Monday, June 16, 2008

My Method of Warping

This post will address my special method for putting a warp on my loom. It's my creation but if you think it might work for you, then by all means give it a try and good luck! I like to weave warps somewhere between 4 and 12 yards depending on my project. I can't get enough interest to weave any thing longer than that as I seem to become incredibly bored with the repetition. I need to have variety! This means that I beam more warps but that's not a problem for me as I call each stage 'weaving' and have learned to appreciate that individual part of the process for its own sake and not something to endure to get to the good parts.

I prepare my projects on paper and part of the planning is to create the warp based on what ever the epi will be. If that number is uncertain, I will judge where I feel the middle ground is and base the epi on that. This current project is 20 epi and so I wound 26 one inch bouts of 20 epi on my warping board (all tied and secure with a loop through the cross) and one additional bout of the final ends. I'm using 2/8 merc cotton and so this would be an appropriate sett for this yarn to achieve a balanced plain weave. But this pattern has areas of lace like floats and mock leno so all bets are off! Here is a picture of the warp bouts hanging on a rack beside my loom waiting for their debut. I wind the warps ahead of time and have them ready to go.

I like to beam back to front and have done so for years. Its easier on finer yarns and my back! My loom's set up is best suited for this as well. Since my loom has a sectional beam, I place my tension box on the back rail above the 'working one inch' farthest to the right side of the loom. I will work slowly leftwards winding on one inch at a time. I attached a long leader cord to the sectional beam which will extend the warp right up the back of the heddles and reduce the loom waste. I allow for 21 inches loom waste but it rarely goes over 15 inches. I then attach the warp bout by a larks head knot to the cord and position it up and over the back beam and onto the tension box, placing the cross over the pegs. I position the cross loop cord over some pegs too to keep it out of the way while winding on.

I then separate the two layers of warp by running my fingers through it back to the first tie to reduce any tangling and then slowly beam on by hand turning the sectional. I use an even but firm pressure as I slowly turn. I have sectional separators that I could snap into place but I rarely use them except on a very fine warp. I untie the next securing tie, then separate the two layers again back the next tie off point and continue until all is wound except the last tie point.

I always leave the last tie in place and gently ease the last portion off the tension box and wind on the last portion by hand, being careful not to twist the bout but maintain the direction of the threads. I secure the end in place with a small piece of painters tape to hold in on the beam and then move the tension over the next spot and do it all over again. You are free to stop and walk away at any point and you are able to do it all by yourself with no helpers.

This next close up shows the cross loop securely in place:

Then I take my lease sticks and tape shut one end of the pair. I sit on a stool at the back of the loom and one by one, remove the tape and open the cross and slide onto my lease sticks in order. I'm careful to check the direction of the warps threads so not to twist them. (If you do this, it will have to be corrected later and it's easier to double check now!) When all bouts are on the lease sticks I tape closed the opposite end.

Here are all the warp bout over the back beam and smooth

I turn the lease sticks over the top of the back beam, then I take the brake off the rear pawl and rachett and so I am able to pull more of the warp forward. Try to do this positioned in the front and pull evenly till you have what you need. This is the one time where you might need a helper but once accomplished on your own, its fine after that. Apply the brake once more.

I then secure the lease sticks to long cords that hang from the castle of my loom. I push them as close to the back of the heddles as possible.

I remove the beater bar assembly from the front and also the breast beam. I will then sit at the front and pull each bout through, remove the last tie and smooth to detangle.

When I'm sure that all is well, I will snip the loops securing the crosses and remove. I comb out the warp bout and then cut the looped ends at the bottom of the bouts all across the warp. I'm now ready to thread.

There, I think that's more than enough for this post!


Cynthia A. said... that is what a sectional warp thing is all about. I had never considered that you could wind each section in turn instead of all at once. Of course, I didn't know what a tension box was for either. Can I just come and live at your house for awhile and shadow you? :)

Anonymous said...

Ooh, a sectional warp beam... you fortunate weaver! I love seeing all that white thread looking so even and smooth and glossy.

dsare said...

Susan, I want to have a blog to communicate with my friends on the island when I move to California. I don't think I could have a better model than yours!

Thanks for the history lessons. How great to find these old books/materials.

Peg in South Carolina said...

What a neat technique. At first, I could not figure out why you were winding 1" bouts. Then it became clear!
Do you like warping this way (with a sectional beam, 1 inch at a time) better than winding all the warps on at the same time? I assume you do so my real question is why do you prefer it?

Susan said...

Thank you for all the comments!

Cynthia: this is not the normal method of sectional warping. In that case you wind onto the back beam from bobbins on a spool rack and must keep track of the length as you turn ( and pray that a bobbin doesn't empty before its time!)

Cally: yes, there is something satisfying to see such orderly threads isn't there? We can get away with it as weavers as 'part of the job' while in normal day to life, its called OCD and we need treatment :)

Dawn: thank you for the compliment. I for one will miss you when you move back to CA and hope to stay in touch.

