Introduction: Small Scale Weaving Loom

About: Teacher of Engineering & Technology, nerding around with a sewing machine, laser cutter and 3D printer...

While browing through Ravelry earlier in the week, I was looking at pictures of a beautiful woven scarf, and wishing I could have a go. I looked online at looms, and decided quite quickly that I wouldn't be buying one anytime soon! Still, being me, I decided I'd still like to have a play - so made a miniature version out of a plastic take-away box. Here's how I did it...

You'll need:
- One plastic take away box
- A craft knife
- Permanent marker
- Ruler
- Thin thread (I used a fine crochet cotton)
- Scrap yarn
- Cardboard

I also used, but you don't necessarily need, a crochet hook and a double pointed knitting needle...

Step 1: Prepare the Loom

Start by measuring the width of your box - mine was 12cm across. I marked off the two ends into 1cm gaps, using the permanent marker. With the craft knife, I cut small notches on each of the cm marks, leaving little "V" shaped gaps in the ends of the box. Try to make sure these aren't sharp - take a piece of sandpaper/nail file to it if they're a little rough.

With the thin thread, you need to prepare the warp threads - the ones that run top to bottom. Sticky tape/hold a piece of thread against the bottom of the box, towards the middle, and start to wrap the thread around the box, hooking it into the notches that you've already cut on each rotation - make sure you line up 1-1, 2-2 etc otherwise you'll end up with wide gaps in places. I tied the 2 ends of the warp thread together at the base, pulling all of the threads together tightly in the centre of the base.

I cut a bobbin/shuttle shape from a piece of cardboard, and wrapped my yarn onto it, to make it easier to move my yarn through the warp threads.

Step 2: Weaving

When doing the weaving, the yarn is going to pass either over all of the odd numbered threads and under the evens, or the opposite way around (over the evens and under the odds). I found using a double pointed needle to seperate the threads and create space for the spool to pass through easier than trying to weave the spool itself through.

I started by going over odd, under even. I slid the double pointed needle into the warp threads to seperate the odds and evens. With the loose end of the weft thread (the yarn on the spool), I tied a simple knot around thread one, and then pushed the spool through the split warp threads. Once the spool of yarn had cleared all the way through, with the double pointed needle I pushed the yarn up to the top of my "loom".

The second row of thread is passed through under the odds, and over the evens - opposite to the previous row. The yarn should pass around the edge thread, stopping anything from slipping, and then continue under/over/under/over until the end of the row, before being pushed up to the top of the loom in exactly the same way as before.

Continue building up the rows, repeating the two steps before, until you either run out of thread or space... It is possible to lift the weave and twist it around the box, but I found it loosened of the warp threads a little too much for my liking - probably something that takes a little practice.

To make the fabric really sturdy, make sure you push the weft threads tightly together to make sure that there are no spaces between them.

Step 3: Finishing Off

I tied off the weft thread (the coloured yarn) around the final warp thread (the black cotton), and then cut the bundle of cotton threads by the knot. To secure the weaving, I tied pairs of threads together - 1 to 2, 3 to 4 and so on, using square/reef knots. These are my preference as the threads do not slip. To tie a reef knot, hold one piece of thread in each hand, andpass the right hand thread over the left, and put the tail through the loop it creates, then, as they are in your hands now, put the left over the right, and put the tail of the thread through the loop. Pull tight to finish. Repeat this all the way along the line, and then do the same at the opposite end.

For a really neat finish, you can thread these ends onto a needle, and weave them into the fabric you created.

Moving on.... Obviously the take away box only gave me so many size options - I could make the warp threads closer together, and move the woven fabric around the box to allow myself more space to create a bigger piece of fabric, but there are definite limitations to it. The biggest piece of fabric I can imagine it allowing me to make is around 10" long and 4" wide - to be useful, I'd have to create a lot of them and sew them together. This could be interesting visually, but not quite what I had in mind when I was thinking about weaving initially. For now, I'm planning experimenting with a photo frame, to make something longer/wider - hopefully making a scarf out of it. I'll be back with photos when I've managed it!

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