Types of weaving/ types of loom 2 : frame looms

At last we get to types of weaving which move a weft thread over and under warp threads. (My previous post in this group is about weaving without a loom, or without the warp threads held taut on a loom.)

The simplest loom holds the lengthwise warp threads on a ‘frame’. All frame loom weaving methods have the same basis. For many people the first step is to make the frame !

Set up the warp threads on the frame.

Then weave the weft thread or fabric strip under and over individual warp threads by hand or using a needle/ bodkin.
Or tie tufts of yarn onto the warp threads.

‘Beat’ or press the weft threads together by fingers, fork, comb or a similar tool called a ‘beater’.

The frame for the warp threads can be a rectangle of sticks, or slots cut in the edge of cardboard (not the same as ‘card weaving’, see next weaving post !). Do an internet search for tapestry looms, cardboard looms, lap looms to get multiple suggestions on how to make frames (sticks from the garden, old picture frames, cardboard boxes. . .). You can buy frames as well !

The simplest tapestry/ rug type weaving has warp strands about 1/8 to 1/4 inch apart if you’re using a needle to weave with, 1/2 inch or more if you’re using your fingers to weave.

Creative Bug has a YouTube series about making and using frame looms.

Here’s a summary of the ways frame looms are used. As before, I’ve given mainly links to videos, not many pictures.

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Rag rugs

You can wind strips of fabric under and over the warps, to make rag rugs. There’s an excellent series of videos from Expert Village on the steps of rag rug making.

Rag rug weaving can be a good way of using up fabric scraps. You need tough warps to stand up to being walked on, and you can buy linen and jute yarns for this.

My parents had some rag rugs that lasted for about 30 years. I remember when they were made, when I was a child after the war. My mother tore old fabric into strips and we wound the strips around tins of food, then sent them off in a sack to a family in an area of Europe where there was little food. And a few months later the rugs came back. The main point was to hide the gift of food, and as a literal minded small child I found the whole thing most puzzling 😀

You can use similar methods to make less coarse weaves. For example, weave yarn over and under more closely spaced warp threads, probably with a needle or bodkin. When you do this, you can go over and under different numbers of warp threads, to make all sorts of interesting textural weave patterns.

Cardboard looms

On a smaller scale, making small items on cardboard looms has the advantage that you’re not restricted to making things with square corners. You can even buy cardboard looms which are not four-sided. ‘Weaving without a loom’ by Veronica Burningham has some ingenious projects such as making a beret, or both sides of a bag at the same time. As well as projects which can be woven using just household items.

Tapestry weaving

It’s also possible to make areas of colour by using different colour yarns. Here’s a good video

You can have a lot of fun with a piece of cardboard, a darning needle, a ball of string, and some ends of unused knitting yarn. Make coloured patterns, and explore different weave textures to understand fully how they’re made.

But there’s also the potential to make major pieces of art and craft.

picture source (weaving looms page 4)

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Weave patterns

You can make woven patterns by using different colours or different texture yarns.

You can also make different weave textures, by having the weft yarn passing over or under more than one warp yarn. Easy to try this out on a frame loom, as you control all the under-and-over moves. But this is more explored by people with increasingly complex looms (third weaving post).

diagram source

Once you start going into this you can find much information online, such as this amazing archive of weaving patterns.

There are several books on weave patterns. And computer software to help with working out how to make them.

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Tufted rugs

This sort of ‘loom’ is also used as the frame for making many types of tufted rugs. There are different ways around the world of knotting lengths of yarn onto warp threads on a frame.

Persian rug picture source

There’s much information on the web (from casual to scholarly) about knot types, and the patterns typical of different areas of the world. As a starting point, here are some short videos from the Victoria & Albert museum.
There are also several DVDs.

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So, with these very simple methods where the weaver makes each individual under and over move or knot separately, you have great freedom about what you can do, everything from simple to complex in the placement of colour and texture.

These methods of weaving on a simple frame can go from children’s play through homely conveniences to high art.

But these ‘one stitch at a time’ methods are very slow. Most looms are tools for speeding things up a bit. Though what they gain in speed, they loose in flexibility. These faster looms are in my next weaving post.
(Post on simple weaving with heddles or cards.)

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Links available November 2010

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