D. FAQ 4 – How do I wind a warp for backstrap weaving?

It all starts with a warping board. Above…a homemade one.

Sometimes you need to improvise.

Finding something FIRM around which to wind your warp is essential. If you think that you will be doing a a lot of weaving it is well worth investing in a warping board or building one yourself. If you are using dowels embedded in a plank, make sure they are firmly embedded and cannot move at all. Leaning warping stakes will seriously affect your warp.

“L” brackets screwed into wood work well using one arm of the “L”  as the stake.

The warping pegs that come with rigid heddle looms are another good option. Clamp two to a table.

An inkle loom can be used as a warping board using two pegs.

The basic moves:

1.Start by tying the yarn in a large loop around stake A. Place the ball of yarn in a bowl or other container so it won’t roll around. Pull the yarn off the ball and lead it to and around stake B. 2.When returning to stake A, the yarn needs to cross itself. You are moving in a figure-of-eight path. 3. When changing colors cut and tie on new yarns to each other at stake A. Finish by cutting and tying off the yarn around stake A in a large loop.

Concentrate on keeping the tension as even as possible. Try not to stop or pause in the middle of warping. Remember that this warp will go directly onto your loom. A well-wound evenly-tensioned warp will get you started on the right foot with your weaving.

I show basic warping in the following video:

Guatemalan weavers use space-efficient set-ups to warp their long warps. The Guatemalan weavers with whom I studied like to put two crosses in their warps.

guatemalan warping

Four-stake warping, which allows you to quickly and efficiently separate out two colors into two sheds on the warping board, can be seen in the following video. A warp set up this way will produce a band with horizontal stripes. It is also the base for creating patterns with simple warp floats and complementary-warp pick-up structures.

This blog post has a lot of information about warping.

Responses

  1. Hi Laverne,

    I had a warping board made with 4 stakes like in your video and have wound a warp like you show. I just wondered what to do with the extra crosses between the middle stakes and the outside one? I would very much appreciate any help you can offer on this.

    Anita

    • Anita, if you are wanting to create a third selvedge, that is, have your warps on a needle that is lashed to your loom bar, just ignore that extra cross and replace the warping stake with the needle. When your warp is on the loom, and you have made your string heddles and put in your shed rod you will see that that cross will not interfere with anything. Open your heddle shed down to the start and straighten out any overlapping warps on your needle. If you wound your warp with your thumb between the two threads, there won’t be any major twisting. You won’t have a absolutely perfect start but the imperfections are less noticeable the finer the yarn and the finer the needle.

      If you are staring with a fringe then that extra cross will get “swallowed” in the fringe. In either case, the extra cross there will have no effect whatsoever on teh weaving.

  2. hello Laverne its Dwayne sanchez
    i wrote you a few months ago how could i make a continuous warp for a back strap loom i got a loom from Ju nie you went to NC to learn from her before she warped my loom i was just woundering if you new how or do you have a video. continuous warp in nice because u can make a nice lenght but if you do not have a long room to weave in your work does not have to be really long. but you and get a good lenght with continuous warp can you help me understand how to please or if you know of a book ext……please e-mail me at
    weavingsanchez@yahoo.com

  3. Hi,

    just found your website. I found some references to back strap weaving on a Finnish website and couldn’t find any material unfortunately in Finnish. But I’m glad I found your website, you explain everything so well and with great and clear images. Can’t wait to get started :) .

    Thanks a lot, and good luck with your work!

    -Sami from Finland-

    • Hi Sami, Thanks for visiting. Are you thinking of doing Finnish-style patterned bands? The ones I have seen are gorgeous. I hope you let me know how you go with it.

  4. Hi! I hadn’t thought about it yet, but that’s a really good idea. I’ll need to first get through the basics before trying any patterns. But there really are great Finnish patterns to be found, for instance from Northern Finland (Lapland), where they have used similar weaving technique for belts etc.

    An example I found from a Finnish museum’s website showing some patterns:

    http://www.craftmuseum.fi/tiedotteet/vanhat/07kansallispuvun_syntymapaivat.htm

    I assembled in the afternoon a small back strap loom from old miscellaneous stuff and got it warped. Still having problems with the heddles, but I’m getting near my first weavings. I’ll let you know when I get my first work done. BTW It’s my first time with looms :).

