Tag Archives: yarns

L is for looms for weaving


LYou might be surprised to know that you don’t really need a loom to weave, or at least not a conventional one.

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.

warp & weft in a plain weave

warp & weft in a plain weave

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.

Women_weaving_in_Beni_Hassan_tomb_(Вертикальный_ткацкий_станок_Египет) 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.

f6b6dacfb8b3681be4f1316c0c2d7dd3This 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.

matchbox weaving from http---marisa-ramirez.tumblr.com

matchbox weaving

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!

52b1593d3590c4645fb3a067ea0f939bSome 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!

woman working with a backstrap loom in Guatemala

woman working with a backstrap loom in Guatemala

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.

A Picanol rapier loom

A Picanol rapier loom

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!


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!





I have been looking around for a while to see if I could source some new yarns for knitters and weavers, and it’s not as easy as you would think!

At one time there were hundreds of mills preparing wool from British sheep for cloth making, and export – in fact in Shakespeare’s time, wool was the largest export from Britain and made many a fortune!  But things have moved on, and whilst there is now a growing market for wool again (for years farmers have had to sell their fleeces for practically nothing), the mills have slowly disappeared, and the costs of scouring the wool, carding & spinning it, make it very expensive for small producers to supply yarns to crafters.

I have, however, found a commercial mill in the north, who supply garment manufacturers worldwide, and who specialise in British Wool, who are willing to sell me cones from their stock of discontinued colour ranges.

colour chart

colour chartolympia - blue/grey ply



They are not seconds, but simply odds and ends of colours that are no longer on their current catalogue.  The cones are sold by weight, and are around 1Kg each – rather more than most knitters and weavers would normally buy for themselves – and as they are a thin 2 ply (as used by manufacturers), there are over 5,700 metres of yarn on each cone.

They can be knitted or woven as they are, or ‘doubled up’ to give thicker yarns, and as I have chosen for this first trial order, colours that will work together well, you could easily combine the colours when doubling, or trebling the thickness.  If you are weaving with them, all you need to do is check the number of wraps an inch (dpi) round a ruler – if you want to knit with them, then you would need to knit a test piece to check whether you need to make any adjustments to your pattern.

I have got these yarns at a reasonable price, but the price per cone works out at £21.99 per kilo, or more if the cone is heavier, and although this means that you are getting the wool at only £2.20 per 100 gm, I appreciate that not everyone will want to buy several cones at once, especially as they will have to go parcel post, which can add to the cost.

However, if you are part of a knitting group, or spinners & weavers guild, and can arrange to share the cones – this will be a very good deal!

To see the full range, and put an order in, please go to my listing on ebay (click here).

As I said, this is a trial order, and there are lots more colours, and other yarns available, but I wanted to test the idea out first.

Please let me know what you think, even if you are not buying at the moment.


If you are like me, any natural fibre is better than plastic, and so I have started stocking some JUTE NOT PLASTIC shopping bags, as well as a great storage bag for all kinds of craft items. fold-03 juteb-26_l jutes-03_l

  In Wales, we have had to pay for plastic bags at shops and supermarkets for about a year now, so people are turning to buying nice shopping bags again!

The stock photo of the striped storage bags shows it in use for towels & even plants, but they are great for keeping odds & ends of wool, especially when you are working on a project and could become your favourite knitting bag!jutestr-06jutestr-disp1jutestr-empty

Please go to my ebay page or my etsy shop to have a look at these, and all the other craft supplies available.

Thank you to everyone

who has referred friends and colleagues to add to my mailing list, after I lost the whole list  – the CALENDAR COMPETITION (see previous blog) runs until 10 February,  and I would welcome any further contributions!  Please just fill in the form on the blog.

I also decided to print up a couple of the images as posters, and have just put them up for sale on etsy – see here

If you want to get in touch with me its julz@julzweaving.plus.com, to add a comment at the end of this blog, and please  do have a look at the ‘ABOUT JULZ’ PAGE FOR INFO ON ORDERING DIRECT ETC

All the best

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