Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Harrisville warp extender

This is my Harrisville rug loom. I don't know anyone else who weaves tapestry on one, but I would like to recommend it as a fantastic tapestry loom.
I love one feature of the Harrisville rug loom especially. The warp extender. This ingenious little addition to the countermarche loom keeps the tension even throughout the piece. The tension is superb both because it is a big floor loom with a worm gear and because of this warp extender. The warp extender allows me to raise the warp away from the warp beam as far as I need to for the piece I am going to weave.
When the warp threads are wrapped around and around a back beam, they fall in between each other and the tension in my experience is never even when you start advancing. Even if you are one of the million-stick-club and you are very meticulous about winding your warp with sticks, things can go awry easily. The warp extender pulls all the threads up evenly around a smooth steel tube. You start your tapestry with the extender raised, tie on and get everything even, and then as you weave and pull the piece forward, instead of unwinding the warp beam, you lower the extender. Genius.

And of course it is a countermarche loom and I love the fact that the warp threads get pulled evenly from either direction on each shed. I like things even. Perhaps it is a good thing for tapestry or perhaps I just have a touch of OCD.

This picture is looking from the front of the loom toward the back with the warp extender raised.
This picture is from the back of the loom looking at the raised warp and the warp beam.
Incidentally, I never warp sectionally even though both my floor looms have sectional beams. If I knew I was going to use a fairly consistent warp width on this loom, I might consider it just to get a lot of yards on at once. But I find sectional warping picky and not actually that great a method if you're looking for a very even warp. (I felt guilty about not warping sectionally for a long time--I have the spool rack and the tension box and the little counter to count yards, but I finally reached a place where I decided I could do things my own way and didn't have to listen to all the old teachers voices echoing in my head. My head is much quieter now.) I usually just put on enough warp for a couple tapestries, which, after all, are going to take many months to finish... and by the end of all that I'm probably going to want to try something different anyway.

10 comments:

  1. Trish at Tangled ThreadsApril 30, 2013 at 9:02 PM

    How very interesting about the warp tension. Thanks for the photos as it is much clearer to me. And also, I really appreciate that you have been posting so much more frequently. You must be in a good space - geographically and mentally.

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    1. I sure am Trish! I am so happy to have a studio where I can work. Being without my big loom for a year and a half has been tough.

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  2. I love the idea of the Collingwood warp extender, and added one to my Cranbrook; it is not as elegant as the Harrisville, but it functions superbly. A worm gear for tension, and Texsolv heddles and treadle cords complete the improvements that I appreciate.

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    1. I love that you were able to add the warp extender to a Cranbrook. And the worm gear is fantastic. It makes a huge difference to me to have infinitely adjustable tension.

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  3. My friend has one of these looms and loves it. I wish I could add one to my Cranbrook but don't know where to start. Question about advancing the warp and lowering the warp extender...how do you do that?

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    1. Hi Sherri, the warp extender bar is threaded on very long threaded rods and there is a crank that lowers the beam. So when I need to advance the weaving, I lower the extender beam at the back by cranking it down an inch or two and then pull the warp forward and the tapestry around the cloth beam. I will try to remember to take a video next time I do it.

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  4. I look forward to your posts these days and love seeing the studio come together! This question may be too much for a comment, but how do you warp "regularly" if you have a sectional beam? Do you just tie a rod to the beam and pretend all the rest isn't there? This could get me going on my 8-harness loom I've been avoiding!
    I can't wait to be able to get to Santa Fe for one of your classes!

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    1. Mary, I do just as you suppose. I tie a rod to the beam and pretend the pegs aren't there. I have to be careful when rolling it on as the warp threads will get caught on the pegs, but I just flick them to one side or the other.
      And I will look forward to seeing you in Santa Fe one of these months! :)
      I think I will do a follow-up post to this one about this loom with some video at some point as there are many questions about it.

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  5. What a relief that it's sort of "easy" to ignore the sectional warping stuff. I'm so comfortable with my regular front-to-back warping that I have no interest in changing.

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    1. As far as I am concerned Mary, you can just carry on with your front to back warping. It is the way I always do it and I am so glad to have company in my rebellion against sectional warping! :)

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