Peggy’s Weaving Tips > Tying on new warps the new way.

This is a very different approach from what you’ve known before!! Jim Ahrens told me, “If you can talk them out of tying on in front, you will be doing them a big favor.” Here’s our gift to you.

Part One explained why this is such a good method and the concept. Part Two gives you the step-by-step.If you like it, and tell your weaving friends!!
Step 1. Make an Accurate Lease Behind the Shafts

The correct sequence of the threads in the old warp is easier-far, far easier-to see from a lease than from the heddles. You avoid many errors by selecting threads from a lease.

If the lease sticks are still in place on the old warp, check that the lease is accurate. (Check by treadling the two plain weave sheds and seeing if they are exactly the same as where the lease sticks are.) The lease may not be accurate if you corrected an error made when you wound the warp or threaded the heddles. If your lease doesn’t correspond exactly to the order of the threads in the heddles, make a new lease from the heddles.

Why this emphasis on the exact order? Later, threads out of order show up as crossed threads, making it impossible to pull the new warp through the heddles. Stabilize the sticks or cord. Hang the sticks from the castle or tie them to the sides of the loom. If you use a lease cord, make it taut by tying it to the sides of the loom.

Step 2. Cut the Old Warp Off the Warp Beam Apron

Tying on New Warps on the Loom A
Tying on New Warps on the Loom A

Before you cut the warp, be sure you’ve stabilized the lease sticks or cord so they can’t fall out. Cut the warp’s end loops at the endstick or apron rod. Leave all the loom waste intact. As you cut, you may want to tie slip knots in bunches of the warps to help keep the lease sticks in place. When you finish, the warp ends are dangling from the lease cord or sticks. See Figure A.

Step 3. Beam on the New Warp as Usual

Step 4. Position the Warps and Leases

Position the leases in both the old and new warps between the shafts and the back beam. It’s important that you can easily see the leases so you won’t make mistakes. You’ll be choosing the threads in sequence from each lease to tie a thread in the old warp to its matching thread in the new warp.

Adjust the two warps so they overlap each other about half way between the shafts and the back beam. Leave a 4″ tail from each warp extending past the midpoint of the overlap. This is where you tie the knots. Long tails make tying the knots easier-you cut the tails off later. If you don’t have enough of the old warp to overlap 4″ past the knot-tying spot, you can make the knots closer to the shafts.

Step 5. Engage the Brakes

Make sure the brakes are engaged on both the cloth and warp beams, to put both old and new warps under tension for knot-tying.

Step 6. Make Sure Both Leases Are Horizontal (Parallel to the Floor) and Secure


Tying on New Warps on the Loom B
Tying on New Warps on the Loom B

Both the leases should be horizontal-parallel to the floor. If you’re using lease cords and they are taut and tied to the sides of the loom, adjust the ties so the leases are horizontal. See Figure B.

Tying on New Warps on the Loom C
Tying on New Warps on the Loom C

If you’re using lease sticks, probably the easiest way to make them horizontal is to tie the two warps together temporarily. Make two ties about one fourth of the way in from each edge. Take about an inch of warps from the old warp and a similar bunch from the new warp, and tie them in a bow or half bow. It doesn’t matter that these probably are not exactly corresponding threads because you’ll retie them thread-by-thread later. Now you can remove any ties you made to stabilize the lease sticks. The temporary ties make the leases parallel to the floor and stabilize the lease sticks. See Figure C.

The leases in both warps should be “safe” –nothing is going to collapse or fall out. If you feel anything is cumbersome or vulnerable, see what you can do now so all is stable. It makes you work better if you know all is safe.

Step 7. Center the Warp in the Heddle Eyes

If necessary, raise the shafts so the warps are in the center of the heddle eyes. This is important so the old warp is straight while you’re tying the knots, and so the knots won’t catch when you pull them through the heddles.

