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weavng-sizing-msg - 10/4/99


Sizing for warp threads on looms. Period sizing solutions.


NOTE: See also the files: weaving-msg, wool-clean-msg, spinning-msg, looms-msg, piled-fabrics-msg, velvet-msg, textiles-msg, knitting-msg, knitting-lnks.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



Date: Thu, 02 Oct 1997 13:09:56 -0700

From: Brett and Karen Williams <brettwi at ix.netcom.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: : Looking for Sizing in Period - Weaving


From: Paula Barreto <pbarreto at iusb.edu>

> I am looking for a recipe {and source if known} for period sizing.  I

> have one (not documented) for a Flax seed sizing {also sometimes called as

> Linen seed/linseed}, but I am also looking for alternatives.


> Ldy Isabel Moundoghter


With respect to Lady Isabel's question, I do not know of any period

recipes for (what I presume is warp) sizing-- however, I haven't looked

into the matter. I'd be interested to find out.


I do know, however, that there are various modern and unattributed

techniques for sizing out there. The most common way to de-stickify a

tangling wool or mohair warp is the light application of hairspray, or a

light spritz of Johnson's "No More Tears" (a type of creme rinse

designed to detangle a child's fine hair for combing after a wash) to

the warp while advancing the warp from the back beam. I've used pump

hairspray on a 50/50 silk/wool warp that was extremely tiresomely

sticky, to the point that I was having trouble getting a good shed every

now and then due to extra warp threads raising when I didn't want them

to do so. The pump hairspray worked.


Lady Isabel mentions linseed dressing, which when looked up in Chapter

17, General Information, of Mary Black's _New Key to Weaving_, says in

pertinent part (my copy is the 1957 edition, no ISBN-- but it's in print

as a trade paperback RIGHT NOW...):


"Weaving with a single-ply, natural linen warp presents an entirely

different problem.  This type of linen tangles and breaks easily, is

springy and difficult to tie and keep tied, and makes a poor shed.


"To facilitate the handling of this type of warp, treat it in a solution

made from flaxseed.  Prepare the warp chain as for dyeing (reference to

see process detailed on page 527 of the same book), wet it, soak in the

solution, and hang it up to dry.  The solution is made by soaking and

boiling flaxseed until it reaches the consistency of coffee cream.   As

this solution spoils quickly, prepare only the estimated quantity needed

to dip the chain.  Some weavers prefer to sponge the solution onto the

warp as it is wound onto the beam.  Plastic starch also makes a good

size, as does sheet glue.


"The wetting of this type of warp with water, as it leaves the beam and

is rolled forward, acts as a substitute for the flaxseed dressing, but

is not as satisfactory."


I should point out that Black's TNKTW was first published in 1945-- the

reference to both 'plastic starch' and 'sheet glue' mystify me! Any



I have subscribed and listened (without much comment!) to the weaving

mailing list for a while now and the most common treatment mentioned

over the last year for linen warps (whether singles or plied) is to use

the water spritz method Mary Black mentions. It is also customary to

water-spritz one's bobbin when preparing a new shuttle, however it's

important to weave the damp bobbin off before the thread mildews.  A

humid environment is helpful, too, I'm told. ;) I understand why this is

done-- the water serves to strengthen the linen fiber (spit would be

better, but eewwww!) and also tends to cut down on shredding.  This is

the reason for the markedly different textures between dry-spun linen

line and wet-spun linen line; the wet-spun is infinitely smoother and

silkier and stronger a yarn than the former.


All this is well and good, but it really doesn't address Lady Isabel's

underlying question.  I will tender the suggestion that the three most

likely people I know of to answer this question with any sort of

authority are:  Nancy Spies (Lady Ingvild Josefsdattir)-- who is a

gifted and *very* well-researched tablet weaver who lurks on the cards-l

mailing list, as does Peter Collingwood (the name should be immediately

recognizable to weaving cognoscenti... but he may not answer publicly

depending on how busy he is) and Carolyn Priest-Dorman (Mistress Thora



The card-l list archive can be found at:



which, alas, are not up to date-- however a quick subscription and

posting of query might be in order...


and Mistress Thora's email address can be found in her postings in

Stefan's Florilegeum (look in the Textile arts, Weaving section) at:



     is the newer address - Stefan]


And lastly, I'd also suggest looking into Mary Meigs Atwater's body of

work as well, though she seemed to view anything older than fifty years

as very ancient. I would be more specific here, but I don't have

anything in my library of hers. Mary Meigs Atwater is just about

single-handedly responsible for the early 20th century revival of

handweaving; Mary Black was a Canadian weaver of considerable expertise.




<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
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Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org