Peg: I was always frustrated at the process of beaming an entire warp by myself. Something would always be not be quite right. Tensioning was an issue as well whether it was hanging onto bouts in my hands and hoping the tension was even as 'we' wound on ( we being me and a helper) or the hanging of weights to do this job when alone. With traditional sectional warping, the pre-winding of bobbins and spool rack seemed so much hassle as well... so why not bypass it?
With this method, I always have a neat pile of warp end and no 'cigar' or torpedo shaped warp bundle. The edge threads are always the same length and tension as the rest. As you know I lace on over tying over hand knots. Between the lacing on the front and knots at the back (onto the leader cords) I have reduced the loom waste to its absolute minimum. This more than compensates for shorter, more frequent warps. I would be the first to say that it does have its drawbacks: you must plan your colours at the warping board, irrespective of the epi. This can be a hassle but I have made a winding plan for stripes,such as the recent tea towel warp and it works. Not every weaver has the patience for that though (and what does it say about me that I do? :) )
Some threads will 'cling' to the other as you wind on and you must separate them as you go. Mostly silks but not all. I would say this is a rare happening but it can occur. Its slows things down and perhaps normal beaming would be prefered with that type of yarn next time.
I have some friends who are using it now and they like it. It gives you the benefits of both systems.

Try it and see ... that the beauty of weaving as there is no wrong or right way to do something! What ever works is okay.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Susan, not having a sectional beam at the moment, I can't try it. But it does look like a wonderful technique and a wonderful way to avoid the spool rack. Some day I will probably have to buy a second warp beam and it will probably be a sectional one.
Thank you for your long explanation. i very much appreciated it.

Cherri said...

Great tutorial on sectional warping. I will bookmark it, and put it on our local weaving group's website.

Susan B. said...

I have a sectional beam and recently purchased a tension box. I have not used this method yet but it is in my future and I think this hybrid method is perfect. I may need you to mentor me through it though!

Susan said...

Hi Susan B,
I'd be happy to 'talk you through' a warp. Its not without it's issues too (most methods have their pro's and con's) but it seems to work fine with smooth threads.

Thanks for visiting!

wendles said...

Thank you for a very clear explanation on how to sectional warp without using a bobbin rack! I noticed that in the pictures, the warp isn't spread out in the comb of the tension box. Does this mean you don't necessarily have to use a comb in the tension box or am I misunderstanding something?

Susan said...

Hello Wendy,

No, I didn't use the comb but this warp was a clingy 10/2 cotton.

Sometimes I will roughly spread out an 8/2 warp that I know will flow *smoothly*.

It depends on the yarn, and the length of the warp. But it doesn't need to be done... and most times I don't. I always maintain the thread direction by the cross's direction and watch that very closely as you do not want any outright twisting of the warp. It only happens once for you to know what I mean and then you watch it very closely! (That section will need to be pulled and then re-threaded to get the cross again on the lease sticks and then pulled through.) Better to avoid it!

Very nice to hear from you..

wendles said...

Thank you for your answer, Susan. There is so much to learn and I really appreciate weavers who are willing to share their experiences with us new folk. :)

Laura Reindl said...

Thanks for this great tutorial! I've been trying to figure out an alternative to using a spool rack and wasn't finding a lot online. I devised a similar method of my own and am just about to try it out. I'm feeling much better about it after seeing your post, so thanks. Know that your post is still helping someone 9 years after you wrote it!

Unknown said...

Hi Susan,

I agree with Laura Reindl! My question is, how do you keep the warp from tangling from the rack through the tension box before winding on? I'd like to try that, but not sure how to avoid tangling from the rack to the tension box. Knowing me, I'll let it get tangled if I'm not careful!

Thanks so much for sharing your weaving techniques.

Susan said...

The cross is contained on the pegs and that is your thread by thread. Keep the securing loop of cord through the cross! (Study the pictures) You can spread the warp through a comb if you prefer more organization. I wove using this method for 17 years until the loom was sold so it works! It will feel strange at first so I recommend trying it with a narrow warp using scrap yarn and putting it to the test.... such as 8/2 cotton.

Try it and see.... if after a few tries its not working for you, then try another method. Techniques get easier and more familiar with ongoing use though.

My looms now are Louets and I beam using a raddle and back to front onto a bare back beam (no sectional anymore)

Judmat said...

Weaving angels DO exist! Thank you so much for this explanation and the photos. I have just taken delivery of a new to me sectional warp beam 8 Shaft floor loom without the tension box and spool rack. Having had to get assistance to warp a chained warp that came with the loom I have been searching online for methods of warping by myself and here it is. Even though I don’t have a tension box, warping each section individually does sound possible - probable even! Next on my list of weaving adventures. (But first I think I’ll ditch the first warp as the tension is very uneven) Thank you very much for this information. Judith.

Susan said...

Judmat... I still feel that you will need to get a tension box to help spread the warp bout and guide it onto the beam.....hand tensioning as you go. Otherwise there will be a potential to twist the bout and this will cause you big problems as it unwinds. There are many videos on YouTube you can watch to beam your warps..... try one from Jane Stafford on beaming a Louet Spring. This method can be adapted to other makes and models of looms and give you beautiful warps to weave off.
Glad to have been of help....