I am so frustrated that I don't know what to do. I love weaving on my 24" Kromski rigid heddle, but it's slow and I wanted more options so recently bought a new 80cm Oxaback Lilla countermarch floor loom. Assembling and tying up this loom was easy and fun, but for the life of me I can't get it warped! I used a warping board for the first time ever and followed a pattern in Laila Lundell's Big Book of Weaving. Apparently it is WAY too complicated for me even though it seemed easy.
I made two warp chains using 8/2 cotton for dish towels. I have read everything I can find on how to warp, drove 100 miles away from my home in Munich to watch a German weaver warp this same loom (I'm American and my German is so-so and her English even worse), and watched YouTube videos, but for the life of me can't get my warp on the raddle without making a big tangled mess. Help!
I feel so alone here with no guilds or help that I'm ready to chuck everything I've purchased and look into a simple Saori loom just so I don't have to create or beam my own warps. Have I just wasted a serious amount of money??!
The first warp I did was a trial. I just couldn't figure out what to do with all those threads, and how was I supposed to get then organized into the raddle? Now I don't even think about it. The key is that everyone's equipment and set up is a little different, and you have to find a method that works for you. I use a large wooden roller suspended from the rafters to hang the warp on (a trapeze or valet). The end with the raddle cross hangs down over the raddle attached to the back beam, and this arrangement keeps it lightly tensioned, which keeps it from tangling. Tension is the key to prevent tangles. The tie on rod is run through the warp and tied to the beam, the warp is placed in the raddle section by section, then a gallon jug of water is attached to the loose end and warping starts. That's my system.
Elizabeth Wagner has a series of You Tube videos that take you step by step.
I have also used an upper crossbeam of the loom itself to hang the warp from where it would have been hard to hang the roller. The very important thing is tension. Threads under tension can't tangle. I hit the ribbon of warp with a warp stick to help separate and even out the threads. I also strum it, but never ever comb.
Learning a system for warping your loom may seem daunting now, but it will give you so much more in return that a rigid heddle or Saori would that it really is worth it.
You can do it...
I echo big white sofa dog's advice about tangles and rigging up some light temporary tension to help with warping. If you are working alone this is vital! I had trouble at first because I learned to weave at a community weaving center where there was plenty of help with beaming back to front on the Scandinavian style looms. So, if you need extra hands, the trapeze and tension solution works great.
More importantly, however, guard against discouragement! You have a fabulous loom and are walking a well-trodden path with the first-time warping woes. This trouble shall pass! You are in the learning curve, that's all. Once you gain confidence in materials handling (aka threads!) you will be a beaming pro and you'll be so glad and proud of yourself! Don't give up! I'm rooting for you from all the way across the Atlantic Ocean!
Still more warps
To clarify, I let the weight of the chained warp hanging from the trapeze provide tension while I get the warp attached to the warp beam and placed in the raddle (I usually warp ~20 yards). Once the warp is in place, I loop the free end of the warp through the handle of a gallon jug of water, and start cranking the warp on. When the jug gets up to the trapeze, I move it back to the floor and start cranking again. With this system, I can get a 25 yard warp on in a couple hours.
Wow! You both have given me
Wow! You both have given me good advice and encouragement I realize it is the lack of tension that has thwarted all my efforts to keep the threads in the raddle spaces. I'll try to figure out a way to create tension since I can't hang a trapeze from our angled, 20 foot ceiling! Also, I will install the raddle etc on the back beam instead of trying to spread the warp on a table.
If you search "trapeze" on this forum, you'll find a lot of discussion and even some photos of how to do it. Cathi Meeks has a whole book on the subject titled "Warp with a Trapeze and Dance with your Loom," which I found helpful as there are scads of photos of different set-ups. I especially found her recommendation of putting the chained warp in a plastic grocery bag to keep it clean while beaming. From your internet connection, you can also see the trapeze of the Vavstuga weaving school in Massachusetts: they use a warping trapeze set up and also sell uprights and crossbeams for people to use to modify looms. These are essentially pieces of lumber with an angled bottom which rest against the loom's breast beam and are clamped or tied on. You would install the trapeze from the front if warping back to front. Then an upright fits in the top and the chained warp is tossed over the top and, a weight is attached. They have photographs explaining it and even sell a trapeze. Good luck!
Try this guy Curmudgeon on You Tube. He is just a regular person who weaves but I have found - while not proffesional like a teacher - I understand him better and he will answer your questions. Browse his posts. Here is the link:
Don't give up. It comes with repitition.
My raddle is a home made device; it's a 48" 1x2 with screw eyes set every 1/2 inch. I set a group of threads in the space between two screw eyes, then insert a 1/4" dowel into the eyes to hold the threads in place. It's the most secure raddle I have seen. [An insecure raddle can be a disaster!].
You could use the top beams on the Lilla to run the warp over. It will be more time consuming because you would have to move the weight back to the floor more often. It would work. I do a similar thing with my Barbara.
And of course there's always front to back....
Story Muse, we all feel your frustration as we share what works for us. I learned front to back warping from Deborah Chandler and her book Learning to Weave. I learned it so well that try as I might, back to front style continues to cause me issues. With front to back, each chain goes to the front to be threaded through the reed (centered, of course) followed by the heddles and then gets wound onto the back beam once every chain has been added. I used to sit with her direction page open because she seemed to anticipate every challenge with advice to succeed. So my advice is, pick the directions that speak to your sense of logic and go forward, even if you don't quite get it...it sometimes takes the physical attempt to "see" how the process works!
BtF vs FtB
The BtF vs. FtB discussion is long and has proponents for both ways. BtF is usually seen as more versatile and a lot easier on fine threads or other delicate warps, because with FtB you are draging the warp through the reed and heddles twice. FtB works for some things, but BtF works for everything.
You can also apply a lot more tension BtF, which gives a better warp package.