Sunday, May 22, 2011

Why I Use Sticks When Warping My Looms

 Just recently, on one of the weaving forums I follow online, someone asked about using sticks between layers of warp wound on the backbeam.  I didn't see any replies talking about my main reason for using them.  Cords or straps make lumps that show through paper, light cardboard, window shades, etc. that are used to separate layers of warp.  The tie-on rods on my looms are attached to the front or back beam with some type of cord or strap.  Three different set-ups are shown in the following photos.  

They will all make lumps of varying sizes.  Tying the warp bouts to the front rod also make siginificant lumps.   

If the lumps aren't covered with something sturdy, like sticks, the lumps will distort the warp or cloth, as shown in this photo.  I was working on a lace pick-up, and forgot to add the sticks.  The photo is a little blurry, but I think you can get the idea.

I had to loosen my tension on the loom when I realized what happened, and started to insert sticks and gently work them around the beam to get back to the start.  It's better if you don't forget, since it isn't a good idea to loosen the tension too much.  You can see one of the sticks as I started to insert it.  Moulding used to attach screening to wooden doors works well if it is given a light sanding.  Big box home improvement stores or lumber yards stock it.

This photo shows the cloth after inserting 5-6 sticks.  It doesn't take many.  They don't have to be tight against each other, but only close enough that the warp or cloth can span between two sticks without lumps showing in between them.  I put two sticks over the rod and knots at the start, and then space the others out.

After the back beam is covered once, I use heavy paper or window shades to keep the rest of the layers separate.  It is ok to use just sticks, if you are putting a short warp on, but don't stack them, since they could slip.  It isn't very economical for a long warp, since sticks are more expensive than heavy paper, and they will fill the beam more quickly than paper. 

The separation of layers is very important to prevent individual threads from sinking into previous layers. If that happens, the warp threads are no longer the same length, and will cause the warp tension to be uneven.

My warps are wound under tension.  A trapeze works well when winding a warp without help.  That is another subject and has been discussed in previous posts.

Once the cloth is smooth on the front beam, there isn't any reason to separate the layers.


  1. I was just thinking about this recently and wondering why I saw some people using sticks instead of paper and realizing that my warps were lumpy when I wound them on. Thanks for the information! I really appreciate your time to put this together.

  2. A very good visual post Jenny....thanks for writing AND showing the reason why to use sticks.