Warping Question: Raddles and Warp Spacers

Hello Madelyn!

Question 1. On my home-built 45″ wide counterbalance loom, the distance from the upright beater to the back beam is about 30″, but although it’s structurally rigid, the back beam is only about 1/2″ thick (with rounded edges) where the warp threads pass over it. The back beam is set at an angle, which makes mounting a raddle on it difficult. I was thinking of mounting the raddle in the beater. As a novice weaver (warping a loom alone using the crank & yank method of tensioning the warp), do you think adding cords or clamps to the back beam (as you show in your video, Warping Your Loom) to constrain warp width to its width in the raddle will work well enough or should I play it safe and try to mount the raddle on the back beam?

Question 2: I have a roll of single-sided corrugated cardboard, but have read that if I use it to separate warp layers, it might squash when I yank each section of the warp, leading to warp tension variations and/or wonky selvedges. Do you think I should discard the corrugated cardboard and use only plain (tear resistant) paper, instead? P.S. I want to avoid sticks for separating warp layers, as space at the rear of my heavy loom is limited, and many sticks would be needed for a 5-yard warp.


Hi Bill!

I think you should definitely constrain the width of the warp as it goes over the back beam (with clamps or cords) to make sure the warp goes onto the warp beam at the same width as it is in the raddle (and eventually in the reed). From that distance (from beater to the back of the loom), it will tend to spread out along its path to the warp beam. (If the threads spread out at the edges of the warp on the beam, the layers of warp will be thinner there and eventually you’ll notice the circumference of warp is smaller on the edges. After the warp is beamed, if the warp threads at the edges are much longer than the warp threads in the center of the warp, you know this has happened, and warp tension will become a problem as weaving progresses.)

When warping a loom, you know you need to space the wound warp, but do you use cardboard, paper, or sticks?

Madelyn demonstrating a loom warped with warping sticks separating the warp layers in her wonderful video, Warping Your Loom.

I think it is perfectly OK to use corrugated cardboard for warping a loom. Over time, it might become depressed in places, and when it does, you can get a new roll. I would use it at the Weavers’ School, except the thirty looms here would look very ugly with yards of cardboard hanging off them.

One thing, though: note that warping sticks shouldn’t take up that much space (they don’t take up as much space as cardboard, actually) because they aren’t used to cover a complete layer of warp. I usually place two sticks per revolution of the beam as I’m warping a loom. So (this is really hypothetical; I’ve never thought of it this way before): say the average circumference around the beam is a third of a yard, you’d place about 30 sticks for a 5 yd warp. Sometime I’ll count how many I use for a 30-yd warp and let you know!


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! Updated 8/10/17.

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