How I Warp My Loom ~ Videos

Two Part Video On How I Warp And Set Up My Loom For Navajo Style Weaving.

In the first video, I begin with a warping frame, two warp rods, wool warp yarn, and a plan.  Normally I would use the back of my loom as a warp frame, but the cross beams will be in my way and I won’t be able to pass the ball of warp between the warp rod and the cross beam.  So I’ve chosen to use a metal bed frame as a warping frame.  I place the warp rods as far apart as the height of my desired weaving and secure them.  My warp rods in this case are steel conduit with an adhesive tape measure attached to them for ease of spacing and measuring.  I chose these, because the only wood dowels I have available here are not hard wood and entirely too flexible.  The plan I have sketched out was in my previous post – Designing, Planning and Inspiration.  I’m using Brown Sheep wool warp.  Most mill spun wool warp doesn’t have enough twist to stand up to the rigors of Navajo style weaving, so I over-spin my warp on my spinning wheel.  Giving the yarn additional twist, setting the twist and winding it into a ball is all done well ahead of time.  The end and side selvage cords are made then to, by taking a weft yarn and over-spinning it, then Navajo plied.

I was taught to weave with an even amount of warp strings.  I used an odd number once, and found that it complicated the entire weaving. It threw the entire process off for me and made it a bit of a pill.  So its even number warps from here on out.  I tie the warp onto the warp rod at what will be the lower left corner of the weaving, and I take the warp up to the top rod and over that rod, under it and back down the bottom rod, taking the warp over the bottom rod.  Always going over the rod in a figure eight.  I place my warp turns on the quarter mark according to the ruler and keep an even tension on the warp.  One turn every quarter inch will give me 8 ends per inch, appropriate for the size weft yarn I’ll b using.  When I encounter a knot from the mill (there are 5 knots in the warp on this weaving) I can only assume that they tied the knot strong enough to continue the process of winding the warp onto the cone.  I tie another strong overhand knot that I feel more confident about.  When I reach the width of the weaving according to the ruler that I have on my rod.  I count my warp turns, I should know how many I need by multiplying width inches X four.  Then I tie my warp onto the same rod that the beginning is tied to that will be on the lower right of the weaving.

 In the second video I wrap some more warp, Add my shed sticks then add my edge cord.  One stick is passed through the space in the warp where it wraps around the rod on each end.  This preserves my two sheds or the “criss cross”.  I bring these to the center and double check my warping and tie them together so they don’t fall out.  One of these sticks will remain throughout the weaving a provide the “stick shed” and the other will become the “pull” shed where a string heddle will be applied.  Then the cord is applied.  This edge cord is one piece four times the width folded in half with a knot about 5 or 6 inches from the fold, or two pieces each twice the width of my weaving with a knot tying them together 5 or 6 inches from the end.  This cord will twine around the warp turns, first one end through the warp turn the other end goes over and through the next warp turn.  This serves to space the warps properly and it will hold the warp in place when the warp rod is removed.  After the end cords are applied to each end, then the warp must be bound properly to the warp rod so the warp and cord lay against the warp rod and not around it.  This is my least favorite part.  A weaving this size leaves me with blisters and swollen numb hands.  You must bind it very tightly, keeping the natural pairs of warp together and not splitting the end cord.  This can be done before or after removing the warp rod.  I find it more comfortable to do it before.  

The warp must be mounted to the loom and stretched tightly.  The string heddle must be made from the lower shed stick to provide the pull shed.  The pull shed is made by placing a batten in what will be the pull shed and removing the stick that preserves it.  Then a smooth strong fine string is passed through this shed and tied to the stick.  Each warp in front of the batten belongs to this shed and should move forward each time this stick is pulled.  The string comes forward between the two warps is twisted and looped onto the stick, ensnaring the warp.  This is repeated until all the warps in front of the batten are held by the stick by way of the string.  Check it by raising the stick with the strings past the batten, being sure that nothing from under the batten is caught and nothing in front of it is missed.  

The first and last four picks are treated differently than the rest of the weaving.  They are woven over and under two warps at a time to provide coverage of the warp wraps.  It should be two warps of the same warp turn.  Then the weaving can proceed with the normal over one under one.  Side selvage cords are applied and twined as you weave.  I haven’t mastered how long to make these, so I go with extra and cut off the excess when I’m done.  The stick shed is accessed by bringing the two sticks together and passing the batten in the space between the two layers of warp.  The pull shed is accessed by raising the stick shed out of the way, holding onto the pull shed stick and rolling your hand towards yourself and down, passing the batten in the space you’re creating by pulling the back warps forward.

When I warped this loom, I had just returned from vacation.  I”m not normally this big, and thankfully I’m shrinking.  I’ve also discovered that when you’re a little round, horizontal stripes are not your friend.  It’s important to mention that I’m not Navajo and a demo video isn’t a good substitution for a Native Navajo teacher.  I may or may not do this like everyone else, but it works for me.  Any typo’s, run on sentences, endless paragraphs and poor grammar are intentional and included for your entertainment. 

