You can weave a beautiful wool blanket like those made in Mexico on your own loom. The characteristic design of these blankets is a repeating sequence of stripes in different colors. The blankets are woven 45 inches wide, and two panels are seamed together to make a wide serape. Traditional weft colors are natural wool colors of brown, black, gray and white, but indigo blue and burnt orange from natural dyes are also authentic.
Items you will need
- 4 harness floor loom
- 10 dent reed
- Wool yarn
- Warping board
Wind a warp on the warping board that is 45 inches wide, with 456 warp ends. The sett (number of warp ends per inch) will be 10 epi. The warp should be 7 yards long for one blanket. Make a figure-eight cross at one end, and tie the warp off at one yard intervals. Take it off the warping board and bring it to the loom.
Pre-sley the reed by pulling four warp ends through every fourth dent in the reed. Put the reed in the beater and hang the beater on the loom. Put the back apron rod through the loop ends of the warp. Move the cross to the front of the reed. Have an assistant tension the warp as you wind it on the loom. Put sticks or paper between the layers of warp as you wind on. When the other end of the warp reaches the reed, cut the warp. Take the reed and beater off the loom.
Tie the lease sticks with the cross to the back of the loom. Hang the harnesses in the loom and thread the loom to a straight draw (4,3, 2, 1). Put the beater and reed back on the loom and sley the reed by pulling one warp end through each dent in the 10-dent reed. Tie the warp ends to the front apron rod attached to the cloth beam.
Wind a rag shuttle with some rag strips. Weave 6 inches with the rag weft for fringe. You will remove the rag weft later. Wind a bobbin with the wool weft and place the bobbin in the shuttle. Weave with one color for a while, then change to another color. Create a sequence of stripes about 18 inches long. Repeat this sequence of stripes six times, so that the blanket is 108 inches long. Weave another 12 inches of rag weft before you start the next panel. Weave the six repeats of the stripe pattern again for the second panel. Weave 6 inches of rag weft. Cut the warp behind the heddles. Pull the cloth off the cloth beam and cut it off.
Cut the two panels apart in the middle of the 12 inch rag weft section. Knot or braid the fringe. Pin the two panels together, overlapping by half an inch. Sew the two panels together with two seams, one close to the selvage of one panel and the other close to the selvage of the other panel, about one-third inch apart on the overlapped part.
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