Reed not staying taught while using the slot on the bottom

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on 28 Nov 2012 5:56 PM

I apologize if I don't use the correct terms as I am very new to weaving. I recently purchased a stand for my loom an am having a problem getting the tension adjusted enough to keep the reed in place while it is in the down slot and when I run the shuttle through it all goes very crooked. I am able to weave and the scarf looks fabulous so far but it really is agrivating. I had no problem at all when I held the loom against a table and on my lap so I'm thinking it's the frame.

I would be happy to provide any information you need in order to diagnose this. I just don't know all the terms so please be patient with this new but eager weaver.

Thank you!!


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francesblo wrote
on 29 Nov 2012 2:58 PM

Molly - it sounds like you're working with a rigid heddle loom.  When you have the reed in the down slot, if it won't stay in, then your tension is too loose.  You need to increase the tension (probably your loom has a ratchet that helps you tighten the tension).  This will give you a better shed - the area you put the shuttle through. 

Had the same problem when I was starting out (not that long ago).

Hope this helps.  For lots of help, check out the weaving forums (including rigid heddle forums) on  Good luck!

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Lynn Tedder wrote
on 29 Nov 2012 6:36 PM

Hi Molly,

If you are weaving on a rigid heddle loom, are your problems with slack (soft or droopy) warps just in the slot threads, the ones that are on top when you place the heddle in the down position and form the bottom of the shed when the heddle is up)? It sounds like it. If so, the problem is that your tension is loose only in the slot threads, not in the whole warp.

I suspect you may have run afoul of one of the physical laws of rigid heddles, which is that the only warp threads that actually move up or down are the ones in the holes. The slot threads just stay in the same place as the heddle moves the hole threads up and down around them, so the slot threads actually need to be a little shorter to have the same tension as the hole threads. A lot of this problem depends a lot on how stretchy the yarn you are using is: with elastic yarns like wool, it's not usually a problem; with rayon or cotton yarns, which are much less elastic, it often is.

To increase the tension on the slot warps only, put your heddle in the Down position and, working behind the heddle, slide a dowel that is at least a couple of inches wider than your warp under all the slot warps (make sure not to pick up any hole warps). Slide the dowel as far as you can to the back beam of your loom. (It's okay if it goes over the beam.) If the width of the dowel by itself tightens the slot warps enough that they aren't droopy when you move the heddle, you may be able to finish your scarf without further problems. If they are still droopy or become droopy as you weave, just weight the ends of the dowel (I use a loop of waste yarn and big S-hooks). Be sure each side has an equal amount of weight, and let gravity take up the slack. (The dowel will probably end up hanging below your warp beam, so it is good that you have the stand!)

And when you tie on to the front beam in the future, you can make sure your slot warps are shorter than your hole warps by tying your two outer warp groups first with the heddle in the notch, but then put the heddle into the UP position to tie on the rest and tension everything. Putting the heddle on top of the loom adds a little extra length to the warps in the holes, and helps to prevent drooping slot threads. You may still have to resort to a dowel eventually, but maybe not as soon.

Hope this helps,
Lynn Tedder 

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on 30 Nov 2012 2:03 PM

Thank you so much for your help! I will try that

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