The foundation of any type of weaving is based on the relationship between your warp and your weft. This relationship is complex and comprised of different aspects: warp and weft material and weight and even the spacing of your warp.
The spacing of your warp is called your sett. It is usually indicated by "epi" which stands for "ends per inch" (also referred to as dpi which stands for "dents per inch"). This indicates how many warp threads (these are the verticle threads on a loom) you have in one horizontal inch.
Below is a picture of a Mirrix Loom warped at 5 ends per inch. You can see that there are five warp threads in one inch.
For the rest of this blog post, we will be referring to sett and warp spacing in terms of weft-faced weaving/tapestry.
I have noticed people referring to sett as high and low density warp. This broadly defines sett, but the concept is a bit more nuanced than that.
Why Warp Spacing Matters
Weft-faced weaving and tapestry is, by definition, weft-faced. That means the weft should show and the warp should not. The spacing of your warp threads relative to the weight of your warp and weft will determine whether or not your weft will show and how dense your tapestry is. Ideal warp spacing will look something like this, where no warp shows, but the piece is relatively dense.
Generally speaking, if you are using a finer weft you will want to have more dents per inch (so your warp is closer together) and if you are a using a thicker weft, you will want to use a warp coil with fewer dents per inch (so your warp is further apart).
Here are some examples of correct and incorrect setts:
The first example above shows a thicker warp with the warp threads too close together. This causes the warp to show through.
The second example shows a thinner warp where the warp threads are spaced too far apart. This is a bit harder to spot, but you can tell if your warp threads are spaced too far apart if your weft feels loose on the warp and packs down too much. Weaving a piece where your warps are spaced like this results in a flimsy final product and you won't be able to get as much detail as you would weaving at the correct sett.
The third example shows the same thicker warp as the first picture, but spaced correctly. Doesn't that look nice?
How do you determine the correct sett?
There is not a simple trick for figuring out your warp spacing. Every weft and warp combination is different and it might take some time to begin to get a sense of what sett each new piece should be woven at.
A good way to determine if your sett is correct is to put your weft in between your warp threads vertically when your loom is warped. If your weft threads are much thicker than the space between the two warp threads, then your weft is probably too thick and if your weft threads are much thinner than you know your weft is too thin.
One way to choose your warp sett is to look at what sett others have used with the same warp and weft you are using. Check out some of our free projects and look at the warp and weft and sett that we are using. Imitation is a good way to get started!
We also have a handy crowd-sourced list of different tapestry yarns people have used and the EPI/DPI they set their loom at.
Loom and Warp Spacing for Weft-Faced Weaving
Many looms have set warp spacing, which limits your flexibility when choosing how to space your warp threads. For example, you may have pegs on a loom set a certain distance apart. You can warp every peg, or every other peg, or every two pegs, but that's it. On a Mirrix, we have warp coils, which allow you to space your warp in a variety of ways. Most Mirrix Looms come with four warp coils: 8 epi, 12 epi, 14 epi and 18 epi. With those coils you can weave at 8, 12, 14 and 16 epi as well as 4, 6, 7, 9 and 2, 3, 3.5 and 4.5. We also have additional warp coils available for purchase at 10, 16, 20 and 22 epi.
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