Monday, November 27, 2017

Tutorial: Warping the medieval box loom

Several years ago, I bought a medieval style box loom at Estrella War, a local event for the historical recreation group that I was active in at the time. I've since moved on to other activities, and the loom has been sitting unused. Poor little thing! But I found someone who is still active in the historical community, and I'll be passing the loom on to her this week. In preparation for that, I warped up the loom one more time, and took pictures of the process so she could see how I did it. That should give her a starting point for her own explorations.

So... Usually I use a warping board or mill to measure out my warp, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't have one of those. So I fell back on the old school method of setting up wood clamps to give me three uprights. I put two down at one end of the table to make my figure 8 cross around, and one down at the other end to measure out the length.
 I'm using cotton crochet thread here. Start by tying on to the outside of the two clamps.
 Bring your yarn around one side of the next clamp, to start your figure 8.
 Bring your thread down to the far end, and around that upright.
  Come back up to the two clamps (Without crossing your thread between the figure 8 clamps and the far end, like I did here. I flipped it around after the picture.), and make the other arm of your figure 8. This gives you your cross, which will keep the threads in order for you.
 When you want to change colors, simply cut your working thread and tie on a new one.
When you are done measuring out your warp, tie your last thread off to the upright.
 Now, take 5 lengths of thread and tie bows around the threading cross. One on each arm of the figure 8, and one through the openings of the 8 right around the intersection. This will keep the cross intact until you are ready to use it.
 If your warp is long, I also recommend tying a choke tie around the length of the warp, every few feet. This will keep things from tangling.
 Ok, go down to the far end away from the cross, and lift your warp off of the upright.
 From that far end, chain your warp up. Again, this will keep things from tangling.
 Reach your hand through the loop, and grab the warp and pull it through, making another loop. Keep doing this. It is kind of like crochet.
Now you have your warp, and it is time to thread the rigid heddle. I use some binder clips to make a stand for the heddle.
 Take your threading cross in your hand like so. Your fingers are going to hold that cross for you.
 Remove the black ties, and snip open the beginning loop.
 You can fold your bottom two fingers down to keep things stable.
 Now, you can pick your threads up one by one, in the order that you warped them up.
 I made a threading hook of bent wire, and use that to pull the first thread through the hole.
 The next thread goes in the slot next to that hole.
 Repeat, hole then slot then hole then slot then....Then check your work and make sure that you didn't skip any like I did. If you do, move them over into the right spot one by one.
 When your heddle is threaded, it will look something like this.
 Now, tie the cut ends around the apron rod at one end of the loom.
 Bring your warp up and over the back beam, and down to the front end of the loom.
 Release the brake on the back beam, so it will turn.
 Hold onto the warp at the front end of the loom, to give it tension during the warping process. (I turned the loom around for working. The front of the loom is on the left in the picture now. No big deal, I just didn't want to confuse you.)
 Move your heddle down to the back end of the loom, so the warp will spread evenly as you wind it on.
 Wind your warp onto the back beam. Insert strips of paper as you go along, to prevent the threads from burrowing down into the previous layers as you go along. If they do, they will end up different lengths, and will give you tension problems as you weave. Try to keep your warp centered as you wind on, so the threads don't slip off the sides of the paper. (Oops. I did that one too.)
 When the warp is all wound on, snip the end loop and tie on to the front apron rod, up and over the front beam.
 Re-engage the brakes, and wind enough to put tension on the threads.
 Now you're ready to weave! You create the weaving sheds (the opening for your weft thread) by lifting up on the heddle for one...
 ...and pushing down on the heddle for the other.
 Weave your header, and you are ready to go! To advance your warp, release the back brake, crank it forward, and re-engage the brake.

1 comment:

  1. What a sweet little loom!!! I tried out the warping trapeze last looked good, and went well until I started to crank, and then I got all kinds of tangles in the raddle.........I think it was a sloppy placement of threads in the raddle.........I'm going to try it again, and hope to do better, cause I love the idea of it.