There are two reasons for this: firstly, it enables me to create a longer panel of weaving because I have a longer unbroken length of warp to work on; secondly, it enables me to keep working at the same height which is my personal preference.
Working on a circular warp means that the weaver only has access to half of the warp ends (those on the front of the loom). Normally, the warps at the front and back of the loom would be brought together and secured with a starter weft. This would then double up the warps to be woven on. Therefore, to achieve the usual sett (the number of warp ends per inch) that I am accustomed to, I wind double the number of warp ends onto the frame when creating a circular warp.
Additionally, I like to fix a spacing rod to the top of the loom before I start winding on the warp. I do this as a matter of course as it gives me the option of some slack if required later by adjusting its position. Likewise, I often create a double warp at the selvedges (the edges of the tapestry) for strength, stability and structural punctuation.
Before weaving, I finish the setting up process by doing the following:
- tying on a temporary starter weft to stabilise the base of the warps which will be cut off when the tapestry is pulled around for the first time.
- clamping a wooden baton inside the base of the front warp, a foundation for the heading and base knots to follow.
- weaving two inches of heading (which spaces the warps evenly, and is removed after the tapestry is cut off the frame)
- adding a row of base knots – this secures the tapestry to the warps and stop the weft slipping down the warps.
- creating a shed (the space between the front and back warps) by inserting a dowel rod into the warps, secured in place with metal g-clamps (plastic clamps distort under tension)
My weaving memories are making a gradual return. Knowledge gained from the experience of past tapestries is filtering back (hooray) and I pick up where I left off. It feels lovely, valuable and reassuring, all rolled into one.