Step 8. Position the Support Board

Tying on New Warps on the Loom D
Tying on New Warps on the Loom D

Position a board beneath the knot-tying area, midway between the back beam and the shafts. If your old warp is short, position the board closer to the shafts and adjust the warps so your knot-tying area is above the board. Support the board on the side framework of your loom or on lary sticks, or suspend it from long loops of string tied to the loom’s overhead structure. See Figure D. It should be sturdy and in no danger of falling, so experiment with C-clamps and string, if you need to, to get a firm work surface.

Step 9. Get Yourself Comfortable and Ready

Decide where to work. You begin tying the knots at the edge away from you and work toward yourself. Stand or pull a stool or chair up to the back of the loom, whichever is more comfortable. If there is room, you can sit inside the loom itself. For a wide warp, you need to tie the last warps from outside the loom.

Make sure your lighting is good and that you are comfortable. Comfort is not a luxury-it’s important to help you work error-free.

Step 10. Tie the Knots

You take the first thread in the lease of the old warp and tie a square knot to join it to the corresponding first thread in the lease of the new warp. Continue in sequence, picking one thread from one lease and then its mate from the other, until all the warp threads are knotted together. When you get to a temporary tie, untie it, match up the warp threads, and continue knotting. Don’t worry too much about maintaining precise warp tension while tying the knots.

Step 11. Cut the Tails Off the Knots

Leave the long tails on the knots until all the knots are tied. Then cut all the tails short-to about 3/4″ (or 1/2″). Don’t try to weave or pull the threads through the heddles with the long tails on! The tails will tangle terribly. If a knot unties after you’ve cut the tails, there won’t be enough thread to re-tie it. You can either tie in an extension and re-tie it, or treat it as a broken end when you weave the heading.

Step 12. Remove the Old Warp’s Lease and the Support Board

With all the warps correctly tied, tightened, checked, and with tails cut off, you can remove the support board. Remove the lease sticks or cord from the old warp — and only the old warp. The new warp’s lease sticks or cord should stay in place, although you should untie the lease sticks from the sides of the loom. Remember, if possible, you want the lease in during weaving and for tying on the next new warp.

Step 13. Ease the Knots through the Heddles

Now you’re ready to pull the tied-on warp through the heddles. Disengage the brake on the warp beam. Make sure the warps are in the center of the heddle eyes to avoid getting the knots caught on the tops of the eyes. Raising the shafts in Step 7 should have centered the warps.

I think “easing” is the key word. Some warps move smoothly through the heddles, others-especially heavier threads-may take more hand manipulation to ease them through, whether you crank or pull the knots through by hand. Sometimes a good tromp on a treadle will shake the knots loose so they’ll go through.

Step 14. Ease the Knots through the Reed

Getting the knots through the reed can be slower than you think, so gather up some patience. It’s easier if you have sleyed two ends per dent.

Step 15. Weave the Heading

If the old cloth is still attached, you already have the warp under tension. You can weave the heading in the new warp as soon as the knots are through the reed.

If you have only a heading or overhand knots in the ends of the old warp, you need to get the warp under tension before you can begin the heading in the new warp. Attach the heading stick(s) or the overhand knots to the cloth apron rod. You can lace on. See May Tip of the Month.

The first time you tie on a new warp, it will probably seem slow, but just be patient. It will go faster the next time.

This tip is an excerpt from Chapter 8, “Tying On New Warps” in Book 2, Warping Your Loom and Tying on New Warps– Revised Edition.

24 thoughts on “Peggy’s Weaving Tips > Tying on new warps the new way.”

  1. This is how I did it before. My project was a simple scarf (tabby). When it was done, I cut the warp in front of the reed. The heddles, reed, and tie-up remained the same. I made a warp long enough for 2 scarfs on my warping mill. I “chained” it and took it to the loom. I cut the very ends of the cross and tied the threads in order. My cross is still on the loom as I begin to wind the entire warp to the back beam. The cross is between the reed and myself.
    My question is, how can I move the lease rods (which hold the cross), to the back?
    I always wove with a cross behind the heddles.

