Back or Front?

Well  we could open up the debate of back to front or front to back, but I think we all know how that goes. Yes every weaver has their preference, which is great! I thought it would be more interesting to talk about what we find gets us to warp the other way and to challenge ourselves to use the other method more often.

This is mostly inpsired by the fact that I have been regularly warping my table looms, which I generally warp front to back, which is the other way from my Swedish floor looms. I'm close enough I worry it if I warp my Glimakras front to back that Sweding Storm Trooper Weavers will swoop in lock me up and take my looms! Lol. :)

Comments

Posted on Mon, 02/16/2015 - 23:48

I am about to embark on a project where I was considering a modified approach (a la Vavstuga).

Here's why: The warp is going to be spaced out, and there will be irregular counts in the dents, with 7 empty dents between each grouping. So for one inch of warp, there might be 15-17 threads, crammed into 5 dents, with 7 empty dents next to that grouping. For the warps that will be crammed, there will be two different patterns (or blocks). And within one of the blocks, there will be varying warp thread sizes - 16/2 and 8/2 cotton.

Because of this irregular spacing of the warp, I was thinking about pre-sleying in the reed, then beaming. Or, pre-sleying and then threading and beaming, so the warps maintain their spacing a little better than if I just used a raddle at the back, where the threads could meander within each inch increment.

I am looking at beaming at least 9 yards, so I don't mind taking time now to eliminate problems down the line. I will absolutely beam with water weights, whether I thread before beaming or after.

The advantage of back-to-front for me is that my loom is situated in my studio to easily remove the breast beam and beater so I can get right in the castle to thread. Important, as I have a 12 shaft loom = a very deep castle. The loom has the capability to drop its back side too, but I have it positioned too close to the wall to regularly take advantage of this. Also, I have two beams on the back, one sectional, so it is a lot heavier & more cumbersome than doing this in the front. (I think I might also have to mess with the brake cable to release everything, whereas on the front, this is not an issue.)

I am not sure which way I am going to proceed yet, but it was interesting you asked the question today, as you got me thinking a little deeper into the pros and cons in my particular situation.

I have sampled the intended structure on a table loom (warped back-to-front) but with a very short warp.

I would also use cable ties sticking up on the back beam, to guide/contain the warp to the total desired width, no matter which way I proceed.

Another consideration: if the warp stays bunched up in bands the way it will weave when I beam, I have to be sure to pack it carefully. If I use a raddle and it spreads out, that situation might not create as many problems with lumps when beaming. Hmmmm.

Posted on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 02:38

I started off front to back and then switched to back to front . Usually it doesn't really matter which way you choose as long as you're " fluent" in one way and it works for you. That being said I'm glad I know both ways, because there are times like Sally is suggesting where it might be easier to warp it front to back.
I think Sally it sounds like a good idea with the variety of denting you have.
I just didn't understand the last sentence. I think you would get some natural spacing from the heddles to the back beam and will need those makeshift cable " flanges " to keep things lined up. So , although the warp is not as spaced out as with a raddle, I'm not sure you're going to get tight bands like you were weaving them creating lumps and bumps. Just my thought :)

Posted on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 06:37

You can use your reed as a radle. If you look into "the Big Book of Weaving" by Laila Lundell, you will see, that it is posible to use the reed as a raddle. "It's swedish style" :-)

Posted on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 11:26

That sounds interesting Sally. Be carefull of ribbing the warps.

I think Laura Fry warps back to front using a reed as a raddle as well. You wind on first, then thread. I like the raddle though because it can be capped, whereas I'm not sure how available a cappable reed is. I have rarely seen them online.

Posted on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 14:24

I am an avid front to back warper.  I work on jack looms and a large part of my production line is chenille.  I also teach working in chenille and suggest to my students that even if they are back to front warpers, for chenille they should try front to back.

That being said, a few years ago, I did the Vavstuga basics class.  I wound a couple of warps before I left to bring home and practice back to front so they are tied up for that method.  They are still sitting in the back of my closet.  My Glimakra (Bessie) is soon to be empty and if I can get my taxes finished, I have a student who has agreed to help me warp them back to front.

