We just wrapped up—pun intended—another weave-along, tackling the Hudson Bay Inspired Throw from Handwoven Home. It was our second doubleweave weave-along, this time tackling a larger, wider, and bulkier piece.
I often get asked, “How much warp can I pack on my beam?” I included my answer to this age-old question on page 149 of Handwoven Home. In summary, it depends on the size of your yarn, your packing material, and your loom. The limiting factor is often not how much you can get on your warp beam, but how much woven cloth can you fit on your cloth beam, since the woven cloth is twice as bulky as the warp. Eventually, the woven cloth will press up against the warp and you won’t be able to get a clean shed. (Keep in mind that looms with front and back beams can hold more warp comfortably on their warp and cloth beams.)
You cannot imagine my glee, when during the weave-along I learned a new trick that can increase the capacity of any loom’s front beam. The issue came up when Barb Hoskins, a dedicated weave-alonger, feared she would run out of room on the front beam of her Ashford Knitters Loom before she finished her throw. Ann Michell, another long-time weave-along participant who was weaving along virtually, offered up a blog post from the Curious Weaver, a Saori weaver in Australia. Ann had tucked away the tip for a rainy day. In the post, Kaz, the Curious Weaver, showed a trick she had learned to increase the capacity of her front beam.
I immediately hopped up from my desk and ran to the loom to see if I could adapt this method to the rigid-heddle loom. It worked like a charm! The key is allowing your warp to drape behind the apron rod and in front of the cloth beam. To do this, you have to slip off your middle apron cords and leave the outer ones in place. My loom has removable apron cords, so the procedure was relatively easy. Barb’s loom has fixed cords, so she further adapted the technique, and re-tied her fabric to a new rod and lashed it to her apron rod. For other folks with the Knitters Loom, you can also snip the fixed cords and buy new ones.
Then it is a matter of cranking the beam forward a few times as you normally would and the fabric miraculously catches and winds onto the beam. [Edit: by popular demand I’m adding a short little video I took of winding on. I personally didn’t really get it, until I tried the technique for myself.]
Although this step wasn’t necessary for me to take, I decided to continue weaving with my beam packed this way to see if there were any issues as the fabric grew. I found that using new packing paper was necessary to keep a nice fell line, but other than that, I haven’t had any issues. Barb was also able to weave off her throw with no further issues.
This is what I love about the weave-alongs, I learn so much. Sometimes it is a better way to explain things or gain a better understanding where weavers get tripped up in the weaving process and how to help them, and sometimes it is an entirely new-to-me technique.
Thanks to everyone who wove along. I love seeing your finished throws. I’m gearing up for a new weave-along in late May/early June. Stay tuned for details.
P.S. Since I wrote this post, I found a simpler way to work this maneuver. You can read about it here.