I was recently given a loom. I learned to weave on a Harrisville Designs loom, which has a rod that you wind around the warp beam. My new loom, a Macomber, has a sectional warp beam, and I have no idea how to warp it. Can I warp this loom as I normally would, front to back, or do I need a different approach? How do I attach the warp to the warp beam? Also, do I need to worry about putting anything between the layers of warp to keep all the threads under the same tension?
My first loom had a sectional beam, too. I warped it sectionally the first time I used it (winding 60 spools so I could have 30 ends per inch). After I warped, I had 60 spools with thread left on them. Those spools are still somewhere in my attic. I thought there had to be a better way.
I found the solution is to make your own raddle. That is, I nailed medium-size brass finishing nails (about 1-1/2 inches long each) onto a piece of wood about the same length and thickness of my back beam. The spaces in my sectional beam were two inches wide (which actually meant the space between the pegs was 1-3/4 inches). I placed the nails so spaces 1-3/4 inches wide alternated with spaces 1/4 inch wide. Then I placed the “raddle” on the back beam so that the 1/4 inch spaces were directly above the pegs.
In planning my warp, I divided the number of threads evenly into as many 2-inch sections as came closest to the intended warp width. You wouldn’t want to have any section with fewer threads than the other sections (warp tension will be different if there are differences in the number of threads per section).
I am a front-to-back warper. So after I threaded, I tied each group of threads that would go in one section to the cord coming from that section. I then tied the “raddle” on the beam and placed the group of warp threads for each section in the 1-3/4 inch sections. If the warp was a yarn that wound into each section like a smooth ribbon, I didn’t worry about adding sticks between the layers. If the warp tended to bunch up in the sections (odd mixes of thickness or yarns that tended to twist), I’d place a warping stick between the layers, maybe one stick per turn. I rarely needed to do this.
I think the Macomber has wire hoops separating the sections. Weavers have told me that with those, they just wind on and let the threads fall into whichever section they are nearest. That might work well, but I think I’d like to control their placement a little more and so would still use the “raddle” (maybe making the 1/4 inch spaces a little smaller). My sections were separated by wooden pegs.
P.S. Handwoven’s November/December 2004 issue is your complete guide to warping. If you have any more questions, click here to get your digital copy!