It is scarier than I would like.  I have been weaving so long and so used to my hands knowing exactly what to do.  On the other hand, it's great to force myself to be awkward occasionally.  It helps me remember how challenging it can be for my students whose hands don't yet know the process.

Posted on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 17:07

Dear ReedGuy, now you are confusing me again - maybe it is just a langauge problem: what is a reed, if it is not a "normal" reed for weaving, or a plant? (ETA: or a soundpiece of an instrument)

I have used my normal weaving reeds for pre-sleying for 35 years, and never experienced the need of a "cap" of any type. All my weaving reeds have the stiff lengthwise, um, "supports" (they are actually an integral part of the construction) at both top and bottom. The only "caps" I can identify are the small metal things usually found on the said "supports" on most modern weaving reeds, four per reed.

Posted on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 17:45

Using the reed as a raddle...

The reed is not open at the top. Rather the entire loop is put through the dent.

One reason I like this method is that the loops are not cut, therefore the warp is not disturbed in its length. The choke tie prevents any slippage as the loops are put through the reed, then mounted in the loom, the loops going around the bar at the back.

Once the loops are on the bar/apron, I hold the warp at the choke tie and a bit of adjustment brings all the loops back into alignment.

Once that is done the choke tie is removed and beaming begins.

Since I'm laid up recovering from surgery I can't do much for a while. Once I'm back to weaving I will try to do a video, or perhaps I've got photos on my blog. I've posted so much info there I don't remember if I have a photo essay there already.

Posted on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 17:45

Using the reed as a raddle...

The reed is not open at the top. Rather the entire loop is put through the dent.

One reason I like this method is that the loops are not cut, therefore the warp is not disturbed in its length. The choke tie prevents any slippage as the loops are put through the reed, then mounted in the loom, the loops going around the bar at the back.

Once the loops are on the bar/apron, I hold the warp at the choke tie and a bit of adjustment brings all the loops back into alignment.

Once that is done the choke tie is removed and beaming begins.

Since I'm laid up recovering from surgery I can't do much for a while. Once I'm back to weaving I will try to do a video, or perhaps I've got photos on my blog. I've posted so much info there I don't remember if I have a photo essay there already.

Posted on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 17:58

Just looked at my blog. Appears I've posted quite a few times about beaming. Click on the warping valet label and scroll down for a photo essay on rough sleying a reed.

Laura

Posted on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 19:25

If you are pre-sleying, beaming, threading, then sleying again (which I think of as back-to-front), nothing says you have to use the same sett or even the same reed both times.  Following a recent comment from Kerstin about beaming slightly wider than your weaving width to reduce strain on the end threads, I've been practicing pre-sleying at a slightly lower sett than I intend to weave.

Sally, could you not pre-sley more-or-less evenly, provided the total width on the beam is right, then thread and sley in the necessary groups?  But then, I use texsolv heddles which shift easily to the accomodate the path of the thread from beam to beam.  Metal heddles may create more drag?

Posted on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 20:09

Is there anyway you can use both beams? If you put one weight of yarn on one beam and the other on your other beam you could do the math with the spacing and end up where you like. That way you can stay BTF. Don't let the sleying of the reed rule your decision! You can also put your warp on both beams wider than your reeding if it is a matter of getting the count and raddle spacing correct.

Posted on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 20:43

well, I do have some pics on my blog ("ordinary" reed, though...) - here. The (for me, this time, pertinent) pic of the, um, un-capped ordinary reed, pre-sleyed:

It shows both, um, "supports" (which both are integral parts of the reed's framework) that can be found on *all* the weaving reeds that I own.

(I do not own anything that calls itself a "raddle"/"redkam" so I do not know exactly what to expect from a, um, Scandi? raddle)

Back to the pic: next step will be taking the reed, complete w pre-sleyed warp, to the loom, place the reed in the beater/batten, put the warp loops onto the back apron rod and then beam (verb, here).

