I was fortunate enough to get a bunch of really fine merino wool (2/24 and 2/32) for a song. But the thought of weaving something so fine for production leaves me in a cold sweat. Even paying myself a modest $10 per hour, the cost would soon be out of the range of what most people around here are willing to pay if I wove it at its correct sett.
So last summer, I made up and dyed a warp as an experiment. I took three strands of different colours and used it as one warp element. I changed a colour every now and then to get a gradation across the warp. At least that was the plan. Then I quickly slapped some dye on it and steamed it and...... yuck. The colours that I had chosen did not really work very well with the original colours of the yarn. Except for one scarf on one end that was browns.
So I did what I always do when something hideous comes out of the dye pot... I threw it back in. This time it was into a blue vat. The brown end scarf hung over the edge well out of the dye. Unfortunately, this resulted in a slightly felted warp and when I tried to put it on during the Christmas production rush, I decided that I did not have the time nor the patience to deal with such a felted mess at that time. Lease sticks in, I rolled it up and chucked it back into a basket to be dusted off when things were a little calmer. Things were calmer in February, so I set to wind it on my loom front to back.
Most of the warps that I put on are done back to front but I had the opportunity to learn the front to back method about 8 or 9 years ago. Knowledge is rarely a bad thing so I tried the method and decided that for the most part, I liked back to front better. But I did see some applications for the front to back method.
The first is when I am combining two or more warps. From time to time, I will dye two wraps separately and then combine them in stripes.
The second is when I have made a mixed warp by holding a number of different types of yarns as one unit when warping and then separate them when threading. Winding the bunches on the back as one unit and then threading them leaves me with no end of tension issues. Especially as I use many different types of yarn with different amounts of stretch and different amounts of resiliency.
The third is when I have a sticky warp that is mildly felted. It seems to be much easier to strum and stroke the yarns through the reed than to get them to behave going through the lease sticks.
Here are two of the four scarves that came off of that warp. the colours are washed out a bit. So what else is new?
The blue warp that was the first picture is destined for the same treatment. It is narrower than the 12 inch wide scarves that came out of the last batch because apparently men like narrower scarves. And women buy men scarves. Market research is a wonderful thing.