My Latest Weaving Mistake: Losing Count

It seems so obvious, but somehow I forgot how to keep track of how many placemats are on my cloth beam.

Susan E. Horton Jul 14, 2021 - 4 min read

My Latest Weaving Mistake: Losing Count Primary Image

Finishing up the last placemat as the knots come over the back beam. Photos by Susan E. Horton

If you are wondering whether there is a weaving mistake you haven’t made yet, I’ve got a new one for you: I lost count. Unfortunately, I’m not talking about wondering whether I was treadling up a twill point or down; I’m talking about not knowing how many placemats are wound onto my cloth beam.

For the past few months, I’ve been weaving rep placemats. They are striped, but by switching between the two sides, I can weave slight variations. My plan was to weave 8 placemats, each one 22" under tension on the loom, 4 without any variations and 4 with. I warped 7 yards thinking that would give me enough warp length to weave the 8 placemats and then a couple of squares to use in the center of the table. I prepared a ribbon measuring tape to keep track of the placemats’ length on the loom, but I didn’t make any notes as I finished each one. It seemed simple enough to remember, but I should have known better. I don’t know about you, but if I’m measuring out 5 cups of flour and get distracted, I have to start over, and let’s not even talk about the sweater I was knitting for my husband....

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A ribbon measuring tape will help you keep track of the length of each piece, but it doesn’t track the number of pieces you’ve woven.

I sampled, but what I didn’t do was sample for take-up, which can be considerable with rep. My thick versus thin weft ratio is slight so I thought take-up would be close to 10 percent. Now I’m starting to believe that it might be much closer to 20 percent, and that is only if I’m weaving placemat #8 and not #7. If I’m currently weaving placemat #7, take-up may be closer to 30 percent. The knots are coming over the back beam, and I’ll be able to finish this last placemat, but after that, eking out even 1 square will be tough.

Although I considered unrolling the cloth on my front beam to count, I decided against that a few placemats ago. I’ve had varied results with unrolling mid-project; sometimes it hasn’t changed my tension, but other times things have gotten wonky. I’m going to finish this last placemat, try to weave a square, and then cut off and count ... with my fingers crossed. Who knows, maybe I’ve woven 9!

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If I had kept all of my scrap yarn ends on one side and tied them into knots, I could have counted them to know how many placemats I have woven.

I am good at repeating my mistakes, so I figured out a solution for future multiple projects: Use a brightly colored thickish yarn to weave two picks between pieces and tie the ends in a knot on one side of the warp. Then I can simply count the knots to know how many pieces I’ve woven if I’ve lost count. Doing that won’t fix the mistake of not sampling for take-up, but it will give me more of a roadmap as I weave.

Weave well,