Posted on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 21:13

It must be a language thing Kerstin because I never said it in that way. I said it is easier to spread a warp when the top is open like with a raddle, then it can be capped after. But, that not everyone has access to a cappable reed. I did not say any particular person here was using a cappabe reed, but that they are not usually at someone's disposal. I know full well that reeds are used in the way you describe without someone trying to teach me. ;)

I have Laura's video and I have had 'Big Book Of Weaving' for some time showing the process. :)

I use a raddle and the only cutting is the ends that go into the heddles after the warp has been beamed.

Posted on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 22:46

The cable ties I use on the back beam are to keep the total warp width where I want it. (I too, have heard slightly wider is better when feeding into the heddles/castle.)

The part I had not considered until this conversation was the fact my project is actually like winding 36 little 1/3" wide warps, 9 yards long, with 2/3" space between each stripe. With a short test warp, this wasn't a big deal, but at 9 yards, if the warp stripe were to slip into the empty
"channel", that could present big problems in tension when weaving. I suppose commercially, they would have 1/3" wide spools or sections, set on the warp beam at the desired increments, to control the warp feed into the heddles/castle so as to avoid this problem.

With a typical warp, the threads are spread out across the full width, in an even manner across the warp beam. So, maybe it is okay if the warp splays so generously across the full width with this project? (as opposed to a tighter/more controlled configuration with pre-sleying?)

My pattern is loosely based on a draft from Malin Selander's Red book – I think it is Curtain Rose.

Posted on Tue, 02/17/2015 - 22:59

I would just beam it normally and let the reed do the work of spacing it. But if you have two yarns, then use two beams of course. If your loom has some depth I wouldn't think it matters. It's not like the gaps are extremely wide.

Posted on Wed, 02/18/2015 - 00:26

Thank you, ReedGuy - it appears indeed to be a language problem. I quote from the site you linked to: " PLEASE NOTE you can NOT Substitute this reed for a regular normal reed
with a sturdy top it is NOT designed for the hard beating use that
regular reeds get in weaving."

Which seems to narrow it down to the understanding of the word "reed". Maybe I should try to introduce "spoon" (which is what g**gle translate will make of the Swe word)?

Posted on Wed, 02/18/2015 - 15:50

Glimakra makes these and we keep them in stock in the US.  However, the spacing is only 1/2 in or 1 cm.  We have had them specially made for weavers at 10 epi for another purpose.  So, they are readily available.

Joanne

Posted on Wed, 02/18/2015 - 16:12

I still prefer to use an ordinary reed as a raddle.  In the historical books written by Nyberg in Sweden about looms and equipment, she states that the raddle was used in the past to preserve the more fragile reed.  But reeds are very strong today, so there is not as much need for a raddle.

Joanne

Posted on Wed, 02/18/2015 - 16:21

I will be trying the "regular" reed method on a narrow pique weave for pillow cases, to warp the supplemental beam. Sectional beam and tension box for the ground cloth. 30/2 cotton ground, 22/2 cottolin for the pique, 10/2 wadding. I'm cautious, but not stubborn. Well, maybe I am. :D

Posted on Wed, 02/18/2015 - 17:32

Sally, it sounds like the real issue here is the 1" increments on your raddle, which are inadequate to the task.  Why not use the reed as a raddle (sleying multiple ends in a single dent, then skipping dents as in Kristen's example). Clamp the reed to your back beam, if possible, for beaming.  If not, put the reed in the beater.  You could even still use a raddle cross for this purpose, just wound in smaller increments, and using adjacent dents to separate thick and thin threads.  Wouldn't the rest of your usual warping sequence then remain the same?

 

Posted on Thu, 02/19/2015 - 17:04

Mary Martha, you raised another good point I was thinking about - using both beams. Because one of the blocks contains a basket structure in a larger fiber (i.e. different take up) I was considering two beams, or weighting those yarns separately from the rest of the warp. (In my sampling, the issue of take-up became apparently in those areas.)

