Tie-On Methods: What's Best?

Handwoven Magazine Ask Madelyn


Hi Madelyn!


I think you might have talked about this before, but can you tell me which is better to use as a tie-on method: slipknots, knots (what kind), or lashing on? Thanks!




Hi Sarah!


As with many aspects of warping, you tend to like the method you learned first and that you've practiced enough to be successful using it. Then, when someone tells you to do it a different way, you try it once, and you are not successful because the new way probably requires practice, too. You are then sure your original method is the best one.


I can think of four basic ways to tie onto the front apron rod—there may be more. The way I like best (it is also the way I learned and the way I show in Warping Your Loom) is to bring two very narrow bouts of warp over the apron rod, take them both around the rod, bring one up on one side of where they passed over the rod and the other up on the other side, and then tie the first half of a square knot. This knot is positioned just beyond the apron rod (toward the reed) and is on top of where the two groups originally came over the rod. The knot settles down so that warp threads go from the center of the rod's thickness straight to the reed, exactly the path it will take when you start weaving. I make the first knot with a group in the center of the warp and then continue, moving from side to side, all with small groups (about 1/2 inch total for each knot). Then, I go back, and pulling on each pair of tails toward the reed, snug the knot down, and tie the second half of the square knot. The key is to make the square knot snug, not tight, so that all of the groups will be under the same tension. If you pull tightly, each successive knot will become tighter than the preceding knot.


A second way is to bring one of the two groups over the apron rod and the other under it and tie so that the knot is on the side of the apron rod closest to you. When you have completed these knots (you can use the snug, not tight, square-knot system for this, too), you end up with half of the warp threads going to the reed on the top side of the apron rod and half going to the reed on the bottom side of the apron rod. You then lace a cord between the top and bottom layers of warp to bring them to the same level (a step I'd rather not have to do).


A third option is not to make actual knots, but to either make only the first half of a surgeon's knot (wrapping as for a square knot but going around twice) or make a slipknot (a half bow). I think the theory behind this is that you can then make adjustments more easily than if you had to untie square knots. I'd rather make square knots that don't need adjustment. Half-surgeon's knots or slipknots can come undone (this has happened in workshops where I've observed this method in use).


The fourth variation on apron-rod tie-on methods is the lashing system. For this, you tie overhand knots in the ends of the warp groups and take a long slippery cord through each group (just above the knot) and over and around the apron rod, through the next group, and over and around the apron rod, etc. When all groups are laced by the cord, you tighten the warp tension and kind of slap the bouts to even the tension all the way across the warp. The advantage to this method is that you don't waste warp yarn by making knots, and also, it is said, you can achieve even tension without having to undo anything. I have not liked this method because I always run out of cord before I get to the other side (or else am irritated by dragging excess cord length through every bout) and then I have to knot on a new cord and have a knot to deal with. Probably the main reason I don't like this method is that I haven't practiced it enough. I might force myself to try it if I ever use a warp I really, really, really don't have enough of, but meanwhile I'm attached to the method I like best. I also like the way it looks as I start weaving more than I would like looking at that lashing cord. I know this sounds ridiculous, but weaving should be a pleasure, so I do what gives me pleasure.



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