Unsure of How to Use a Temple

Hi Madelyn!

I am having a lot of trouble weaving some linen towels. I am not able to achieve the number of picks per inch suggested by the project instructions (30 ppi for 40/2 linen), and my selvedge threads are breaking. A friend told me I should be using a temple. I have purchased one, but am not sure how to use it.


Hi Geri!

I agree with your friend. It sounds as though you are experiencing some draw-in (your weft is pulling the edges inward so the warp threads are being frayed by the reed). The rubbing of the reed on the threads also keeps the reed from moving quickly through them, which prevents a firm beat. The temple will keep the warp threads parallel to each other so that the reed doesn’t rub on them. Just as important, though, is to allow enough weft length in the shed to accommodate its take-up as it passes over and under the warp threads. Here are some factors to consider:

a. Determine the length of the temple by aligning the base of the teeth against each edge of the warp at the reed. Place the pin in the nearest two holes. If the ideal position is between them, choose the hole that would make the temple a bit shorter (as in this photo) than warp width rather than wider.

Setting the temple.

b. Insert the temple teeth just inside the selvedge by 1 or 2 warp threads. If you allow several threads between the teeth and warp edge, the threads will split apart, leaving a large split.

Placing the temple.

c. Move the temple after every inch of weaving—or even more often.

Moving the temple.

Yarns. Linen, especially, is not resilient. Therefore, if very much draw-in occurs during weaving, the selvedge warp threads will fray and break. Resilient yarns, especially wool, woven in relatively open setts, allow smooth selvedges without a temple, provided enough weft slack is provided.

Fabric width. The narrower the fabric, the less need there is to use a temple. My rule of thumb for using temples is a fabric width of 12” or more.

Temple adjustment. The temple must be sett at a length that pushes the width of the fabric to its width in the reed; see Photos a-c for sizing and placing the temple.

Weft slack. The weft must be inserted at an angle (or bubbled) to allow enough length for it to take its over and under path as it interlaces with the warp threads. If too little slack is allowed, draw-in will occur even when a temple is used. If the temple becomes harder and harder to insert (i.e., pushing it flat feels as if it will tear the selvedge threads), insufficient weft slack has been allowed. The solution is to unweave or start over, not to make the temple shorter. My rule of thumb is to allow a weft angle of at least thirty degrees.

— Madelyn

Posted August 19, 2015. Updated July 26, 2017.

If you have a weaving question we would love to hear from you! Please email Madelyn! Pictured above: Summer Lace Placemats and Mug Rugs by Suzie Liles Handwoven May/June 2017. View related & recent “Ask Madelyn” posts!

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