Ask Madelyn: Warp Winding Woes

I have just wound a warp that took way too long to wind and I’m wondering if there is a better way. I was using tubes of 16/2 linen in five colors. I started with them all in bowls under the warping board. But the way the yarn unwound, seemed to pull a lot on it and it also sometimes seemed to have a lot of twist in it. The stripe order was also a pain (cutting and tying the ends to each other). Then I put them on rods in a spool holder I have. The unwinding pulled on them in a sort of irregular way and the yarn would jump off the spool and onto the rod yanking on it and getting stuck. I knew I needed linen to be evenly tensioned on the loom, but the tension wasn’t even on the warping board, which made it next to impossible for it to be even on the loom. Any suggestions?


Hi Marti!

I haven’t used tubes very often, but recently I happened to wind a warp using 8/2 cotton in tubes, also with a number of colors in stripes. I started with my spools on a spool rack and I had the same problem you did—an irregular pull on the tube and the slipping and catching onto the rod by the yarn. Then I noticed (duh) something I had not noticed before on my rack (the only time I’d used the rack before was with spools that had flanges, therefore giving no problem of slipping). At the top of my rack there is a row of eye hooks. If you direct the thread up from the spool to an eye hook (situated at a point that would be directly above center of the spool), the yarn unwinds smoothly and does not slip off the spool. For a rack without eye hooks, I’d add eye hooks or rig up something that would direct the thread so it comes straight up and is pulled from a centered position.

Putting spools in bowls or other containers can work but can add twist to a yarn if it ends up being pulled off the end of the spool (which is also what would happen if you put the spool on an upright rod and pulled the yarn off instead of rotating the spool).

As for the colored stripes, my preferred method is to wind each color in a separate chain and warp front to back. Then I sley each chain/color separately where its threads have to go, tying the choke from each chain to the front beam. To do this, the denting order has to make it relatively easy (or at least possible without mind-wrenching skill) to determine where the colors go in the reed. If the denting order and the color order don’t coincide in any way, this might not be possible. In that case, I do wind the colors in order on the board, but I don’t cut and tie. I just wrap the ending color around a start or end peg a number of times and the pick up the next color. The pegs will have lots of wraps on them, but these all fall off when the ends of the warp are cut. There can be painful tangling of these yarns, but I am usually willing to put up with that. If the yarns end and start at different pegs (for an uneven number of warp threads in a stripe, for example, this method would be extremely annoying if not impossible if you were winding from spools on a rack. In that case, I would cut and tie the ends and try to enjoy it, reminding myself that it might be slow, but not painful.


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