Trust your Warp

Table loom warpedOne of my weaving books, possibly The Weaver’s Workbook, by Hilary Chetwynd gives this advice: “Trust your Warp.”

I’m new to weaving so I’m not exactly sure what she means, but I think she’s saying that after you’ve measured your warp and made your cross you shouldn’t second guess yourself by fiddling with individual warp threads. Easier said than done.

It took a lot of time and patient re-threading of bits I’d got wrong but I have now finished warping my table loom and have woven half a dozen picks. So far, so good.

Beginnings of my weave

I wove with thin strips of batting to get my warp even – it seemed to work

Louise French has put together some fantastic instructions on warping the loom back to front. From what I’ve seen on my travels so far they’re the best instructions around. I learned to warp back to front at the class I took at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild and I wanted to stick with a familiar approach. There were two constraints – a lack of space between the warp beam and the castle and heddles that could not be moved over the shafts. Oh, and the heddles are attached to both the front and back of each shaft frame.

Rear view of warp

View over the warp beam: I left the lease sticks in place – it’s what they recommend in Sweden.

My home made reed hook worked brilliantly. It’s made of brass shim and was a joint effort by me and my beloved. The reed on this loom is 16dpi I believe and it’s quite fine to dent. I would have struggled without the reed hook.

Denting the reed with a home made reed hook

One technique taught to us in class was to use bows to attach the warp to the cloth beam. I wondered at the time if that was the only recommended approach so I consulted my books. I ended up using the knots shown in the picture below, which seemed less bulky and easier to tension.

Low profile knots

Low profile knots

It wasn’t easy but I got there in the end and now I’m almost ready to run a line of hemstitching across what will, hopefully, be a lovely scarf for my mother in law for Christmas.


7 responses to “Trust your Warp

  1. I just said to another weaver in a class to not overthink it. I think it is easy at times to not trust your warp, but I think it comes with over thinking. Just thread those heddles and trust the cross is right. And you know what? Even if it isn’t it’s not the end of the world.

    • Thanks for your encouraging words. This has been a great learning exercise – my first independent weaving project. I’m enjoying comparing my intent with the actual outcome. There are some spots where the warp is a little more dense than I had planned. It makes me very keen to get weaving on the big loom where the heddles are moveable. The table loom will be finding a new home now I’ve had this experience using it.

  2. I’ve been weaving for 35 years, so I wanted to pass on a few tips I’ve learned. First of all, you did a lovely job and the warp looks beautiful and consistent! I first learned to warp front-to-back, and then had to relearn to warp back-to-front, which I think is the best way. But I can’t imagine doing it without being able to move the heddles! So I’m impressed that you stuck to it!
    I would not leave the lease sticks in the back though, once you are weaving, especially on a small loom. You need as much space from warp beam to cloth beam to allow the shed to open well.
    I think your warp knots are perfect. When I first learned, our teacher had us use toilet paper to space the warp at the beginning – since then I learned that just a few rows of a very thin thread, even sewing thread, space out the warp quickly and you save warp. Of course if you are planning to fringe the ends, you might still want a few rows of big material, and then I think that batting is great!
    Just a few things you might want to try as you continue learning what works best for you.

    • Thanks so much. Your comments have reminded me how much I would love to have a weaving mentor. I know it would save me a lot of time spent learning by trial and error. Mind you, there are some lessons that have been so painfully learned that I will definitely not be repeating those mistakes. Will try the thin thread warp spacing technique at the next opportunity. Thanks again.

      • We have all made those mistakes! It seems like at some point every weaver tries to go from the warp beam to the heddles without going over the back beam – but you’re right, once you do something like that, you never do it again! Feel free to contact me at texasstorm(at)outlook dot com if you ever have a question – but I think you are doing a wonderful job on your own!

  3. Hi, I am very new to weaving. I have a small 10×10 inch hand held loom.
    I have just finished my 6’5” sons blanket. Yes, a lot of weaving, it took me a year!
    I did manage to weave the squares to together but I’m not sure I did it correctly. At the ends of each square I had left a length of wool. I used these pieces to weave the blanket together.
    I always wondered what was the correct way to join the square.
    Could you please give me some advice. I have to start the first of five smaller blankets for my grand children?

    • My goodness, that’s a big boy and a big blanket – impressive! If your squares hold together, the joins are reasonably flat and you and your son are happy with the result, it sounds like you did it exactly right. If I were doing that job, I might consider whip stitching the squares together with a fine (sewing) thread first and then doing a decorative stitch (herringbone or baseball stitch) over the top in yarn or embroidery thread. I’m sure there are other approaches that would also work.

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