    • The way to move the cross: push the lease stick closest to the reed up next to the reed and turn it on its side so it makes a little shed. Then you can put another lease stick in that shed but behind the reed. Remove the first stick and move up the second one and do the same. I think it’s quite a trick. I have another way which I think is very very fine to tie on new warps–then you don’t drag the warp through the heddles. Check out my tips, I’m pretty sure it’s there. It is in my book #2, but I think I made tips about that one day. Enjoy your new skill of moving the cross. The first time I did it I felt so accomplished.

  2. I assume this method works best if the loom has a sectional warp beam? Hfor how dows the new warp get on tne warp beam properly spread?
    And how much of the ‘old’ warp gets lost leaving enough length to do the knotting?

    • Oh, no, no, no. the warp gets on the back beam in the way back-to-front warping is done–the exact same way. A raddle spreads out the warp during beaming. It’s by far the method I choose and have written about so much. (Front-to-back is also in the book, Weaving for Beginners, but I had an expert do that chapter.) My DVD shows how this way of warping is done.There is less waste with this way of tying on new warps and threads don’t tangle and don’t go through the reed twice. Let me know if you want to try it and I might be able to send you the DVD as a gift for bringing this up on my blog. I’d need your mailing address. My email is: Peggy

  3. hey, there!

    i’m about to tie on a new warp for the first time, very excited

    i have a question about this step: STEP 3. BEAM ON THE NEW WARP AS USUAL

    usually, when i beam a new warp, i sort of let it slide thru the shafts, with the heddles all pushed to the sides and give the warps chains a tug from the front as i rotate the warp beam in the back

    but, when tying on, the old warp will still be threaded in the heddles

    do you think i should then, take the new warp *over* the top of the heddles and then let it hang down over the front bar?

    thank you!

    • That’s a good idea–I hadn’t thought of that. Be sure to wind the new warp on tight as usual. One thought: when you say “over the heddles” do you mean over the castle? That’s what I’m thinking, too. or, over the heddle bars–not the heddles themselves because that wouldn’t make a smooth path for the warp threads. Just to be sure we are on the same page. Peggy

  4. Peggy!
    You are a marvel! I just have to tell you that I have got my 8 shaft loom up and running. When I got it there were 4 shafts missing, 4 treadles missing, 8 upper lams gone and 4 lower lams gone. This loom was old but the parts that remained worked and were in very good conditon.

    I had the additonal parts made friends. The work was begun a year ago in March and this March, almost to the day, the work was finished. The loom works wonderfully! You gave me a CD of yours on now to warp a loom from back to front. The CD you gave me had a damaged case and you let me have it for nothing. I have watched that CD over and over again for a year and on March 21, 2015 I got the warp on successfully!! The joy was overwhelming and I have you to thank a thousand times over.
    The lessons that I took were worthless, but what you have given me is pure gold!! I cannot thank you enough. I am now weaving a test strip to insure that the loom is operating properly as some mechanical changes and and additions were done to make the loom more functional.
    Thank you again and may God richly bless you this Easter season!

    Barb Rickman
    Shelton CT

  5. Peggy, thank you very much for this tip, also on behalf of three fellow pupils who are currently doing a course of mock leno with Paola Besana. We are using old Structo sample looms, and our new warps are now nicely tied on to the old ones. However we have one question: how do you manage to tie the knots on your own? We found that we needed two people to do it, one to tie the knots and the other providing a finger to keep the first half of each square knot in place while the second half was being tied.
    I don’t have a website, but here’s Paola’s:

    • A good question. You missed a crucial point mentioned in the tip—put a board under the knot tying area. The tips are sometimes shortened versions of things explained and illustrated more thoroughly in my books. My book: Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps is now only available as a PDF. There are 11 pages in the chapter on tying on new warps and 8 illustrations of the tying step-by-step. One can buy the book on my website. It is cheaper than the hard copy book was and you can then take it to a copy place and make your own copy. There is a lot more in the book about looms and how they work and other knots—all with lots of illustrations. I worked very hard on that book, putting in it all I knew and all the “why’s” to do things. I hope your friends will give it a look.
      I’m thrilled you tied on your new warp successfully.

