Learn About Temples

Peter Collingwood, the well known rug weaver in England is, sadly, no longer with us, but he left us with some of his valuable comments on the use of temples in weaving.

"Yes, the temple is certainly no new gadget. In the wonderful "La Daperie au Moyen Age" by Dominique Cardon, there is reproduction of a stained glass window in Chartres Cathedral, dated 14th century, clearly showing a temple on a loom; also photos of iron objects which look pretty certainly like the metal end pieces of temples found in Portugal which may go back to 11th century! It seems to be linked with the arrival of the horizontal loom to Europe."

"Every culture has used them; from a simple length of bamboo pointed at both ends, to great tree branches I have seen used on rugs in Rajasthan."

"Their purpose, other than general width maintenance, is to enable you to pull the weft tightly around the selvage, so giving a good firm edge, WITHOUT causing progressive waisting. There is no need to leave "a little slack" to prevent this draw-in."

"There will of course always be a small amount of draw-in on the near-side as you move the temple away from you, but it is controlled not progressive."

"On the far side of the temple, the warp should run dead straight from the fell to the reed, so there is no tendency for the dents to be bent by inclined selvage threads."

"In a tapestry or a kilim rug, with many small areas of different colours across the width, there is much less tendency for waisting as each area is carefully beaten in with sufficient weft looseness…."

"I think it is important to realise that a temple is not some sort of strange extra piece of equipment that one resorts to only when trouble looms(!) I don’t know any traditional weaver in any country or from any time who does not use some sort of web-stretcher as a matter of course. A thrown weft lies as a more or less straight line. When the next shed is opened it is forced into a corrugated formation by the rising and falling ends. Ergo, it becomes shorter. So it is bound to exert a force narrowing the warp, which a temple can overcome."

"A positive-action wooden or metal one keeps the woven cloth extended so the warp runs straight from it to the reed."

Peter Collingwood

There are metal and wooden temples (stretchers) and they are used on all widths of weaving, for all but tapestry weaving.

The wooden ones are recommended for most weaving. They are made in many sizes to work within a range of widths, such as 8"-10" to longer ones like 40"-66". The longer ones are also thicker and wider. Temples work best on widths which are between the widths given. So the 40"-66" temple works well on widths from about 41"-65". Weavers generally purchase more than one temple.

To use a temple, you must place it in the weaving as soon as there is enough weft woven to hold it. Do not wait until you have narrowing of the width of the weaving. To set the length of the temple, place it up side down on the warp beside the reed. Extend the temple to the width of the warp, letting the wooden edges extend beyond the warp about 1/8" and the teeth just inside the selvage threads.

Place the locking pin into the holes, putting the pin through the nearest hole in the center section.

Place the temple right side up on the weaving. Push the metal holding plate to the edge of the temple to make the temple fold. To place the temple in the weaving, put the teeth on the left into the left selvage at the very edge of the selvage. Then set the teeth on the other end of the temple, into the right selvage. Push the center of the temple down and slide the metal plate toward the center to hold the temple flat. Do not force it. If it is difficult to push it down, remove the temple, pull out the pin and select the next hole to make it shorter.