    -Sami-

  5. Hi!
    I promised to tell you how it goes. I got the heddles working when I put the strings on a stick like in one of your videos. The string-only-heddle I couldn’t get to work.

    I made yesterday 15 cms of blue narrow band. Didn’t take long. I probably did something wrong with the warping or the sheds, because I got weird lumbs and bumps in my weaving.

    But it was still a lot of fun, and I’m really excited to weave:). Now I just have to learn to make it look better. In practice it’ll improve, I think.

    Thanks again for your great website. I’m thinking of writing an article on back strap weaving in Finnish when I get it mastered better.

    -Sami from Finland-

    • Thanks for the update Sami. Keep weaving and you will quickly see improvement…your tension when warping will get better, your heddles will be more even, your edges straighter, fewer bumps and lumps too! Congratulations on having made your first piece!

  6. Dear Laverne,
    This is a fantastic website. I am trying to make a warping board, and I have seen lots of photos of warping boards with two rows of parallel upright pegs. This seems like a good idea, but I don’t understand where the threads would cross over each other. So far I have only followed your instructions for basic weaving, and have warped using a simple figure of eight pattern. In the case of the two rows of pegs, where would the warping thread cross over itself? I hope this is clear.
    All the best
    Bethan from France

    • Thanks Bethan. I posted a picture for you just now on the warping page of a Guatemalan warping board. This is the system with two rows of pegs to which I think you are referring. You can see the cross clearly there. The Guatemalan weavers with whom I studied like to have two crosses. Only one of them is essential.

      • Thank you very much for this picture – I think I understand now.
        Another question that I have is about the sort of weave that can be done on the back strap loom. I grow and spin linen (not very well as yet) and I want to try weaving it on the backstrap loom. Is this possible, do you think?
        Also, what sort of weave should be used ? It seems that people normally spin linen using linen weave, or plain weave (I think) but you talk quite a lort about warp faced weaves.
        As you can see, I have a lot of questions, as I am really a
        complete beginner, and no one I have ever met knows anything about weaving.
        All the best
        Bethan from France

      • Bethan, I haven’t woven with linen and so I can’t tell you anything about that. I wrote a post entitled “What is backstrap weaving?” in which I talk a bit about what can be made on this kind of set-up.

  7. Hello again Laverne,
    I made use of all your info about making a warping board (I wrote to you about this on January 10th 2013), and I have managed to make a warping board which really works very well. I do actually have a photo of it I would like to send you, but I can’t work out how to do that via the website.

    I wonder if you have any tips about how to weave a twill weave on the backstrap loom. I want to do a over two under two weave, but I can’t work out how to arrange the string heddles etc.

    Anyway, thank you for all the information, I always enjoy reading your newsletter.

    All the best

    Bethan

    • I will email you, Bethan, and tell you how to use information on a draft for your backstrap loom. Then you can send me the picture of your warping board.

  8. Great video going to try this today for pattern pickups

  9. Hi I have been leaning to weave using your blog posts and articles as instruction. Thank you very much! I thought I was doing so well, until I moved on to adding horizontal stripes. I warped a few times, and kept making mistakes, but finally got a thin band on my loom that is working. Except the selvages. They are working OK on the left, but so bad on the right. My first project, a plain weave band worked perfectly. Are selvages just inherently harder with horizontal stripes? Should I wind the warp with an even or odd number of threads?

    • Hi Ashandra,

      I am happy to hear that you have been getting on well with your weaving. The edges are usually the last part of the process to fall into place. Even when I teach face-to-face classes my students are not able to watch what I do when I place the weft and then go and simply replicate my movements and produce neat edges. There is a great deal of “feel” involved which doesn’t come until you have a certain level of experience. So, don’t be disappointed or frustrated if your edges are not looking good now. Strangely, one edge will always look better then the other. I always wind complete revolutions on my warping board. It could be an odd or even number of revolutions. That makes no difference.

      Even though you are weaving horizontal stripes, the weaving structure is still plain weave. It doesn’t make any difference which colors you use or how they are arranged. So, the fact that you have horizontal stripes instead of a solid color makes no difference whatsoever to your edges.

      I am wondering if you are using a third color as your border. This could create a sort of optical illusion as your eyes will be drawn more to the edges when you stand back and admire your weaving because of the change of color at the edge and you would, therefore, notice more any imperfections that may be there.

      Keep practicing. Good edges come with experience.


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