Last week we looked at introducing textural elements into your plain weave to give instant changes.  This week, we are looking at a technique called Warp Repp.  This is a fabric where the warp yarns are so closely sett to each other that the weft yarn cannot be seen.  This is known as warp-faced cloth.

Firstly, a little information on sett and how it impacts your cloth. 

Imagine wrapping your yarn around a ruler so that each new strand touches the one preceding it, so you can’t see in between the strands, but the strands aren’t overlapping each other.  Normally you would use this method to give you the total number of wraps per inch, and then mentally replace some of the threads to allow space for the weft threads to pass through the warp ends. 

For instance, if you wanted to weave a balanced plain weave (which we talked about last week), you would need to create space after each strand so that a weft yarn of the same size could fit through the gap.  If you did that all the way across the inch, you would find that you had halved your original number of strands.  So if we want plain weave, we divide the number of wraps per inch by 2.  That gives you your sett. 

If you wanted to weave a balanced twill weave on 4 ends, that structure needs 2 threads to be adjacent to each other, then a space for the weft, then another 2 threads together, then a space (for 2/2 twill).  Alternatively you might want 3 threads adjacent to each other, then a space for the weft, followed by just 1 warp thread, followed by a weft space.  Either way, you have pushed 2 strands out of the way to create the space for the weft.  Therefore, only 4 out of 6 strands are required for a 4-end twill, so you would divide your total number of wraps per inch by 2/3 to get the sett you would need for twill.  This is very approximate, and varies depending on the weave structure you want to use and the yarns you are using.  If you have hairy yarns( ie mohair), you may need to leave more space for the weft, and for very smooth yarns (such as rayon) you may need to close up the gaps a little.

Anyway, the closer together you sett your yarns, the more warp-faced it becomes.  If the warp is all you can see, that is called warp-faced.  If you can see a little bit of the weft, then it is called a warp-emphasis  fabric.  If you can see equal amounts of warp and weft, then you have a balanced cloth.  If you can see more weft than warp, but you can still see some warp, then you have a weft-emphasis fabric, and when you can only see the weft, and no warp, then it is weft-faced.  Both extremes are very useful for rugs! 

Note:  it is a very useful exercise on its own to do a sample warp where you do a sample with warp-faced, and resley for warp-emphasis, then resley for balanced, then for weft-emphasis and finally for weft-faced.  This gives you an idea of how the different setts can affect your weaving, and the texture differences that are created just through a change in the sett.

Warp Repp

It’s quite fun to have two different colours, or combinations of colours, in your warp and to sley them so closely that you can use thicker and thinner weft yarns to create colour ridges.  This is called warp repp, and to do this you need to put one colour (or combination) onto two shafts, and the other on two more shafts, and sley them through the reed twice as closely as you would for a normal balanced weave.  Once you have done this, you weave using the two shafts with one colour as if they were one shaft, and alternating them with the other two shafts with the other colour. 

 Warp  1




Warp 2




Why bother putting the two colours on 4 shafts?  Why not just use 2?  Well, if you put the threads that closely together so that the weft yarn doesn’t play any visual part on the surface on the fabric (other than its thickness making one colour warp more prominent) then it is really hard to lift all the warp ends you want in one colour without snarling them up with the other colour.  4 shafts enables you to spread the threads out just a little, and raise one shaft first to raise half the threads you want, and then the other shaft to raise the other half, before putting the weft yarn through.  

The fun comes here with the varying of the thickness of the weft yarn.  Basically the weft yarn just sits in between the two different layers of colour which alternate being on the top or the underneath of the fabric.  If you use two wefts of similar thickness, both warp colours have equal prominence.  Don’t forget that the weft yarn won’t be seen except at the edges where it turns round to go back into the next pick because the warp yarns are so close together. 


However, if you change the thickness of one or both of the weft yarns, so that one is much thicker than the other, you change the emphasis on the colour showing on one side of the fabric.  The opposite colour will show more on the other side of the fabric.  If you create a thicker weft yarn by doubling, tripling or quadrupling the number of strands of weft in one pick, you can vary the amount of colour showing on one side at will.  If you choose to graduate the thicker yarn so it gets thinner over a period of several picks, whilst the thinner yarn gets thicker over the same period, you will effectively be changing over the predominance of the colour on one side, with the reverse happening on the other side.  This is what I did here….



 Warp repp side 1









         Warp repp side 2                                                           

If your warp happens to include some textured yarns in it, then there is even more interest in the appearance of the fabric.  However, do be aware that because it is sett so close together, textured warp yarns might well be hard to separate into their respective layers. 

These illustrations are from a series of samples I developed from a greetings card.


In the process of weaving one of the samples, I made an error.  I was not a happy bunny about this mistake at the time, but the next day, with a cooler head and a more objective eye, I realised that this mistake could be turned into a distinctive feature and here is the result.

Sunset at Sea.













The moral of this is that there are no mistakes in weaving, merely opportunities, which is what my first weaving teacher told me in my first week of weaving.  What a mantra to live by!!

Next week, combining different setts to get different effects.

In future weeks, I shall be introducing one of my favourite simple weaves – honeycomb, introducing you to overshot for texture, crepe weaves and woven shibori.  Later blogs will include creating texture in double cloth. 

Please feel free to share the blog with your weaving friends.  The more the merrier!


© Stacey Harvey-Brown 2010