I’m often asked about the best ways to measure your work as you weave. Although I’ve covered various methods in my books, patterns and classes, I have yet to write about this subject on the Yarnworker blog. Here is a round-up of my favorite ways to keep track of where I am.
When I first started to weave, I used stitch markers used in knitting and crochet, paperclips, or attached a bit of yarn to the selvedge using a cow hitch knot. Before the base of the cloth would disappear from view as I advanced my woven fabric onto the cloth beam, I would place a marker on the selvedge at the fell of the cloth—the last woven pick—then continue weaving. Before the marker disappeared I would measure form the marker to the fell and and make a note of that measurement on a piece of paper. Then either move the marker to the fell or add a new marker. I liked this method because It didn’t require pinning anything on the cloth that would block my view of the full width of the fabric.
When weaving multiple projects on a single warp that have multiple design elements within each piece, such as placemats or tools, try a paper guide. To make a guide, I use craft paper that I use to pack the beam. I rarely need to use the packing paper at its full width, so before I cut the paper into my preferred 2- to 3- foot lengths and desired widths, I’ll cut a strip about 3 inches wide from the paper while it is still in the roll and save it for making guides.
To create a guide, cut a strip of paper about 3 inches longer than your woven length. Mark each element of the design on the paper, such as the hem, stripe patterns, etc., then pin the paper guide to the fabric, rolling up the excess and securing it with a paperclip. As you weave, unroll and re-pin the guide, eventually rolling the excess at the bottom as well. This system allows you to measure all the elements within a single piece, and each successive piece, so they are all the same.
Pinning a Tape Measure
You can also clip a tape measure to the fabric. I used to use a vinyl tape measure, but then a patron turned me on to paper tape measures used in maternity practices. (Thanks Pam!) I purchased a couple dozen 60 inch paper tape measures a few years ago, but a quick internet search didn’t lead me to any tape measures that long. If anyone knows a source, please pop it in the comments. (Hive mind to the rescue! See comments for a link.)
You do want to look for a tape that is designed to be a measuring device. Some decorative ribbons that have inches marked on them are not always accurate. You can also make your own by marking a length of ribbon, twill tape, if you can find it, or something similar.
If you can maneuver it, attach the tapes about a 1/2 inch from the selvedge using a T-pin, then roll up the ends as you weave and advance, securing the curled ends with a binder clip. This way your selvedges are not blocked from view.
You can also clip the tape measure to the edge of the fabric, although you may or may not be able to create as much distance between the edge of the tape and the selvedges. Another patron turned me on to quilting clips. They are a little gentler on the fabric than a binder clip. (Thanks Betsy!)
A question I’m often asked is how much tension you should have on your loom when measuring. I take a “click” or two off full tension. This keeps the fabric flat, but allows the yarn to relax and reduces the chance of under-measuring your fabric.
Do you have a favorite way to measure? Let us know in the comments.
P.S. No affiliate links are used in this post. Because of patron support, I don’t have to add annoying advertisements or use affiliate links in my content.