Make a Frame Loom for Weaving

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Introduction: Make a Frame Loom for Weaving

About: I like sewing and crafts,and trying new things. I'm vegetarian and always looking for new recipes. My cat's name is Mirko and likes to be in the centre of things, so you will see him in several of my instr...

This past spring, I spent a couple of weeks vacationing on one of the Gulf Islands.  The islands are home to a lot of artist and the place I stayed at was showcasing some of their work in the dinning area and lobby.  One piece that caught my eye was a woven tapestry, it was quite stunning.  It occurred to me that I didn't know a thing about weaving.  When I got home I did a bit of Google searching and payed a visit to the library to try to learn more about weaving.  I actually did not find a lot of information for beginners wanting learn how to weave online and the library books were old and had to be retrieved from storage, but I did figure out how to make a simple frame loom and weave on it.

Here is my instructable on How to Weave on a Frame Loom.

I included a glossary to help with the weaving terminology.

The following links were particularly helpful:
http://www.marlamallett.com/loom.htm
http://www.hallnet.com/Build.html
http://www.wonderhowto.com/how-to-weave-frame-loom-228529/

Step 1: What You Will Need

Frame
  • Wood: two pieces 26in X 1.5in X 3/4in
                       two pieces 20in X 1.5in X 3/4in

                       two pieces 2in X 1.5in X 3/4in

                       twp pieces 12in X 1in  X 3/4in
  • Hammer and nails
  • Measuring tape
  • Sugru
  • Wingnuts and screws
  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Wood glue
Heddle
  • Wood: Four pieces16.5in X 1in X 1/8in
  • Rigid and flat plastic
  • Utility tool
  • Glue
  • Clamps
Shuttle
  • Wood: several pieces 7.5in X 1in X 1/8in
  • Saw
  • Sandpaper

Step 2: Frame

I bought the wood I used for the frame from a nearby hardware store, it was an 8 ft piece that they cut for me into two 26 inch and two 20 inch long pieces, the remaining four inch piece I used for the front legs in step 4. I made a rectangular with the four pieces, with the shorter pieces sitting on top of the longer ones and put two nails in each corner.

Step 3: Frame: Back Legs

While weaving, I found that the most comfortable positioning of the loom was to place the front part on my lap and the back legs on a table.  You may want to adjust the height of the legs to suit you and your work environment. I also wanted the back legs to fold under so that the frame can lie flat and be tucked away when I wasn't using it, so I used a long screw and a wingnut to attach the legs to the frame.

I drilled holes 2 inches from the back on the long sides of the frame. On the two legs I drilled holes 3/4 inches from the end. I then fed the screw through the frame and then the leg so that the wingnut was on the outside.

Step 4: Frame: Front Legs

With the back legs in the upright position I marked the angle to cut the front legs.  Once I cut the front legs with a saw I glued them onto the frame with wood glue an inch and a half from the end.

Step 5: Frame: Sugru

I added Sugru to the bottom on the legs for traction and to protect my table.  I just needed two pieces of Sugru, and made little crosshatches with a ruler.

Step 6: Heddle

When weaving, you run the weft yarn over and under the warp, as you can imaging this can be tedious and time consuming. Using a heddle makes it a lot easier.  The type of heddle I made is called a rigid heddle, it consists of a wood frame and plastic shafts with alternating vertical slits and holes for the warp thread to pass through.  To start I cut the four thin pieces of wood so that they can fit inside the frame of the loom. The length needed was 16.5 inches.

Step 7: Heddle Continued

To make the shafts, I used some thick plastic #3 from a plastic container.  The plastic you use needs to be straight, not curved and the shafts should be 6 3/4 inches long. Each shaft was cut ~3/8 inches thick.  Since each shaft is spaced ~1/4 inch apart I needed a total of 27 shafts.  Once cut, sand the edges of the shafts since we don't want the yarn to snag on any rough edges.

I then measured and marked the centre of each shaft and drilled a hole. It should be large enough for thick thread to pass through. I also smoothed out the hole with my Dremel so that the yarn can move freely in the hole.

Step 8: Heddle Continued

Lay out two of the wood pieces and arrange each of the shafts 1/4 inches apart.  The ends of the shafts should sit near the middle of the wood.  Check that the shafts are straight and the holes line up. Glue the remaining two pieces of wood on top of the shafts and wood (so that the plastic shafts are sandwiched between two pieces of wood on each end).  Hold together the wood pieces with clamps and allow the glue to dry.

Step 9: Shuttles

A ball of yarn is too large to pass back and forth through the shed so you can wrap the yarn onto a shuttle.  To make a shuttle I used the wood left over from the heddle. The wood you use should be fairly flat.  I cut a notch in both ends roughly 1/2in wide and 1/2in deep. I then sanded the shuttle with increasing grit sandpaper so that it is nice and smooth.  You can make several of these so that you can weave with several different colours.

