Dabbling in warp rep (ripsmatta)

One of the great things about handweaving is that there is almost something new to learn. I’ve embarked on a study of warp rep or “ripsmatta” this week. I am by no means an expert, but I’ve learned a lot, have a good and economical book recommendation, and just felt like chatting about this new-to-me weaving structure.

I designed a pattern to start my adventure, and let me tell you, this wasn’t the wisest thing to do. I got a little too fancy with the color order and this complicated things from the get-go. If I had played by the rules, I would have adhered to winding warp threads in a light/dark alternating fashion. Of course I didn’t do this and got carried away after playing with my weaving software program a little too much. So I learned my first lesson before I finished winding a warp.

But of course, the goof ups didn’t end at the warping reel. I warped the loom, as I always do, from front to back since that is what I know how to do and I do not have a raddle. I can see where having the skills to warp the loom from back to front could come in very handy when working with a ripsmatta warp.

I was determined to get my first warp onto the loom (not posting a photo of this project because it is for gift-giving!). Despite many years weaving overshot and summer and winter, also two shuttle weaves, I did pay close attention to the expert directions of Rosalie Nielson for interlocking wefts and creating a neat selvedge. Halcyon Yarn has a nifty book available, “Handwoven’s Master Weaver Series : Favorite Projects and Lessons from Rosalie Nielson.” At less than $16 for the printed version, this little book is worth every penny and then some. Ms. Nielson’s designs are full of energy and color and beauty.

In true crusty, frugal Yankee fashion **, I cannot let a warp go without tying on a second (or third or fourth) onto the initial warp. It saves yarn! It saves time – like maybe 30 minutes! Well, I am not sure that tying on a warp of 3/2 mercerized cotton sett at 24 ends per inch was a wise move. In fact, it was rather feeble. I did get warp two through the reed and through the heddles, but golly, what a kerfuffle. Lots of jiggling and pulling and shaking and coaxing and a few choice words could be heard in the studio this morning. In future, if I want an extra runner or rug or placemat, I will plan accordingly and wind a longer warp.

My final bit of learning had to do with my yarn selection. (See ** above paragraph for explanation). I had some black UKI 3/2 mercerized cotton and some black 3/2 mercerized cotton from another mill. They’re both 3/2 mercerized cottons, right? WRONG! The non-UKI cotton was just a bit fluffier than the UKI. The difference in the yarn fluff-factor created very sticky sheds throughout the weaving, which is something that I did not experience while weaving my (top secret) ripsmatta project, when I used just UKI yarns. Photo of sticky shed shenanigans below:

Sticky shed!
Using a stick shuttle for a weaver’s sword
Warp rep weaving on the loom.

The makeshift sword did make a huge difference. And I really like the idea of saying that I am a weaver with a sword. Ha! It does make one feel fearless to say that one wields a sword during the course of the workday.

I suspect that tomorrow I will continue to make more mistakes and learn more about warp rep. But what fun! I can’t wait to try a rug. I think that there is a ripsmatta rug in my head and begging to find its way onto the loom and into our home.

Be well, friends.

Kate K.

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