Weaver’s Knot

05.10.2011 § 2 Comments

When I interview a person for a textile design job, I want to see their portfolio and test their color sense with the Farnsworth-Munsell 100-hue test. I want to know how well they can draw, how fluent they are with computer drawing tools, and how sharp their color senses are. I suppose other professions test a variety of things depending on their trade. I just learned that one of the tests for weavers is how fast they can tie a weaver’s knot.

So what does a weaver’s knot do?

If you understand weaving, you know how difficult it is to make a warp. It is especially true when the warp yarn is very fine and very dense. For instance, our Gaia is set with 14,256 warp ends in a 54-inch width. In the old days, this meant that someone would thread each of these warp yarns through a drop wire, a heddle and then through a reed. It would probably take 8 days to finish drawing the warp onto a loom before the weaving could start.  Although there are some modernized methods to help warp a loom, the labor involved is still very intense. Warping is the most important and time consuming part of weaving.

When the yarn tension is uneven and breaks one of the warp yarns, the drop wire will drop and the loom will stop. The weaver than has to find the broken warp yarn and tie the warp back up so the loom can start weaving again. If the weaver misses the broken warp and continues to weave the fabric, the woven fabric will have a vertical open line where the warp yarn is missing. This is why it is so important that as soon as a warp yarn breaks it is found and tied back in place. When our warehouse staff reports to me that there is a defect in a fabric, the first thing I ask is, “Is it a vertical defect or a horizontal defect?” Vertical defects tend to be long, sometimes along the whole roll, while horizontal defects may only be a fraction of an inch. Luckily I don’t run into vertical defects much thanks to the high standards of the mills we work with.

The weaver’s knot is small and strong. Small enough that it will affect the surface weave the least, strong enough to withstand the tension of weaving. Here are some videos demonstrating how to tie a weaver’s knot:

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