Rep Weave: Placemats (4 shafts) & Table Runner (16 shafts)
Warp-faced rep weave, sometimes referred to as warp rep, mattor, or ripsmatta, is a relative of shadow weave. They are alike in that the structure of both these weaves is mostly plain weave and light and dark ends alternate in the warp and are threaded on pairs of shafts. They differ in that the warp in warp rep is sett much closer and thick and thin wefts alternate to create horizontal ridges with an interesting, ribbed texture.
Having woven rep weave before, I wanted to give it another try and learn more about it. Following are images, drafts, and notes describing my recent rep weave projects that were great fun to weave.
Rep Weave (Warp Rep) Placemats (4 shafts)
While researching this topic, I came across a unique article I found online at handweaving.net, “Mattor,” by Robert Frederic Heartz, published in 1936. I was inspired by the informative, hand-drawn illustrations, drafts, and meticulous notes. I picked Draft No. 7 accompanying Illustration No.7, entered the info into my weaving program and wove a set of four placemats:
If you look at the article, each threading block consists of 8 warp ends, but you can vary this number as long as it’s in multiples of pairs. I translated the handwritten notes into this computer generated profile draft and noted the block numbers on top:
The threading of each block and the tie-up is easier to understand if you look at the two views below. The top one is an interlacement view so you can see the plain weave structure and what is actually going on with the thick and thin wefts. The bottom warp rep view shows what the actual weaving will look like, the weft is no longer visible covered by the close sett of the warp. I didn’t include the border that is shown in the handwritten notes in the article because you can create solid colored vertical stripes by simply repeating any block using a solid color instead of alternating light/dark colors as in the rest of the warp. Here are the two views:
I wove a few samples with different setts and yarns before weaving the placemats to help me figure out how many times to repeat each block in the threading and the treadling so they would turn out nice and a good size for a placemat. I followed the threading exactly the same number of times as indicated in the article with 8 ends in each block. However, I treadled as if there were only 2 ends in each treadling block, otherwise the pattern would have been too elongated. I also created a pdf of the thread-by-thread and treadling drafts for the placemats: Threading & Treadling for Rep Weave Placemats
For the warp I used 20/2 cotton (2 strands together used as one) at a sett of 60 e.p.i., sleyed 4 ends per dent in a 15-dent reed. For the wefts I used a thick, 4-ply cotton of variegated colors alternating with a thin 20/2 cotton (single, not doubled up as in the warp). The final measurement of each placemat turned out to be 14 inches x 18 inches after wet finishing – washing by hand and steam ironing while still damp, and hand stitching the hems. Next time they can go in the washing machine on the gentle cycle.
A word about the shed: Because of the close sett it can be difficult to get a wide open shed for smooth and fast weaving. In this project it was good but I still had to help it a little, prying it open wider as the shuttle passed through. For a neater selvedge, I placed the weft in a rounded, inverted “v” shape and beat it in on the opposite shed. I read in one article that if you keep the warp tension looser you can lay the weft in straight and the looser warp will do all the bending, but I didn’t try it this way.
There are books and articles with different tips on how to weave rep weave efficiently, my favorite is Joanne Tallarovic’s book, Rep Weave and Beyond. “Weaver’s” magazine has many articles on rep weave that were written during its publication years from 1988-2000. My favorites are:
- “A Designer’s Handbook: Warp Rep,” by Donna Sullivan, Weaver’s #11
- “‘Ripped’ About Rep,” by Rosalie Neilson, Weaver’s #9
- “4 Shaft, 4 Block Rep: A Sampler,” by Rosalie Neilson, Weaver’s #9
- “Warp Rep: 8 Shafts, 8 Blocks,” by Rosalie Neilson, Weaver’s #11
- “Warp Rep: 16 Shafts, 16 Blocks,” by Rosalie Neilson, Weaver’s #15
Rosalie Neilson’s website has info about her work including the 4-shaft warp rep Sampler.
Rep Weave (Warp Rep) Table Runner (16 shafts)
Among my collection of samples woven by members of the Fine Threads Study Group at Complex Weavers, I found a warp rep sample that was designed by using parallel threading and treadling that inspired me to design a table runner. I also read in one of Rosalie Neilson’s articles, “Warp Rep: 16 Shafts, 16 Blocks” (Weaver’s #15), how to easily derive tie-ups from 16-shaft twills that can be used in warp rep. I went ahead and designed many parallel threadings and treadlings, tried them with different tie-ups, chose one I liked, and after a few revisions (ok, many revisions), was ready to weave it. Using weaving software was really helpful in speeding up this process. Here is the finished woven piece:
Below are two drafts for the Table Runner, one is a close-up that shows the colors I used in the warp, the tie-up, and the thick and thin wefts. The other is a black & white version that shows one full repeat of the threading and treadling.
If you are using weaving software and would like the WIF file of the draft, let me know and I’ll be happy to e-mail it to you.
I wove a few samples first for this project as well and chose 5/2 pearl cotton for the warp, sett at 40 e.p.i. and a thick, 4-ply cotton of variegated colors for the thick weft and a 20/2 cotton for the thin. I tried sleying 4 ends per dent in a 10-dent reed but some warp ends didn’t sit where they were supposed to and so the colors didn’t look exactly right. I resleyed at 2 ends per dent in a 20-dent reed, but this made it more difficult to get a wide open shed. On the other hand, there was ample space between pairs of ends (e.g., 1,9 and 2,10) that somewhat compensated for this handicap. I still had to insert a wooden sword in the narrow shed behind the reed, turning it on its side to open the shed wider so the shuttle could easily pass through. It was slow weaving but it worked.
The only finishing for the Table Runner was twisting the fringes, no wet finishing because I want to use it mostly as a decorative piece.
There are many variations possible in rep weave such as multiple color combinations, a lesser dense warp where the weft plays a bigger role because it’s more visible, and even warp rep and weft rep in the same piece. I wove a couple of different colorful warp rep runners some time ago that may be of interest, the third and fourth images on my Gallery – 2005 & 2007 page.
UPDATE January 2017: I revisited warp rep in 2017 and you can find photos, drafts, and notes in my new post that describe how I designed and wove two warp rep runners and a belt .Profile Drafts, Rep Weave (Warp Rep)