Process Review: Beaming the Warp

I am making a new ‘cello skirt (a tiered skirt), starting from scratch. The warp is 24/2 cotton, most of it unbleached. Each tier will be edged with a narrow Poppy border. The pattern in the cloth will be a huckaback (huck lace) design, adapted from Little Tablecloth in Huckaback on p.10 in Happy Weaving from VävMagisinet.

Preparing to beam the warp.

Today, I’m beaming the warp. My method includes a combination of things I have learned from these three excellent sources: Learning to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall, Dress Your Loom the Vävstuga Way, by Becky Ashenden, and The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Using warping trapeze to beam the warp.
Transferring the lease sticks.
Transferring lease sticks.
Transferring lease sticks.
Transferring lease sticks. Beaming.
Beaming a new warp.
Beaming the warp with a trapeze.
Beaming the warp with a trapeze.
Warping trapeze in use.
Using warping slats.
Placing warping slats.
Beaming with warping slats.
Beaming with warping slats.
Warping trapeze in use.
Warping trapeze in use.
Warping slats for beaming the warp.
Last step in beaming the warp.
Tie the lease sticks to the back beam.
Lease sticks tied to back beam.
Ready to cut the end-of-warp loops.
Cutting loops at end of the warp.
Cutting the loops at the end of the warp.
Beaming a new warp.
All Counted into Threading Groups
Newly beamed warp. Complete process pictures.
Newly beamed warp ready for threading.
Beaming process in pictures.

Do you have any questions about my beaming process? If you warp back to front, like I do, what do you do differently?

May you find yourself beaming.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

32 Comments

  • Ann Kelsall says:

    Hello Karen
    I got confused by the first pictures showing the reed. Do you thread the reed twice – once to accurately spread out the ends and then again after threading the heddles?

    And thank you for the time and trouble you take to show your processes!

    Ann (in France)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ann, I’m glad you asked. Yes, I “pre-sley” a reed to spread out the ends. The pre-sley reed is usually coarser than the reed that will be used for the weaving, so putting the threads through the reed goes relatively fast. This pre-sley reed is 50/10 metric and the weaving reed will be 100/10 metric. As you can see in the pictures, the pre-sley reed then goes in the beater while beaming, so the warp is very evenly spread out.

      It’s a joy to share.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

    • Deborah Brothier says:

      Hello Ann. My name is Deborah and I live in France, in the south near Antibes. I have two contremarche looms, one here in Biot, one in Arles. My question is: by any chance, are you near either of these places/areas, and if so, would you be available to help me through the process? I have these wonderful looms, but I do not know how to beam the warp and do the tie-up by myself. I’ve only begun to weave two years ago by participating in various courses in Sweden. On my own, here in France, I am not making progress. With the Covid situation, I haven’t been able to return to Sweden for more training, and I haven’t been able to find anyone locally who has knowledge of the contremarche (mine are a Glimakra 120cm/10 shaft and an Ulla Cyrus/Oxaback 125cm/8 shaft). So, if you are nearby,(PACA region) maybe we could make contact?

      I have numerous books and good resources, but I am a hands-on learner. So, I have resources to share with you or anyone else who is interested in weaving, particularly on a contremarche or counterbalance.

      PS Your question about pre-sleying/sleying: glad you’ve asked Karen. I, too, await the answer… I have only pre-sleyed (although I have a raddle, which I do not use), but I do not remember how it sits once it is laid on the loom for beaming. Her photos shown here of the process are the most helpful I’ve come across.

      • Ann Kelsall says:

        Hello Deborah
        Unfortunately I am at the other end of France – in Bretagne. Have you thought of joining the Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers? I have been a membr for some years and there are others in France who belong. You could ask your question there, and get replies from others who have the same looms as you have. I have a Louet David and a Louet Jane table loom, so different to yours.
        Good luck with your quest!
        Ann

  • Beth Mullins says:

    What a process! I admire your ability to deal with such fine yarn. Can’t wait to see the poppies emerge!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It’s been a while since I’ve used 24/2 cotton. I need good lighting for this, that’s for sure. You make me imagine poppies dancing along the rim of each tier. 🙂

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Dorothy Gareau says:

    What are the pipes for. I never saw that before. Can’t what to see the finished product…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Dorothy, You may be referring to the aluminum beam covers. The beam covers are not essential, but they help protect the wood breast beam and back beam from getting indentations and grooves from the cords, especially during beaming.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Karen says:

    What are you using for weights. This is amazing. I have a 4 shaft 30” table loom that my husband built for me but I always need his help in winding on the warp.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Karen, I use 2-lb walking weights. They are like little bean bags. They’re perfect for this because they have “handles” that easily hang from the S-hooks. I found some at a sporting goods store, and the rest I was able to find on Amazon.

