Introduction: Be a Zoomin' Loomin' Human: Weaving Pin Loom Squares
Welcome to this weaving Instructable! My name is Mariya, I’m a fiber artist out of South Carolina. I’ve been a weaver in some form for about two years, and have a deep passion for all of the fiber arts and the animals that provide us with the fibers we use. Making things is one of my great joys in life, sharing it with eager learners is another of those joys. I hope you enjoy, and feel free to ask any questions you may have along the way.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- More yarn
- Can never have enough yarn....
- Loom, can be any style including a proper pin loom or any other four-sided loom. A popular version is the Schacht Zoom Loom
- Weaving needle
- Doll jointing needle
- Large darning needle
A Note About My Loom: The loom I will be using for this tutorial is a thrift store find, a Weave-It Adjustable Giant-Size Hand Loom from Scovill Hero. In contrast to a proper pin loom it has teeth throughout the entire side, without the gaps that would help to guide where to string the yarn. I hope for this tutorial that it will help you to weave on any four-sided loom you may have access to!
Step 2: An (Very Brief) Intro to Weaving
Within the broad category of the fiber arts, weaving is an enormous world unto itself. Despite all of the wonders, I'm going to focus today on the most basic of weaves: tabby, or plain weave. Most woven fabrics consist of two yarn components, a warp and a weft. The warp is generally the longer of the two, and is often held under tension on the loom. The weft runs perpendicular to the warp, and can incorporate materials with less tensile strength or that may be less conventional. In a tabby weave, the weft crosses the warp in a pattern of over one yarn, under the next yarn, over, under, over, and under throughout the width of the piece. This creates a balanced fabric with similar stretch along both the warp and weft directions. Changes made to the over-under pattern of the warp and weft creates the vast anthologies of weaving patterns that exist today.
This tutorial will focus on the use of a pin loom or other four-sided looms. Pieces made on these looms can be used as they are, often loved as coasters or hot pads, or combined together to create larger pieces, such as blankets, garments, or stuffed toys! My primary use of these squares has been as a sampling tool for my floor loom projects, which allows me to test different yarn, different densities of warp and weft, as well as color arrangements and palettes.
A modern pin loom has pins along four sides of a frame, though every fourth pin location is skipped, creating a gap. Other looms will not have this gap, but the weaving is working just the same by skipping a pin on any other loom. Personally, for my sampling projects, I like having the non-pin loom because it allows me to easily adjust the number of times the yarn goes across in both directions. Your experience with any style of loom is of course personal to you, and I encourage the use of whichever style best suits your needs!
Step 3: Layer One: Warp One
A woven tabby square is done in four layers, the first three of which are strung layers placed one on top of the other, and a fourth woven layer which is actively woven among the previous three layers. The warp and the weft are each done in two halves, with each layer being constructed of alternating yarn and space between pins. By using this alternating pattern, this technique basically does 75% of the work for you.
When thinking about the layers in the context of the tabby weave, this first strung warp layer will become all of the warp threads that will go over the fourth woven layer.
As you are stringing the warp and weft yarns across the loom, try to ensure that there is light tension on each of the strands and that the tension is consistent across the loom. In this style of tabby square, the goal is to have the tension of the warp and the weft be as similar as possible. The tension can be checked by gently pressing on several strands at a time to check that none have more of less give than their neighbors.
- Secure the warp yarn to one corner of the loom, generally this is the left corner closer to the weaver. Depending on the loom, this can be done in a variety of ways. Some looms offer a notch to slip the yarn into, a slip knot could be used around a pin, a loose knot around the frame, or a long loop that makes the first two warp threads. For my loom, I zig zag between extra pins that extend beyond the first corner.
- String the warp yarn from the furthest left space on the closer side to the furthest left space on the further side.
- Loop the yarn around the pins to the right and place the yarn between the second and third pin, leaving a gap space between the two spaces with the warp yarn.
- String the yarn to the space two pins to the right of the first yarn on the opposite side. Again, leaving a gap space.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 across the full width of the loom. For the sake of this tutorial, the ideal is to end with the tail yarn at the opposite corner of the loom than where it started. Looking at the side of the loom from the outside, there should be alternating loops of yarn and gaps.
- Pull the yarn around the outside of the pins at the far right corner. On a pin loom, this would be around the two corner pins and into the furthest top space on the right side of the loom. On my loom, this loop goes from the first gap above the corner into the first gap below the corner along the right side. This creates a loop around the corner that turns the warp yarn into the perpendicular weft yarn.
Optional: Color changes between the warp and the weft yarns can easily be done at the corner. Tie a square knot to join the two yarns at the outside apex of the corner before proceeding onto the next step. Color changes can also be done in the middle of a step by knotting yarns to the outside of any side of the loom. For short color changes, I have carried yarn across multiple pins, but this does change the typical edge of the pin loom style square that may make it more difficult to join together with other squares.
