Drawloom ~ Beaming the Warp

In my previous post I wrote about making a fine warp on a warping mill. Yesterday, the warp was beamed. It took four hours or more because of an unexpected “problem,” but after receiving some advice from other drawloom weavers, it was resolved and things went fairly smoothly.

Details: The warp was 20/2 mercerized cotton, 64 ends per inch, 16″ wide, and 18 yards long for a total of 1,024 threads, and 18,432 yards. The warp was made on a warping mill, and made in 4″ sections of 256 threads each. I warp back to front.

I should explain, the reason you will see five warp chains in this photo is one day I started making a section, with not enough time to finish. With cats who love nothing better than to play in yarn/thread (or chew through it), I couldn’t leave it on the mill, so finished two inches, tied it all off, and removed it, which meant making another two inch section another day. The two on the right are equivalent to the others.

The warp was placed on the back wood rod, each one inch section put in its place in the raddle and held down with rubber bands. Beveled lease sticks were placed into the cross and the ends of the lease sticks tied to each other to prevent one (or both) from ever dropping out and losing the cross. On the CM loom I sometimes use the lease stick holders, but on this particular drawloom there is no upper structure over the long back extension to tie them to. When removing choke ties, for example, and no tension was on the warp, two longer warp sticks from the wider CM loom were used as supports under the lease sticks, then removed when tension was again on the warp and we were ready to continue winding on.

When everything was prepared, with my son holding and applying tension on the warp bouts, I started to turn the warp beam but the warp would not move, would not flow over and under the lease sticks! I’ve had an occasional sticky warp before, but never like this. When I learned to make a warp, long ago, I was told “you do not handle or mess with the threads!” I could see no other choice.
So off to the computer to email the Double Harness Study Group and ask if anyone had experienced this and did they have any suggestions. Sara von Tresckow wrote saying this happens with fine warps, but it would loosen up and improve as more warp was wound on, and to try wiggling the lease sticks (which I had tried). To start, this would have to be done in small increments.

There was nothing left to do but take each inch section and pull up and push down to move the cross one to two inches, across the width of the warp, do it again and again, then wind on, and repeat, which we did, and let the lease sticks do their job of evening out tension. Kati Reeder Meek suggesting rocking the lease sticks up on edge to help separate threads, which also helped at times. Later, wiggling the lease sticks back and forth at an angle (like a flattened X) was finally allowing the cross to move, and I could move the cross forward about 18″ at a time.

The two photos above, taken early on in the beaming process, show this lovely, fine, 20/2 cotton warp, purchased not long ago from drawloom weaver Nastche Milan. In just a bit, I’ll start threading the maillons on the pattern heddles, so more photos in a day or two. When that is done, the drawcord warp ends will be tied to the pattern heddles, then thread the ground shaft heddles will be threaded, then the reed. Also to be done, at appropriate times will be add more parts to the loom, the lamms, treadles, and counterweights, and tieing up the treadles. Then, we’ll see what other adjustments are needed for this to work/weave and give an acceptable (though narrower) shed.

Damask shuttles are low-profile due to the narrower shed on drawlooms. The two shuttles on the left were recently purchased from Catherine in Brooklyn (Hi!), and the three on the right were purchased from Sara von Tresckow (Woolgatherers Ltd) at the WI Sheep & Wool Festivals. I’m looking forward to stopping at her booth again this year. Meanwhile, the damask shuttles are waiting.

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