A common mistake made by new weavers and some distracted experienced weavers is warping their rigid heddle loom backwards. Just what does that mean? They have warped the loom so that the warp has been placed on the cloth/weaving side of the loom OR THE FRONT SIDE OF THE LOOM WHEN IT BELONGS ON THE BACK SIDE OF THE LOOM. A rigid heddle loom has two distinctly different sides - and they are easy to tell apart. The warp side of the loom - the side you put the warp onto the apron rod and wind onto the beam on is the BACK OF THE LOOM - and you can tell because it is the SHORT side of the loom - from the heddle to the beam. The cloth/weaving side of the loom is the FRONT OF THE LOOM - and you can tell because it is the LONG side of the loom - from the heddle to the beam. The side you weave on is longer to give you more room to weave in. The side the warp is put on is shorter because all that side is doing is holding the warp rolled up on the beam.
So what happens if the loom is warped backwards. You could still weave this way but you will not have very much room to weave in. Will the weave be different? Likely no. BUT you will be advancing the warp much more often and spending time you could have just kept weaving doing so.
Here is the simple way to fix warping the loom backwards and getting the warp from the wrong beam onto the right beam. It might seem obvious that you just wind the warp from one beam to the other - which basically is what is done BUT when the warp is wound onto the beam when the loom is warped correctly, tension needs to be placed on the warp as you wind so that the warp will have even tension when you weave AND at the same time as winding on a warp separator of some type - brown package wrapping paper or rubber no slip grip shelf liner or warp sticks - need to be placed between the rows of warp to keep the warp from falling into the row below which will mess up the warp tension. Follow the these instructions and you will get the warp onto the correct beam easily and fairly quickly. Just to note - this process is easier to do with a helper, but it can be done alone. I will point out where a helper comes in handy.
1) If you have not already done so, warp the holes.
2) Take the warp that is on the back side of the loom now (the warp is wound on the front beam) and tie it onto the apron rod attached to the back beam. Do this just the same way you would do it on the front of the loom had you warped correctly. You can use knots or lash on - which ever is your preference. Once the warp is tied on, adjust the tension on the warp just as you would do when the loom is warped correctly.
3) You now have a loom with warp attached to both beams - they are just not the right beams. Now, you will begin to start fixing it. Have your warp separator handy. If you are going to have a helper - have the helper ready to help.
4) Set the pawl (latch) on the BACK beam - the beam with no warp wound on - OFF the ratchet. (Ratchet looks like a gear. Pawl is a latch that locks into the teeth of the gear.)
5) Put one hand on the front beam - where the warp is wound onto and hold the beam from turning. IF USING A HELPER - THIS IS THE HELPER'S JOB - SO GET THE HELPER TO HOLD THE FRONT BEAM.
6) If it is just you alone, with your other hand release the the pawl from the ratchet on the FRONT beam AND DO NOT LET GO OF THE FRONT BEAM. If you have a helper and are not holding the beam with your hand - then do the same WHILE THE HELPER DOES NOT LET GO OF THE FRONT BEAM.
7) IF USING A HELPER - THE HELPER HOLDS THE FRONT BEAM AND NEVER LETS GO BUT ALLOWS THE BEAM TO TURN WITH RESISTANCE, PUTTING TENSION ON THE WARP AS IT WINDS ONTO THE BACK BEAM WHERE IT BELONGS. IF YOU ARE ALONE - with one hand you are going to hold the front beam and put RESISTANCE on it to put tension on the warp, as you wind on with the other hand.
8) When you need to add another sheet of warp separator or another warp stick, lock both beams with the ratchet and pawl - to free both of your hands - and add the sheet or put in the warp stick.
9) Unlock the FRONT BEAM AGAIN - and still either you or the helper HOLDING THE FRONT BEAM TO PUT TENSION ON THE WARP - start winding on again.
10) Repeat 8 and 9 until you have finished winding the warp onto the BACK BEAM.
11) Your loom is NOW warped correctly! The only difference from having done this right from the start is that the warp is going around the apron rod on the front of the loom and is tied onto the apron rod on the back of the loom. THIS WILL NOT EFFECT THE WEAVE. You may still need to weave a header - it is actually a good idea to do that even if the warp looks evenly spaced on the front of the loom.
12) YOU ARE READY TO WEAVE!
That is it - 12 simple steps. Having a helper is less awkward in what the weaver has to do to get the loom wound on, but if you can reach hold the opposite beam while you wind on from the other side of the loom, it can be done! 😃