A Looming Presence
You can’t throw a bottle cap in my house without hitting a loom. I have looms every where, you could say it’s a looming presence. Most of which I have made myself. Mostly because I’m
cheap thrifty, or the ones I find won’t suit my particular needs, and also to see if I can do it. It turns out that sometimes I get it right, sometimes. There have been times that you can buy a loom for what you can build a good one for, like my Inkle loom that I got from a vendor on Ebay. I have looked at the looms that I see for sale online, and check out loom plans that are free and adapt them for myself, and I even bought a set of loom plans. Since the loom purpose first and for-most is to hold the warp of a weaving at the desired tension, it’s not too hard to figure out what will work and what wont. The first two looms were inspired by the plans that Mary Walker generously provide on her website Weaving in Beauty. The following looms will be picture first, then an explanation:
This is the first loom that I built. I admit, I think I had high aspirations. This loom is 52″ high and 42″ wide, and is intended for Navajo style weaving. The other side has these same poles covered with hemp cord. It looks lovely, however they are in the side beams instead of on the outside, so while they look good, they are less useful. So I turned it around and attached these bars to the outside upright beams. It’s a nice work horse. I made some mistakes on it, but I was able to go back and change things around. It currently resides in my living room. I’ve used it and it’s very pleasant to sit in front of and work on. I plan to get lots of use out it. I use it more often than not for warping. I have nails in the back so I can lay it face down and warp my weaving on it.
This is the third loom that I built, 26″ wide x 37″ high, also intended for Navajo Style weaving. I made one between these two, but it was a fail. (I sometimes use the failed loom for sprang, but not much.) This loom is one of my favorites. I made it for smaller projects, and I can’t find anything to complain about with it, except that it’s just big enough that there aren’t many surfaces that it can sit on to raise it. It is however, very sturdy and is large enough for many smaller to medium sized weaving’s. the back is used for warping as well. This is one of my favorite looms.
This is the fourth loom, while I did not “make” this by hammer and nails, I did adapt it and make it a loom. The weaving I wanted to do was just too large to fit my other looms, and I didn’t want yet one more large (very large) wooden loom taking up a permanent place in my small home. So I decided to improvise and use a metal bed frame that could be collapsed and stowed away when I’m done with it. I was shocked to find out that these cost around $100. So I went on Craigslist and found one that is adjustable for any bed, and paid only $35, and it probably took a gallon or gallon and a half of gas to go pick it up. I’m glad because it is bent a little from the constant stress of a warp under tension, and I had to drill holes into it to use it to warp my weaving. It’s old, and very heavy, so I won’t be dragging it out to measure it for this post. But it adjusts to fit a bed from full to king size. It was a challenge to work with it and not beat up the floor, wall or the credenza it’s leaning against. Also you need to make sure that its square, it can get wonky if you move it, so measuring it for square frequently is important. For this weaving I had to make the battens, as I couldn’t rely of suppliers for the proper size. I will likely be using this again REAL soon. It’s currently tucked away in the closet of my craft room.
This loom doesn’t look like much, but it is a work horse. I saw and wanted badly the Kliot tapestry loom. I nearly bought it, but realized that the coolest part of the loom that I couldn’t make, I wouldn’t use for Navajo style weaving. So in my head, I broke down the components of the loom that were useful to me and decided to make this loom. It consists of two side uprights and two cross beams in the front on top and bottom, and a center beam on the back for support and if I need to do an “up and over” for extra length. I have an additional set of cross beams and support beam in a different size so I can match my loom to my weaving. One set of 36″ cross beams, and one set of 24″ cross beams and the loom is 36: high. This loom is easily dismantled, its very portable, it accommodates a wide range of weaving’s, can be used for “up and over” technique for longer than 36″ weaving’s. Another great thing is that I can use an adjustable metal easel to rest it on and weave in a comfortable position. I do not use it for warping, but I may add wooden pegs to the back for that, I will avoid using nails to avoid damage or injury. I still have my eye on that Kliot tapestry loom though. It’s rather cheap and oh so cute.
This loom is a Swedish band loom, great for Inkle bands and card weaving. It was not easy to make, and isn’t without its design flaws. I recently found plans online to build a Swedish Band Loom. I thought it looked relatively easy, but wasn’t sure if all the components would be easy to get my hands on, or if I would need special expensive tools or advanced wood working skills, as I lack all of the above. I contacted them and got a prompt and pleasant reply from them. All the wood is common and available at home improvement stores. The fancy parts are easily attainable and not hand made. Basic skills and basic tools are all that’s needed: drill, saw, sandpaper etc. So I purchased the plans. In the opening paragraph of the instructions it clearly states that you will need a drill press to do this properly, and while a drill can be used you will need to build a special jig and good luck (that’s para-phasing, but not by much), and the hardware will not be available in the size needed and will need to be altered. I bought a cheap drill press, I wanted one anyway. The lumber (the easy part that’s available everywhere) is cut to exact specifications is not available anywhere. I would have to have it specially milled, or mill it myself. So I took the plans and changed it for what WAS available, and since I travel with my weaving, I decided to adjust it farther and make it a table top version instead of a floor version. The only part that I left completely to specs is the spool assembly. The spool assembly is flawed, when you loosen ones spool the other spins also and you can’t just loosen them both a little and advance the warp still under some tension, it all goes floppy. I wove a tablet band on this and got good results, but I will have to change the spool assembly and give them separate rods so they can be loosened and tightened independently. It’s likely I will make a floor loom with the different spool assembly.
Such a simple design, I saw something very similar posted somewhere and thought it was easy enough to try myself. It works well. It is one board, with two smaller ones at each end, with wing nuts and bolts to provide tension. It has two pieces to hold the work at a good height and I added a raddle or warp spacer to make weaving easy. It works very well, is quite portable, and has all that flat space that may require some future wood burning. It has a brocaded band that I’m weaving with tablets right now, and its working like a champ.
These are two tapestry looms that I made. One has cuts at 4 epi (ends per inch), so it will be great for any EPI that has an even number, but especially in multiples of 4. The other has finishing nails set at 5 EPI, great for 5,10,15,20, epi. I used embroidery stretcher frames and left over black walnut liqueur from dyeing to stain it and then some tung oil. I can’t wait to put them to good use.
These other items aren’t looms obviously, but hard to live with out. I couldn’t trust that I could buy weaving battens at the size I needed, so I set out to make these battens for the weaving that was on the bed frame. A lot of work went into making them and it was quite hard to get them smooth. I still found that I had to sand them when I was using them. It may have been the wood that I used. But they’re pretty, and they’re big. I also made a device to aid in warping tablets for threaded in designs. It was designed by Peter Collingwood and was featured in his book for tablet weaving. It took some getting used to, but once you wrap your head on how to use it, it does aid in this tedious task. A Wraps Per Inch gauge made form coins. I keep one tethered to my spinning wheel. It’s great for measuring while I’m spinning or trying to compare yarns. While this is not an accurate method of measuring from one person to another, it’s a good personal tool to gauge grist.