Last Saturday, Don helped with setting up my next loom project, by winding the warp onto the warp beam, while I kept it tight and fed it to him a little at a time. When it comes off of the warping frame (a wooden frame with pegs sticking out of it and used to measure out the length of the warp), the warp is "chained" to keep it untangled. When winding the warp onto the warp beam, it has to be unchained, smoothed out, and held tightly, feeding it slowly so the tension remains tight as it is wound onto the warp beam.
In the photo below, we're in the process of winding it onto the warp beam. The warp threads have been tied together every so often, to help with keeping them untangled, and I am untying some of those threads, so that I can get the warp ready to be wound onto the warp beam.
In this project, a runner for our dining table, there are 18 warp threads per inch. The warp spreader, or raddle, is used to separate each inch of warp. What you see in the foreground of the photo, is my "homemade raddle, using a strip of wooden molding and small finish nails. It isn't pretty, but it is functional. :)
After the warp is wound onto the warp beam, it then has to be threaded through the heddles. In my case, I have 4 harnesses (the wooden/metal frames that go up and down holding the threaded warp), and the thread pattern for this runner is 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4, etc.
I am using a sley hook to help with the threading of the heddles. It has hooks on both ends, a smaller one to help with the threading of the heddles, and the other, larger end, to use while threading the warp through the reed, or beater (not shown). See how evenly the warp has been wound onto the warp beam? We started out using wooden lattice strips and small, flat wood molding, then switched to large sheets of heavy paper. These things are used to separate each "layer" of warp as it is wound onto the warp beam. They keep the warp flat and not bunched up and lumpy, which would create uneven tension along the warp.
To the left of my hand, you can see some of the threaded heddles.
I think this is the "finest" sized warp that I have even used. As mentioned earlier, there are 18 warp threads per inch and the runner is 14" wide. This means that I had to thread 262 warp threads individually. :) Yes, it is a "little" time consuming. :)
I was able to get everything threaded and tied up by Sunday, and began weaving the runner. I picked this weft (the yarn that is woven back and forth through the warp), to match the seat upholstery of our new dining chairs. Here is what it looks like with the chair seat underneath it. I think the camera flash brought out more rust color in the chair seat that it looks like in natural light.