Step 4: Layer Two: Weft One
Layer two is worked almost identically to layer one, except that it runs perpendicular to the first layer. Before or after rounding the corner, many tutorials will suggest rotating the loom one direction or the other. In my experience, I may rotate the loom one direction initially, but will always rotate it into a "home" position where I am stringing the yarn away from and toward me, moving from left to right. I encourage you to experiment with your loom placement to find a position or positions that work best for you.
I will use my home orientation to continue with these instructions, but remember that right will always be indicating moving away from the starting corner. Also, any reference to the further or closer sides simply indicates the two opposing sides where the yarn is looped around the pins.
- String the weft yarn from the furthest left space on the further side to the furthest left space on the closer side.
- Loop the yarn around the pins to the right and place the yarn between the second and third pin, leaving a gap space between the two spaces with the weft yarn.
- String the yarn to the space two pins to the right of the first yarn on the opposite side. Again, leaving a gap space.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 across the full width of the loom.
- Pull the yarn around the outside of the pins at the last corner. This loop with change the yarn into the second warp layer.
Step 5: Layer Three: Warp Two
The final strung layer is the second part of the warp. These warp yarns will fill the gaps left by the first warp layer, and become the warp yarns that will go under the fourth woven layer.
- String the warp yarn from the second furthest left space on the further side to the second furthest left space on the closer side.
- Loop the yarn around the pins to the right and place the yarn between the second and third pin from your first warp yarn of this layer, leaving a gap space over the space where the layer one warp yarn was placed.
- String the yarn to the space two pins to the right of the first yarn on the opposite side. Again, leaving a gap space over the layer one warp yarn. Repeat steps 3 and 4 across the full width of the loom.
- Pull the yarn around the outside of the pins at the last corner. This loop with change the yarn into the second weft layer.
Step 6: Layer Four: Weft Two
For the final layer, we will actually be weaving! We will also be cutting our yarn, which can seem a bit intimidating because of needing to make sure you have enough to complete the project. However, it is easy to estimate! To ensure that I have more than enough yarn, I loosely drape the yarn across the loom the same number of times that I went back and forth on the first weft layer before cutting the long tail. Depending on the size of the loom, this can get to be quite long, so if it is necessary to join a second piece of yarn to shorten the working yarn, that can be done using the same method as described for color changes in layer one.
- Cut a long tail of yarn and thread through a sturdy needle. Craft stores carry a variety of options that can be used for a needle, included weaving needles, doll jointing needles, or simply long darning needles. Any sturdy needle that is easy to handle will work just as well for this purpose.
- Align the needle with the second furthest left space on the closer side of the loom. Using the needle, guide the weft yarn so that it goes under the layer one warp and over the layer three warp. This weft yarn should be going over and under the warps in an opposite pattern to the first weft layer. Finish the row by guiding the needle through the second furthest left space on the further side.
- Loop the yarn around the pins to the right and place the needle between the second and third pin from your first weft yarn of this layer, leaving a gap space over the space where the layer two weft yarn was placed. This is identical to the pattern used in the layer three warp layer.
- Weave the weft yarn across the loom, following the same under layer one warp and over layer three warp pattern described in Step 2. Continue until the needle can be guided to the space two pins to the right of the first yarn on the opposite side. Again, leaving a gap space over the layer one weft yarn.
- Repeat steps 2 through 4 across the full width of the loom.
Step 7: Finishing
We have a square!
Gently pull the square off of the loom. Using the needle, weave the tails into the square. Point the needle so that it will be going back into the same space it just came out of. If the weft went over the last warp yarn, go under the first two warp yarns, then return to the over-under pattern used for the final weft yarn. This will secure the tail yarn. This step can be repeated with the tail yarn from the beginning of the square. Any other tails throughout the project can be woven in in a similar manner. Alternatively, ends can be left free and used to sew pieces together later.
There will be some shrinkage as the tension on the yarn is released, allowing the yarns to relax over and under one another. This loss is called take-up in the warp, and draw in in the weft. When using squares for sampling, this is a very important factor to take note of. Additionally, if the squares are intended to be part of a larger project, it can be beneficial to wash the pieces. Sample pieces should always be washed in a way that is appropriate to the yarn and the final project. If the yarn is machine safe and the final product will be eventually machine washed, the samples should be washed in the same way.
Step 8: Go Forth and Multiply Your Squares!
I hope you have enjoyed learning to weave pin loom squares. I enjoyed leading you through the process, and hope your squares have turned out well!
Any feedback and constructive criticism is welcome and greatly appreciated!
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