Ask Madelyn: A Tale of Two Temples
I’ve read your recommendation about using a temple (stretcher) for weaving and would like to try that out. I see that there are both wooden and metal temples and that they come in a range of sizes. I’m wondering which are best and how many sizes I need?
I have long been a fan of using temples for smooth, firm selvedges. I started with wooden ones (affiliate link) and I acquired the sizes I needed. When I opened the Weavers’ School, I bought a new wooden temple to go with each loom. The main complaint students usually have about temples (in addition to suffering a wound or two from the teeth!) is that they can’t see what they have just woven because the temple covers it up, thereby causing them to make errors. Since the metal temples are much thinner, you can see more of the weaving underneath them, so I decided recently to use some metal temples at the school to see if the students like them better. The amusing result has been that some students like wooden ones and some like metal ones and now I really need two temples for each school loom, i.e., thirty new temples. (Fortunately, you should not need so many!)
The drawbacks to metal temples are that they are heavier and the two pieces are not held together as well, requiring resetting temple width if the pieces come apart. (The pin positions are also a little farther apart, so not quite as refined a width adjustment can be made.) So that students don’t reset the temples at the wrong width, we put blue tape on the metal temples (as in the photo) to mark the right setting. The heaviness of the metal temple is not too important factor, but if the brake is released, its weight can make the cloth drop quickly and send the shuttle to the floor. The metal temples, however, do not suffer from wear and tear (the pins in the wooden ones can become bent and the teeth even pulled out if excessive draw-in causes too much stress as the temple is inserted).
As for sizes, you shouldn’t really need a temple for weaving widths of 12” or less. Beyond that, though, a temple is really a valuable tool. Each temple has a range of sizes (12” – 16”, 14” – 19”, 16” -22”, etc.). You can gather them slowly as needed for the weaving widths you are using. I have found that the temple doesn’t hold its position as well at the widest measurement it provides. So for a 16” weaving width, I’d use the 14”-19” temple or the 16”-22” temple instead of the 12”-16”.
If you have a weaving question we would love to hear from you! Please email Madelyn! Pictured above: Summer Lace Placemats and Mug Rugs by Suzie Liles Handwoven May/June 2017. View related & recent “Ask Madelyn” posts!
Posted July 11, 2014. Updated May 27, 2019.