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Compromises, or: Faking it (as you do).

As I’ve mentioned a while before, there’s no such thing as the perfect textile replica. Well, theoretically, there might be – but really getting it all perfect, down to the fibre and thread and exact measurements? That would mean a truly insane amount of test runs and effort and time and material and money.

So whenever there’s a reconstruction, there is usually also some compromising being done. Part of that can be due to time restrictions, or budget restrictions, or technical issues. One of the typical compromises are the changes made to a fabric because of the available looms. There’s a difference between how different types of loom work (obviously), but I’ve recently been told by a weaver that from her own experience and that of others, even small differences between looms will result in different fabrics, as they may or may not work with a certain amount of tension, or may be more or less harsh on the threads.

One of the main issues, though, is the fact that when you weave on a horizontal loom, you have no starting border. (It can, technically, be done. It just makes little sense if you do the normal way of setup on that loom. I’ve met one lady once who does use a starting border on the horizontal loom, but she’s the exception to the rule.) Starting borders are, however, a pretty common feature if you use the warp-weighted loom, as they make total sense when setting up your warp here.

For those of you who are confused now – a starting border is a woven band forming the top (starting) edge of your warp. Think of it as a band with a gigantonormous fringe at one side – that fringe is the warp of your main fabric. The starting border secures your warp threads and spaces them out evenly, two invaluable things when you are setting up the loom.

So if you want to replicate a fabric made on the warp-weighted loom that includes a starting border, there’s two possibilities. Obviously, you can find a very competent and willing weaver with a warp-weighted loom and get the fabric done as it originally was, with the starting border and all. Alternatively, have the weaver make a starting border and weave it on a horizontal loom. However, finding weavers willing to do just that is not the easiest of tasks – and you might, again, run into budget and time restrictions.

The other possibility? Get the fabric woven on a horizontal loom, without a starting border, then fake one afterwards. This is, admittedly, only the second best solution, as the faking it will be blatantly obvious to every weaving geek looking closely – but then, it will probably only be blatantly obvious to those. There’s a difference between a faked and a real starting border, and it is due to technical reasons.

If you make a real starting border, you weave a band. As the weft for the band, you pull loops of yarn through each shed – this will form your main warp. You have your yarn ball or cone on one side of the band and the warping aid (such as posts) to the other side. So the sequence is: Change shed, pull loop through and around your warping aid, change shed, pull next loop through.

This means there are two threads running through each shed, both of them turning into warp threads.

Next post: How you fake a starting border, and the difference this makes.

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