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Avoid yarn soup when mixing thick and thin warp yarns

The giant houndstooth project I am starting will require a warp integrating three different styles of yarn, two black and one very fine white. How does a weaver manage that without tension problems or a huge pile of tangled yarn?



This is one situation where a second warp beam is invaluable. In my challenge, the two black yarns must differ in either texture or sheen to make the pattern visible, but they will have to be the same size so the houndstooth motifs will square to the correct shape. The very fine white that alternates 1:1 with each black end will go on the second warp beam. Above is my first effort: a shiny 5/2 Astra pearl cotton, a dull textured silk nail and a mill-end 60/2 mercerized cotton.


I will be launching a tutorial about warping two separate beams on my online classroom soon, but here is a brief summary of the process. Back-to-front warping works best for me, and your technique may vary based on your particular loom.

  • Wind the warps separately, and secure with choke ties.

  • Insert lease sticks in first warp and suspend lease sticks from castle with long loops.

  • Attach ends to apron rod and spread first warp in the raddle.

  • Wind onto the primary warp beam.

  • Lower lease sticks from castle to get first warp out of the way, and reposition raddle on second back beam if needed and available.

  • Insert lease sticks in second warp and suspend those from castle with shorter loops.

  • Attach ends to apron rod and spread second warp in raddle.

  • Wind onto second warp beam.

  • Reposition two sets of lease sticks in loops so both crosses are visible from the front.

  • Thread and sley according to draft.

If both warps are similar in size and character and not too thick, tie or lash them to front apron rod together. If there are significant differences, tie them on separately with knots for second warp squeezed between knots of first warp.

For my project, the two different black yarns making up the first warp will be side by side in stripes, but because of differences in character and/or elasticity, I will wind each of those separately. Tensioning each warp chain independently during beaming will get them on the beam more evenly. The thin whites will go on the second beam.

Advancing the two beams during weaving will vary based on how a second warp beam is attached and brake tension is released on any given loom. I offer two different examples in the upcoming tutorial, but suffice it to say there is a lot of getting up and down to keep the two warps evenly tensioned.


In my experience, it is a fair price to pay for the design options offered with independent tensioning of two different warps.


Plus, it keeps me from sitting too long.


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