      My husband is a really great guy, but I knew I didn’t want to depend on his availability to be able to beam a warp. So, from the beginning, I was determined to learn how to do it single-handedly.

      With your table loom, you may be able to stretch the warp out in front of the loom (put a towel under the warp) and put weights on the warp bouts on the floor. That’s what I did before I had a warping trapeze.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Pam Graham says:

    Hello Karen,
    What a wonderful and useful photo series!
    How do you actually attach the weights to the warp sections? I always struggle with that. They always seem to slip down the warp.

    Thank you,
    Pam

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pam, That’s a great question.
      I make a loop in the end of the Texsolv cord (I use beam cord because it has bigger holes than regular Texsolv) and hang that loop just above a choke tie. I have choke ties about every meter of warp. The downward pull of the cord tightens the cord around the warp bout. My choke ties are very tight, as well, so they won’t slip. I hang an S-hook on the Texsolv cord and hang the walking weight on that. As the warp is beamed, I move the position of the Texsolv cord lower, as needed.

      I hope that helps.
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Nothing prettier than a nicely beamed warp. All those threads marching along in order.

  • Murlea Everson says:

    Hi Karen,
    Can you explain how you manage the cross while pre-sleying the reed so that the cross ends up behind the reed?

    Your work and posts are an inspiration-the best way to start my Tuesday’s!

    Thank you,
    Murlea

    • Karen says:

      Hi Murlea, Ah, your sweet words touch my heart.

      About the cross – The lease sticks are transferred from in front of the reed to behind the reed. This can be done before or after the reed is in the beater. I like to transfer the lease sticks before I put the reed in the beater, but the warp does need to be tensioned. Either way, it’s a similar operation.
      1. Untie the lease sticks. 2. Take the lease stick nearest the reed and turn it on its side, up against the reed. This opens a space on the back side of the reed that equals the same shed of that lease stick. Put a third lease stick into that opening behind the reed. 3. Now, you can remove the lease stick directly in front of the reed (that you had turned on its side). 4. Take the remaining lease stick that is in front of the reed and turn it on its side, up against the reed. This forms the opening on the back side of the reed that equals the shed of that lease stick. Put the lease stick you just removed into the new opening behind the reed. 5. Now that both lease sticks are safely behind the reed, tie them securely at both ends. Remove the remaining single lease stick.

      Once you get the hang of it, there’s a shortcut method that doesn’t require an extra stick. But it’s best to do it this way first because it helps you understand the process. It’s easy after you’ve done it a couple times.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Thank you Karen, I am completing a weaving class for our guild, which I have been doing just by email. So far, it is working well and many of the weavers have been sending photos to the class paticipants, showing their progress on their warping. Today, I am recommending that they view your warping message, as it shows so well the beaming of the warp. Thank you for putting this up at the best time for my email class. Great photos. Joanne

  • D'Anne says:

    Hi, Karen,
    Your warping method is similar to mine except I use a raddle. I love using the 2lb. hand weights you taught me to use. They make warping alone very easy and the tension is so consistent.

    Thank you the excellent photos!
    D’Anne (Danny)

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, You and I had fun putting that blue 8/2 cotton warp on my loom once upon a time. I have never used a raddle, but I know that is a helpful method for many.

      It’s so nice to be able to warp alone, isn’t it?

      Love,
      Karen

  • kim says:

    Karen, what is the size of this loom? And is it an Ideal? How lovely that you can sit inside for threading. Also, the width of your cloth and epi of your thread. Will your weft be the same kind of thread?

    I can’t wait to see this project progress.

