Tools Day: Eliminating Warp Knots

You are not going to believe how many knots I came across in this 16/2 linen warp! Too many. As I wound the warp I made the decision to leave most of the knots, and deal with them on the loom. (I did remove knots that were close to the beginning or ending peg on the warping reel.) I lost count, but I’m sure I have spliced the warp on this five-and-a-half-meter project at least a dozen times. (To see more details about how I splice the warp, visit this blog post and video: How To Splice the Warp – Video.)

I do not weave over warp knots. A knot introduces a spot of vulnerability to the fabric. Knots can fray, loosen, or come undone over time, even if the knot is originally imperceptible.

In a couple instances, a knot distorted the tension of the warp end because of catching on a heddle or passing through the reed. For that reason, I now try to eliminate knots in the warp before they reach the heddles.

Tool: Warp Separator

  • Identify the warp end that has a knot, and insert the warp separator between warp ends to isolate the thread.

Warp separator to isolate warp with knot.

  • With a length of repair warp thread, follow the path of the original thread to splice in the new warp end, feeding it through the heddle of the original warp end.

Warp separator to isolate warp end with knot.

  • Bring the repair warp thread through the reed in the same dent as the warp end that has a knot.

Eliminating a warp knot.

  • Attach the repair warp thread near the fell by wrapping it around a flat straight pin.

Splicing a warp end.

  • Remove the warp separator from between the warp ends.

Warp separator for repairing a warp end.

  • Place a weight on the floor below the back beam. Wrap the repair thread around the weight two or three times to hold the thread at tension that matches the rest of the warp. Loosen the wrapped-around thread before advancing the warp, and then re-tighten before resuming weaving.

Splicing warp ends.

  • Weave one to two inches with both the original warp end and the repair warp thread in place.
  • Then, cut the original warp end with the knot (behind the heddles) and let it hang over the back beam.

Cutting a warp knot behind the reed.

  • The original and replacement warp ends overlap in the weaving for about one to two inches.
  • Remove the straight pin when it reaches the breast beam.
  • Re-attach the original warp end when it is long enough to secure in front of the fell line with a flat straight pin.
  • And then, cut and remove the replacement warp thread.
  • Trim all the spliced warp tails after wet finishing.

Spliced warp end to eliminate a knot in the warp.

Warp separator guy, ready to jump in and help!
Warp separator guy, ready to jump in and help!

This warp separator was a gift from The Weavers and Spinners Society of Austin, included in the goodie bag from last summer’s Contemporary Handweavers of Texas Conference. It would not be hard to make a warp separator like this from wood or sturdy cardboard. I have not been able to locate a supplier online.

If you know where to find a warp separator tool, please put a link in the comments.

May you have very few warp knots.

All the best,
Karen

23 thoughts on “Tools Day: Eliminating Warp Knots

  1. Hi Karen,
    Great post as always. I found one at Windhaven Fiber Tools on Etsy. Yours is cuter, though.
    Thank you for all you do.

    Pam Graham

    1. Hi Pam, Thanks for the input. I don’t know how I missed the one from Windhaven Fiber Tools. Yes, the one I have certainly has the cuteness factor.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  2. I took Basics at Vavstuga last summer. We had knots in the wool blanket warp, and Becky taught us to fix them. I’d see one coming and get ready, and at 5 PPI, and working so fast, by the time I thought about it again it was long past the fell line. In a fulled wool blanket that doesn’t get a lot of use in South Texas, hopefully it will be okay.

    I have the same warp separator tool. 🙂 That was my first conference and the goodie bag blew me away.

    1. Hi Betsy, Oh yes, I had the same experience at Vavstuga, and my wool blanket has knots hidden in it, too! If only knots in linen were that easy to fix.

      This is the first weaving conference I’ve been to in about 30 years, and the goodie bag was incredible! Yay, you have the same cute warp separator guy!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

    1. Hi Jane, My little guy is about 4 7/8″ long and 2″ at the widest part at the top. He gets the job done, and he brings a smile!

      Karen

    1. Hi Sherri, Thank you so much! It’s wonderful to know where to get this useful little tool. I appreciate the informative video!

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

      1. Thanks! I do like yours though! What a cute little guy! We started making them because I’m a weaver and I could not find one anywhere. I saw a picture of one a long time ago and thought it would be so handy! And I showed Maggie and she played around and made the design just nice and clean and simple. They are fairly popular! Thanks a bunch…

    1. Hi Kristen, I am very happy to know where to get more of these warp separators! Thank you for letting us know.

      All the best,
      Karen

  3. So where can I get one and how much?

    I had seen it before and liked the idea then. But did not have my loom up and running at that time.

    1. Hi d m, You can try sending an email to wssaustin.org@gmail.com and ask if they have any more warp separators. Or try one of the resources other people have mentioned in the comments above. I don’t know what the prices are.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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