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Sleying the Reed with the Autodenter

Autodenter title image

The autodenter is most helpful for sleying the reed when threading the warp onto the weaving loom ‘back-to-front’.

You can work left-to-right or right-to-left across the reed, whichever your handedness prefers.

The autodenter

Looking at the autodenter you will see that it is made of two distinct parts, a wooden handle with two short metal ‘fingers’ and a longer metal ‘knife’ which rests between the fingers, and is held in place by the diamond cut-out. The knife also has hooks on both the upper and lower edges to hold the yarn as it passes through the reed; you can use either depending on your preference. The bent end at the tip of the knife is to hold the autodenter in the reed and not fall on the floor when it is out of your hand.

The two fingers of the autodenter are bent at the very tip. The little bent tip should point in the direction you are moving as you enter the warps, this is critical to the successful use.

Autodenter close-up

How it works

The autodenter ‘walks’ along the reed by pressing the bent away tip of the autodenter against the dent and pushing the handle away from your body. The dent enters the gap between the fingers and should be moved down to the end of the knife and then, as the handle is pulled back, the dent passes out of the other side of the fingers leaving the autodenter up against the next dent to repeat the process, as if you are sawing. The "click" is all important if you aren't hearing a double click, then you are not moving it the full length. It has to go all the way back to the hilt, i.e. the handle has to come all the way up to the reed, or it won't advance to the next dent.

 

Practice this without a warp in place for several minutes.

 

Make sure you understand the pressures and positioning then the action to walk along the reed is quick and smooth. Do not twist the autodenter, or the knife will pop off and have to be refitted.

When the warp is prepared and through the heddles, each warp is caught on the knife hook before entering the reed, and you can either use the upper hook, where the thread has to be manually removed from the hook after each threading. Alternatively using the bottom hook requires that you keep the warp under tension until it has passed through the reed and then it can be allowed to drop off without any manual intervention. In both cases it helps to hold the warp yarn so that the autodenter is at an angle of 30–45 degrees from the floor, upwards for the upper hook and downwards for the lower hook, to ensure the yarn stays in place on the autodenter as it passes along the reed.

The length of loose warp yarn is also important to manage as this should be sufficient to pass around 10cm (4 in) beyond the reed to drop safely with little manual effort to clear from the reed.

You may want to keep a ‘normal’ reed hook to deal with any warps which drop before they are through the reed. If the autodenter advances without the yarn, just keep going to the next yarn and do the same if the autodenter pushes the yarn back through. Then use the reed hook to pull the yarn through afterwards rather than try to remove the autodenter and return it back a space.

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