Warping: The Gospel according to Dee
Most of the information I’ll give you is from the book "Warping All by Yourself" by Cay Garrett. This is probably the best value in any book anywhere and is available from Unicorn, or even better, try your local book store. Some of the things I’ll show you were shown to me by Harold Dickey, a production weaver. Some I have stumbled on myself. Remember that there is more than one way to do anything. For better or worse, this is mine.
On warping board or reel, set up guide string for warp length. Wind as many chains as you have pairs of different yarns. I often put a bumpy yarn with a smooth, or a thick with a thin, or a matte with a shiny. Or not. Wind 2 yarns at once (cuts winding time in half!) Important: keep your index finger between them so they don’t twist. After every 5 pairs on the last peg, twine a ribbon yarn for easy counting. One 5 pair group = 20 ends.
Ties: Tie a 6-8" string at the cross, loosely. Loop a tie at each end of the chain. Now put a long tie, 24" or so, about 32" from the last peg of the cross, using a surgeon’s knot (wrap twice). The place where you tie will depend on your loom. Measure from front beam through heddles about 12" plus enough for a knot. If it’s a wide warp, add about 3". This will become clearer when we get to the loom. I’m calling this group of threads a chain, but I don’t actually chain them because I feel it gives more opportunity for tangling. If I were doing very long chains, 15 yards or so, I might actually chain them. On the rare occasion when I wind a warp that won’t be woven immediately, I would chain.
Tie the chain to the loom with the tie at the 32" position. Secure beater in upright position, close enough to be comfortable as you dent the reed. I mark my reeds at the center and align with the marked center of the beater. 98% of the time I have 2 ends per dent in the reed. Cuts denting time in half.
Threading will be more comfortable and accurate if done at eye level. Find a stool or build one. Count the number of heddles needed in a 2" section or if it isn’t an even number, the heddles needed in approximately 2" of pattern repeats. For instance, straight twill sett at 16 epi would be 32 ends, divided by 4 harnesses would be 8 heddles per harness for a 2" bout. In a point twill: 1-2-3-4-3-2, you would have 5 on harness 1, 20 on each harness 2&3, 5 on harness 4 = 30. Close enough to 2" and easier to keep straight. The advantage to this is that you can easily see if a mistake has been made in threading. Got a heddle left over or one short? Now’s the time to investigate. Counting heddles is easier for me if I look at the top rail (what is that called?) instead of at the heddle eyes.
I start threading at the center and go left to the selvedge so I don’t have to count heddles for the whole project. After the aforementioned 2" or approx 2", I tie the group together with an overhand knot. At the left selvedge, I leave one end as a floating selvedge (through the reed, but not through a heddle). Starting at the center again, I thread right to left, reversing heddle order and thread order. So now it’s 4-3-2-1, or whatever and if I first did bumpy, then smooth, now I thread smooth then bumpy. Clear? When I’ve finished threading, I corral the remaining heddles with a paper clip gate so they can’t dance over to party with the working heddles and fray the edge threads.
Doubled cords from the back cloth beam are looped with a lark’s head over the beam and are long enough to come up over the back beam and reach to just behind the heddles, knotted at that end with an overhand knot. This knot is fastened with a lark’s head around the 2" knotted section of warp. Pulling on the knot will loosen it when you want to untie.
At the front beam, untie the cords holding the chains. Raise one set of tabby harnesses, insert a lease stick in shed behind harnesses. Repeat with other tabby shed. Secure in place with a cord thusly: Doubled cord in a lark’s head around front beam, knot at beam, loop goes through a dent in the reed and in a figure 8 around the leases sticks. Do this on the right and left sides of the warp. Then raise the first tabby again and put another lease stick in front of the heddles, behind the reed. Leave this tabby raised. This lease stick will separate the 2-to-a-dent warp threads. If it turns up on the edge, heads up! Time to Address the Situation.
When winding on, I don’t comb because I think it makes more tangles. Instead I yank on the chains and separate the ones that want to involve themselves in an unhealthy relationship. Wind a foot or so, pull on the chains and repeat until there’s about 18" left. Pull out the lease sticks, comb out with the fingers so the ends hang reasonably straight, give the loose ends a haircut.
In 2" bouts, tie to front rod. Tie from center out, one section on right of center, one on left. Then right, left, right, left. Separate bout in 2 equal parts, go under rod, over rod on either side of bout, criss cross underneath (exchange groups from hand to hand) pull snug and tie a single knot on top. On a wider warp, after every 3rd pair (6 sections total), tighten the brake one notch. On the selvedge, give an extra tug on the outside half of the bout before tying so it will be a smidgen tighter. And, I try to make that outside section narrower than the others for the same reason. For the rest of the warp, remember it’s not how tight to tie, it’s how even.
Check threading by lifting harnesses one treadle at a time, weave in a header: 2 or 3 picks heavy yarn and about 1" of a paralyzed bobbin in a contrast color. If you throw the shuttle twice or three times before pulling the beater, it evens the spaces more quickly. Now Go For It!
© Dee Jones - Nevada City, CA 5/2002