Re: Weft ease...or lack of

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Posted by Marla Mallett on July 26, 1999 at 08:10:50:

In Reply to: Re: My Own Musings posted by Wendel Swan on July 25, 1999 at 19:50:16:

Dear Wendel, John and all,

My natural "weaver's reaction" is to dislike the expression "sinuous warps," as any rug loom holds the warps under very high tension--of necessity--and very straight. It's the way the WEFT yarns are handled that produces the wavy warp characteristic you've described. If weft yarns are inserted in a straightforward way, so that no "ease" is allowed at all, there will be some "loom take-up" of the warps, but then once the weaving is removed from the loom and the elements all relax, the warps assume still more the wavy look you've mentioned. But it really is better to describe this feature in a rug as "no weft ease," as this is the predominate characteric that separates this kind of weaving from the next--in both technique and structure.

A straight weft, laid in with no ease makes perfect sense, of course, in Hamadan rugs, since those typically have only one heavy weft between knotted rows. The lack of weft ease makes a much less satisfactory structure in the Shahsevan pieces having two wefts (at least in the small knotted bag face of mine with lattice design that's nearly identical to one of yours, Wendel). Without ease that allows the weft to assume a wavy, "sinuous" path, it is impossible to achieve a very compact structure. From my perspective, this can logically be construed as a sign of a tradition without much history. I feel the same way about many Kirghiz rugs--that the lack of refinement in the weave structure says something significant about the probable lack of longevity in that tradition.

The "problem" above is not theoretical. Most beginning weavers have trouble with this. When someone weaving his first rug complains to me that he can't get the structure compact enough, I almost know automatically that he has not inserted his wefts in such a way as to allow weft ease. When I ask about this, the answer is inevitably, "Huh? What's that mean? Don't know anything about that!" Anyway, wefts must be either packed down in very short sequential segments so that extra yarn length is available to take on a sinuous path...or laid in the shed in a very high arc...or put in at an angle and then pushed down toward the fell of the cloth in scallops. Western weavers call this "bubbling" the weft. There are several ways to insert and pack a weft so that it is sinuous, and the method varies depending upon exactly how much ease is desired. I've discussed a closely related matter on my UPDATES website page in answer to an Anne Rowe question about rugs with depressed warps.

All the best,

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