when in doubt – build a loom

Some of you may already know what I am about to confess. Some of you may not. At any rate, here it is: I built another loom last weekend. I know what you are thinking – Isn’t one enough?! And I respect that. One loom should definitely be enough. But here’s the catch – weaving takes time, patience, and physical endurance. At the very least, it forces me to sit still for hours on end. When I think of those hours I see the curve of my neck, the position of my back, and way my knees support the frame on my loom. And I see how I feel after spending 4 hours in a row weaving. I think you see where I am going with this – the more comfortable the weaver, the more she can weave! Yup, that’s what it comes down to.

So my friend Annie made a scarf on a table top loom, which is designed to sit on a table or even a lap and can produce up to a 10 inch wide cloth. This got me thinking about the relative comfort level I experience when using my loom, and how much more comfortable I would be using a smaller loom. Also, my large loom can create up to a 22 inch cloth – great, but much wider than I’ve been weaving as of late. So, time for pictures! Stick with me as I explain the building process…

I found an image of the general shape of the loom body, printed it on 2 pieces of paper and taped them together. I modified the design by adding over 2 inches to the body length (the white paper in the middle of the pattern piece). The loom measures 20 1/4 inches long by 6 inches high. I traced the pattern onto the my 1/2 inch plywood and got out the jigsaw.

I clamped the wood to the table and used the drill to punch holes around the pieces, making turns easier with the jigsaw. After I cut each piece out, I sanded them down to a nice finish. To hold the loom together and to serve as the front and back cloth beams – I needed a big fat dowel. I cut it into 4 pieces, drilled holes in the ends of each piece and inserted small dowels with wood glue in all but 2 ends. In the other 2 ends, I used epoxy to fasten a short piece of all-thread. Keep with me here, we’re almost done!

Each small dowel goes through a hole on the frame of the loom. The top bar on each end is glued in place – holding the loom together. The bottom bar spins. This is known as the cloth beam. If you look at the bottom right hand corner of the right photo, you will see a wing nut – when I tighten this wing nut, the cloth beam stays put. When I loosen this nut, the bar spins so I can wind the cloth around it when weaving. After discussing the design with Annie, we decided it would be nice to alternate which side the wing nut is on for the front and back of the loom. So, I control the front cloth beam with my right hand, and the back cloth beam with my left hand.

Here is the loom’s first challenge – the grey scarf I named Veronica. *See Veronica – scarf number 6*. I didn’t even wait for my new reeds to come in the mail, I used the big one from my big loom. It looked silly but it worked. Without reeds all I have is a fancy wooden frame, so I ordered 2 reeds from Paradise Fiber that would work with my loom and altered them to fit the frame. I haven’t used them yet, but am pretty excited to try them out!

In conclusion: a new loom costs around $160, I spent $8.45 for the frame, and $30 for the two reeds, and a couple of hours of work! I am much more comfortable when I weave and am really enjoying my new loom. Every time I use it I say “oh boy, I love this little loom!”.