Counting Down My Top Ten Weaving Tips – #6: A better way to use paper for winding warps

It’s been five years since I published my new website including over 100 weaving tips and I’m counting down the top ten. Here is number 6. This one has had 5457 views as of today!! The top one has about over 24,500 views to date!! Can you guess what the subject of that tip is?


To keep the edge threads from slipping off the roll of warp, you pack in a new, short length of paper after every yard or so as you wind. To provide the support needed, use sturdy, brown paper called kraft paper or grocery bags, if they are wide enough for your warp; newspaper is too flimsy. Don’t use rolls of corrugated cardboard as packing paper‹this paper is too spongy to create the very tight, evenly tensioned warp you’re striving for. It¹s also so thick that it can take up a lot of your warp beam’s capacity.

Cut the paper 4″ wider than the width of your warp on the warp beam and in lengths about 12″ long, or the circumference of your warp beam. Why cut the paper into lengths? You don¹t need to use continuous paper if your warp is beamed on very tightly because, as you remember, tightly wound layers can¹t bite down into each other. Continuous paper is usually unnecessary, takes up room on the warp beam, and is terribly difficult to wind in smoothly. Even if you choose to use continuous paper, it’s much easier to use short lengths continuously rather than one long length of paper.

Next fold in 1″ on both edges of the width of the paper. These 1″ extensions support the edge threads on the warp beam because the folds at the edges strengthen the edges of the single-thickness paper.

When winding in the packing paper, be careful that warp threads never travel over the paper folded double at the edges. Also watch for paper that is crinkling or rolling in at an angle. A simple trick prevents this. Insert the paper so that it is wound in with the warp, then turn the beam a bit until the end of the paper catches in. With your thumb and forefinger, take hold at the center of the opposite end of the paper, as in the figure, right in the middle. Hold it taut there as you wind the paper in with the warp.

Paper for Warping the Loom
Paper for Warping the Loom
Put the first piece of paper in after the first several turns of warp are wound on in a flat layer. Remember, if your apron cords prevent the warp from going on flat, you need to insert packing sticks to create a flat base before you can use the pieces of paper.You usually need about one piece of folded paper for every several turns of warp. You know when it’s time to put in another piece of paper when the edges of the warp look like they might not be piling up exactly upon themselves. One teacher said “The edges should look like cliffs.” My teacher said to add paper every yard or so. I usually do it more often with the fine silk threads I’ve been using.
Remember, the packing paper’s only job is to hold the edges of the warp up straight. It’s because you are winding the warp so tightly that the layers can’t bite down into one another. You need paper more frequently if you have gaps between raddle groups on the warp beam.

This is in my books, Weaving for Beginners and Book 1: “Winding a Warp and Using a Paddle”

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