Sectional Beam Warping with a Raddle

Handwoven Magazine Ask Madelyn

Hi Madelyn!

I have just finished reading your answer to the question about warping a sectional warp beam and would love to know more about your last sentence on beaming a sectional beam without using a sectional warping method (spool rack, tension box, etc.). I have a loom with a sectional beam that I do not use much.


Hi Mary!

I think I might have answered this before, but maybe it's worth doing again. My sectional warp beam has 2" sections. I created a raddle as long as the beam is wide (just by hammering finishing nails in a smooth board) with the nails spaced ¼" and 1¾" apart. For each warp, I determine the number of ends that will go evenly evenly into each 2" section on the sectional beam at a width closest to the warp's width in the reed. I then place this number of ends into each of the 1¾" spaces on my raddle and place the raddle on the back beam so the ¼" (empty) spaces are centered over the pegs in the sectional beam. I then wind the warp on the warp beam, and the ends fall into each section like a flat ribbon. The ¼" spaces keep the threads from hitting the tops of the pegs or falling into the wrong section.

I am a front-to-back warper, so I don't use a raddle except in this situation. To warp using my sectional beam, I sley the reed, thread the shafts, and tie the warp onto the back apron rod in bouts that are divided into the 1¾" groups that will go in each section of the raddle (I take each 1¾" group, divide it in two, take the two groups over the apron rod, under it, back up on each side, and tie them in a square knot). When they are all tied, I advance the warp so that the knots are a few inches beyond the back beam. I then bring the raddle up under the warp and onto the beam. (Since the 1¾" groups are somewhat separated from each other from my tying them on the rod, the threads are easy to place into the corresponding 1¾" sections in the raddle.) Then I tie the raddle to the back beam and wind on, applying tension the same way I do for all warps (winding a turn and then going to the front of the loom and tightening the warp by pulling firmly on groups of threads).

For back-to-front warping this way, I'd use the "sectional" raddle instead of the usual raddle. I would wind the warp and cut the end loops rather than place the apron rod through them. Then I'd tie the warp onto the back apron rod in 1¾" groups and do everything as above except I'd place lease sticks in the cross instead of sleying the reed and threading the shafts before winding.

Whether you use the traditional method for sectional warping or the one described here, you'll have the advantage of not needing to use paper or sticks between the layers of warp. However, the threads must fall into each section like a flat ribbon, distributed very evenly throughout each section.


(The last time I wrote about this, I was reminded by a reader that the pegs on some sectional beams can be removed, turning a sectional beam into a regular one.)

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