Ask Madelyn: Twisting Threads

HELP! I’m warping for a rep-weave runner using 10/2 pearl cotton at 60 epi, 5 ends/dent in a 12-dent reed. Never having woven rep before, I had no idea how difficult this was going to be. I’ve sleyed the reed and threaded the heddles. The problem is that the threads are twisting between the reed and the heddles as I wind on. I have raised half of the shafts to separate the threads a bit, but they still twist. What else can I do?


Oh, Flo,

Been there, done that! As a confirmed front-to-backer, I used to say that you could sley as many as 4 ends per dent when warping a loom without too much twisting using 10/2 pearl cotton. With a recent project in which I did that, I changed the maximum number to 3. Truth be told, warp rep is most conveniently warped back to front. But if you are a front to backer like me, there are ways to avoid the twisting.

The best way is to wind the warp with a one-and-one cross. Sley the reed, leaving lease sticks in the cross. After you’ve sleyed, turn the lease stick closed to the reed on edge and stick another lease stick into the opening on the other side of the reed. Then remove the stick that was on edge and move the other original lease stick closer to the reed and turn it on edge. Put a new lease stick in the new opening on the other side of the reed. Now you have a cross to use for threading. This way, you’ll thread the warp in the order it was wound on the warping board and there won’t be any twisting.

For this warp, what I would do is separate the shafts into several levels (brace them with something) so that you can straighten the threads in front of the reed by separating the levels. Then you’ll just have to proceed slowly, and you’ll remember to do this differently next time you’re warping a loom with lots of ends per dent.


Updated on June 25, 2018.

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