The advantage of this method is that you do not need any additional equipment other than what comes as standard with your loom, at least in the case of Ashford, where raddles are optional add ons.
The starting point is a chained warp, still uncut on both ends just in case, where the “tail” (i.e. unchained part) of the chain is away from the threading cross.
This is the end that would normally go on the raddle, but that will be rough sleyed through the reed instead. To do so, the reed is temporarily removed from the front beater, and used to space the warp threads while beaming. Once this is done, the reed is taken off the warp (how? keep reading to find out), and used as normal.
As standard warping sequence to be modified I will consider the one in Ashford’s videos:
The sequence below will differ at two points: the rough sleying of the reed and transferring the cross from the front to the back of the reed, so that you can take the reed off the warp and put it back on the front beater, where it belongs.
- take the reed off
- if your chain is “locked”, unlock it;
- starting from the end, pull the loops through the raddle, with roughly the same number of loops per dent as you will have when you will actually establish sett, and slip the lease stick through the loops, securing them. It won’t be possible to replicate any sett requiring an odd number of threads, since now everything is looped. You could cut the threads, but this will mean a bit more more loom waste (the knots, as you will have to tied the ends, rather than exploiting the loops) and risk disaster (you will have to manage those cut ends so that they aren’t pulled back by the chain through the reed dents). So easier to go as close as possible to your actual sett, but keeping loops intact. For instance, if the sett requires three warp threads per dent, you can alternate a dent with 1 loop and a dent with 2 loops. For more on rough sleying, you can check Laura Fry’s blog.
- Once all the loop ends have been sleyed, the least stick with the loops on gets installed the lease stick on the back apron rod.
- beam as normal (crank and yank method): the reed will “comb” the warp and keep it spaced as a raddle would. Keep going until you get to the cross. The picture below shows the “combing” (the reed is behind the castle – heddles have been moved to the sides, one hand keeps the chain in tension at the front of the loom while the other winds the back beam. The tension and the reed’s weight keep it vertical).
- now it is the time to remove the reed without destroying the cross. To transfer the cross behind the reed, you
turn the lease stick closest to the reed on edge and slide another stick in the opening on the other side of the reed. You take the stick out that you had on edge and bring the second stick up to the reed, turn it on edge, and slide another stick inside the opening on the other side of the reed. The lease sticks are now in the cross on the side of the reed where you need them for threading.
(here with pictures of the process, scroll to the end). I did not have enough hands to take pictures while transferring the cross, but here is what the back of my loom looked like after transferring the cross:
And that’s it – now the front loops can be cut, and threading through the heddles can begin.
Of course things can go wrong, and did go wrong for me – after beaming I found that my threading cross had somehow been thrown in disarray!
But here having the reed sleyed did come very handy: I pulled all the threads out of the cross, but since they were still in the reed slots, I could (patiently!) take them in the order they came out of the reed (also the order in which they were beamed), and put them through the cross again in the right order.