Category Archives: CW Double Harness Study Group

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.

Weavolution is Here!

Thanks to Claudia, Tien, and Allison, weavers now have their own social networking site at, which went on-line yesterday. I took a brief look, late in the day, and this afternoon posted my introduction. Then, as if I didn’t have enough to do, I just went on-line and started a new group there for Double Harness Weaving. A pastor once said to me, if you need something done, ask a busy person. (He was asking me do something.) Well, I think I’ve about reached my limit, but after all, this new group is weaving related!

I am just starting my journey into double harness weaving (drawloom), and learning as I go, from books, back issues of VAV, Becky Ashenden’s DVD “Dressing Your Swedish Drawloom,” and especially from other drawloom weavers in the Complex Weavers Double Harness Study Group. Some of the best learning will come when setup is done and I am sitting at my single unit drawloom, weaving.

This new group on Weavolution is not meant to replace the CW study group. Just the opposite. I’m hoping this new group might interest weavers who have not had any exposure to this area of weaving, and perhaps a few might decide to delve into drawloom weaving.

Now, back to the loom, I have a towel to finish, then remove the leftover (waste) warp, dust and vacuum the loom and floor, and tonight or tomorrow morning, make the next warp. For the moment, I have it narrowed down to seven northwoodsy colors (they are to me, anyway!). I want the warp on the loom tomorrow night so I can thread it Thursday. This will be for table runners and bags. Then re-warp for either rugs, or towels. These will be shorter warps than usual as I have a deadline coming up and the galleries want more weaving (and socks). Planning my work, and working my plan!

Yesterday and today I was again working on the Complex Weavers Double Harness Study Group newsletter, and it is at last finished, though too late to be mailed out today. They will be at the post office in the morning, along with two pairs of socks.

The weaving on another towel was finished while pages were printing on the inkjet printer today. It was a good time for a bit of multi-tasking. The towel was washed, dried, pressed, and tonight was hemmed and photographed. There is still warp on the loom so I’ll go to sleep thinking about another variation to try.

The Lake Country Weavers met this past Monday at Manitowish River Studio (and home) of weaver Mary Burns. Mary weaves custom rugs on a 10′ Cranbrook set up for shaft switching, and on a 12′ AVL compu-dobby. A 7′ x 11′ rug had been started for a client, and when that one is nearly done she will be warping the larger loom for a 10′ x 12′ rug for the same client. All are her original designs, many inspired by the Arts and Crafts look.

Mary also has a TC-1 Jacquard loom, some of her woven pieces come from photos. Amazing! That loom is warped with 20/2 cotton, and each thread is individually controlled. Monday night we saw a slide show from a recent workshop she attended of jacquard weavers. She has an amazing studio, and is a wonderful, sharing weaver.