Most weavers don’t have help to hold their warp bouts under tension when winding onto the loom. Front-To-Back has it’s own problems in that you need tension on the bouts while sleying the reed and the heddles, and tying onto the back beam. You often see bouts with a choke tie and then tied to the breast beam. I have often had threads being pulled out no matter how tight I try to tie.
On Pinterest I noted this photo of a design by a weaver from Germany, Andreas Moller, plus several people who copied the design for themselves. Moller calls his “Best Friend”, because its always there to help! I thought this was the answer I was looking for! It is in some ways, but not in other ways. The second photo is what we first came up with: primed wood cross pieces which were definitely too wide and too square. The warp didn’t move at all.
In a redesign, of what I’m calling a “Tensioning Ladder” we used 1 ¼ inch PVC pipe that was sanded to provide some resistance since the pipes were too slick. It works pretty well and is easy to find the material and easy to build. Narrower wood cross pieces would work, but they do need to be well rounded on the edges, a bit more work.
To sley the reed (and the rest) I set the Ladder up against the breast beam with the warp bouts laced through as shown. Worked quite well. Once done, for beaming, I found the tension to be too tight since this is unmercerized cotton, it was quite grabby. Simply removing the warp from the bottom two cross pieces worked well. So it depends on the warp. A very slick warp of silk or tencel would probably need all four cross pieces used.
Since my warp had some issues with knotting, it did need to be combed occasionally, ( I know some say don’t comb, but it works well for me when needed). Having the Ladder right up against the loom simply did not give enough space to do that. The last photo shows how I laid the ladder at an angle to give enough room to do that bit of combing that was needed. I use the Ladder in conjunction with my “Angel Wings” which are needed to hold your cross. Any lease sticks would work also.
Needed material for my version is: 1×3 uprights (could certainly by 2×2’s), longer than the height of the loom’s breast beam. Four cross pieces of 1 ¼” PVC pipe. The length should be somewhat narrower than your loom. They are held in place on the uprights with bolts. My Ladder sits on a rug so it stays in place. If your loom is on a slicker surface, you may need grips on the bottom of the Ladder uprights. [written for Diablo by Vilija]