Curves and temples…

So my second wavy shuttle project got off to a pretty good start…

A blue and white web with curves of weft on a rigid heddle loom
A short way in I was feeling good…

Then it all went to hell. Why? Because I started getting the most uncontrollable draw-in! I was losing so much width I actually contemplated trying to make a tapering scarf all the way to the other end. Sadly I was losing width too fast.

It will take a bit of playing with the ol’ wavy shuttle to figure out why it was such a problem this time. I have theories. They may be wrong.

But, in the way of most weaving disasters, this has led to an exciting opportunity! I’m going to use a temple for the first time!!

Yes, a temple. Reviled by some as a cheat and considered just sensible by others, I’m going to deploy one here to defeat the draw-in. Hopefully.

Of course, I don’t own one and will, in fact, be making one. So I’m excited about that all on its own! (I know this will shock you, dear reader of bloggy.)

The first step in saving this wavy scarf was – sob, sob, wail – to undo all but the very start of the scarf. Yes. I undid about a quarter of a project. The loom, yarn, shuttle and I all in therapy now. But it had to be done and the second version of the scarf will hopefully be much more successful!

Draw-in and selvedges

It seems to be a common cry of the new weaver “I get tidy selvedges and a lot of draw-in, or I get messy selvedges and little draw-in!”. Believe me I understand this cry well.

So, what is draw-in? Well, it’s the amount that your weaving narrows on the loom as you create the web (cloth).

What causes it? If the amount of weft thread isn’t enough for the width of the web, as you bring the beater foward it pulls the yarn from both ends of the shed. This tightens it around the selvedge you’ve just wrapped it over, as well as pulling in from the shuttle end.

Why is this bad? It causes the selvedge edge warp threads to bunch together (get closer) and that leaves less room for your weft just at the edges. This often results in a curved “smile” at the fell line. Bad news if you’re weaving a pattern, or anything with colour changes!

Having said that, I had a heap of draw-in on my first few scarfs that I wove and it didn’t really cause me a problem in the finished product. Still, it did mean the finished product was narrower than it had to be.

So how do you avoid draw-in? You leave your weft in the shed at an angle of about 45 degrees. Some people leave a “frown” of weft. Mostly, for me the angle seems to work best.

But the less draw-in I’ve had, the bobblier and wobblier my selvedges have been. Why? Well, if you want a guaranteed neat selvedge, then letting the weft tighten as you beat will certainly do it! It’s just not the best way. Getting tidy selvedges is a lot about just good old practice and – I suspect – practice with different yarns too.

I found that I have a naturally neater selvedge on one edge and I think that’s a) my handedness & b) plied yarns untwist a bit more in one direction. Possibly a bigger issue for weaving with knitting yarns than other kinds of yarn? Not sure.

Something else worth mentioning here is that you will get different amounts of draw-in if you do patterns with weft floats (where the weft skips a few “unders” on the way across the warp). That’s because the fewer interlacements you have, the fewer barriers there are to the weft being drawn-in.

You can see this clearly in this first sample of mine:

My first weaving sample

Notice how it pulls in more at the intensely white bits? Those were points where I played with creating weft floats!