Want to discover the “lost” art of weaving?
You are not alone.
Everyday new people are discovering how fun and rewarding weaving can be as a hobby.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to start weaving besides a sturdy loom, colorful yarn, and a learner’s mindset.
In this article, you will learn all the basics you need to know to start your first weave.
If this is your first time weaving, you might not be familiar with all the terminology that weavers use. Over time, you will learn what everything stands for. But for now, let’s take a look at the three most important words:
- Loom: the structure that will hold and support your weave as you work. You are probably familiar with a lap loom, which has a rectangular shape. But there are many other types of looms you can choose from as well.
- Warp: the warp is the threads that will be strung on the loom vertically. The warp will hold the tension and is the skeleton of your weave.
- Weft: the weft is made up of the threads you weave horizontally through the warp threads. By using different patterns and techniques you can create amazing designs.
With just these three words, you will be able to understand the rest of the article. But if you are curious to learn more, you can take a look at my article on weaving terms.
Types of weaving looms
The first big decision you will have to make as a beginner is which weaving loom to buy. There are roughly 5 types of looms that a hobbyist can choose from:
- Lap loom & frame loom
- Rigid heddle loom
- Inkle loom
- Floor loom
- Table loom
If you are a beginner, I would recommend buying either the rigid heddle loom or lap loom. The lap loom is the easiest to learn because setting up the warp is straightforward and every step is done by hand.
The rigid heddle loom requires a little extra time to get used to because the setting up the warp takes more steps. But a rigid heddle loom lets you weave much faster and complete bigger projects.
Inkle loom weaving is also pretty easy to learn for newcomers. The only downside is that the inkle loom is meant for making bands and straps only. So they aren’t as versatile as either lap looms or rigid heddle looms. However, if you want to know more, you can read our article on inkle weaving.
The last two looms on the list are the floor loom and the table loom. These are very big and complex looms that require a lot of prior experience to use. I would recommend beginner to stay away from these looms unless you have someone who can teach you all the ins-and-outs in person.
Best weaving loom for beginners
So if you are looking for a weaving loom for beginners, I recommend you to either buy a lap loom or a rigid heddle loom. Here are the two looms that I love the most:
Lap loom by Beka
If you are looking for a very simple loom, this Beka loom is ideal.
It’s very simple to put together. And the assembly from box to loom takes less than 5 minutes. So you will be weaving in not time.
It has 100 pegs at the top and bottom. So you can make a very tight warp by using each peg. Or you can make a loose weave by using every other peg.
Beka has a great reputation as a company. So if anything arrives damaged or is missing, they will normally send you a replacement within a day.
This loom is great if you have no weaving experience and just want to do a few projects for fun.
- Size: 20″
- 5 teeth per inch
- Weight: 5 pounds
- Easy to use
Also comes with:
- Weaving needle
- 2 maple beams
- 2 maple cross pieces
- 2 kick-stand pieces
- Stick shuttle
- Pickup stick
Rigid heddle loom by Ashford
Although I started out with a lap loom, I wish I had bought a rigid heddle loom right from the start. They are just so much more comfortable to work with once you get the hang of it. And they aren’t are difficult to learn as you might think.
When it comes to rigid heddle looms there are two great brands to choose from: Ashford and Schacht.
I’m using this loom by Ashford and it is such a joy to work with that you will be tempted to weave every day.
If this is your first time using a rigid heddle loom, you can read the instruction booklet or follow the Youtube videos form the manufacturer.
Once the warping is done, the actual weaving is very simple.
Just like other looms, you will have to assemble it yourself. But putting it together is a very straightforward process.
- Size: 32″ or 24″
- Weight: 10 pounds
- Easy to use
Also comes with:
- Reed nylon 7.5dpi
- 22 inch shuttle
- 30 inch shuttle
- Threading hook
- Warping peg
- Instruction booklet
There are so many weaving tools that seeing a complete list might overwhelm a beginner. But I’ll be honest, most of the weaving tools are more of a luxury than a necessity.
Moreover, most of the essential tools will normally come with the loom already. If not, you can sometimes even use basic household items as alternatives.
However, in my experience the following tools are totally worth buying:
For lap looms
- Shed stick
- Pick up sticks
- Weaving needle
For rigid heddle looms
- Weaving needle
- Warping peg of board
If you want to know what each tool is used for, you can read our article on weaving tools.
There is more to yarn than you might expect. What the yarn fibers, the yarn weight and the density can all influence the final weave.
You ideally want to use yarn that is specifically made for weaving (not knitting or crochet). Moreover, the yarn used for the warp and the weft are different.
For the warp most weavers use plain cotton yarn of 2 ply or higher. Cotton yarn is strong enough to resist the tension and is cheap too. Since you won’t see the warp in the final weave, you don’t need to worry about the looks of you warp threads.
For the weft you have a lot more freedom. Try combining different yarns to add plenty of color and texture to your weave.
For more information, read our guide on choosing weaving yarn.
Warping (setting up the loom)
When learning how to weave on a loom, you first need to know how to warp the loom.
Most lap looms are easy to warp. You can tie the yarn to the first peg or notch and then bring the yarn to the notch on the other side of the loom. Keep alternating the yarn around top and bottom pegs. At the final peg you want to make another knot. Make sure that the tension throughout the warp is even.
Warping a rigid heddle loom is a little more complex since you have to measure how much yarn you need in advance and pull all the warp threads through the right slots individually. For detailed instructions, read our article on warping a rigid heddle loom.
Techniques and patterns
Finally you have arrived at the part where you can use all your creativity to make beautiful designs.
For your first weave you might just want to practice the plain weave. But to pull off those intriguing designs you have seen before, you will have to learn a variety of different weaving patterns and techniques.
In one of my previous articles I compiled a big list on the basic weaving patterns and techniques.
True magic happens when you incorporate several patterns and yarns in the same weave.
Finishing and taking off the weave
Once you have reached the end of your weave, it’s time to remove the weave from the loom.
Taking the weave off the correct way is important, because else it will quickly unravel.
You can finish your weave by either:
- Weaving in weft ends
- Keeping the warp loops
- Tie off the threads