A website devoted to learning, sharing and teaching a wide range of fiber arts. Inkle, Tablet and Navajo style weaving, Spinning, Knitting, Crochet, Sewing and Lace Making. Silver Work, Beading and Tool Making grace my bench as well.

9 comments on “How I Warp My Loom ~ Videos
  1. Mark Johnson says:

    Easy to follow along videos and I like how you bridge the two videos together.

    • Thank you. It’s quite time consuming. It can be difficult to visualize when you read it in a book. A video can make all the difference. I recorded some at each phase, and edited them together as best I could. Video editing is not my forte, and nearly as time consuming as the craft itself.

  2. Patricia Holland-Bender says:

    Hi, I’m just learning to weave. I’m wondering how to weave a triangle with an even number of warps, since the whole piece is supposed to look even on both sides. I want to start a Navajo style rug but not sure how to make the point on the top of the triangle if the point comes between two warp threads (which it would with an even number of warps???? Does this question make sense? Thank you for your instructions. This is very challenging!

    Patty

    • Hello Patricia,
      Thank you for taking the time to check out my site and leave a comment. Weaving diagonal lines is difficult to explain. For weaving diagonal lines I suggest two books, Tapestry Weaving: A Comprehensive Study Guide by Nancy Harvey, and Tapestry Weaving by Kirsten Glassbrook (spelling?), in that order. They are both good, but I think the first is more comprehensive. Since Navajo weaving is a special form of tapestry weaving, you may find this book to be an invaluable resource. To answer your question, if you have an even amount of warps and want a triangle to be dead-center then you have two choices. First, is make your point over two warps, which would not be very pointy. Second, is to off-set the point by one warp, which would throw your design off by one warp (at 8 warps per inch, that’s a 1/4″). Another option is to make two triangles, one on each side and evenly spaced. I would love to know how it all comes out. Keep me posted and feel free to email me at janean@mystichandworks.com.

      Janean

      • Patricia Holland-Bender says:

        Thanks Janene, I actually have both those book and you are right; the Harvey book is so detailed. I bought a book on Navajo weaving but it is difficult to understand and only says Navajo weavers prefer even warps. The rug I’m planning has three squash blossom triangle as a band at both ends and then one big triangle in the middle.
        the whole rug has to be evenly spaced so thats why I’m going crazy! I so appreciate your responding to my question. My loom (a Mirrix Tapestry Loom), will only weave a piece 19″ X 47″ so I’m limited. Thanks again!!!

        • Patty, I see your dilemma. There is nothing between two warps except weft, unfortunately. You could pull the last pass across the center two warps tight, but you would have to space them properly again in the next couple of passes. It would make your triangle more pointy than a two-warp point, but may still not quite look right. You also risk not being able to re-space them easily. If you must have a triangle in the center with a one warp point on an even numbered warp, then it has to be off-centered by one warp on one side or the other. At that size, it will be more obvious than on something larger. On the plus side, Navajo looms are very easy to build with very little carpentry experience and few tools. Weaving In Beauty has plans for a simple Navajo loom, and the basic plans can be made larger. Here is a link to those loom plans http://weavinginbeauty2.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/loomplan.pdf . I highly recommend people make their own Navajo style looms for Navajo style weaving. I used a metal bed frame for one weaving. I bet your Mirrix loom is awesome, but if you want to work on a larger project, then make one for yourself. There is nothing wrong with making a new loom for each weaving. It’s all a part of the process.

          • Patricia Holland-Bender says:

            I think if I overlap the triangles the points won’t show anyway, just a thought.

            You are are helpful and I really appreciate it. If I enjoy the project I may just build a Navajo loom. It might be fun!

            Currently I’m just learning the correct warping twine for a tapestry. There are so darn many choices and I have no idea what goes with what!

          • Find an easy and straight-forward method. Even if it doesn’t appear to be your favorite, you can expand from there. Frequently, the beginning steps scare off new weavers. They are important, but we can make it easier on ourselves – then advance those skills. For me, I love all the steps.

    • Hello Patricia,
      Thank you for taking the time to check out my site and leave a comment. Weaving diagonal lines is difficult to explain. For weaving diagonal lines I suggest two books, Tapestry Weaving: A Comprehensive Study Guide by Nancy Harvey, and Tapestry Weaving by Kirsten Glassbrook (spelling?), in that order. They are both good, but I think the first is more comprehensive. Since Navajo weaving is a special form of tapestry weaving, you may find this book to be an invaluable resource. To answer your question, if you have an even amount of warps and want a triangle to be dead-center then you have two choices. First, is make your point over two warps, which would not be very pointy. Second, is to off-set the point by one warp, which would throw your design off by one warp (at 8 warps per inch, that’s a 1/4″). Another option is to make two triangles, one on each side and evenly spaced. I would love to know how it all comes out. Keep me posted and feel free to email me at janean@mystichandworks.com.

      Janean

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