Rep Weave Placemats (2019)

Pattern: Largely followed “Breakfast time” project in “Rep Rips Reps Weave” book, page 31, though I messed up and only threaded half the warp threads in the centre pattern.
Warp: 376 ends, measured at ~3yds
⁃ Pacolet Valley Fiber Company Heather Fingering (blues, aquas and purples),
⁃ Pacolet Valley Fiber Company Southern Bales Fingering (blues, aquas);
Thin weft:
⁃ The Mannings 2 ply 8/2 cotton (natural) ;
Thick weft:
⁃ A generic Bernat “handicrafter” cotton 4-ply (quadrupled)
Sett: 32epi
Method: Weaving — multishaft floor loom (could have done it with 2 shafts; distributed threads over 4 shafts).
Completed: June 16, 2019.

Oohhhh, boy. I think it worked out okay in the end, but it took a lot of thinking…. Apart from any usual project challenges, I only got 3 of the four intended placemats off the warp as originally measured. I paused, considered my options, and then the real “fun” began…. Long story below, and more pictures/illustrations after!

Backing up a bit. I had the idea at least 3 years ago to make placemats to match the table runner I had just finished. I eventually settled on rep weave, to show off the lovely variegated yarn. I finally settled on a pattern and spent time measuring out the warp — I used the “Breakfast Time” project (in “Rep Rips Reps Weave” book). By my math, my warp was long enough for four placemats. And, it might have been, if all the placemats were the same length as the first. They were not: each placemat was successively longer than the previous one, even though the number of picks was the same.
So, I got to the end of the 3rd placemat, and it was quite clear that there was not enough length left in the warp to get the 4th placemat. Sigh. I walked away.
The thing is — this is tablewear for when company comes to dinner. How often are there just 3 of you at the table? How useful is a 3 placemat set going to be? And, from the production side, what am I going to do with the fragments of balls of this un-matchable variegated yarn?
It’s not like there was enough to dress the loom for a single placemat.
But there might be enough to extend the existing warp for a 4th placemat (because then I would not have loom waste at the front of the warp, it would be continous from the existing warp, still on the loom).
Measuring out the variegated yarn of which I had the least left, I got my needed ~100 ends at 38” each, with 8” of yarn to spare. I figured that would be enough for the placemat, but not quite enough to take care of loom waste. Of the other colours, I measured out 50” warp thread extensions. Somewhere in there, I realized I didn’t have enough of the natural yarn left, so I had to order more. It was, of course, ever-so-slightly differently shaded than the original, so I left the original aside and used the new yarn exclusively. I think the difference would have been noticeable threads within the same placemat, but not between two separate placemats.
And then I tied on (I.e., individually knotted) 376 warp thread extensions, and the ~100 foot-long extension extensions to make the 38” threads 50”.
Still with me? It’s fair to point out that, as I finished knotting the extensions, The Other Half walked into the room, did a double take, and exclaimed, “You really are insane!”. I wore that, with pride :^) .
The adventure was not over. I tied the new warp on to the loom, and wove off a small piece to finish out the original warp. The thing is, this cotton warp thread is pretty sticky to begin with, when sett as densely as called for in rep weave. With each thread being knotted at about the same point, things got really sticky. For each shed change, I had to claw at all the warp threads to get them to actually separate in the new shed. (It had been suggested to me that I ought to trim the ends of the knots. I probably should have — but I was terrified the knots would come apart, so I didn’t want to trim them).
Finally, that piece was done, and that placed the row of knots between it and the final placemat. Once I started the final placemat, those knots were no longer a problem, as they were tucked in the woven material.
Oh, no, adventure wasn’t done, yet!
I realized that the warp was getting tight, for this 4th placemat. I untied the warp from the back beam, and wound up lashing it back on, using the lashing to extend the length of the warp somewhat. That bought me a bit of flexibility, though I still had some pretty small sheds for the last picks — and I was back to fighting with knots on the extended extensions.

Lessons (to be) learned
I still don’t know why the placemats were successively longer. Did my beating change that much? Or, was there so much “give” in the warp yarn that it was stretched differently at different points in the weaving? No clue.
If I had it to do again… I might just thread a whole new project, with extensive extensions on either side of the pattern warp (to take care of loom waste — dummy warp, I guess). Then I would not have had to fight with the knots so much, I think.

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