(for Amelia in Korea—thank you for asking!)

  • Why do pin loomers use three-layer warping?
  • Is it stronger?
  • What are the differences between 1-, 2-, and 3-layer warping?
  • How do we decide which warping method to use?

a small selection of Weave-It looms and squares

First, let’s define three-layer warping (3LW), just to make sure we all start on the same page. 3LW is way of preparing your pin loom for weaving. It consists of warping layer 1 (L1), then L2 (technically this is a weft, or weaving, layer), then L3 (another warp layer), and finally weaving L4 — L4 is the last step in the pin loom weaving process, and is not actually a discrete layer (see Diagrams page).

L1—blue; L2—red; L3—green; L4—yellow

The reason we use 3LW is that it’s convenient. It’s not stronger than any other type of weaving. However, pin loom weaving, unlike any other type of weaving I know of, creates four selvage edges. Whether or not this makes the weaving stronger, it’s certainly an advantage. 3LW makes the weaving step go faster in plain or pattern stitch weaving.

When you warp the loom with three layers, L2 is equivalent to weaving almost half of the rows. On a 31-warp x 31-weft loom (such as Weave-It or Zoom Loom), L2 puts 15 of 31 rows in place without the trouble, or slowness, of weaving them. In L4 you only have to weave 16 rows. However, having L2 in place sometimes makes the final weaving step a little more complicated (for beginners) and a little more difficult, particularly when using less-stretchy yarn. It’s usually necessary to warp loosely in order to accommodate for take-up. (TAKE-UP refers to the way yarn bends during the weaving process. Warp and weft threads bend slightly when woven. Thinner yarns bend less than thicker yarns. In PLW we accommodate for take-up by loosely warping the loom. Loose warping is particularly vital when using less-stretchy yarns. The stretchier the yarn, the tighter you can warp. However, if you warp tightly the yarn will still bend, weaving may become difficult, and your finished piece may be significantly smaller when it comes off the loom. [see GLOSSARY])

With plain weave and many pattern stitches, if you prefer 2LW, you can slide all even-numbered rows between the L1 and L3 warps instead of weaving them. I haven’t explored this option much. Since I prefer the scallop edges, I generally use 3LW or try to mimic the result.

Three-layer warping results in a scallop edge around the finished square.

3LW square in plain weave — 100% wool yarn

Two-layer warping typically results in a square with two scallop edges (top and bottom) and two non-scallop edges (the sides).

2LW pattern stitch square — Five Diamonds — 100% acrylic yarn

One-layer warping yields four non-scallop edges.

1LW pattern stitch — Thistle Blossoms — 100% wool yarn

With plain weave it doesn’t matter which warping method you use. You can decide whether or not you want scallop edges and whether or not you want to weave all the rows or only half of them. The reasons you might choose two- or single-layer warping is either to eliminate the scallop edges or because they allow you to manipulate the stitches of every row during the weaving process. This is useful for certain types of pattern weaving, such as twill.

Looms with the three-pin configuration (such as Weave-It or Zoom Loom) were designed to make 3LW easier, but you can also do three-layer warping on a loom with equidistant pin spacing (see Topical Guide — “Bias Looms”).

Left: Three-pin configured Weave-It; Right: Equidistant-pin spaced Loomette


4 Thoughts on “Choose Your Warping Method

  1. Thank you for sharing the information about the options for warping methods. This opens up all kinds of wonderful things to do.

  2. Judy Sologinkin on 23 September 2018 at 6:06 AM said:

    Thankyou Sue. I have wondered about the layers and difference .

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