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How to Warp a Table Loom Front to Back

I find that warping a loom from the Front to the Back, much faster and easier than the traditional method of warping from Back to Front. You don’t need to use a raddle as the reed separates the warp threads evenly across the loom. I use this warping method quite a lot as I often put on shorter warps (5-6) meters and work with wool, linen and cotton threads with setts ranging from 5 to 30 epi.

I do use a Back to Front beaming method and a sectional warp beam if I am weaving with very fine silk threads with +30 epi setts and longer warps (20-30) meters, as these can get tangled while beaming.

You can use the Front to Back warping method on any size of loom – a rigid heddle, or a large floor loom.

Here is how I warp an Ashford Table Loom.

Front to Back Warping 1

Front to Back Warping 1

After you have wound the warp, put 2 lease sticks into the cross, and tie this to the front beam of the table loom.

Front to Back Warping 2

Front to Back Warping 2

Cut the warp ends that are draped over the front beam.

Front to Back Warping 3

Front to Back Warping 3

Sley the reed – Thread the cut warp ends through the reed to the correct sett. In this project I am threading 2 ends per dent.

Front to Back Warping 4

Front to Back Warping 4

Front to Back Warping 6

Front to Back Warping 5

As you thread the warp ends through the reed, lightly tie them in small groups behind the reed, to secure them while you warp.

Front to Back Warping 7

Front to Back Warping 6

Once all the warp ends have been threaded through the reed, move to the back of the loom.
Following the warping plan, thread the warp ends through the heddles.
I usually work with a group of 4 threads, lacing them through my fingers and thread the next set of 4 heddles.

Front to Back Warping 8

Front to Back Warping 7

Tie the warp ends in small groups to the stick or back apron rod that has been attached to the back warp beam.

Front to Back Warping 9

Front to Back Warping 8

View from the side of the loom.

Front to Back Warping 10

Front to Back Warping 10


Once all of the warp ends have been threaded and attached to the back apron rod, you are ready to wind the warp onto the back beam.

Front to Back Warping 11

Front to Back Warping 11

If you are beaming the warp by yourself, you will need to move to the front of the loom and straighten out any warp ends.

Front to Back Warping 12

Front to Back Warping 12

Smooth the tangles gently with your fingers. Once the warp has been smoothed out for the next 1/2 meter, move to the back of the loom.

Front to Back Warping 13

Front to Back Warping 13


Move to the back of the loom again, and slowly begin to wind the warp on, checking for any loose threads.

Front to Back Warping 14

Front to Back Warping 14

After every 3/4 turn, insert a piece of cardboard or a stick into the warp. This helps to prevent the warp yarns from slipping in between each other as you roll the warp. This will help to prevent uneven tension as you wind on.

Front to Back Warping 15

Front to Back Warping 15


After you have placed a cardboard strip or a stick, give a tug on the threads evenly across the warp to ensure that the tension is even.

Front to Back Warping 16

Front to Back Warping 16

Every half meter or so, you will need to go to the front of the loom again, to adjust the tension on the warp, and return to the back of the loom to wind on the next section of warp.
Repeat these steps until the warp has been beamed.

Front to Back Loom Warping

Front to Back Loom Warping

Once the warp has been fully wound on, cut the remaining warp ends and tie to the front apron rod.
Check the tension by gently touching the warp with the side of your hand. Adjust and tighten any loose sections.

Congratulations! You are ready to weave!!

It can be quite tricky to wind a warp evenly on a small table loom. The circumference of the back beam is not very big (as in a floor loom) so it takes several revolutions to wind the warp on. The thickness of the warp grows very quickly, so the warp tension is harder to control. If you use paper as a divider, the edges of the warp can easily slip and drop to the sides of the wound warp, creating uneven tension.In this warp, I have used the cardboard strips that came with the Ashford loom. They are a bit better than wrapping with paper, but the cardboard is a bit soft, so creates some bumps in the warp as you are winding – which changes the tension of the warp.

Bamboo Sticks on Warp Beam

Bamboo Sticks on Warp Beam

Using warp sticks is a better alternative because the sticks are rigid so the warp can’t wedge itself between other warp yarns and help hold the tension better.
Extra long bamboo skewers are great for using as a warp separator on small table looms. They are thin and can easily be cut to fit the width of your loom.

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Weaving Books

Thick ‘n Thin: The Best of Weaver’s (Best of Weaver’s series)
Rep, Rips, Reps Weave: Projects, Instruction, and Inspiration
Fabrics That Go Bump: The Best of Weaver’s (Best of Weaver’s series)
Handwoven Baby Blankets
The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers

 

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This page last edited on August 29, 2016

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