Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Set up for Sprang: A Question

The discussions I've had, on this blog and elsewhere, about how to properly set up a frame for working sprang have left me with a question. Fortunately, the Internet has given me a clear and simple way to ask it.  

The video shown at the right is a basic tutorial on sprang by den Blauwen Swaen (the Blue Swan). She has set up her sprang sample on what looks to be a warp-weighted loom, winding the yarn around sticks that are a permanent part of the loom.

Other tutorials, however, maintain that the sticks around which the yarn is wound for sprang have to be suspended, because sprang work generates "take up" that requires adjustment of the tension after a while, which is done by winding the sticks around the strings on which they are suspended so that there is more room to work.

But that method is not what Blue shows here, and I've done enough digging to know that she is not alone.

So my question is this:  Is it possible to set up yarn for sprang working between two sticks whose distance from each other cannot be adjusted?  If so, why do so many people show the adjustable or "floating" stick method?  What am I missing here?

If you have answers, or any thoughts on the issue, please feel free to comment here, on my account at Google Plus, or wherever you can reach me.  I'd like to have a better idea of the answer before I finish setting up my frame for a second try (though I've come up with a way to adjust tension, just in case).


  1. It's been a long time since I did any sprang, but I seem to remember that Collingwood had fixed top and bottoms on the sprang frame. I don't remember them being adjustable, and in fact I remember using makeshift frames at times. Unlike Blue, I used safety sticks instead of a safety string, and did the sprang in the middle, using the sticks like beaters to move the braid up/down to the edges.

  2. Sprang does have take-up, of course: the warps are being intertwined/linked, and that uses up length. Whether that's a problem depends on how large the piece is, how tight the structure, etc. It would be possible to do simple sprang on fixed rods, or stretchy yarns perhaps. And definitely warp on fixed rods, as in the video. Safety rods are fine for working the sprang, but warping is a whole lot easier with a cord, and a cord is more secure if you need to be able to move the frame.

    I prefer to use movable rods, often using cords instead of rods, or rods held in place with heavy elastic bands to provide the stretch. The sprang fabric does get markedly tighter over time. But unlike with weaving, the sprang frame doesn't need to be infinitely adjustable because tension doesn't affect the fabric very much. Instead, you can have holes every inch or so that you can move the fixed rod to when it gets difficult to work.

    Collingwood does use movable rods, and talks about various ways those can be attached to the fixed outer frame in an adjustable fashion (many of which don't work all that well if you aren't a textile genius).

    That's kind of disorganized, I'm afraid, since I'm in a hurry, but if you have more questions I'm pretty sure you know how to contact me.

  3. Thanks, Phiala and Buddha Buck, for your information; it's very helpful to me.

  4. I tend to work most textiles at a high tension, but I've had significant takeup requiring moving the ends across a 30cm sample piece. I think my biggest problems were when trying to sprang the two sides right to the middle to join them - if I'd been content to have two seperate pieces with say spare warp turned into tassels, I think that spare warp would have compensated a lot better for the tension and wouldn't have needed as much takeup, but I think generally would require some.

    As already mentioned, I see that frame in the video has regular holes that would allow the space between the bars to be changed. On the 30cm scale, I think I only needed to change the width about twice.

    Other factors that might account for the videos:
    *the stereotypical stretch sprang is interlinked sprang (think chain mesh fence), but there is a second type- interlinked sprang where the warp threads weave through each other more like a braid or fingerweaving. Its rare, but collingwood has a chapter on it, and when I tried it, the takeup was a lot less - more like the takeup on braiding - which this esentially was.
    *There are also circular warps possible in sprang, I'm not sure how they function with regards to takeup, but it's possible the way the tension can be balanced in such a warp is different to a flat warp - if nothing else, if you put a circular warp on a flat frame, the warp would look similar but actually be twice as long as the flat frame warp so might look like it lasted ages before it needed the frame to be changed.
    *If i'm just showing you how to warp up and sprang the first few rows, I don't need to use a frame that could actually be used to complete a pieces. In fact, I could have a teaching frame that I undo again and again to show people how it works, as long as we stop when we get to the point where the tension on the frame/weaving gets too strong. Maybe 1/4 of the way down?
    *you don't actually need both sides of the frame to be mobile, only one. Often it's easier to get a nice piece and a nice tension if you use moveable rods on both sides. Eg my embroidery slate frame has thick sides which mean the start of my weaving has an unsightly 3cm set of loops when I pull my piece off if I use it as the fixed side. If I attach a chopstick to the frame as my start, I get less than 1cm loops, and if I use one on both sides, the two sides of my piece are nicely symetrical. I often still want the stiffer fixed frame though because that gives the whole frame it's structure - my chopstick is likely to snap when I pick my frame up if it's one of the sides.
    *There doesn't have to be a gap between the suspension bar and the bar it's suspended from when you start working (It might make warping up harder though). they could be sandwiched together inititally and only become suspended when you need to adjust hte tension.

    1. Thanks, Teffania, for information that may help predict the amount of take-up in a particular piece. That's part of what I was hoping to receive in answer to my question.

  5. I use cords to hold the warp - which is quite adjustable, and works well for me. No real guidelines about my warp uptake yet, though...
    Also - thank you so much for re-wording your first sprang article, I was utterly delighted to see that! : )

    1. Thanks, Katrin, for the information--it looks as though there may be lots of different answers as to what is an appropriate sprang set-up.

      Re my first post--you're quite welcome! Be assured that I do not intend to incorporate inaccurate information in my posts; I will always correct errors when pointed out to me. Thanks for your advice, and for reading what I have to say.