Jim Ahrens’ Warping Reel

My Weaving Studio (click to enlarge)

In my photo of my studio, Jennifer Hill noticed my warping reel which Jim Ahrens built and used. She wrote: “Is that a warping mill attached at ceiling and floor in the back? Can you give whys and wherefores of having it so tall, but having only a smallish section to wind on the warp? Or am I totally mis-identifying the tool?”

It is indeed a warping mill or reel. It is so tall because Jim was tall. He liked a vertical reel (gravity helps when winding) so made his to be attached at the floor and at the ceiling.

There are two reasons why the section for winding the warp is small. First, he used fine silk threads like the ones I’ve been using–at around 100 epi or so. The threads are so tiny they don’t build up much on the reel which allows for more spirals that can be made closer together.

The other reason is that he only wound one section for his sectional beam at a time. This is a technique he talked a lot about because a lot of spools aren’t needed. He called it “Combining Sectional and Plain Beaming.”  You see, you wind one section’s worth on the reel just like normal. Then take it off and put it in a section on the beam. I’ve described his method in Chapter 12 of my Book #2, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps. In a post to follow I’ll talk about a modification of this technique that is more weaver friendly.

3 thoughts on “Jim Ahrens’ Warping Reel”

  1. Whew! I’d have felt really stupid if I mis-identified that warping mill! I find that vertical mills, in general, just kill my knees. I’m not using the ultra fine silks you are using & I tend to need more space.

    I’m very interested in a quick & dirty (read that: fast!) way to wind a bunch sets of warps on a mill for sectional beaming.

    & I recently saw a YOUTUBE vid of a mill in Scotland… The last of the big blanket mills that were powered, but run by a small staff who also have to be able to mechanic. Can’t seem to find it, right now.

    However, they put the uncut warp ends on very sharp looking hooks & then they were drawn onto the beam, very quickly. I think I want one! Maybe a combo raddle warping beam? Whoosh, there you were with a full beam.


  2. Hello from Canada…my name is Shirley Petrie…I came across a wall weaving that has a hand stitched label, that has the name of the weaver “Jim Ahrens” and designer “Jim McGraw”….this is an interesting piece dated 1977..I was wondering if you could connect me with someone who may be interested in this piece…I can send a photo if you wish….Shirley Petrie…1-604-824-5917


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