Kristen's photo was exactly how I envisioned pre-sleying would work with this warp. My dilemma: Is the benefit of the added step to pre-sley going to pay off significantly over using the raddle and letting the warp splay when beaming? (It will take slightly more time, as I will be sleying "twice").

The only way to know for sure is probably to try it. Since this project is due in March, I have to ask myself, do I still have the time to experiment with the warping process?

If I DO try this, you all know me. I will have to measure how long the pre-sley took, etc., etc., etc.!)

And ReedGuy, I always thought I had plenty of packing sticks, like 20+ at full loom width. But after your comment, I am thinking for this project I might need more, (or see if I can borrow more from my guildmates), or I might invest in some of that heavy, pink, curled cardboard they use for home insulation/construction.

Thank you for helping me formulate a plan for this challenging warp! (And to those of you who chimed-in offline, too!)

Posted on Thu, 02/19/2015 - 18:59

Any 'extra' time spent at one stage that saves me time or trouble further down the process is not wasted in my experience.

That said, you won't know if it benefits your situation unless you try?

When I got a small loom with plain beam I borrowed a raddle but I was using fine enough threads that they tended to twist and bunch up on the other threads in the section. Using a reed instead meant fewer theads per section and a much happier - and more efficient - experience.

As always, your mileage may vary...

Cheers
Laura

Posted on Sat, 02/21/2015 - 08:36

looks like a better way to get the warp on the loom.  I have a raddle without a top, and no matter how hard I try, warps will slip out of the spaces.  I'm going to try the reed approach.  Thanks Laura, for the great blog and explanation of the process.  Could the warp simply be put into the bucket and the reed could be over the top of that instead of over some other object (like your boxes) and then thread the reed and carry the whole thing over to the loom and proceed?

Thanks,

Alaa

Posted on Sat, 02/21/2015 - 08:36

looks like a better way to get the warp on the loom.  I have a raddle without a top, and no matter how hard I try, warps will slip out of the spaces.  I'm going to try the reed approach.  Thanks Laura, for the great blog and explanation of the process.  Could the warp simply be put into the bucket and the reed could be over the top of that instead of over some other object (like your boxes) and then thread the reed and carry the whole thing over to the loom and proceed?

Thanks,

Alaa

Posted on Sat, 02/21/2015 - 21:45

I used the reed method to get my cottolin on the supplemental beam for the first time. I beamed it twice because for some reason my width was off. I think I had origianlly planned a denser sett on the project, which got changed mid stride for some reason. But anyway, the second pass was a success. :)  Didn't happen if there are no photos. ;)

From there I take and remove the ends from the reed and knot them into bunches, then sling the lease sticks up on the castle when threading. My harnass is craddled, I will raise that up so I can see to thread the ground warp and I sit my loom bench inside. :) I like enough warp length there so I can thread the harnass, sling it back to it's place and be able to thread the reed without bothering the warp beams.

Posted on Sat, 02/21/2015 - 17:42

There are various ways to do the rough sleying. Some people use reed holders and work sitting at a table. Some people find doing it at the loom works better. I would suggest people try different methods to discover what works best for them given their looms and space.

Cheers
Laura

Posted on Sat, 02/21/2015 - 21:36

I set mine in my raddle holders on my table. They look similar to reed holders, only they are made from a solid piece of wood each, with the shape of the raddle carved out. Same as Ed Worst's book shows.

Posted on Sat, 02/21/2015 - 22:56

Reed Guy mentioned two beams, also loom depth, which could be a factor.  With a longer warp path, the angles can attenuate (Is that the word I want?).  Anyway, there's less lateral stress on the warp.  So Laura's practices are a closer match to Sally's loom than, say, mine. 

I am an inveterate pre-sleyer, and still find two crosses and a raddle awkward.  But my new loom is extra-deep.  The reed in the beater would be at least 55" from the warp beam.  With so much space, I can use the back spar as a built-in trapeze. But I haven't yet found a good way to hang or clamp the reed while warping.  The raddle is easier to clamp in position.  For the current go round, I ended up clamping the reed holders, with reed, lease sticks and all.

 

reed in holder clamped to back spar

raddle clamped for warping