Peggy’s Weaving Tips > A better way to use paper for winding warps

Only use paper after every few turns of the warp beam.
Do NOT use paper continuously–see why below.

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 yard of warp is 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 yard of warp. 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”

13 thoughts on “Peggy’s Weaving Tips > A better way to use paper for winding warps

  1. Peggy, do you have any suggestions for how 1 person can wind the warp while holding the yarn ends with good tension?

    Your work is just lovely!

    • You do not want to hold the warp while turning the warp beam–as you can see the problem. Instead “crank and yank” see if I have a tip on this. That is how I tell people in my book for beginners. Basically, you wind one revolution of the beam not touching the warp with your hands at all. Then take 2″ sections in your hands and yank hard going all across the warp. Then crank again and yank, this time beginning on the other side of the warp. This way, you are tightening the warp that was just rolled onto the beam when you yank. This way you can get the warp on the beam tight and that is what you want. this is a short version, but I hope you can get the point. I have details and illustrations in the book.

  2. I am about to buy my first kraft paper. It is sold in weights: 30lb, 40lb, 50lb, 60lb, 75lb. What is the best weight for warping? Do you have several width rolls to use the best width for each project? I was thinking of buying 18″, 24″, 36″, 48″. It strikes me that I would not want to use 48″ for a scarf which is why I thought I would order several widths. What widths do you stock?

    • About the weight of grocery bags. If you follow my suggestions in my books, you’ll use short pieces of packing paper rather than long, continuous ones. Then 1 roll will be enough for a long. long time because you’ll be cutting shorter lengths. I use grocery bags and use them over and over.

  3. In the 70’s I bought a rigid heddle table loom, family matters interveined and I never got to use it and it has been a long time since I did any weaving so I have forgotten a lot.. I think I need your book, where can I get it. At 76 I am starting over again and from this, I think your explanations are what I need. To the point and in language I can understand. Thank you.

    • My book Weaving for Beginners only has one chapter on rigid heddle looms. I wonder if you would be served better by buying a book specifically for rigid heddle looms. I recommend the book by Syne Mitchell. She uses the principles that I have taught but specifically for rigid heddles.Peggy

  4. Thank you, your tips and knowledge make perfect common sense. My next project I will put your suggestions into practise.
    Carole Thorpe.

    • I don’t like to use corrugated cardboard, It can collapse in ares . The warp should be beamed on tightly. Craft paper is better I think or grocery bags–used every yard or so. I describe this in my book–not using continuous packing paper.

  5. Apologies for this being off topic somewhat, but I’m having a specific issue with tension, which has occurred on every warp ( I’m now on my 4th) I crank and yank to get tension, but as I weave my warp becomes tighter on the left side of my warp, and looser on the right side of my warp by the turning handle for the back beam. I’m at a loss.

    • I’m not sure what you mean by “turning the handle for the back beam.” I wonder if the problem has to do with how you advance the warp.You need to: 1. disengage the ratchet brake on the cloth beam. 2. Disengage the brake on the warp beam. 3. place the pawl back into the teeth at the cloth beam and crank (wind) the woven cloth up on the cloth beam. 4. Engage the brake on the warp beam.. 5. Adjust the tension on the warp. Do it by winding up either the cloth or the warp beam. Are yu doing all of this already? Keep me posted. Crank and yank should put the warp onto the beam with even tension. Peggy

  6. Thanks Peggy for this tip. I had trouble with tension before and knew the problem was with the winding of the paper. Your explanation has added more understanding for me so I can prevent this problem in the future. The edges of my project did roll off the sides where the paper was thin and caused a problem. Thank you for clarifying and giving me this tip on how I can prevent this.

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