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How to Warp a Bead Loom - Winding Method

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You can create beadwork that is slightly longer than your beading loom by using a technique called winding on. Winding on is also useful when you want to have very long warp tails on both ends of your beadwork so that you can properly weave them in to "finish off" your beadwork.

In order to wind on, you need to warp your loom (attach the warp threads) in a way that allows you to manage extra long warp threads.

Please click on any image in this tutorial for a full-size view.

1. Prepare the Warp Threads

Start by calculating the total number of warps you need for your design: It is the number of vertical bead columns plus one. Then take that number and divide it by 2 (if you have an odd number, round up to the next whole number when you divide). This is the number of individual strands of thread that you need in order to warp your loom with the winding method.

For example, if your design has 11 columns, you'll need 12 warps, and you'll make those 12 using six strands of thread. If your design has 12 columns, you'll need 13 warps, and you'll make them using seven strands.

TIP: In loom beading, you can stitch a single bead or multiple beads within each column of beadwork. Every column is bounded on both sides by a warp thread or cord.

Cut about one arm span of warp thread for each strand that you need. (Measure an arm span by holding the end of the thread in one hand and the spool in the other, and stretching your hands out away from each other as far as they will go.)

To warp your loom for the Moroccan Coral Bracelet, you'll need a total of five arm-span strands of size D beading thread (I used C-Lon beading thread in chartreuse). Use beading scissors or embroidery scissors to cut the thread, and take a few moments to pre-stretch each strand individually.

Pull all the strands together at one end and run them all through thread conditioner (I used Thread Heaven). Coat their entire lengths, as if they were one large thread. Do this a couple of times, and then run the strands through your fingers to remove any excess conditioner.

2. Tie the Warps Onto the Loom

Fold the bundle of threads exactly in half, and tie them in an overhand knot around one of the warp anchors (usually a bolt or nail) on the back end of your loom.

Tip: On some looms, including most wire frame looms, both ends look the same. In that case, simply choose one end to be the "back" as you stitch your beadwork. In the wood frame loom used in the example, the back of the loom is slightly higher than the front.

3. Lay the Warp Threads Over the Top of the Loom

Gently extend the warp threads -- which are now divided into two bundles -- over the top of the loom and lay them on the warp separator (usually a coil or threaded bolt) on the front end of the loom. Do not position the individual threads within the warp dents just yet.

4. Wind the Warp Threads

Loosen both wing nuts on the sides of the back warp bar (the dowel that holds the warp anchors). Use your fingers to turn the warp bar downward toward you to begin wrapping the threads. Keep turning and wrapping, doing your best to keep the thread tension taut and even around the warp bar. Do not allow the wound thread to "loop up" or jump across to the opposite side of the warp anchor.

Stop winding when there are only about six or seven inches of thread left extending over the front of the loom.

5. Start Positioning the Warps Within the Warp Dents

Turn the loom around so that the front of the loom is facing you. Grab one bundle of threads, space them out with your fingers, and pull them taut in a straight line over the loom. Place each thread within matching warp dents on opposite sides of the loom. Begin with the dents at the back of the loom, and bring each thread carefully to the front of the loom. Make sure that only one thread rests within each dent, and do not skip over any dents (unless you plan to accommodate larger beads).

Wrap the ends of the bundle around the warp anchor on the front of the loom two or three times, and stick them down against the warp bar with a piece of masking tape.

6. Finish Positioning the Warps in the Dents

If your design calls for an odd number of warp threads (see Step 1), remove one loose warp thread from the top of the loom now. Bring it to the back of the loom, and allow it to drop down. You can trim it off later when you remove your beadwork from the loom. (We do not need to do this for the Moroccan Coral Bracelet.)

Position the remaining loose warps within matching warp dents on both ends of the loom. Be careful not to leave any unintentional empty dents between this set of warps and the set you installed in Step 5.

Wrap the ends of the threads around the warp anchor two or three times, and tape them down against the warp bar on the opposite side that you taped the warps in Step 5.

7. Tighten the Warp Tension

Make sure that the masking tape you used to hold down the warp ends is secure.

Turn the loom around again so that the back end is facing you. Use your fingers to rotate the warp bar downward and toward you again, to tighten up the tension on the warp threads. When the warps are tight and springy across the top of the loom, re-tighten the wing nuts on both sides of this end of the loom.

8. Start Beading Your Design

Turn the loom around once more so that the front end is facing you. The loom is now warped and ready for beading.

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