You just need to be able to put a set of vertical parallel threads (the warp) under tension, so that you can ‘weave’ other threads, of any material, horizontally – ‘under and over’ them – (the weft) – to form a piece of ‘material’ that will remain in place and can be used as a wall hanging. Common yarns used are wool, cotton, linen, silk or a mix of any type of yarn
There are all kinds and sizes of looms that can produce all kinds of cloth, which can be taken off the loom and used to make braids, straps, clothes, blankets, rugs, carpets etc.
This diagram is just to show the basic weave, and the warp & weft.
Most yarns can be used for the weft, but only yarns that will take the tension without breaking can be used for the warp – see here.
There are many other types of patterns that can be woven, and more complicated looms that can allow you to weave these, but the basic loom can be as simple as two lengths of wood.
Flax was the predominant fibre in ancient Egypt (3600 BCE) and this is a picture comes from a wall on a tomb from this period.
You can see that one length of wood was fixed to the wall, and another weighed down by a sack on the floor. The warp seems to be being held under tension by the two weavers, who would be passing the weft yarn across the warp to each other, using shuttles that have been wound with the flax – the cross beams in the diagram.
This simple method is still used for weaving ‘Persian’ carpets. This is a specialised type of ‘tapestry weaving’ using single knotted threads to make very complex patterns – the loom is enormous and is hung from the ceiling.
On the other hand, you can just as easily make something small like this – using a matchbox as a loom, and piercing the cardboard to create the warp. The wood from a picture frame also makes a basic loom – just choose your size of frame and warp it up!
Some beautiful wall hangings can be made with very simple looms, and if you really want to play with weaving ideas, you can try this kind of set up for weaving anything from plastic bags, to lengths of tree bark, adding embellishments like lengths of ribbon, beads knotted onto the threads, un-spun wool fibres tucked into the weft – the world is your oyster – and yes you can use shells too!
Another fascinating ancient weaving method is the backstrap loom, where you actually wear the loom! The warp is attached to a tree, or something stable, and to keep the tension up, the weaver wears a belt around the back of her waist.
She sits on the floor so that she can move further away from the fixed point when she needs to extend the length of the woven piece, thus keeping the warp taut.
If you would like to make your own backstrap loom, I found a really good set of instructions here.
So how did we get from these easily understandable looms to this industrial monster! To be honest, I’ve no idea, but this is how most cloth is woven industrially – I can’t see a single person in this shot!
ALL THE PHOTOS IN THIS POST HAVE BEEN PINNED TO MY WEAVING IDEAS BOARD ON PINTEREST.
If you click on any image on the board, you will see that below it, there is usually some text that tells you where the image came from. Click on the text to see the full article and credits. I have not had room to add them all here. There are also loads of other weaving ideas on this board – feel free to browse – and to copy them to your own board – and by following links to other weavers boards you can access loads more information and inspiration!