bamboo blind used as warp packing or separator - 5 more blinds in a tidy 'puddle' on the floor
From time to time a new-ish weaver will wonder if warp packing is really necessary and if so, what should be used?
The short answer is - it depends.
If you are only ever beaming very short warps and your loom's warp beam is fairly large, you may not need anything at all.
The problem comes when longer warps, especially of yarn with little elasticity, is being used for warp. Add to that beaming with little tension and you are setting yourself up for a nasty experience.
As to what to use - that also depends. It's pretty much personal preference. Traditionally sticks were used. When I first started weaving the studio where I took my weaving class had both sticks and corrugated cardboard. Both worked although the cardboard did get squished after a time.
I mostly used sticks until I started beaming sectionally. The trick to using a sectional beam is to wind the warp on with a good amount of tension. The rule of thumb is to use at least as much tension (preferably more) as will be applied during weaving. (If you use warp flanges, that is like having one huge section and if you wind with sufficient tension you don't need any warp packing.)
The point of doing these things - warp packing (or separators) and beaming with tension is to build a nice solid warp, one where the upper layers cannot cut down into the lower layers when tension is applied to weave.
Eventually I got a small(er) loom and began pulling warps on again. I needed something for warp packing. A friend gave me some very heavy vinyl wall paper which worked reasonably well. The problem with long lengths of cardboard or wall paper is that they need to go on perfectly straight or they will begin to spiral as you wind the warp. And as the warp is woven off, the length of either begins to buckle and pile up messily under the warp beam.
One day I was shopping in a store and spotted bamboo blinds. Ah-ha! I bought several, asked Doug to remove the hardware and started using them.
The advantage of the blinds over sticks is that you only need to stick the end into the warp and wind until the blind is all wound into the warp. You don't need to stop every few inches to insert another stick. Another advantage of the blinds over sticks or cardboard (or wall paper) is that they are self-unloading. They simply drop down onto the floor in a fairly tidy 'puddle'.
My usual warp on the Leclerc is up to 11 meters. The other advantage of the blinds is that they are approximately 2 yards long. As each blind drops to the floor I know I've woven another 2 yards or so. It's a nice way to keep track of my progress.
Currently reading The Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron