Thursday, February 8, 2018

Warping with a Stationary Paddle

I have been wanting to learn how to warp with a paddle using multiple yarn sources for a very long time.  Recently, I found a Victorian Video from 1997 with Sallie Guy called "Warping and Loom Preparation with Sallie Guy". She has a very good visual instruction of the process using a stationary paddle. 

 I followed Sallie's instructions to a "T" or so I thought.  My first warp had terribly twisted warp threads and it was a real struggle to weave off.  So, I tried another and had the same result.  I went back to the video and listened to Sallie say several times that the hand position is very important when transferring the cross from your hand to the warping board.  I didn't understand what I was doing wrong but guessed that there was something in the video that wasn't easy to see (at least I couldn't see it) so I started more experimentations.

I finally solved the answer to the hand position conundrum and am here to share my experiences with you. 

There are several ways to set up your yarns so that you can warp with a stationary paddle.  A very common method would be to have the yarn wound off onto bobbins and placed on a spool rack.  Frequently, I choose that method.  But for the demonstration I recently did for my local weaving guild, my husband and I put together a Rube Goldberg warping station. 


The pvc cone holder helped to keep the lighter weight cones from falling over.  The yarn from each cone was threaded through a 6 dent reed and I deliberately kept the reds and the oranges alternating with the other colors so I could see the colors in the cross more easily and make sure what I was doing wasn't twisting the warp threads.

The next step was to thread these same yarns through the stationary paddle, which is nothing more than a piece of plastic rigid heddle with a handle, mounted on a pole.  Again, the pole is piece of pipe flattened on the top and the paddle is clamped to it.
You thread  the rigid heddle piece - slot, hole, slot, hole - etc.  For my demo warp I used 6 threads.  You could easily warp 20 warp ends at once if you had bobbins and a spool rack. To get a color sequence that I could follow on the warping board and would show up my errors., I put all the red/orange threads in the slots and the others in the holes. When you are practicing and learning the technique, I would recommend using three similar colors and then three that can be anything else.  Once you look at the cross photos you will see why. 
After you have threaded your rigid heddle paddle, you tie them all to the first peg of your warping board.  Sallie's video goes into planning a route for the warp, winding a raddle cross, etc.  Since those details are easily picked up from other sources, I'm not going to discuss them here..
Before we get down the to nitty gritty, I need to make another comment.  I have plastic hooks mounted on the top of each end of my warping board.  These are plastic picture hanging hooks and when I'm picking up my cross, I keep the yarns from slipping off the warping board by anchoring them in the hooks while I'm manipulating the cross. The second from the last photo shows one on the left top corner of the loom.  Enlarge the photo to see it better.
Next step - pick up the cross at the stationary paddle. 1. Holding the threads with your right hand, raise them (see photo above) and put your left index finger in the space created.  2. lower the threads (see photo below) and put your thumb in the space created.  You have created your threading cross.  In these photos you will see that the orange colored threads are all in one half of the cross and the other colors are in other half.
Then, keeping tension on the warp with your right hand, slide your left hand towards the warping board.  Once you are close, wrap all the threads clockwise around the end peg.
The photo above shows the hands holding the cross - but it hasn't yet been seated on the warping board pegs.  This is the critical hand position with the thumb on the right.  Then, you tilt back your hand so that the threads that are closest to the warping board go over the top of the two cross pegs. 
This is the most awkward part of the process.  If you have done it right, the lighter threads will be on the top left and the red/oranges on the right top.  A color sequence similar to this is good to do while you are learning how to manipulate the cross at the warping board.  You can easily see if you are doing it correctly.  A warning.  The first times I did this, I didn't tilt my hand backwards and in the case of the photo above, I put the orange threads on the top of the left peg and the light threads on the top of the right peg.  In the video, Sallie calls this the downward pass and this is where the video failed me.  I couldn't see this hand position.

The photo above shows me coming back in the upward pass towards the cross.  I've completed making the cross at the stationary paddle in the same exact sequence as above.  I've unhooked my threads from those plastic hooks at the right side of the warping board and am approaching the cross pegs.
This cross transfer is easier than the downward pass.  The palm faces you, the thumb is on the left and you don't need to tilt your hand.  From here - rejoin your all your threads and go clockwise around the end peg. (as above).  Anchor the threads in the plastic hooks and start the whole process over again.

And, if you have been doing everything correctly, this is the way the cross will look.  All of the red/orange warps on one side of the top, all of the other colors on the other side and when you look at the bottom of the cross the colors are reversed.  Another thing you will notice at the beginning peg is a false cross.  Ignore it.  Once you have cut that end loop, the threads will be in a normal configuration again.

I recommend the Sallie Guy video highly.  There is nothing like being able to watch the process over several times before you attempt it.

Now, let's go on to the question - why in the world would you want to do this?  Well, if you have delved into the book by Marian Stubenitsky,  Weaving with Echo and Iris, you will want to warp four or eight colors at once.  This technique is a great solution because you will pick off your color sequence one by one at the cross making everything very straight forward.  You can warp four threads at once - yes, but I like this method better.

You may have lots of odds and ends that you want to use up.  Instead of constantly cutting and tying on new ends you just warp along with multiple colors.  Want a draft for this kind of warp?  See Alice Schlein's garbage warp draft. (I use the provocative word garbage - you may wish to call it a mixed warp)!  Maybe you have an interesting stripe sequence that requires frequent color changes, this can easily be achieved by warping the stripes all in one pass. 

Remember to calculate your sett and take that into consideration when you are making your raddle sections if you warp back to front.  If I am warping at 24 epi, I might use 6 threads per pass.  Then, I know that in one inch I will be making 2 downward and 2 upward passes.   If you warp from the front, and don't have a raddle cross, just keep track of the number of threads you have warped.

This post must naturally be a work in progress.  I suspect that there are details I have left out and may need to add later.  If so, I'll just update it.



  1. Thank you I like the detailed photos with the accompanying explanations. I have tried paddle warping several times but have always ended up with too many extra crosses and not the desired color order. With this information will attack the process again.

  2. Love your detailed photos of this but I would still like to see a demo. Please consider making one! The warping paddle is not well understood andc what is written is confusing.

    1. Hi Liz - agree that the stationary paddle isn't well documented and is the reason I really liked the video by Sally Guy. I will think about making a video with all the steps - then add a link on this blog post. Might be a few weeks before I get to it! Thanks for your comment

  3. Please make a detailed video and be sure to explain the extra cross. I just used a paddle to warp for an Echo and Iris warp. All went I thought, until I picked the wrong cross and now I’m struggling warping the entire thing...many crossed threads. There are so few slow, detailed videos of this process. Thanks