Ask Nancy: Weaving Q & A

Ask NancyGot weaving problems? Stumped by your spinning? Our resident expert Nancy Reid will answer all of your burning questions in this new regular feature! Previously only available on our newsletter, we are moving Nancy’s informative column over to the Woolery blog for easy reference. In this month’s edition, we are sharing a few questions about fiber prep; to ask your own question, email orclick here to post your questions in our Ravelry group

All the Best,

Wave, Perri, and the entire Woolery Team


I ordered a cotton 8/4 yarn from you. I have warped it and have started weaving. However, a couple of the warp threads have sheared down to 1 strand and are about to break. I have really had a problem warping it tightly & thread breaking. Any solution? I ordered 3 cones of this tread. Am I going to have problems with all of them? Please help!


In normal use, you shouldn’t be able to break 8/4; my strong suspicion is that you have far too much tension on your warp. The only other thing that will break warp threads is abrasion; either on the selvedges from having too much draw-in (not enough weft in the shed) or from having sized the reed to the yarn too snugly.

We are happy give you some more guidance on this on the phone (give us a call toll-free at 1-800-441-9665). The rule for tension in weaving is “just enough for error-free weaving;” if it’s more than that, you’ve cranked it up too tightly.


Is a rigid heddle available to accommodate bulky yarn? Does a 5-dent heddle have large enough holes for a thick yarn?


If you get any of the Ashford looms, there are 2.5-dent heddles available for them that will handle very bulky yarns. With regards to your question about the 5-dent heddle, that depends upon your definition of “thick”: by standard knitting yarn definitions, “bulky” yarns will fit in a 5-dent heddle, and the yarns that one would need a 2.5-dent heddle for are usually classed as “ultra-bulky.” Hope this helps; knitting yarn definitions are notoriously imprecise. That is the very best that we can do!

Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom

Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom


I am looking for a reed that will fit an Ullman loom that is 48-50 inches long.
On this loom, it appears that the reed height is adjustable. So, what would you recommend – carbon or stainless steel? I’d like to start with an all around reed size (maybe a 10 dent is a good start?) and 48″ long. My only weaving experience is on a rigid heddle loom. This loom was found in the crawl space of a recently purchased property in Maine. It appears that everything else is here, just missing the reed. I couldn’t let my friend throw it away, so I’m willing to get her back into shape and weaving!


Reeds are sold by height as well as by length; that length is certainly no problem. Our standard reeds are either 4.75” or 5” tall, depending upon which supplier we choose. Most of the big CM looms will have a good fit with a variety of reed heights, because the top of the reed holder floats and is not fastened. Glimåkra reeds are routinely very short (4” overall height), and Cranbrook reeds are quite tall at 5.5”; we can order any of those as well if you prefer. I don’t think we’ll have any difficulty with fitting the Ullman; it sounds like the 4.75″ height would be best.


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