How to Divide the Reed to Sley Multiple Ends Per Dent

Dear Madelyn,

I am a front-to-back warper, but sometimes have trouble with warp threads twisting during beaming when more than one thread is sleyed in each dent. Is there a solution to this or do I need to warp back to front when sleying orders call for multiple ends in a dent?


Hi Jennifer!

Sometimes when you have a close sett, warping a loom can be tough due to tangled warp ends. Here's a technique to keep warp ends from twisting.

Sleying 2 ends per dent

This is an excellent question. One of the advantages to warping a loom back to front is that the warp travels through an individual cross as it passes through the lease sticks to the back beam. The only obstacle to a smooth beaming process is that the threads have to pass through the cross. With front-to-back warping, if multiple ends are sleyed in each dent, they can twist around each other before they reach the heddles. For smooth, inactive yarns (and if there are not more than 2 ends per dent), this is not usually a problem. But with sticky or over-twisted yarns, the actual order in which the threads are wound on the warping board should be maintained in the threading order for smooth beaming.

There are two methods for doing this. One is to transfer the original threading cross to the other side of the reed after sleying. (When the reed is placed in the beater, the ends that are threaded extend from the reed, but the cross used for threading them is on the opposite side of the reed, with the chain hanging down from the back beam.) Click for a description of that method.

Warping a loom is hard when your warp threads keep twisting! Here's how to keep your warps untangled when warping front to back.

Threading 2 ends per dent

A second, quicker method is to divide the reed by tying a cord from one edge of the reed to the other. The example here shows the reed divided in half with 2 ends in each dent. (The reed can also be divided into thirds or quarters for three or four ends per dent.) As you sley, sley the end in the bottom section of a dent first, then the end in the upper section. Photo a shows a sleyed warp with 2 ends per dent.

As you thread, hold the ends to be threaded under tension so you can see them clearly and select first the bottom end and then the upper end from each dent. This method works best if your eyes are young and the warp threads are light in value. For very fine threads with many ends in a dent, back-to-front warping would be easier on the warper.


P.S. Warp-faced rep weaving is one area where you’re likely to need to sley multiple ends per dent. If you’re looking for an easy project to practice this technique for warping a loom, you might want to try the Little Rep Gems Coaster Kit!

If you have a weaving question please email Madelyn! Featured Image: Summer Lace Placemats and Mug Rugs by Suzie Liles Handwoven May/June 2017. View related & recent “Ask Madelyn” posts! Posted July 5, 2016. Updated June 23, 2017.

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