it.
If you have a hairy yarn that tends to stick you will need to pay attention and clear your shed before passing your shuttle through. Beating with your heddle or reed before passing your shuttle can usually clean this up for you.
Another possible reason for a messy shed is if you have twisted warps. This is usually the result of either incorrect threading or warps that are twisted around one another. Both of these need to be fixed prior to weaving.
Learn about fixing threading mistakes here.
Regardless, it is always a good idea to look through your shed to make sure it is clean before you start weaving. That way you know what to expect from the weaving process.
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How to fix warp and weft floats
If you end up with a warp float anyway, that’s ok – we can fix it!
*In the images below I will be using a different colored yarn to what is in my weaving to better show you what I am doing. Please note that you will be using the same yarn as you are fixing to keep your weaving clean and any fixes inconspicuous.
When your weaving is off the loom, cut some extra yarn that is the same as your warp or weft thread depending on what you are fixing. This piece should be a few inches longer than the float itself so we can anchor it to the weaving.
Using a tapestry needle (I am using an extra long tapestry needle) locate the warp or weft that has the float and start to weave alongside it following the same pattern as that specific yarn – in this case over 1, under 1. Once you get to the float keep weaving the desired pattern and continue past it another inch or so.
This is a supplemental yarn (shown in blue.)
When you get to the area where the float is you may notice that you will have to dig a bit to find the missed yarns in the pattern. This is normal. You can also turn your weaving to the back if it helps you to find those yarns and catch them.
Once your supplemental yarn is in place you can carefully cut your float yarn to release it from your weaving.
If you are on the front of your weaving then bring these new cut warp tails to the back of the weaving. Depending on the length of the float and subsequently the length of your new tail you may be able to finish it off like any other tail!
Learn how to finish your tails here.
If this float was small and the cut tails are also small then you can just push it to the back and cut it flush to the weaving.
When you have to fix a warp yarn you will have a tiny bit of overlap where the old warp is and where your new supplemental warp is. This is how we want it!
This overlap keeps everything in place and does not allow for any holes in our weaving.
Once everything is in place, the tails of your supplemental yarn can also be trimmed flush to your weaving.
When it comes to fixing weft floats, well, it is basically the same as fixing a warp float except we are now working horizontally instead of vertically!
Seriously, there is no difference!
If you used the same color to fix your weaving then you will not even be able to see where your supplemental wefts are. Everything will blend into itself perfectly.
That being said, adding in some fun colored supplemental weft might be an interesting way to add something extra to your weaving. No one said that you can’t add supplemental yarns on purpose!
It can be really annoying when you finish your weaving only to turn it around and see a float just waiting there, but luckily with these fixes, you can get your weaving to exactly where you want it with very little effort or time!