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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I'm a terrible weaver

...but I have fun with it, when I can be bothered to set up the loom.

Here is the loom, with my kid as a size reference. I built and then modified the loom using directions found in the book Kids Weaving by Sarah Swett. She's apparently a renowned tapestry weaver with a webpage of her own, and her original instructions give you a slightly smaller loom that is set up to manage plain weave (the basic over-under-over-under weave that you learn in art class in school). I wanted to be able to make larger projects and also to do twill, so I modified the construction after a while so that I would be able to use three shafts instead of just one.

Here is the loom, all dressed up for one of my first projects. Annoyingly, these are some of the only pictures I can find, even though I've done two projects since this one. This little thing was meant to be a proof-of-concept scarf, but it shrank and became more of a belt by the time it was done.

The white string that you see coming off the horizontal cross bars are called "heddles" and they are one of those little inventions, like the wheel, that are now ubiquitous but which completely revolutionized human culture. Without heddles, fast, complex weaving simply isn't possible. Making enough fabric to clothe a human being would be possible without them. And you can make them with string!

And finally here is the project underway. In the middle you can see an error I discovered after it was too late, that altered the twill pattern. Lucky it didn't hurt the weave, just made it look weird.

So this was 2015. If I can find more pictures, I'll be sure to post them. I'm still a pretty terrible beginning weaver, but I enjoy it as a way to pass time when I don't have anything else going on. I've bought far too much yarn considering how little I actually use the loom right now, but I'm hoping to get back to it before too much longer. In 2017 I took the loom with me to Pennsic and attracted a little bit of (favorable) attention from people who were curious about the loom itself, rather than any skill I myself might have had. I finished off another belt while I was there that has a lovely zigzag pattern in the weave. Three shafts, man. You can do all kinds of nifty things with three shafts.


Advancing the finished fabric around the frame of the loom as I progress some more.

The finished belt thingy! Very soft and pretty; not too bad for a first project.

Let me know if you want to see more; I finally found all my weaving photos and I'll probably upload them even if I don't get any comments here. I'm trying to catch up from my lack of blogging for th past little while. Sorry about that.


  1. That looks like an interesting pastime!

    For one reason or another, I always thought looms were much bigger. Amazed to see that I was wrong.

    Honestly, I didn't notice the mistake made. But I'm impressed with the end product all the same! Kudos for creating nice things!

    I tried to get into craft when I was younger, but soon found I had little patience for knitting and crocheting, and I imagine I'd have just as little patience with looming.

    Good luck with all your future craftiness!

    1. Tapestry looms can be quite tiny, since some of the pieces made are small enough to fit in a picture frame. But the looms you're probably thinking of are floor looms, and they can get pretty huge. They have to be wider than the fabric you want to make on them, so that 60" wide bolt you're looking at in the fabric store? Pretty huge loom made that.

      I do a lot of things related to recreating medieval cultures and pastimes, so weaving for me was just another thing to try. Browse through and see if you can find my calligraphy stuff. I'm much better at that than I am at weaving!

      Thanks for your comment!