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Looms and Weaving

Updated on July 12, 2013

Learning to Use a Loom

My husband's aunt recently gave me a loom. It was in bits and had no instructions.

Now I've done a little weaving before, mainly when I was at school or using my chunky peg loom or a bead loom but I've never used what looks to me like a "Proper Loom" for making actual real fabrics from fibers.

My first port of call was to go online and look for looms that looked like my new loom opposite so I:

a) knew what type of loom it was

b) knew what parts went where

c) how to string it up (or whatever the proper term is)

and

d) how to use it and thus think of cunning other ways to use it to.

The second part of reason d comes from my need to explore new and exciting ways of doing things.

This is a collection of research I've found to discover what type of loom I have and how to put all the bits together! On the way there I'll also be looking at other ways to weave and other sorts of looms you can use.

Rigid Heddle Loom

Rigid heddle loom
Rigid heddle loom

My New Loom

On top of a pile of drying fleece.

The image opposite shows how the loom looked when I first got it.

The metal part is still a little rusty so that needs treating but I think I've mostly got it set up properly now.

I have a lot of extra bits of wood left over that I'm not sure what to do with. I know some of them are for winding the weft on to.

Rigid heddle loom
Rigid heddle loom

Putting the Loom Together

I worked out that two of the wooden rods were held in place at either end of the loom by the straps on the fabric and the heddle goes somewhere in the middle.

I believe the heddle is that metal thing that's all rusty.

The threads go through the heddle and I think they're knotted onto the wooden rod on one side. I'm not sure how the threads are fastened onto the other side but I guess that they are somehow rolled up into the fabric wrapped on the ends of the loom.

First weaving project on Rigid Heddle Loom
First weaving project on Rigid Heddle Loom

Finally some Weaving!

I half-worked out how to use my Rigid Heddle loom but I'm still having trouble with making anything very big.

The sample I made below could only be a certain length because I had no idea how to wind the weaving into the rollers.

I think I can probably bodge something together, perhaps stitch a piece of doweling to the fabric on the winder and anchor the warp to that.

I used some old yarn that I didn't mind sacrificing if the project went wrong. Now I know I can make quite a nice-looking fabric I'm willing to use some more of my favorite yarns and try again. I love the idea of making a woven item of clothing - some sort of vest/waistcoat thing.

First Bit of Weaving

First weaving project on Rigid Heddle Loom
First weaving project on Rigid Heddle Loom

Ashford Weaving Rigid Heddle Loom - Get your own Rigid Heddle Loom!

Ashford Weaving Rigid Heddle Loom - 32"
Ashford Weaving Rigid Heddle Loom - 32"

It's nice to see a loom put together properly with some weaving on it! It sounds like, from the reviews, that this loom is really simple to use.

This loom has a width of 32" which seems like a good size for lots of items.

 

The Big Book of Weaving - by Laila Lundell and Elisabeth Windesjo.

The Big Book of Weaving: Handweaving in the Swedish Tradition: Techniques, Patterns, Designs and Materials
The Big Book of Weaving: Handweaving in the Swedish Tradition: Techniques, Patterns, Designs and Materials

This sounds like a great place to start for the beginning weaver.

Originally in Swedish, this book has now been translated into English.

It includes all the information you need to start weaving with a loom and includes 40 projects which include making things like baby blankets and shawls.

 

Peg Loom

Using a Peg Loom

Weaving chunky recycled bits.

Peg looms are really easy to use.

If you know a little bit about woodwork you can easily make your own peg loom. All you need is one block of wood, a drill and some doweling.

The pegs need to slip in and out of the main piece of wood and they need small holes drilled into them through which you thread string to be your warp. Once you've threaded your string through remember to knot all the strings together.

You wrap your fabrics, yarn or wool in and out of the pegs and when you've filled the pegs you gently lift them off of the main piece of wood and slip your fabrics/yarn/wool (the weft) off onto the string underneath.

Pull your excess length of string through the weft and then replace the peg and start again with the weaving.

In the images below you can see that I've used all sorts of bits including zips cut from old discarded clothing and pockets from an old coat - I wanted to experiment with using bits and pieces that might still be recognizable as recycled clothing in the end product.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
My peg loom.Starting to weave an old coat cut into strips.Weaving with zips and other odd chunky bits!Weaving the top edges of old curtains.The finished woven piece made out of all sorts of recycled bits and pieces.
My peg loom.
My peg loom.
Starting to weave an old coat cut into strips.
Starting to weave an old coat cut into strips.
Weaving with zips and other odd chunky bits!
Weaving with zips and other odd chunky bits!
Weaving the top edges of old curtains.
Weaving the top edges of old curtains.
The finished woven piece made out of all sorts of recycled bits and pieces.
The finished woven piece made out of all sorts of recycled bits and pieces.

A Peg Loom... - ...with accessories.

Harrisville Designs Pegloom
Harrisville Designs Pegloom

This is a smart little peg loom – not like my chunky old thing. It measures 7x10” so your finished project will be about 5 ½ x 9”.

The loom is aimed primarily at children and apparently you can make a tapestry for a doll house, a mug rug or a purse or you could think outside the box and use it to make something of your own design.

