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Sectional Warping Disasters

I think it is me. I mean, the idea of sectional warping a loom isn't that hard. For those not familiar with the term, some looms have spacers built in so the weaver can warp 1-2 inches at a time resulting in better tension and more yarn on the loom. However, the tension I get is a headache.

The process is deceptively simple. You need the following: spools to hold the yarn, one for each thread you need in the 2 inch span, a spool or cone rack, a tension box and something to clamp it to, a sectional warp beam and yarn counter. Optional (but makes life easier) is an electric bobbin winder to wind the bobbins. Yarn is nice to have, too.

Loom with sectional warp beam in a messy studio.
Loom with sectional warp beam in a messy studio.

First you have to figure out how many spools you need and how much yarn you need on each spool. Your yarn will be slightly finer than you anticipated and you will need more spools than what you have on hand. At this point you will raid the spinning wheel and shuttles you can find. Then you will lose half of them. The math is straightforward: Multiply the number of threads per inch by 2 inches to get the number of spools. Multiply the length of the warp by the width and divide by 2 inch sections to get the amount of yarn needed per spool. Wind that number of yards onto each spool. Easy until you realize that your yarn weighs less than you thought and you run out of yarn on the last spool.

Assemble the spools onto your spool/cone racks and thread each yarn through the tension box. and tie the group of yarns onto a lead in the first section of the loom

In theory all I should have to do at this point is figure out how many times to rotate the sectional warp beam and repeat. In theory I should be able to keep track of the number of times I rotate the beam. Sadly, in a house with five cats and a dog I suffer from warping interruptus as the animals bang on the door, the phone rings and other things interrupt and screw up the count. In addition, I have jumpy threads that want to see if the next section is possibly more interesting than the one I am winding and I have to stop and force them back into place.

Sectional warping actually working
When it works, it is quite a lovely sight.

Unfortunately my bobbins at this point decide to pop off of the cone rack and do the mambo with the ones on the spool rack. I have to unbraid each thread as I turn the sectional beam and it becomes a test of will whether or not it will get wound. My spools then decide to create a nice kumihimo braid for me to wind.

Kumihimo bobbins
Kumihimo bobbins

Finally, after double the numbers it should have taken, the warp is on the loom. Did I mention this is a time-saver for weavers?

Warp on the loom
Warp on the loom

Of course all warping is halted as I go to thread the heddles on the loom and realize the previous previous owner ate the heddles and left enough to weave a scarf 3 inches wide. So I wait for the heddles to arrive via the slow boat from Chico, California.

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