    Thanks, Kim

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kim, This is a 100cm (39”) Ideal. It works great to remove the breast beam, knee beam, and the beater, and then put the bench right in there. The width in the reed is 37.2cm (14 5/8”). The sett is 20 ends per cm (~ 50 epi). The weft will be 16/1 linen.

      I’m excited to get it all set up and going.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • kim says:

    Thank you! I think this might be my dream loom. Kim

  • Elisabeth says:

    Thank you for postings this! It is always good to be reminded of good methods and habits!! And it looks like I can leave the lamms in place next time.,
    I noticed you mentioned your 2 lbs weights in your response to a previous comment, do you find 2 lbs to be sufficient for all kinds of warps, or do you vary the weight depending on the warp quality/weight?
    I can’t wait to see this fabric in use, I love the idea of the red border!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Elisabeth, I remove lamms that aren’t needed. For example, I went from 6 shafts to 4 shafts with this project, so I removed 2 upper and lower lamms. Otherwise, there’s no need to remove any more than that.

      That’s a really good question about the 2-lb weights. I always put at least one weight on each bout, but depending on the thread or yarn being used, sometimes I put on an additional weight, or even 2 more. That extra weight is usually needed with a linen warp or with rug warp. I test the amount of weight by turning the ratchet. If there is not sufficient resistance, I add more weight. To add more weight, I can usually hang 2 of the walking weights on one S-hook; or I can hang another S-hook on the first S-hook.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

      • Elisabeth says:

        Thank you! I have used more weight on some warps, rug warp like you mentioned, and I was afraid it created too much resistance. I now understand this would be appropriate 🙂

  • Corinne Gibson says:

    I bought (used) a Glimakra Ideal Loom. The instruction books I have state that the warp has to be in the middle/center of the heddles. How do I do this on this particular loom?

    Thanks

    • Karen says:

      Hi Corinne, That is an understandable question, especially if you are new to Texsolv heddles. The beauty of Texsolv heddles is that they are easy to move around. I thread the heddles from right to left, starting on the far right. I add heddles on the left side of the shaft if more heddles are needed. When I finish threading all the heddles needed for the project, I tie off any excess heddles in groups of about 50 and remove them from the loom. If the heddles you are using are the only heddles on the loom, they will naturally be centered on the loom.
      Here is a blog post and video that gives you an idea of how I thread Texsolv heddles: You Can Prevent Threading Errors.

      I hope that helps. Enjoy that Ideal!
      Karen

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Imagine Rag Rugs on the Drawloom

Rag rug weaving on the drawloom! I can only imagine the delight. In the meantime, the drawloom is getting dressed. It takes time to group the pattern heddles into units, add lingos, thread pattern shafts, thread eight ground shafts, sley the reed, move the ground shafts and pattern shafts to their positions, and tie on. After I finish all that I can think about adding all the single-unit draw cords and finish tying up. Whew!

Winding a warp for the next drawloom project.
Warping reel is in a corner of the drawloom studio. When not in use, the reel is folded up and pushed against the wall.
Warp chains of 12/6 cotton rug warp. Drawloom rag rugs!
Warp chains of 12/6 cotton rug warp.
Drawloom - rug warp is ready for threading.
Warp is beamed and ready for threading.

I became acquainted with the single-unit drawloom at Joanne Hall’s studio (see Drawlooms in Montana), but this is my first go at it on the drawloom in my studio. Because of the reward that awaits, I will gladly tackle all the tasks of dressing this loom. Weaving rag rugs on a drawloom will be phenomenal!

Pattern heddles and weights for prepping the drawloom.
Pattern heddles are hanging on the breast beam for grouping into pattern units. A lingo is hung on each unit.
Threading the drawloom.
Pattern heddles have been threaded. You can see the lingos hanging below. Ground heddles are now being threaded. Straight draw threading on eight ground shafts.

Joy sees hidden treasure. We go to great lengths to unearth high-value treasure. Jesus did this, seeing us as the reward. That’s what Christmas celebrates. Jesus left his splendor in heaven to come to earth as a baby. He entered this world and endured the worst because of the joy set before him. He did it all for the joy of having us in fellowship with God. We come to him and find that we are the Grand Weaver’s reward.

May your joy be full.

