Tugging On Warps

Handwoven Magazine Ask Madelyn


Dear Madelyn, 

Regarding your answers about beaming on warp, I was taught, long ago, to tug on the warp in small bundles, as you also suggest, but then to also hold the entire warp under tension in two large bundles while turning the beam. I also observed that this would give uneven tension. So my question is: After first pulling on small bouts of the warp, when turning the beam to wind, do I not touch the warp threads at all?


Hi Ellen!

If you warp from front to back, the warp goes through the reed first (with either 1, 2, or more ends per dent) and then through the heddles. If the sleying order is 1/dent, the only place the threads might tangle with each other is in front of the reed. If the reed has been sleyed with a 1/1 cross, there should be minimal tangling there. In this case, you don’t usually need to provide any tension as you turn the beam. 

If, however, two or more threads go through the same dent, they can become tangled between the reed and the heddles. When threads are tangled they can hang up at the tangle, changing their relationship to the threads that are smoothly passing through. In this case, tension is the best way to control the tangle (as opposed to combing the threads, which changes their alignment). Before I start beaming, I divide the warp into sections of about 2” each, taking my fingers between the sections down to the warp resting on the floor. So as I turn the beam, wherever tangling might occur, I grab the section the tangled threads are in and give it a jerk to straighten the threads. After each turn of the beam, I make the separation with my fingers back down to the floor. Pulling on each section after each turn will even any differences between sections that might have been caused jerking on one or two of them.

If you warp from back to front, the threads can hang up at the lease sticks, causing extra tension on the threads that are tangled. You might have to hold the warp as you turn the beam to prevent this. If you tighten the warp in small sections as described above after each turn of the beam, however, any differences between the edge threads and the center threads caused by holding it, should be evened out.


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