Reeds for hand weaving come in a wide range of spacings. Now usually made from stainless steel, each of the slots or dents are spaced apart to a give you a specific sett in your woven cloth. But you’re not stuck with this number. You can use one reed for many different types of weaving projects.
Sett is the number of yarns to the inch or centimeter that you set up in the warp. The sett is determined by how you thread (sley) the reed. For example, a 10 dents per inch (dpi) reed will give a sett of 10 ends per inch (epi) in the cloth when you thread an end through every slot (dent) on the reed. Sett can be a somewhat arbitrary number and sampling in weaving will give you an idea of the ideal sett for the type of cloth you want. It’s a bit like the tension swatch you would do for knitting to calculate how many stitches suit the yarn and intended purpose.
The sett can vary for a number of reasons.
- A tighter and tougher cloth will require a higher sett than a lightweight cloth. even when using the same yarn.
- Certain patterns in weaving require different setts. For example, a twill cloth requires and can handle a higher sett than a plain weave one because there are less intersections in the cloth structure.
- Warp faced or warp emphasis fabrics will require a higher sett to allow the warp to shine through.
How to push your reed in weaving
Reeds are precious weaving tools and using them well contributes to your happiness in weaving! If you only have one reed you can use it for all manner of different setts by varying the threading (sley) order in the reed. Varying the sley order in the reed is an easy task.
For example, you don’t have to stick to one thread per dent. You can thread one dent and follow with an empty dent to make a different sett. You can place two threads in each dent or two, then two, followed by one in the next dent.
Here is a table with an example of sett possibilities with a 10dpi reed.
Reed substitution charts
Reed sizes are expressed by the ends per inch you would achieve if you threaded each dent with one thread only. However, reeds from Europe and Japan are metric. These are expressed by the number of threads achieved with one thread through each dent for 10cms.
So for example, a 50/10 reed will give you five ends to the centimeter, or 50 ends to 10cms. To save you getting out a calculator to work out a threading order for your reed there are reed substitution charts available. These Imperial/US Customary unit measure charts can be easily converted to metric measure by dividing the reed size by 2.5 to arrive at the dentage per centimeter. However this is an approximate conversion from the inch calculation.
What are good reeds to start with?
This is an individual question depending on what you would prefer to weave. Mostly weavers start with an 8epi, 10epi or 12epi. Weavers using chunky art style yarns in the warp might like a 5 or 6epi for versatility.
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