      • I find your books so helpful. They ‘why’s are exactly what makes them so informative and practical. They are my first go to books when a problem arises, and they are also full of postit notes for quick reference.

        I have tried tying on a new warp to an old, but gave up. This blog has inspired me to have another go, especially for some fine warps where the threading takes so long.

        • A very good idea but remember it will take time and patience so be sure to give yourself the patience and time! It’s a very good plan but may take as much time as threading (you might think) but it will save you from making threading errors and you’ll be thankful then.

  6. Hi, Peggy!
    I’m rather late to this party, but I’m quite intrigued by your method – my current towel project is such a quick weave I’ve decided to tie a new warp onto the old (since threading and sleying are accurate). I’ve done this many times at the *front* of the loom, but not at the back as you’re suggesting.
    Question, though…
    I generally wind on my warp the “Vavstuga” way (using the “floppy” book) and it works beautifully for me. It includes rough-sleying the reed (since I don’t have a raddle). Details: 4S Glimåkra Ideal CM. So… for winding on the new warp (pre-knotting), might I use an extra reed I have as a raddle? sort of? (I could rough-sley it at a table.) Then somehow configure it at the front of the loom, yarn over the CM box, down the back (with lease sticks) and wind on?
    Obviously, I’m confused…
    Love reading (and often using!) your tips!

    • You’re not as confused as you might think. Yes, you can pre-sley another reed. Then ideally you would attach it somehow to the back beam of the loom. (also, ideally the raddle should be as close as possible to the warp beam.) I’ve made 2 little “feet” to hold the reed–small pieces of wood with two dowels standing upright (perpendicular) to the board. slide the reed in between the dowels. C-clamp the feet with the reed onto the beam. I hope you can understand this. You might figure out a better way.–It needs to be sturdily attached, of course. I do another thing. When the raddle is attached I have the warp going off the back of the loom–hanging off the back of the warp beam, facing away from the loom. that makes it easier to beam. Then when the beaming is finished, I take the warp OVER the back beam then facing in the direction it should for threading or knot tying. You might want to order the PDF of my book, Warping Your Loom & Tying On New Warps–available on the website. There is a lot of good information in it–including quite a lot about CM looms. I’ll email you a photo of the raddle feet from Page 173 in the book and a photo of the page showing where I suggest putting the raddle (for your rough-sleyed reed from page 17. Let me know how it goes and if you have any more questions. My mentor, Jim Ahrens said about this technique: “If you can talk them out of tying on in front, you will be doing them a big favor.”

  7. I thought the whole idea of tying a new warp on to an old warp was to use the original threading and sleying so surely this has to be done in front of the reed. I can’t see how any other method would preserve the threading and sleying. If you don’t preserve the threading and sleying what’s the point. You might as well start from scratch – or have I misunderstood the whole thing?

    • You have the point: to preserve the threading and the sleying of the reed. THIS IS DONE BY TYING BEHIND THE HEDDLES! You have a cross in a pair of lease sticks behind the heddles in the old warp. There is the original cloth IN FRONT of the reed—an alternative is to have a two stick heading in front of the reed, or a cross in lease sticks in some other way so the cross is in front of the reed securely. See instructions for doing this. THEN you beam on all the warp but what’s needed to tie on with it’s pairs of lease sticks in it’s cross. Then you tie the ends from one cross to another, then crank the warp forward through the heddles and reed. All this is very doable. Look at my website again. Let me know if any of this doesn’t make sense to you and I’ll try to explain it. Why it is so wonderful is that you have all the warp threads under tension except for the short amounts needed to tie them together. You can even begin weaving right away. If you warp front-to-back you might need to stand on your head and think of back to front for this procedure. (I know I have to stand on my head to understand front to back sometimes).

  8. I guess I am a little confused. So when you have a weaving on your loom and want to tie on another warp but you still have the existing weaving on, not sure what to do. Cut off the first weaving and retie once it is through the heddles? Thanks.

  9. I want to know when and if I can cut off the original weaving? Can I cut it off once the new warp is through the reed and then retie?


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