Warping Method Pros and Cons

Ask Madelyn

Hi Madelyn!

We’ve been having an argument in my guild study group about what is better, warping a loom back to front or front to back. I know you’ve talked about this before, but can you make a simple list of the pros and cons of each?

—Sophie

Hi Sophie!

One important factor to consider that doesn’t have anything to do with which is “better” is where it is most comfortable to sit while you are threading your loom. Some looms have removable front or back beams, so that you can get closer to the shafts for threading in one position or the other. If your front beam is removable, back to front (threading from the back of the loom to the front) is most comfortable. If your back beam is removable, threading front to back (from the front of the loom to the back) is more comfortable. Threading is the task that will take the longest, so it’s important to be comfortable while you do it.

Otherwise:

Advantages of Warping a Loom Front to Back (sley, thread, beam)

  • You can wind separate parts of the warp (all the blue, all the red, etc.) in separate chains and sley each chain in the reed where it goes. (With back to front, you have to wind the warp threads in the order they will go on the beam.)
  • You don’t need to own a raddle.
  • You don’t need to figure out how to place the raddle and lease sticks for threading.

Advantages of Warping a Loom Back to Front (beam, sley, thread)

  • Since the threads pass through a cross on their way to the beam, they will maintain their one-and-one threading order and go on the beam in that order. With front to back, if you have sleyed several threads in a dent and then thread them individually in the heddles without transferring the cross (an unfun process), they can get tangled when they arrive at the heddles during beaming, making beaming a very unfun process.
  • Since the warp is beamed first, it isn’t lying there in front of the loom vulnerable to cats or kids but instead is safely on the beam from the get go.

The way each step is done in either method is what determines successful warping, however, not which method you choose. It is often said that back to front warping is easier on the warp since the warp doesn’t have to go through the heddles twice, but that is not true. It’s just as hard, if not harder, to go through the cross on the lease sticks as to pass through smooth steel heddles. If the warp might be problematic going through either the heddles or the cross, back to front with two crosses should be the method of choice. Here are the complete steps for all three methods: front to back, back to front, and back to front with two crosses.

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