Warping with Handpainted Skeins

Handpainted skeins need to be handled differently than solid colored skeins or cones to keep the colors pooled in your warp. A circular warp will keep the colors together.

Dorothy Tuthill Jul 25, 2022 - 3 min read

Warping with Handpainted Skeins  Primary Image

Dorothy Tuthill used a special warping technique for her Harvest Coat Redux to keep the colors in her handpainted skeins together in the warp. Photos by Matt Graves

In Handwoven, September/October 2022, Dorothy Tuthill used handpainted skeins of warp for the twill sections of her coat's warp. Although you could just warp them as usual, below is Dorothy's method of warping that preserves the color pooling found in the skeins. -Susan

Standard warping methods that begin at one peg of the board (or mill), trace a path of needed length, and then return on the same path usually mix all the colors of a handpainted skein, resulting in a mottled look in the finished piece rather than crisp areas of colors. To keep the colors pooled, the warp must make a circular path, beginning and ending at the same peg.

The circular path must be a multiple of the skein length. For the Harvest Coat Redux project in Handwoven September/October 2022, the skeins were 60" long (a common length) when held taut in the skein loop. The warp length for the coat needed to be at least 7 yd long (252") including warp for take-up and loom waste. By dividing the warp length by the skein length, you can see that you need five repeats of the skein color patterning. Four repeats would yield only 240" which would be too short; five repeats would yield about 300", or 8.3 yd. That warp length was more than I needed but nevertheless I felt having too much rather than too little yardage was worth the extra yarn used, and I wove every bit of the warp that I could.

To get started, measure a length of non-stretchy yarn the length of the warp you need and use it to design a circular path on your warping board as shown below.


You will need to do a bit of fussing with the warp as you go to keep the colors together in pools or you can allow them to shift slowly, depending on your preference. And don't forget your warping cross! It's just as important in this method as in other methods of warping. Its postion is marked in the diagram above.

20220406 HWSO22 Tuthill 0981-graves Close up of the pooled colors in Harvest Coat Redux by Dorothy Tuthill

When you are warping any solid-color sections of your warp, you can choose to keep the warping circle or revert to your usual warping method. In either case, make those sections of the warp the same length as the handpainted warp sections.