Also included with this peg loom are yarns, instructions and a plastic needle.

 

A Woven Bag

Made on my peg loom.

I used my peg loom to make a bag by just stringing up half of the loom. I made a long, thin piece of woven fabric and then wove it into a bag afterwards.

The thick fabric bits gave the bag a lovely "nest" sort of feel.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
I started by weaving a long thin piece of weaving and then folded it in half. I seamed the edges by wrapping a strip of fabric round the two edges.The woven pouch.I made a handle by weaving a very thin strap- looping the fabric around 3 or 4 pegs.The finished bag. I love thes colours I used- very natural nest-like colours.A detail of the finished bag.
I started by weaving a long thin piece of weaving and then folded it in half. I seamed the edges by wrapping a strip of fabric round the two edges.
I started by weaving a long thin piece of weaving and then folded it in half. I seamed the edges by wrapping a strip of fabric round the two edges.
The woven pouch.
The woven pouch.
I made a handle by weaving a very thin strap- looping the fabric around 3 or 4 pegs.
I made a handle by weaving a very thin strap- looping the fabric around 3 or 4 pegs.
The finished bag. I love thes colours I used- very natural nest-like colours.
The finished bag. I love thes colours I used- very natural nest-like colours.
A detail of the finished bag.
A detail of the finished bag.

Creative Weaving: Beautiful Fabrics with a Simple Loom - By Sarah Howard and Elisabeth Kendrick.

Creative Weaving: Beautiful Fabrics with a Simple Loom
Creative Weaving: Beautiful Fabrics with a Simple Loom

This looks like an exciting book for weavers using a rigid heddle or 2 shaft loom. It includes 30 designs and a gallery featuring items made out of handwoven fabric.

Ideas include working with both traditional fibers and fun materials such as recycled fabrics, feathers, foil, and plastic bags.

This book is apparently more geared towards giving inspiration than walking you through a particular project from start to finish, which would be great for people who don't like to follow the rules!

 

Bead Loom

Bead loom and woven beads
Bead loom and woven beads

Below you can see my bead loom and a belt that I made years ago.

Bead looms work in a similar way to other looms. I like to warp my bead loom with invisible thread and I string my beads onto another length of invisible thread. Once the beads for the row are strung into place you bring them under the warp and push them up between. You then simply bring your needle and thread back through the beads. Then you can start the next row.

I've been toying with the idea of using this loom to weave really delicate threads. Maybe it would be interesting to make a piece that has a mix of beads and threads?

Get Your Own Bead Loom

Darice 1012-24 Bead Loom
Darice 1012-24 Bead Loom

A bead loom that measures 12.2 x 3.4 x 3.2". This loom includes a starter kit but might not come with enough beads so make sure you order enough.

 

Cardboard Loom

If you want to make woven fabric you don't need to buy an expensive loom.

You can just use a piece of thick cardboard with a series of notches cut into each end (you can use a piece of cardboard without notches too but it might make things a bit more difficult for you).

The way I "warp" my cardboard is just wrapping one length of yarn around the cardboard, settling it in consecutive notches at either end. When you reach your desired width secure your "warp".

Yarn and threads can then be woven in and out.

Once your piece is finished you can cut the fabric off, knotting the ends of the warps to keep the material together.

Cardboard Loom

Inovart Cardboard "Wide Notch" 9-3/4" x 13" Looms
Inovart Cardboard "Wide Notch" 9-3/4" x 13" Looms

This is a book full of really cute and fun projects. It also includes a tutorial about how to make woven place mats using a cardboard loom.

 

Any Weaving Advice or General Comments? - Reader Feedback

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    • profile image

      ScentsWithBling 4 years ago

      Great lens! I've wanted to learn how to weave for quite awhile. Maybe I will look more closely at it now

    • Rachel Field profile image
      Author

      Rachel Field 6 years ago

      @Craftybegonia: Thanks for visiting! I think the most intimidating bit is getting it all ready :)

    • profile image

      Craftybegonia 6 years ago

      Looks fascinating and a bit intimidating but definitely interesting!

    • Rachel Field profile image
      Author

      Rachel Field 6 years ago

      @NanLT: Thanks for visiting. I hope it goes well :D

    • NanLT profile image

      Nan 6 years ago from London, UK

      Thank for this Rachel. I've recently decided that I need to learn to weave and this was a handy start.

    • Rachel Field profile image
      Author

      Rachel Field 7 years ago

      @evelynsaenz1: Thanks for visiting!! I really ought to update this lens - I have had a little go at trying to weave something on it but I need to get some smoother thread to use. I'm still not convinced I've put everything in its right place - and there are extra bits I'm not sure about either!

      Will lensroll back - what an amzing lens yours is! :)

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 7 years ago from Royalton

      What a fascinating lens about looms. I have pieces of wood in my 1840 Vermont Farmhouse that I have often wondered if possibly they were pieces to a loom. They are beautifully crafted by hand, wrapped in paper and tied with a string. No instructions here either. I can hardly wait to see a picture of your loom all set up with at least the beginnings of a woven piece of fabric.

      Lensrolled to Garner Rix and the Royalton Raid, a Unit Study that takes you back in time to life in the 1780's when all cloth was woven by hand.