Continuous Warp

At String Day one of the things I wanted to demonstrate was a continuous warp. If you haven't seen Linda Hedrickson's video on making a continuous warp, you should really go watch it now. She explains the concept beautifully. I will take issue with one thing she says:

It doesn't really matter which colours go in which holes

I'm sure this was accurate within the wider context of her DVD and this is probably obvious to most of you, but it can matter. If you're doing a doubleface pattern, the two warps of the same colour need to be in adjacent holes. If you're doing a snartemo pattern red-green-blue-yellow, you can't thread the cards up red-blue-green-yellow.

I demonstrated the continuous warp on an inkle loom. Instead of the clamp arrangement in Linda Hendrickson's video (which works equally well warping directly onto an oseberg-style loom) where the warps pass from clamp A to clamp B and then back to clamp A, and you drop a card on each side, my warp took a loop route and cards were dropped only once per circuit. This works just as well. You tie the start of the warp to one of the dowels on the inkle loom, and when you have dropped off all the cards you untie it, and tie the end of the warp to the start. That way you can rotate the whole warp so the area you are working on is always in the same place.

There are a few situations in which a continuous warp is not appropriate:
  1. All four of your warps need to be on their own spools so if this is impractical you're out of luck
  2. If you are using rectangular tablets (eg playing cards) and your pattern is formed by offsetting each card by a quarter turn from the one before it, and the cards turn as a pack or in blocks, this is not the technique for you. Adjacent cards will end up a quarter turn off from each other making them impossible to turn together
  3. If you're doing a pattern where not all cards are threaded with the same colours, this method isn't going to work. You can get around this though, by warping up however many cards use threading pattern A, then cutting off the warp threads, and tying to the end of each one a new warp thread of the appropriate colour for threading pattern B etc. When all the cards are warped up you can reorder them into the right places if necessary.
  4. You can't use a warp spreader with this technique, unless it's one you can fit onto your warp after it's all set up.
  5. If you're warping directly onto your loom, you can't untie your warp and comb out the twist in it, so a band where twist builds up in is no good, unless you have enough warp that you don't need to worry about the twist. If you're using a warping frame and then cutting the ends of the warp before fitting it to the loom, this isn't a problem. There can also be an exception if you're warping directly onto an Oseberg-style loom - if the twist builds up symmetrically, eg a chevron pattern, and you make sure that the cards build up from inside to outside (so on an 8-card pattern you drop them so they end up in the order 75312468), then pairs will untwist each other (eg the S twist on card one is undone by the Z twist on card two) and you can keep going in the same direction right along the warp. I hope that made sense!


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