What is the worst thing that can happen while you are weaving?
Depending on who you ask, the answer may be “a broken warp”.
While this is not an ideal thing to have to deal with, it is not the end of the world! A small setback – yes, but something that is actually very easy to deal with once you know how to do it!
One of my favorite things about weaving is how easy it can be to fix any mistakes that you make and issues that come up.
Regardless of the type of loom you are using, your fixed warp will be just as simple to weave with as your previous warp was. You may end up having 2 extra tails to deal with when your weaving is off the loom, but in the grand scheme of things – this is doable.
I believe in you!
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Why your warp is breaking
Luckily, with a bit of forethought, a broken warp should not be a regular occurrence. Sometimes they do happen though and these are a few reasons why:
- Getting twisted in your heddles – make sure to double-check your threading as you go. It is important to make sure your warp is going through the heddles straight or it adds stress on the yarn.
- Too much friction in reed – if your warp is too thick or there is just too much stress on your yarn (selvedges pulling in a lot) then the reed may be putting friction on it.
- Accidently cutting it when you mean to cut weft – oops!
- Picked the wrong warp – Warp yarns should be strong! If you are trying to use yarns that do not meet the strength test then they will be more likely to break. While a broken warp here and there is not something to get too worried about – having yarn that is unsuitable for warp will make trying to weave with it an uphill battle. Do yourself a favor and do not choose yarn that is not strong enough for the job. Learn more about picking the right warp yarn here.
If you are not sure why your warp is breaking then try to see where it is breaking. This can help you determine the problem.
Fixing a broken warp on a simple frame loom
What you need: extra warp yarn
One of the best things about a simple frame loom is just how simple it is! That even extends to fixing a broken warp.
This method is best for when you do not have a lot woven. If you have already woven a lot then you can follow the instructions in the next section for the notched loom where we do not completely replace the warp.
The first thing you will want to do when you have a broken warp is to tie off the top of the warp yarn to the frame to keep your tension even. This is important because your warp is one continuous piece of yarn. A simple square knot will be fine for this.
Cut a piece of yarn to be your replacement warp. This warp yarn will need to be longer than the height of your weaving so that you have enough yarn to tie it to the frame. The amount extra will depend on the frame you are using and how much yarn you personally need to tie a knot.
Next: tie this new warp yarn to the bottom of the frame in the same spot as the broken warp.
Then with your tapestry needle, follow the warp channel (include your scaffolding with this) and up through your weaving. Be careful not to pierce the weft yarns on the front or the back of your weaving!
Take this new warp yarn and tie it to the top of your frame, again make sure to go through your scaffolding. This will be next to your original tied warp.
Once your new warp is in place you can remove the old warp from your weaving and tie it to the bottom of your frame. This will keep the tension of your weaving.
Done! Keep weaving like nothing ever happened.
Fixing a broken warp on a notched frame loom
What you need: extra warp yarn
Fixing a broken warp yarn on a notched frame loom is essentially the exact same as fixing a broken warp yarn on a simple frame loom. This is because neither one of them has an advancing warp. These smaller weavings are easier to fix because you can just tie a new warp yarn onto your frame in place of the broken one.
The same options also apply. If your woven area is small then I recommend a full replacement, and if your woven area is large then your broken warp yarn should stay in place with the new warp yarn overlapping and taking over for the rest of the weaving.
The size of the woven area in these photos is small enough that I could have done a full replacement, but I opted for an overlapped warp for the sake of this post.
If you are overlapping your warp then instead of weaving up the entire warp channel, you would instead weave into your scaffolding and then float the warp on the back of the weaving until a few inches below the top of your woven area. Then weave up the remaining few inches of your warp channel and tie your new warp to the top of the loom.
This is much simpler than trying to weave up the warp channel of a large weaving but it still anchors the warp in place for easy weaving.
Your old warp yarn will stay in place and your new warp yarn will overlap it by a few wefts. The friction of the weft on the broken warp will keep the tension intact for the remainder of the weaving.
The pictures show the warp floating on the front of the weaving because it is easier to fix this way, but you will want to push these tails to the back of the weaving when you are finishing it. This will make it look cleaner.
Once the weaving is finished and off the loom you can weave the broken warp and the new warp back into the weaving. Pull the new warp from the scaffolding to free it to be woven in. This is done in the same way as you would weave in your weft tails.
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Fixing a broken warp on a rigid heddle and floor loom
What you need: extra warp yarn, t-pins, weights, something to hold your extra warp
Fixing a broken warp on a rigid heddle loom and a floor loom (and also a table loom!) is basically the same because the warp mechanics are very similar.
The biggest difference will be in the weights and types of weights you will be able to use since floor looms are much taller than their rigid heddle and table counterparts. It is possible you can use similar weights, but you will have to play around with the right options to maintain the right tension on your warp.
The first thing you need to do for a broken warp on an advancing warp loom is to measure out a new warp yarn to replace the broken one. I always like to make notes on my weavings for occasions like these. That way I know exactly how long my replacement warp yarn should be.
Take this warp over to your loom and tie a small square knot at one end.
Insert your t-pin into this knot and insert your t-pin into your weaving a few inches below where your woven area has stopped. Be careful when inserting your t-pin into your weaving that you do not pierce your weaving. Also, I recommend putting the tip of the pin toward the back of your weaving so you do not pierce yourself…
Next, you will re-sley your reed or your rigid heddle with your new warp yarn. If using a floor or table loom you will need to also re-thread your heddle.
The remainder of your yarn can be wrapped around a weight and left to hang from the back of your weaving.
If you have old film canisters or pill bottles these work really well to contain the remainder of your warp so it is not dragging on the ground.
The weight that you choose will depend on the amount of tension that you need. Fishing weights are really good options because they are small and heavy, but you can use anything that is easy to get your hands on!
You will need to let out the extra warp as you keep weaving and moving your warp forward. Just think of this as a way to make sure you get up and stretch occasionally!
Your new warp will weave in seamlessly and beyond letting out some warp from the weight occasionally, your weaving experience will be the same.
Once your weaving is finished you can take it off your loom as usual.
To start your finishing process: remove your t-pin or straight pin and untie your square knot. You will finish this the same way as any other broken warp. Weave in your broken and new warp up and down the warp channels. It is ok if your new warp tail is on the shorter side, weave it in anyway. It will be overlapping your old warp so everything should stay in place.
This works even if you have a balanced weaving and you can see the warps. I have circled where the warps overlap in the picture below.
When a warp breaks it can be easy to stress out and get discouraged. Luckily, if you follow any of the steps above then it should not be any more than a few minutes of extra time added to your weaving!