Ask Madelyn: Keeping Lease Sticks in the Warp

I have a question about an issue that is being discussed in my guild. Should you leave the lease sticks in the warp, behind the shafts, after you have finished threading? Some of our members say you should because they help keep the tension even. Also, if you break a warp thread, you can tell right where it should go for rethreading. Others say you don’t need them. I’m not sure whether to use them or not!


Hi Susan!

I know that some weavers like to keep the lease sticks in the warp during weaving. I don’t think this is necessary or even helpful.

Loom manufacturers make the distance between the front beam and the back beam as short as possible, yet still long enough to allow a good shed. When you keep lease sticks in back of the shafts, you are essentially shortening that distance to wherever they are. As a result, the shed is constrained by them. Even if the shafts can force as big an opening as without the lease sticks, there is greater strain on the threads. Moreover, forcing the warp threads through the cross as you advance the warp can cause further abrasion on them.

I can’t see any reason that keeping them in place would have an effect on warp tension once the warp is tied onto the front apron rod and weaving has begun.

a. Lease sticks in

a. Lease sticks in

Lease sticks removed

b. Lease sticks removed

Also, if a warp thread breaks, its position among the other threads on the warp beam lets you know just about where it is. You can look in that general area for the empty heddle it used. The only time when it might be helpful to know exactly where the thread belongs is if you have had to intersperse empty heddles among the threaded ones. Even in that situation, I think the disadvantages caused by leaving lease sticks in outweigh any advantage.


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One Comment

  1. Anonymous at 10:14 am June 27, 2018

    I have to disagree.. Not all looms have sheds constrained by the lease sticks, it depends on the loom. On the smaller jack looms, such as the one pictured, it’s conceivably a problem. (Although I’ve never had issues with it.) And on a big loom like my 110 Cm Glimåkra Standard countermarch it’s definitely not an issue. I leave them in, because they do help with tension, especially on long warps. Sometimes a thread works it’s way loose, and many weavers hang ‘wind chimes ‘ on them. I use lease sticks. I can catch that loose thread and work it back to the warp beam and keep it from being an issue, often it will work it’s way back in again. It also helps with any other inconsistencies in the tension that arise. The other thing they do is separate sticky warps so they don’t cause as much trouble at the heddles. They basically keep my warps running smoothly and I like that. I don’t tie them to the back beam, but work them back manually so I don’ t break a thread. On smaller looms, like my table loom, I keep them between the back and warp beams, where they’re out of the way of the shed. These are my reasons, but of course, if someone likes to keep their lease sticks in, there is nothing wrong with it, as long as the weaving goes smoothly and the weaver is happy!

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