Whether to Lash or Knot

Handwoven MagazineAsk Madelyn


Dear Madelyn, 

I was recently working on a weaving project at a retreat with my guild, and when I went to tie on the warp, a number of friends said that I should lash on rather than tying directly to the apron rod. (In fact, I had a lot of kind supervision during this project.) I've tried both lashing on and tying directly to the apron rod, and while I am not efficient at getting all my warp bouts under even tension, I think lashing on also has some disadvantages. For example, I think there are more tendencies for the selvedges to draw in at first, because the outer bouts seem to want to slip slightly towards the middle. Most people I know who always lash on are production weavers or weaving teachers who have to keep many looms warped for classes. Are there times when it's better to lash on?

Regina Phalanges

Hi Regina,

I am not a fan of lashing on for reasons similar to my not using paper on the warp beam. I am too much of a klutz (the paper never winds on straight). For those who have never lashed: You tie overhand knots in bouts at the end of the warp and then take a long cord, tie it to the apron rod, and pass it through the threads beyond the knot of the first bout, then around the apron rod, then through the next bout, around the apron rod, and continue. When you reach the other side of the warp, you secure the end of the cord to the apron rod. Then you crank the beam to tighten the tension and whap the lashes, and everything evens up, and you are ready to go. 

The arguments in favor of lashing are that it's easy to get even tension and you have wasted less warp yarn than you would by tying on. Well, problem number one for me is that I run out of cord before I've finished lashing. If you knot to that cord, then the knot that joins them can prevent the cord from moving around when you are evening the tension. If I use a long enough cord, then dragging its length through all those knots isn't fun. Since I like to use very small bouts so that I can just start weaving my piece (No ugly scrap yarn! No nylon stockings! No toilet paper!), I have way too many bouts/lashes and therefore need a really long cord (plus lots of bouts make it a little harder to even the tension). Also, I love for the beginning of weaving to be beautiful and I don't like looking at those lashes. I think if your bouts are small enough, the draw-in potential would be reduced, but tying secures the weaving width from the start. I'd just smile and say "That sounds like a good method" and then practice tying on, remembering to make the knots snug, not tight, and your tension will be fine.


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