Peggy’s Weaving Tips > Help with warp yarn pills, frays, or breaks

Yarn frays and breaks

If you want to use a yarn that frays and breaks, avoid any friction that can cause abrasion on the yarns. Advance the warp often, so no one area of the yarn rides too long in a heddle or in the reed and becomes abraded.

Change the sheds when the beater is against the fell of the cloth to help prevent the reed from abrading too much. Lift one shaft at a time when making the sheds.

Move the beater as short a distance as possible, with the fell close to the shafts. Swing the beater gently, and do not beat more than once.

The sett may be too close and/or the reed may be too fine. You’ll need to use a reed with wider dents and/or open out the sett. For a given warp density (sett, ends per inch, or epi), a reed with wider dents and more threads per dent will cause less abrasion on the yarns than a finer reed with just one thread per dent.

Do not drag the warp through lease sticks during beaming. It causes abrasion and strain on the warp threads. Be aware of, or repair, or deal with a rough heddle or reed wire.

Warp the loom back-to-front

Loom Raddle
Loom Raddle

Warp your loom back-to-front, using a raddle, to allow you to handle the yarn as little as possible. This way of warping is the subject of my Book #2. Briefly, the process is to put the warp into a raddle as soon as it has been taken off the warping board or reel. The raddle guides the warp threads onto the warp beam. After the warp has been beamed on the warp beam, the heddles are threaded, the reed sleyed, and the warp tied onto the cloth apron rod. The process begins at the back of the loom and ends at the front. A raddle is shown in Figure A.
Figure B shows that the warp is beamed onto the warp beam before it is threaded in the heddles.

Threading the Loom Set-up
Threading the Loom Set-up

Yarn pills

If the warp yarns pill, they are getting too much abrasion. These little, innocent-looking pills can cause serious problems, especially with fragile and fine warps. The pills actually join threads together as though they were knotted. It is almost impossible to separate the threads if the pills are allowed to fully form and to become very tight balls. If there is any fuzz around a warp thread, get rid of it –immediately, before a pill can form. Get up very often and look at the warp threads behind the shafts and pick off any fuzz. You must be diligent. A tightly twisted yarn pills less than one that’s loosely twisted. One reason yarns may pill is that the reed may have rough wires.

The above tip is an excerpt from Book 3: “Weaving and Drafting Your Own Cloth“. It is from the Troubleshooting chapter, pages 127-128.



6 thoughts on “Peggy’s Weaving Tips > Help with warp yarn pills, frays, or breaks”

  1. Thanks for the suggestions, weaving right now with a fraying floating selvedge warp thread. Is there anything I can do now to reinforce the frayed section? Thanks

    • My advice is to replace it right away as though it were a broken thread. An easy way would be to pin it in the web and hang it off the back of the loom with some weight. You need to address why it is happening. Is the web drawing in too much? Often the outside threads tend to get more warp face and then take up more and get tighter—leading to problems. I usually weight my 4 selvedge threads separately so they can take up as needed. Also, there may be reasons why the web is getting too narrow–see all my selvedge info in selvedge chapter in my book, Weaving for Beginners. There is a reason why it is fraying.–If I have a singles warp, for instance, I might use plied threads for the selvedges. Let me know how it goes. Peggy

      • Thanks for the info. I replaced the frayed threads with weights hanging from the back beam. That worked great. Still not sure why it was happening, but am more diligent about checking everything. Lana

  2. Several years ago at a workshop with Mary Elva Erf ,she showed us how to retie the loom after samples had been cut off. Using two pairs of shoestrings and Elmer’s glue. Would you have any information you could forward to me on how to do this. My memory is not what it used to be. and it was a very convenient way being able to continue on with my weaving…


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