A while ago I wrote about some reasons why I think floor loom weavers might consider switching to sectional warping. In fact, I’m switching my table loom to sectional!

When you go to actually warp the loom though, it’s a bit of a different setup to getting a warp on a plain beam, isn’t it? But guess what, making warp chains is still pretty similar, but you have options!

  1. Make chains on a warping board/reel/mill – If you’re converting from a plain beam, you can use your existing equipment. You simply have to make sure you make the right size and number of chains, then chain them off and feed them onto the beam with a tension box.
    • Benefits – Using your existing equipment, space efficient.
    • Drawbacks – Can be time relatively consuming, though people who use a warping mill say it’s not too bad!
  2. Make chains on a Warping Square / Warping Wheel / DIY version – These are fantastic tools. I use a Warping Square and have for years. I wouldn’t want to be without it. For each section, you wind it on to the Warping Square/etc, then straight onto the beam. The mini reed keeps the sett / density correct as it beams into the section, and you can use a tension box if you like. I do, some don’t. You won’t know if you want one until you do it.
    • Benefits – Fast, versatile, great for planning end-by-end colour control, you can use the same spool/cone of yarn for multiple ends in a section since you wind it end by end if you choose, can use it to make chains for a plain beam as well, so it has some options. Useful when hand dyeing in skeins – you make skeins, then cake those up, then warp onto the Square/etc, without having to break it up into bobbins.
    • Drawback – Additional cost, takes up even more space
  3. Warp directly via a spool rack and spools of yarn – This involves making a spool for each end in that section, bringing them all together, attaching them to the beam/leader, and rolling onto the beam. Most people use a tension box but some don’t.
    • Benefits – Fast to beam, can be consistent in colour control, equipment can be easily DIYed.
    • Drawbacks – Space, risk of high levels of yarn wastage (you’d have to perfectly control what you put on each bobbin or risk loss – not practical for luxury yarns), time to prepare each bobbin, you need a bobbin for each end per section since you do the whole section at once, so can be time consuming.

There’s another option I’m slightly glossing over. For 2., you can either make the chain on the Warping Square/etc and put it straight onto the loom, or you can make the chain on the Warping Square, chain it off, store it/dye it/whatever you like, then either feed it through the tension box straight onto the beam (just like in option 1!), or put it back onto the Warping Square to direct beam it. This gets into quite complicated splitting hairs territory but I thought I should include it anyway to give the full picture. These different options matter much more when you’re getting into hand dyeing and different methods of preparing a warp for dyeing and some people find it fastest to build up an inventory of undyed chains, dye those, and then go from there.

All of these methods are in use by weavers who warp sectionally. There is no right or wrong or more or less advanced option, so explore your options and find what fits for you!

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