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Weaving: News, tips and hints by Pat Monié

Converting a Loom to a Continuous Warp System April 2013

One year ago I bit-the-bullet, and invested in a creel rack from Leesburg Looms (totalrug.com) and 320 spools of rug warp. That's 256,000 yards of rug warp. Yeah! My goal was to set up a student loom that I would never have to warp. This was going to be a continuous warp system that I learned about online.

Once I was started, there was no turning back. I found a small, hand-built, very sturdy little counterbalance loom, which I converted to a simple two harness loom. The next step was covering the warp beam in fine emery cloth so there would be no slippage of the warp threads. I had to order a spool of emery cloth online, and it was way more than I needed, but cheaper than anything else I could find, and it came in one long strip so I was able to wrap the beam like a barber's pole. I used spray-on rubber cement for that job, and it worked quite well.

The instructions that came with the creel rack said that I needed to mount a reed at the back of the loom to keep the warp threads in order as they approached the warp beam. I chose to hang the new reed a small distance out from the back of the loom because the loom had a warp beam that wound the opposite direction from most looms, and the reed simply would not mount in a good place for the threads to feed freely. Here's where two closet rod supports came in handy. That's what you see in the second photo.

I needed for all this to fit into a fairly small space, and the more distance you have between the creel rack and the loom, the better. I think I managed to get a good minimum space at just short of 3 feet - from the back beam of the loom to the base of the spool spindles on the creel rack. It took some adjusting, and some fiddling around, but it was so worth the effort. Turns out that I love to weave on this little loom myself. It is set up for a 26'' width, which is a nice comfortable reach. With only two harnesses you always get a nice clean shed. The only drawback has been that the weaving area is not very deep, and so you must advance the weaving often when you are weaving rag rugs, as they go so quickly. In a way that is a good thing because it saves your back from bending forward constantly. Pro and con to just about everything, I guess.

For anyone contemplating setting up a continuous warp system on their loom there is one important factor to remember, and that is that you must live with the color warp you have chosen for a long, long, time. That is why I chose the unbleached white, and it is good for many rugs, but not all. If you have the luxury of owning other looms this is not a drawback. Of coarse, you do have the option of simply tying-on a new color - I do this to add stripes to a rug.

I will be happy to send more photos to anyone interested, or answer any questions that you may have concerning the continuous warp system. Just email me through the contact page. Although it took days to get the creel rack assembled, and days more to get all the warp going, it has been well worth the effort.

16 April 2013