Double Trouble 1st Time 4 Shaft Loom Weaver

I recently purchased an older 4 shaft loom with 6 treadles (but only using 4 now). I had professional help with the sectional warping beam (all cotton rug warp), and then I threaded the heddles and reed and tie-up myself. So here is the double trouble: my heddle threads are crossed in several (really MANY) places, so I only have one shed out of four that is really clear. A second one is semi-clear. I have begun weaving but now see that some of the trouble is that the sectional beam warps are sometimes crossed behind the heddles. It took me weeks to accomplish the warp beaming, threading, sleying and tie-up. I uncrossed half a dozen of threads by snipping them and re-tying, but I cannot bear the thought of starting all over again. Shall I continue with 2 unusable sheds? Or...? Any help will be most appreciated.


Posted on Mon, 04/10/2017 - 02:19

Threads that are crossed between the heddles and reed will not weave correctly. Threads crossed behind the heddles usually do not affect the shed until the cross moves forward to where it interferes with the movement of the shafts. If there are crossed threads, I just push the cross back to the beam. Your poor sheds may have other causes.
You don't say what kind of loom and heddles you have and whether you had to assemble it. Heddles that are on two shafts will affect the shed.
If you don't have the warp tensioned enough, sheds will not form well.
Look at your tie up. You need to have it tied to allow the lamms to have as much up and down travel as possible. If these suggestions don't help, posting some pictures may help diagnose the problems. I still remember the first warp I did and wondered if this would ever get easier. I have looms that I can create warp and start weaving in the same afternoon, so it will get easier.
Again, you did not mention what kind of loom you have, but if you have a counterbalance loom, the shafts and lamms may not be balanced unless you have all six treadles tied up.

Posted on Mon, 04/10/2017 - 19:03

I have a Norwood loom from the 80's, all cherry wood, 40 inches width. It was already put together. The pro weaver and I together wound the sectional beam by using a spool rack with a tension box. Then I was on my own after that.

I may have crossed threads from the sectional beam to and among the heddles.
I threaded all four shafts, but what I meant is, I am only using 4 treadles. I lashed on the front beam but when I began weaving, I saw that the sheds were bad and that the crossing is really among the heddles, going back to the sectional beam. Once I had trouble clearing sheds, I retied maybe half a dozen threads--the very worst ones. Now I only use 2 sheds because the others are so messed up. There are no crossed threads between heddles and reed. All 4 shafts have many heddles on them, some full and some empty.

One of the shafts seems to go up slightly with a second shaft. Otherwise, the shafts stay in place. My chain link up is 1:1, 2:3, 3:2 and 4:4.

Thank you so much for willingness to help. I will also try to post a photo or two.

Posted on Tue, 04/11/2017 - 15:54

You do not mention the cross. If you do not have one, make one by treadling first one good shed, insert stick, then the other good shed, insert other stick. With lease sticks mounted, your threads should now march in "order" as they are straight across your heddles. You may need to rethread and resley quite a bit. Leave those lease sticks in as your crossed threads will now be behind them and not cause difficulty making a shed. Make sure the lease sticks are tied together and stay pretty close to or on the back beam. Leave in while weaving or your crossed threads will come back and bother you.

Never warp a loom without threading from the cross using secured lease sticks. It will prevent what you're going through now.

Posted on Tue, 04/11/2017 - 17:19

Thanks very much for your suggestion about the cross. I do have lease sticks, but when the "pro" and I used them, they were over the back sectional beam, suspended near the closest shaft. I do not think they were properly crossed, otherwise I would not be having so much trouble.

So when you are treadling to straighten out the threads, is this done from the back so you can actually watch the lease sticks? Can I not involve the other two bad sheds, or are they a lost cause at this point?

I had a brainstorm this morning while weaving, and I was thinking of cutting off all the threads in front of the reed, holding them there, and then trying to re-thread through heddles and reed to achieve a better set of sheds.

What do you think?
BTW, I think I met you at the Midwest Fiber Fair. Too bad they no longer exist!


Posted on Wed, 04/12/2017 - 15:27

Sorry to hear your weaving woes! Based on your description, it really sounds like it would be in your best interest to rethread.

When threading, here is what the configuration should look like at the back of your loom (for back-to-front warping).

The lease sticks should be positioned close to the castle, so you can pick each thread, in order, to thread each heddle in turn. This prevents crossed threads.

As Sara noted, you can treadle to reintroduce the lease sticks into the back of the loom, and yes, there may be errant threads that don't get captured in the process. You need to do this while the warp is under tension. Only after the lease sticks are securely in place, and the warp is relaxed, should you cut the warp off in front. 

This is your chance to recreate the general thread cross order. You can also reintroduce those errant threads approximately where they should go before beginning to rethread.

I suggest this process because it is probably going to take more time than it would be worth to "preserve" parts of threading, based on your description of the problem.

Good luck! The silver lining is every time you warp a loom, you get faster and better at the process.

Posted on Wed, 04/12/2017 - 23:21

Sally, yes, I think you are giving good advice, as I spent 3 hours this morning cutting crossed threads, retying, threading and sleying.  It seems that every time I found a crossed thread and repaired, there was a new one waiting for me. There was also the problem of finding empty heddles, although I was so sure I left some available.

Tomorrow I will begin again, using the lease sticks as Sara suggested, along with your suggestions.  Many thanks!

Posted on Wed, 04/19/2017 - 19:47

Sally, thanks for such a clear explanation of what happened/what to do about it!

Catrinka, I feel your pain! I've been struggling to dress my 4 shaft loom, also. So far, so good: but I haven't begun threading yet, and I know there are 2 broken warp threads! :( I have fixed broken warp threads on my rigid heddle, but this is the first for the floor loom.