Wednesday, January 28, 2009


These are the looms the Polar Bear built me, plus one jury-rigged from an embroidery frame. I mostly use them for tapestry weaving, though one was built for a pile-rug weaving class I was teaching.

They're basic frame looms, out of 1 and 1/4" x 1 and 1/4". Cheap and easy to build.

The dots on the top are inlaid inch and 1/2 inch marks, because the Polar Bear is an overachiever. And the runes spell out "This loom not of period design", because it was used in a display of medieval tapestry weaving and someone said the loom should be marked as not being a design of the medieval period, and because the Polar Bear thinks he's funny.

Sadly, so do I.

Sometimes. :)

The sides have slots drilled part of the way through the wood on the inside (about 1/2 an inch) near the bottom, with a 1" diameter dowel resting in them. The slots are about 3 inches long, so the dowel can be used to tension the warp.

There are grooves on the front and back of the bottom horizontal piece, where tie-downs to hold the dowel under tension can go, without rubbing on the slot in the removable base the loom sits in.

The advantage of this design is that the dowel can be raised enough to allow even a new, thick spool of my favourite warp thread to pass under it, and the tensioning dowel is stable and pretty tight in the slots (it's not removable), so the loom can be turned on its side to warp up without needing a hand to hold the rod in place, which I find easier.

This is the loom made for a rug weaving class. I needed it quick so it wasn't finished as fancily as the previous. I wanted a heddle rod to speed up the rug weaving, which I don't use in tapestry weaving since my weft is rarely passing under more than a dozen thread in a pick, so the Polar Bear built a basic frame loom, with rests for the heddle rod.

This loom fits in the same removable base. Unlike the previous loom, the upper horizontal at the bottom is fixed. I wouldn't have bothered with it at all except I didn't want the warp threads to pass around the horizontal piece that fit into the base. Especially the way it was warped up for the rug class (see picture two below).

For tension, there's a loose dowel that can be hung from the top of the loom. This is a whole lot easier to make than the loom with the slots in the sides. But I find it a pain to warp up, because you have to hang the tensioning rod first, and it has to be warped up standing upright unless you have extra hands to help you.

Also, you have to leave room at both the top and the bottom of the frame for the spool of warp thread to pass, which means that while these are both the same overall size, I have several inches less usable warp on this second frame, if I warp up this way.

It was designed to warp up this way for the class (this is one of the student's looms, with a permanent base and better heddle rests), and I discovered after I got it home that the space between the two bottom horizontal pieces on mine isn't big enough for a newer spool of my usual warp thread to fit through. Works fine for this other kind of warp up though, if you warp up on the two warp sticks first then wrap the whole warp onto the loom.

The removable base. 2" x 8" (or maybe 10") with 2" x 2" mounted on it. Two holes drilled through both 2" x 2"s, with matching holes in all the frame loom bottoms, and a couple of pegs to hold the frame in place. The base is quite heavy and the loom doesn't rock.

Making the base removable means we can pack the loom flat, as space is often at a premium on our road trips. Flying, I would just take the frame, which fits in our largest suitcase, and not bother with the base.

This is the jury-rigged loom, from a small scrolling embroidery frame, a couple of pegs from my spool rack, and a couple of shoelaces, for a miniature tapestry. Just to show you can make a loom out of anything! :)

The stand, for those who are interested, is a couple of pieces of wood, 3/4" x 3", about 2 and 1/2 feet tall, with cross-pieces for feet. there's three holes at the top for adjustable height and the bolts can go through the holes already in the scrolling frame side pieces. You'd want heavier feet than I have (mine are just made with the same wood as the verticals), because the whole thing rocks when I'm using it, unless I put my feet on the stand's feet.

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