Having the appropriate sett (also known as ends per inch or the abbreviation epi) can make or break an entire weaving project. One of the most common missteps in weaving is weaving on a warp that has been under sett (e.g., too few warp ends per inch) . As a new weaver many years ago I was guilty of this. Why? Warping fewer ends seemed like less work and appeared to use less materials, but it made it difficult (if not impossible) to achieve a good cloth.
Determining what an appropriate sett is for the warp yarn can be challenging . . . but, never fear! There are some resources available that may be an asset for your next weaving project.
First up is Handwoven magazine’s Master Yarn Chart. Since 2000, Handwoven has maintained a list of all of the yarns used in projects. It’s currently 7 1/2 pages long (I remember when it was less than one page). For each yarn on this list, there is a picture of the yarn. Below the picture is the following information:
- The yarn desgination (e.g., 10/2 peal cotton, 60/2 silk)
- Yards per pound
- Meters per kilogram
- Range of setts (when appropriate to use as warp) . . . three are provided . . . The number on the left is a wide sett that may be appropriate for lace weaves. The number in the middle is a sett that may be appropriate for plain weave. The number of the right is a sett that may be appropriate for many twills.
One thing is important to keep in mind . . . the setts are not absolute and really provided more as guidelines. In other words, your mileage may vary. For example, for 5/2 pearl cotton, I often find I need to sett my yarn higher than 18 epi specified in the Master Yarn Chart in order achieve the results I want (I’m often closer to 20 epi) . . . but, this list has been invaluable time-and-again when I’m planning a project using a yarn I don’t weave with very often or I want to make a substitution of a yarn. I even downloaded it to my iPad so I have it on hand when I need it.
To download Handwoven magazine’s Master Yarn Chart, go to http://www.weavingtoday.com/media/p/70.aspx. If you don’t have an account, you will have to make one . . . but, like many things I’m sharing . . . that’s free too!
Now, you may be wondering what to do with a “mystery” yarn that is not on the list. Well, there are a few things you can do to help you determine an appropriate sett.
Use a McMorran Yarn Balance – this helps you figure out the yards per pound.
Handwoven magazine has a free article on what a McMorran Yarn Balance is and how to use one. You may download it by clicking on the following link http://www.weavingtoday.com/media/p/59.aspx
Ashenhurst Rule – Thomas Ashenhurst developed a method of calculating the maximum sett based on the diameter of the yarn.
S = Sett
T = Number of wraps per inch
R = Number of warp ends in one repeat
I = Number of times the weft intersects with the centerline in that one repeat
Simple Wrap Method – I often use a simple wrap method that looks like a simplified Ashenhurst approach. I have found this guideline helpful when in vendor halls and looking at a yarn that I would like to use for a project.
Step One – Wrap your yarn for one inch
Step Two – Using the total number of wraps per inch (wpi), calculate a sett (at least a starting point) based on the following:
- 50% = plain weave
- 60% = twill
- 80% = satin
Again, this is a guideline and adjustments may be necessary . . . to verify whether a sett will produce the results you want, the best thing is to sample.
Enjoy! (But, wait . . . there’s more!)
After I posted this, I received an email message from Tommye Scanlin letting more know that there is a resource available for determining setts for weft-faced weaves and that Archie Brennan addressed the issue of warp sett for tapestry in his article, The Space Between the Warps for the American Tapestry Alliance. You can locate it at the following link. http://americantapestryalliance.org/Education/Ed_Ar/BrennanWarp.html
Thank you, Tommye!