Joy to you,
Karen

16 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    I must admit that I find this mind-boggling and will be sitting back, admiring your work on this one. 😉 Amazing!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, It’s all part of the process, so it just means taking a step at a time. I enjoy the steps to get there, but I sure am looking forward to weaving this.

      Thanks,
      Karen

  • Geri Rickard says:

    Ooohhh, I can’t wait to see this!

  • Janet giardina says:

    Good morning Karen,
    I’m just coming to the end of my first draw warp, 16/2, and I’m very curious to see the end result of using the drawloom to weave rag rugs and the 12/6 warp. Look forward to the process and end result.
    Janet

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, Congratulations on completing your first drawloom warp! I have wondered about weaving rag rugs on the drawloom ever since I began to understand what can be done with a drawloom. I’m eager to jump in!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Ooooh, I can’t wait to see how this looks!!

  • Joanne Hall says:

    Bravo, yes, joy indeed. I have loved this type of project, but I have not put it on my loom. I look forward to seeing your photos as you progress through this warp and weave the rug.
    Joanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanne, Your encouragement means a lot to me. It’s comforting to know that you are looking over my shoulder. We’re going to have fun with this!

      Joy indeed,
      Karen

  • Lyna says:

    Looks fascinating! How long is your warp? As complicated as dressing the drawloom looks, I’d be inclined to put on a looooog warp!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lyna, Yes, a long warp would make perfect sense. I’m still in the learning stages, though, so I want a lot of practice in dressing the drawloom. This warp is long enough to weave two large rugs.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Carol Berry says:

    Hi Karen,
    I am eager to see the rag rugs you weave on your drawloom. What is the sett, using the 12/6 rug warp? and why have you chosen an 8-shaft ground weave? Your blog posts are a joy!
    All the Best, Carol Berry

    • Karen says:

      Hi Carol, I’m using a 35/10 metric reed and the sett is 7 ends per cm. The ends are doubled. That’s close to 18 doubled ends per inch.
      I’m using a draft by Kerstin Ålsling-Sundberg from “Damast,” edited by Lillemor Johansson. Her draft calls for the eight-shaft ground weave. When I have more experience I’ll be able to tell you why.

      Thanks for joining in!
      Karen

  • Sue MacLeod says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog. It is so inspirational to see all that you do. I am looking forward to see the progression of this project.

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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 Comments

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Quiet Friday: Warping Back to Front with Confidence

“Put on many short warps.” This was the best piece of advice I received as a new weaver! Repeated practice of the back-to-front warping steps accelerated my confidence at the loom. If I can get it on the loom, surely I can weave it, right? When you are comfortable dressing the loom, you start feeling like a “real” handweaver. And before you know it, you are planning, designing, and weaving. And having the time of your life!

Tips for Preparing the Warp for Beaming

  • Wind the warp with two (or more) threads, separated by your fingers to keep them from twisting. This virtually eliminates tangles during the warping process.
  • Wind multiple bouts, when needed. The rule of thumb I use is to stay under 200 ends or 10 inches. Smaller bouts equalize the tension across the width of the warp.
  • Tie tight choke ties about every yard or meter along the warp before chaining it. This keeps the warp ends from shifting.
  • Keep the warp under constant, even tension. Threads can get into trouble if you let them relax.

Warping Back to Front

1 Lay warp chains across the breast beam, and through the beater, with the lease cross of each warp chain on the other side of the beater.

Warp chains ready for warping the loom back to front.

2 Raise the shafts out of the way, and place support sticks over the beater and the back beam to hold the lease sticks and the pre-sley reed. Thread the lease sticks through the cross of each chain. Lease sticks in the picture are being tied together.

Tying lease sticks during warping process. B2F warping explained.

3 Use tape measure and reed hook to mark the starting dent for pre-sleying the reed.

Pre-sleying the reed in back to front warping.

4 Divide warp into sections corresponding to the cords on the back tie-on bar. Insert the tie-on bar through the loops that form at the end of the warp.

Insert tie-on bar while warping back to front.

5 Install the warping trapeze at the front of the loom, or use another method to extend the warp and weight it. Texsolv cord is connected to the end of each warp chain to extend the length. (This is a 3.5 meter warp–not long enough to go over the trapeze cross bar.) Weights are suspended from the texsolv cords with S-hooks.

