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Explaining “Beat for 50/50”

Hi Jane…replying to an old post but I was hoping you could clarify what you mean about “beat for 50/50”….I have cotton and wool and would like to use the wool as warp and cotton as the weft.  I am looking to do a more open sett and want to get a lacy fabric.  I understand that the wool will full out and stay after wet finishing and that the cotton will relax.  How does the “beat 50/50” play into this?

What I’m referring to when I talk about 50/50 is……the same number of weft picks per inch as there are warp ends per inch in your cloth.  Or to put it another way, half the number of threads or 50% of the threads in one square inch of cloth are in the warp and the other 50% are in the weft.  When you have that balance in fabric the interlacing points going across the diagonal, progress on a 45 degree angle and that is where bias comes from in a piece of cloth. Getting the right balance between epi and ppi is vital to achieving the type of cloth you want to make.  Lets look at 2/8 cotton because it is a yarn that most weavers know about ….it is a yarn that weavers use to make towels.  Many weavers sett it at 20 epi for plain weave and try to get 20 picks per inch in plain which requires a good hefty beat or possibly even a double beat technique…..you end up with a dense skookum fabric that is sturdy as can be.  But, what if we want to use that yarn for something a little softer or drapey….if we drop the epi down to 18 and beat at 18 ppi, you will have an easier time weaving it, it will still be balanced but you will end up with a softer fabric. And what if we want to weave a piece of cloth with the 2/8 cotton and have it be even more open and drapey….we could drop it down to 16 epi and beat it at 16 ppi. It would feel like a completely different piece of cloth and you could use it for a garment or scarf. The weaver controls the beater, we can beat hard, we can beat softly but the only way to beat accurately is to count how many picks you are getting in an inch and strive to mimic that beat through the entire piece of cloth. All 3 pieces of fabric woven from that one yarn will be different, all suitable for a different use but all coming from one yarn. The only way you will know which one is better for your intended use is to sample and compare and to keep good notes so you don’t have to do it again.