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posted Aug 2, 2010, 2:05 PM by Mary Powell   [ updated Aug 2, 2010, 2:15 PM ]
We are finally ready to put the threads on the loom, or dress the loom. This is the most stressful part of weaving for me. It is also, apparently, the most fascinating to watch.
I gather up the spread warp, reed, lease sticks, and warp stick, and take it to the loom.

 The warp stick is slid into ropes, attaching it to the back beam, the reed is set in the beater bar, and the warp laid out in front of the loom.

At this point, the lease stick are in front of the reed. I need them to be behind the reed. So, my very patient helper pulls the warp taut, and I slide a wide, smooth slat in next to the first lease stick.

 Then, a second slat goes in next to the other lease stick, effectively taking their place separating the threads.

Then I untie and remove the lease sticks, and replace them behind the reed, using the slats to separate the threads appropriately. I apologize that the pictures are not more clear, but I was not able to stop and position for better shots. This lease transfer is the single most important step. If I drop one of those slats, or miss the threads, or even sneeze, I will lose the cross, and the threads will be irreparably tangled. I would have to start all over with new thread. Fortunately, that didn't happen.
Now my faithful helper, Charlotte, starts slowly turning the back beam, winding the threads on. I have the two bundles of threads in my hands, pulling them taut and maintaining even tension across all the threads. I start at the opposite side of the room, gather up the threads, making sure none are tight or loose, then walk slowly forward as Charlotte winds it up.

Both of us watch for any tangles, drooping or tight threads, and movement from the beater bar. The threads are sliding over the lease sticks where the cross guides them into their proper position.
When the warp is all on the beam, I cut the loop at the free end, pull the threads free of the reed and tie them into loose knots.