Cloth Beam Matters

Does it matter what happens at the cloth beam? Why not let the woven fabric go around the beam as is and forget about it? You have worked diligently at every stage to ensure an even warp. Now, preparing the cloth beam for cloth will ensure the warp remains even.

Warping slats are placed on the cloth beam.

Warping slats cover the cords and knots on the cloth beam so the handwoven fabric has a flat surface to lay against.

Warping slat over the tie-on bar prevents the tie-on threads from putting bulges in the fabric. Bulges can distort the fabric and put uneven tension on warp ends.

Warping slats around the cloth beam for a smooth start.

When the warping slats have covered one full revolution of the cloth beam, no more slats are needed. The twill pre-measured tape on the floor gives a clue to the extended length of this table runner on the loom.

The cloth beam holds obstacles that threaten the evenness of your warp. Any raised surface on the beam, like beam cords and tie-on knots, will distort the warp tension as the woven fabric wraps around it. Warping slats solve the problem. I lay in the slats around the beam, one by one, as I advance the warp. This forms a flat surface around which my freshly-woven fabric can hug as the cloth beam turns.

M's and O's long table runner. Linen weft.

Long M’s and O’s table runner on the loom. The sample piece and towel that preceded the table runner have already reached the cloth beam.

Fear makes obstacles for our path that disturb our peace and threaten our well-being. Trust in the Lord. Trust pushes fear aside. The day you are afraid–the moment you are afraid–put your trust in God. Know that the Lord is for you. Your trust in Him forms a firm layer to build your life on. Like the warping slats that are in place for your handwoven cloth, your trust in God is a foundation on which to roll the fabric of your life.

May you walk without fear.

Peace,
Karen

6 Comments

  • ellen santana says:

    whoa, never thought of that. i have been using paper on the warp beam and when i tried the slats they fell out of place when i loosened the warp at the end of a session. do you keep it taut always?es

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, I do keep the warp under tension. I don’t see a need to completely loosen the warp at the end of a session. If I know I may not get back to it for a few days, I may loosen the warp a little, but there is always adequate tension on the warp for slats to stay in place. I have also left a warp under tight tension for days or weeks, and have never noticed an adverse effect.

      Also, when winding the warp, unless it is linen, I only put in slats every fourth round. So that means if some slats slip, it’s only a few on the outer layer.

      (I love my warping slats. I have found various uses for them, besides how they are “supposed” to be used.)

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

  • Ruth says:

    Hi Karen,
    A couple of questions:
    Do you add slats on the cloth beam as your fabric is woven or just on the initial “round” to cover knots and such?
    Did your husband make your slats and what is the thickness of the slats you use?
    I love your sharing of knowledge! So many “little” things that make weaving more of a joy.
    Ruth

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, Great questions!
      I add the slats just on the initial round. After that, the fabric just rolls onto itself.
      My husband did make some of my slats, but most of my slats were purchased from a Glimakra dealer. I think the slats are about 1/8″ thick.

      Yes, it is the little things that make a difference in the enjoyment and the quality of weaving.

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Linda Sloan says:

    What a wonderful message. Love your website.

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Tools Day: Warping Slat Spacers

Rag rugs are not finished when you cut them from the loom. In fact, they can fall apart if you are not careful. A rag rug is not secure until warp ends are tied into knots. You need to leave space on the warp between rag rugs to make room for the eventual knots.

One way to leave space on the warp is by using warping slats as spacers. Simply weave¬†about two inches of scrap header¬†after the end of a rug. Then, insert warping slats in alternating plain weave sheds. And then, weave another scrap header. Now, you’re ready to start the next rug.

Warping slats as spacers between rag rugs.

Weaving is finished. It is time to cut these rugs from the loom. Four warping slats are seen between two rag rugs as the rugs are being pulled off the loom.

I leave about eight inches (20 cm) of warp between rugs. This gives me enough length for tying the needed square knots. If you are leaving fringe, add enough to include the desired fringe length. When you insert the warping slats, keep them centered so that they can go around the breast beam and cloth beam without catching on the sides of the loom.

Warping slats are used as spacers between rag rugs.

Full-width warping slats are placed carefully so that they do not extend beyond the weaving width on the right or on the left. This view is looking down on the end of the breast beam.

It is easy to separate the rugs after they are off the loom. Cut between slats using a rotary cutter, with a cutting mat underneath.

Warping slats are used as spacers between two rag rugs on the loom.

Double binding rag rugs are ready to be removed from the loom. The two rugs will be cut apart by slicing the warp between the middle two warping slats.

May you make the best use of your time and tools.

All the best,
Karen

2 Comments

  • n says:

    Why do you tie square knots if you are going to hem the rug? N.

    • Karen says:

      N., The knots stabilize the weaving. Without something to hold the weft in, even turning the edge to make a hem would loosen the weaving. And, if the hem comes undone in the life of the rug, the knots will still be there holding the rug together.

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

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