Now we are ready to weave: https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Weave-on-a-Frame-Loom/

Step 10: Glossary

  • Warp - The threads that run lengthwise around the frame (also a verb -to wrap the yarn lengthwise around the frame). (image 1)
  • Weft  - The yarn that runs from side to side through the warp yarn. (image 2)
  • Shed - The separation of alternating warp threads to create a space to pass the weft through. (image 3)
  • Heddle - A tool used to separate alternating warp threads creating a shed. (image 4)
  • Beater- A tool used to push the weft yarn in place. (image 5)
  • Shuttle - A tool in which the weft thread is wrapped and passed through the shed. (image 6)

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    36 Comments

    What sites did you look at online? I love weaving, as well as knitting, crocheting, felting, pretty much all fiber arts and I'm really suprised to hear you didn't find anything online.
    Ravelry.com is a great place for weaving (it's not just for knitting). There are tons of groups and forums there for weaving so you can get ideas, tips, questions answered, find patterns, see other people's work, tons of stuff! Here's a sample of a search I did on people's weaving projects (some of these are just INCREDIBLE pieces of work) - http://www.ravelry.com/projects/search#craft=weaving&view=thumbs&query=weaving&sort=best
    Also, youtube.com has an ungodly amount of instructional videos that are wonderful and VERY helpful. This link is just an example search I typed in (there are countless videos you could search for) - http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=loom+weaving+tutorial&aq=1&oq=loom+weaving
    Also, a lot of the yarn stores also carry weaving supplies. Knitpicks.com has a good selection of VERY affordable small beginner looms as well as the supplies (and of course yarn :)!
    I'm also suprised at your lack of library books. Where do you live? I know my local library (Englewood, Colorado) has a bunch of fiber arts books. I love to check out knitting books that have patterns in them. They also have a system set up where they can get books from the surrounding library districts (metro Denver area) so if I want something they don't have, they can order it in from another nearby district for me to check out. Last year I bought a great spinning and weaving book that has instructions on how to build your own floor loom. I could go home and get the title if you are interested at all. I found it at my local bookstore/coffee shop down the street from my house. It's also the place where I like to hang out and knit!
    And if all that fails, Amazon.com has a fanstastic selection. (again, this link is just a search result on amazon for "weaving for beginners") - http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_3_21?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=weaving+for+beginners&sprefix=weaving+for+beginners
    One more idea, most Local Yarn Stores have weaving supplies, books and classes, or at the very least be able to direct you to a store that does. I remember I had a small loom when I was young and when I started knitting 2 years ago, as I was learning and looked through Ravelry.com and all the other yarn supply places, I was reminded of it and how much I loved weaving. I've done a few small things on homemade stuff, like you have here, but I'm hoping I can get a small tabletop loom one of these days. Hopefully you can stick with it and enjoy weaving as much as I do! Feel free to let me know too if you need any more info on links or stores or anything. Good luck!!! :)

    1 reply

    Awesome! Thanks for all the links, I obviously didn't do a great job searching.

    could you use an Ashford heddle in one of these frames?

    1 reply

    Yes, it should work.

    So, theoretically, could any frame shaped object be used as a frame loom? Just because I don't really have access to a lot of tools and resources right now

    1 reply

    Yes, that is correct, such as an old picture frame, etc.

    Hello,

    Thank you so much for these notes. I am teaching weaving on the most basic frame loom and this version of a frame loom gives my teaching more scope! These instructions are extremely valuable. Thanks again

    Since deciding I wanted to weave I have spent hours trying to understand looms and the bits and pieces that go with a loom. I have learned more in the last half hour viewing your loom and instructions than previous numerous hours. Well done and thank you!!!

    1 reply

    Thank you, that makes me happy to hear that.

    Very good instructions. I feel quite confident that I could build a loom from these directions. The only thing that concerns me is the heddle. You glued the plastic shafts between two pieces of wood. Does the plastic hold reliably? If I were making this heddle, I would staple the plastic shafts to the wood and then glue the other pieces of wood. Seems like it would be sturdier. Just a thought. Thank you for sharing this.

    1 reply

    My heddle has held up quite well, though I don't use my loom as often as I would like to. I think stapling the plastic to the wood is a great idea to make it sturdier. Let me know how it turns out!

    I was wondering what is the largest item that can be made with a loom this size? Do you have measurements? Great instructable.

    3 replies

    You can make these looms as big or small as you think you want to use. I've got one that has bolts holding all the pieces together so it can rolled as you complete the weaving and it will hold aproximately 3 yards of weaving. It helps with searching if you use the specific type of weaving/loom you want info for. This is a ridged heddle loom; a similar one is a tapestry loom and some of them are rug size even. Plain weave or stiff material at the beginning can help hold the shape but tension on the shuttle turns is important to keep it from drawing in on the sides which is something experience helped for me :D very nice instructable keep after it and I hope to see more from you in the future.

    Thanks!

    Sorry, I don't have any exact measurements, I usually make smaller items like the one shown. What limits the size of the piece you make is the heddle, my heddle has 27 shafts so your warp is limited to 54 strands wide (which can vary with the thickness of the yarn). If you don't use a heddle you can weave something almost as large as the frame (about 26inX20in). Alternatively you can make a heddle with more shafts. I hope that helps.

    Amazing! Thank you for such a wonderful instructable!

    This is pure genius. This is the simplest loom I have seen which actually includes a reed/hedle. nice work.

    1 reply

    Thanks!

    This is GREAT! Thank you. Love Mirko and LOVE your instructions!

    Excellent step by step photos and explanation. I especially liked the way you did the legs. I built a similar frame using inexpensive canvas stretcher frames from the hobby store. You buy them in pairs and they slot together. Use glue at the slots and they stay rigid. They come in different lengths so I was able to build a custom size loom with no problem.