Thursday, January 31, 2013

New Old Loom: warping with no cross

Sectional warp beam, all wrapped up and my seat of the pants thread ordering method. I put tape sticky side up on
 the back beam and on a lease stick, combed the heck out of each section of the already warped beam
and stuck it down as close to in order as I could. then I climbed around inside the front of the loom
and pushed each little thread through a heddle in a straight draw, that is 1-2-3-4,1-2-3-4.
I received the back beam of the New Old Loom wrapped with beautiful linen warp. Unfortunately, it had been cut from the last project and wrapped for storage onto the big beam without separating the threads into two groups of every-other thread. That is called the cross, and it keeps the warp threads from tangling as you pass each thread from the back beam through its heddle and reed slot and set it up to be woven and wrap onto the front beam.

WITH a cross, you can pick up a thread and know that the next thread below it is the very next thread in line. With the warp on the beam and no cross preserved from the previous project, I have the threads in rough groups of forty or so but in each little group, who knows how I can keep the tangles out?

The interwebs know, that's who.

I know I could unwrap or cut the old warp off this beam but
A: there seems to be a lot of it and
B: I know it was warped using a rack of spools so it's probably pretty neatly done and
C: Linen isn't cheap and I love a challenge.
Heddles from the front of the loom. Temporary lease stick with sticky tape and
the combed warp threads right behind the heddles where I can grab each
thread in order and stuff it into the hole in the middle of each heddle.

I've been looking hard in all the good places on the interwebs for smart peoples' advice on how to warp when you lose the cross.  It happens to a lot of people, it seems.  Some people (a surprising number, actually) just can't face it. I am not those people. Most people who have been weaving for a while realize that a certain amount of tangle is possible to deal with if you first thread up the warp in as organized a way as possible and then raise every other thread by lifting the heddles to make a plain weave shed and sliding really long sticks called lease sticks into the 2 plain weave sheds.

Then, you just slide the sticks back, tie them to the frame and go. as the warp advances, comb the tangles behind the lease sticks ad slide them back again as far as they will go.

I scrubbed the first shaft full of little metal heddles in front and put them back on, but I decided to just give the rusty back three sets a try on this free warp.  I'm eager to get going and I've been cleaning loom parts for two weeks thanks to my stubborn work on some rusty parts that couldn't be saved at the beginning. I couldn't wait anymore, but the front ones look great and I'll get to the rest soon. Really.

That is the plan. If the amount of tangle is manageable, I will get to play on the loom with a free linen warp for a long time. If it is simply too seriously tangled for me to be able to keep pushing the snarls back toward the beam, I'll get to weave a foot and then I will HAVE to cut it all from the back and begin with a brand new warp with a properly made cross.

I can only find out by trying. 


  1. Wow - I get muddled while spinning and that only uses one thread! This must have a gazillion. Pairing the threads on a loom that size sounds like a Herculean task. It's a gorgeous piece though and while I don't know how to weave, I'm really interested to see what you do with it.

  2. Unlike your spinning wheel, the loom doesn't move and pull the threads away from you!

    I am planning to sample a bunch of different threads I have and then try to weave a length of linen. But the plan will change according to what I see as I sample!

    Once I have worked these warp threads off the loom, I want to weave myself a wool shawl, as my last one was dropped onto a campfire.

  3. Beautiful post. Twisted bouts seem to be one of my hallmarks. Once you're threaded, create your cross, insert lease sticks and let the thread untwist as it comes over the sticks. They usually comply! You can convince them as you weave too. It's not the end of the warp!

    Keep weavin'
    Tom Z. in IL

  4. Thanks Tom! I have done no more than sample on this warp, but your post is encouragement that I can probably make the warp behave if I monitor it. It's good to know I didn't just thread up (broken twill) for hours and create an unworkable problem here. I haven't actually advanced the beam yet cause I'm such a chicken.
    Got any tips for removing rust from the other three sets of headdles? Soda and steel wool is mighty tedious!

  5. Whoa, sorry it's been 6 months. Hope you've been weaving that linen! RE: Rust - I found a product at Home Depot called METAL RESCUE. It comes in a gallon jug. Looks smells and feels like water. Won't hurt anything except rust. You need to soak the parts overnight or at least a few hours for minor rust. But they come out beautiful. Only problem with heddles is if the rust is too deep, it may pit at the eye which could cause abrasion. but it's worth a try.....Once you're done derusting them, coat them with a little vegtable oil, bake them at 400 for an hour. Seriously - The oil bakes to a nice varnish that won't hurt the warp and won't rust any more.

    Metal Rescue is my go to for rust. I've tried naval jelly but just leaving it overnight and waking up to clean metal is so much easier. Linen is worth it! SO is the loom.

    Also, linen need humidity whileweaving. Otherwise it sags of its own nature. That could be the reason the heddles were so rusty in the first place. Baking them will keep the humidity from rusting the heddles again. A vaporizer under the loom will keep the tension consistent while weaving.

    Tom Z. in IL

  6. Thanks for the tip! I season irk ware in the oven, so I understand what you're proposing exactly.


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