The process

The process of setting up a loom requires planning, concentration and above all else a great deal of patience. This is due to the fact that it can often take days just to set up. This process of setting up the loom before weaving can even begin, is outlined below.


Warp winding – The process of winding a warp is done using a warping mill. The mill allows you to plan your warp's length. To get the required length depends on the number of turns around the frame. The process of crossing ends (threads) at the top and bottom of the winder to create a cross, is used to keep the threads in the correct order. It is then just a case of following your pre calculated colour plan. The plan will have calculated the number of ends to an inch, for example 48 ends per inch. This calculation can then be used to create your colour plan. Again, for example, 3 inches of turquoise will mean 144 ends to count on the warp winder. This can then be followed with varies colours and proportions until your required width is gained.


Spreading the warp – The warp is now ready to be spread to the correct width, across a raddle. Depending on the raddles measurements will determine the number of ends to be laid in each metal divider. A 2s raddle, (2 metal dividers to a inch), would therefore result in 24 ends being placed in each divider, based on the 48 ends per inch example used above. This will then give you the correct width of 12 inches.


Winding on to the warping beam – once the warp is spread through the raddle and attached at one end, to the warping beam, it is then ready to be wound round the beam. The warp is held at the other end, (the end not attached to the beam), at an equal tension by anther person. This allows you to then wind the warp around the beam, while the other person keeps the tension equal across the width.


Threading up – threading up the loom is the longest part of the whole process, as each end has to be individually threaded through a heddle. The heddle is the long metal strip attached to the top and bottom of the shaft, with an eye in the middle for the end to be passed through. The final structure depends on what shaft the heddle is on and in what order the ends are threaded.


Threading the reed – threading the reed is the final process in creating the correct width fabric. A 24s reed means there are 24 dents to an inch. The dent is the metal slot that the ends are to be passed through. 

In this reed 2 ends will need to passed through each dent, based on the initial example of 48 ends per inch. The reed is also used as the fabric beater throughout the weaving process, used to beat down after every shot (weft end) to make sure each weft end lies neatly next to other.


Tying on – the warp is tied on to the front beam in small sections at equal tension. Once you begin to weave and the fabric is built up, you will need to wind on. To do this the tension is released at the back beam and re-tensioned by winding the now slacked section on to the front beam.

Warp winding

Threading up

Threading the reed

Tying on