Friday, May 24, 2013

Scouting Looms

The loom I have been using is one that returns to a school at the end of each May for summer classes, so if I want to continue weaving it's time to buy a loom or find another loaner. Because I ultimately want to make larger pieces (rugs and blankets) the type of loom I need is large and expensive. A new loom can run $3-$4k, an amount that unfortunately I am not ready to spend at this juncture. And so I begin my search for used looms. Apparently there are a decent number of used looms around, but the problem is finding one in good working order. Many old looms have rusty parts that rub against the yarn, splitting it as you weave.

My weaving teacher has found a woman with a standing Navajo loom that is no longer in use. This may be a possibility, though the Navajo loom is much more labor intensive to weave on. Standing Navajo looms like the one below do not have foot pedals to raise and lower various combinations of warp threads, a feature that allows for faster, more efficient weaving.

The more efficient floor loom with pedals looks like this, and costs quite a bit more:

My homework for the next month is to track down as many used loom leads as possible and work on building a warping board in the meantime. A warping board is used to measure lengths of yarn, and basically consist of a rectangular frame with evenly spaces pegs. A 14 yard warping board like the one I will need looks like this:

At $119, these are not prohibitively expensive, so I may just buy one, but I've found a few plans for DIY warp boards that I want to check out first. The design is simple enough, but the trick is getting the correct spacing for the pegs to ensure proper measuring, and making sure those pegs are sturdy enough to withstand the tension of the yarn. The wood must also be extremely dry to reduce expansion and contraction with temperature and humidity.

At this point I've probably gone on long enough about looms and warp boards, but my point in sharing all of this is to explain why I may not have any pretty pictures of woven textiles to share for the next month. Until I find a loom, no weaving for me. Can you all do me a favor and keep your fingers crossed that I find a nice loom at a decent price sometime soon? Thank you and happy Friday everyone!


  1. I love reading about your weaving adventures. I went on a two day workshop, got the bug but have been left totally in the dark about the type of loom to buy (the workshop was on a table loom with drop down pegs), where to buy let alone the mystery of how to actually set up the warp! There aren't many weaving teachers in the UK - am jealous but enjoying learning vicariously through your blog! Good luck with your loom search ...

  2. CJ, I know how you feel! I've only warped a floor loom once, and it was with tons of help. I don't think I could do it again alone. I have a few weaving books, but trying to warp a loom and weave following instructions in a book is near to futile. Workshops and classes are where it's at! Good luck with your weaving journey. Hope you are able to find a loom and teacher somewhere :)

  3. Hi Claire, I just found your blog after your Etsy feature...congrats! We have many parallel interests...Etsy, gardening, and weaving. I have been on Etsy for 2 year, organic veggie gardening for 20 years and weaving for 30+. If you want any advice let me to see the craft of weaving is not for everyone. One bit...if you can swing a warping reel vs a warping board they are so much easier to use and faster! And would not be too hard to build. Enjoying you're blog! Love you photography...that is my big learning curve right now...but I taught my self to weave so... All the Best Deborah