Unbeaming and rebeaming on a table loom

Which is something you should ideally never do. But what if you have to? That is what I was confronted with when after threading each and every one of my 672 ends for my very first table loom project I realised that something was amiss from my 7.5m warp: tension!

My heart sank when I saw the disaster on the back beam:

paper warp separator improperly rolled on

So what to do? I scoured the internet, and while I could find some info in one discussions on Weavolution, all the information I could find was either on how to warp properly, or tips on how to solve minor warping issues, and one useful blog entry on rebeaming. In this blog entry everything went more or less uneventfully, which gave me courage, but I could not find anything preparing me for the awful tangles and problems that were to come – I guess there isn’t much pride in disasters.

However I’d like to bare it all here, as it is a story with a happy ending, reached however after several setbacks over five evenings that brought me close to tears (and to scissors!). I almost gave up at least three times, and the excellent advice on Ravelry is what saved my day.

First the theory:

  1. divide your warp in bout;
  2. tie some weights to each bout to keep tension;
  3. if the warp is already threaded (my case), leave it threaded
  4. start unrolling the warp from the back beam, chaining the warp as it falls off the loom, and retie the weights as they get to the floor, to keep tension.
  5. chain the bouts as they come off the loom;
  6. once you’ve unbeamed, rebeam the warp, as if you were warping front to back.

If you happen to have a trapeze, or can hack one (a broom handle held by two high back chairs, or whatever you can think of), even better. If you have a yarn that sticks together (my case), you can let it all roll and it won’t tangle, otherwise better to collect each chain in a separate container.

Then the reality…

Having said this, a lot can go wrong. All this happened to me:

  • while UNbeaming, the weights on the bouts will be completely ineffective: this is because due to differential tension, after each turn of the back beam, some threads were pulled out more than others. And why is that? because…
  • while UNbeaming, the warp threads will bunch at the heddles: the threaded heddles act like a comb. You should never ever comb your warp, as this is a sure recipe for tangles. But in this case the heddles will do so for you. To reduce the severity of the problem, insert lease sticks between the castle and the back beam. Now you will have bunching of the warp threads at the lease sticks, but these are much easier to straighten than those at the heddle. You will have to pull out to the front each and every one of these warp threads – requires steady resolve.
  • while UNbeaming, the warp threads will be coming out at the front full of loops and tangles, by which I mean something like this: this and the bunching are what made my heart sink, and repeatedly so.

However fear not, as incredible as it seems, these horrible tangles can be and will be straigthened out while REbeaming. For that to be the case, standing at the front of your loom you have to grab the bout and do possibly each of the following multiple times:

  • tug at it sharply;
  • shake it vigorously, as if they were horse reins;
  • beat it against the breast beam;
  • strum it (as if it were made of guitar strings)
  • make a shed and pass your hand through it to separate a top and bottom
  • repeat
  • do not comb if you life depended on it!

If you do the above, then miracously a minute or two of such exercise take each bit of you bouts from e.g. this: to this

You just have to keep going, steadily and patiently.

The good news is, it works! Just take plenty of time, and be prepared for getting very close to quitting multiple times. Just keep reminding yourself that, no matter how long and wide your warp, it is only a finite set of warp threads: with enough time and patience you can untangle anything!

When you RE-beam, do make sure you tension your warp properly, you don’t want to have to do this again! Use the “yank and crank” method (i.e. divide the warp in even bouts, and after each turn or half turn of the back beam, pull at each bout sharply) – some useful tips are on Peggy Osterkamp’s blog, among other sources.

The reward awaits you – a lovely, taut warp ready for the shuttles!

Author: lovestoswatch

I used to knit as a girl, then hanged the needles for two/three decades, and now I’m back, and loving it! The photo is my version of Linda Marveng's Aki, the first proper project after "being born again". After getting back into knitting, weaving has also become my passion (with a little sewing to turn my handweaving into garments).

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