Adjusting the warp on the warping trapeze.

6 Transfer the lease sticks from in front of the reed to behind the reed. This is a gutsy way of transferring lease sticks. (Please don’t try this method unless you read about it first in Becky Ashenden’s book, noted below.)

Transferring lease sticks like this takes guts!

7 Straighten out each warp end from the reed to the back tie-on bar.

Winding on a new warp. Back to front warping pics.

8 Place the reed in the beater. Center the reed in the beater.

Placing the reed in the beater.

9 Remove choke ties between the beater and the trapeze cross bar, but do not remove choke ties from the very end of the warp. Starting at the reed, separate each warp bout in the middle.

Warping trapeze in use for warping Glimakra Standard.

10 After sliding lease sticks toward the reed, wind the warp onto the beam. Place a warping slat on each flat side of the warp beam for one revolution. (Octagonal beam uses eight sticks.) Advance weight at the front of the loom as needed. After two additional revolutions of the beam, add warping slats for one revolution again. Continue this pattern as beaming progresses.

Warping slats during beaming. Beaming tutorial.

11 Tie beater back to allow a little more warp to be wound on.

Finishing up beaming the warp.

12 Tie lease sticks to the back beam. Do not forget this step!

Tie the lease sticks to the back beam before cutting the ends.

If you missed step 12, do it now, or you will be yelling for help as you try to hold the cut ends with one hand while trying to keep the lease sticks from slipping out with your other hand. I speak from experience.

13 Loop the end of the warp chain around your hand, and then remove the remaining choke ties. Cut the loop.

Cutting ends after beaming the warp.

14 Remove a group of warp threads from the reed and tie in a loose slipknot. Continue across the warp. Remove the reed.

New warp of 16/2 cotton for monksbelt on weft rep.

15 Use the threading draft to count the warp ends into threading groups, tying each grouping with a slipknot.

Grouping warp ends before threading.

16 Adjust the loom for threading. For this Glimåkra Standard loom, I move the countermarch assembly to the back of the loom, put the bench in the “playhouse,” and lower the shafts for threading.

Bench "in" the loom for threading. Glimakra Standard.

For more thorough instructions about warping your loom, please consult these excellent resources:

  • Dress Your Loom The Vävstuga Way, A Bench-Side Photo Guide, by Becky Ashenden
  • Learning to Warp Your Loom, by Joanne Hall
  • The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell

May you find yourself beaming, inside and out.

Resurrection blessings,
Karen

7 Comments

  • Joanna says:

    Wow, thar’s amazing. Pre-sleying the reed from within the loom with it horizontal, is a wonderful idea. I’ve been carrying my chained warps to the dining room table, weighting with brick and sleying with the reed supported in an upright position. It works, but your method is much, much kinder to both warp and weaver. Thanks for a another good tutorial.

    May your Easter Sunday be brightened by the assurance our Lord is truly Risen.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Joanna,

      I learned this pre-sleying method at Vavstuga. It makes so much sense!

      Thank you for the wonderful Easter greeting. And may the risen Lord fill you with all joy in believing.
      Karen

  • Hugh S. Myers says:

    An excellent tutorial indeed!! The only thing that occurs to me is that you could eliminate the flat ‘warp’ sticks on the warp beam with a pair of flanges set to the correct width. I took the necessary leap of faith when I started using mine on my AVL…while I did miss the clatter when each stick rolled off, I did not miss the unnecessary step in the process. Just a thought…

    • Karen says:

      Hugh, Thanks for your input! Very interesting! I have only heard of using flanges, but have never actually seen them being used. It’s good to hear of your positive experience.
      I need to do a little research…

      Karen

  • linda says:

    Hi Karen. I did leave a note before, but somehow I didn’t post it. Your back to front is beautiful to see. I’m the front to back girl have been for 30+ years. I’ll tell you about it some time, Beckey knows how it’s done she managed to do it Jeanettas way for 4 years even tho’ she’d sneak in her way now and then. Have a great day, PL&J, linda

  • Hans Gundesen says:

    Hi. Could you help me. I’m a relative of Becky Ashenden. Would you have an email adress of hers?

    My wife and I did visit with her and her parrents some almost 30 years ago.

    yours

    Hans Gundesen

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