How to Use a Weaving Loom Step by Step

How to use a weaving loomDid you recently buy a weaving loom, but not quite sure how to use it?

Don’t worry. The first time using a weaving loom can be pretty tricky.

In this article, we will give you the basic weaving loom instructions you need to get started.

So if want to know how to use a weaving loom, keep reading!

How to Warp a Weaving Loom?

We all know the old saying “to begin is half the work” or some variation on this. The same holds when you start using a weaving loom for the first time.

The most common problem amongst beginners that don’t know how to weave with a loom is the preparing the warp.

What is a Warp?

The basic weaving methods have stayed basically the same over the years. You insert one set of weaving yarn into another set of threads to create patterns.

The first set of threads are spaced evenly around the loom and function as a skeleton for your weave. This is called the warp.

Then another set of yarn is used to go through the warp and create a design depending on the weaving technique, yarn thickness and yarn color. This yarn is called the weft.

Read our previous article if you are not sure which weaving yarn to use as the warp and weft.

How to Warp a Basic Weaving Loom Frame?

The proper way of setting up the warp depends on the type of loom you are using.

Most people that are looking into loom weaving for beginners opt for a basic weaving frame. These frames are much easier to warp. Additionally, since you have to do every step by step manually, you can get a better feel for the weaving process in general.

This following video by Creativebug Studios gives a good introduction to warping the loom.

  1. Using the yarn of your choice make a knot around the first needle in the top corner. Don’t worry about the little tail that you might make in the process.
  2. Pull the to the opposite side of the frame and wrap it around the first nail. To make sure the thread is tight enough you can use your finger to press the thread down while you wrap it.
  3. Bring the thread to the top again and wrap it around the second nail on this side. Don’t forget to use both hands to keep the tension on the thread.
  4. Repeat the second and third step by wrapping the yarn around the nails on alternating sides until the reach the very last nail.
  5. Finish the warp by making a second knot around the last nail.
  6. Make sure all the threads have the same tension by gently tucking them.

If you successfully followed those instructions, you will now be ready to start weaving.

You can quickly check if the tension is even by softly pushing down on the warp threads. If you feel it bounce back, you have done a good job!

How to Warp a Rigid-Heddle Loom?

The rigid-heddle loom is for more advanced weavers. It takes a bit longer to learn because if the reed. But when you get the hang of it, you will be able to weave much faster.

To trick to warping a rigid-heddle loom is using a warping peg and threading hook. Both of them are essential weaving tools and will make weaving easier and faster.

Let’s take a look at this instructional video by Yarnworker.

  1. Place the rigid-heddle loom on one side of the table and set up the warping loop on the other side. The distance between the two will determine the final length of your weave.
  2. Knot the yarn you want to use as warp thread to the apron rod that is facing away from the warping peg.
  3. Using your threading hook, pull the yarn through the slot.
  4. Extend the yarn all the way to the warping peg and wrap the yarn around the peg once.
  5. Move the yarn back through the same slot in the reed and go around the apron rod once.
  6. Repeat with the next slot and continue this process until you fill up all the slots in the reed or until the weave is your desired width.
  7. Tie the warp to the apron rod with a knot and cut the remaining yarn.
  8. Take the yarn off the warping peg and cut the loop.
  9. Roll up the yarn and protect it by placing packing paper between two layers of thread.
  10. Remove one of the yarn threads from each slot and move it through a hole (the one in the middle) instead by using the threading hook again
  11. Secure the loose warp threads to the apron rod. You can do this one thread at a time or in small bundles.

Admittedly, warping the rigid-heddle loom takes almost double the amount of steps and moving the warp thread through the reed can be a real bummer.

However, now that you have finished this tedious process, you are ready to go to the fun warp!

Essential Weaving Techniques for Beginners

Now we are getting to business. The weaving technique you choose for your project will be a huge factor in determining the final look of your weave.

However, don’t hesitate to start just because you don’t know all the weave techniques out there.

Before we can go into any details about particular techniques, it’s important to understand the three basic steps of weaving.

  1. Shedding: this is the process of separating the warp threads into an upper plane and lower place. This can be done by simply moving the reed in a rigid-heddle loom or by using a weaving sword for basic weaving frames.
  2. Picking: this is the process of moving the weft thread through your warp threads. Experienced weavers normally wrap the weft thread around a shuttle to speed-up this step.
  3. Beating-up / Battering: this is the process of pushing the weft thread together to make a compact weave. If you use a rigid-heddle loom you can use the reed to do this. Else you can use a weaving comb for a similar result.

And then you repeat until you obtained your desired result.

Notice that the weaving sword used in step 1 can only be used every other cycle to separate the threads, whereas the reed can separate them every single time.

This means that the rigid-heddle loom makes step 1 and step 2 much faster and simpler, compared to a basis weaving frame.

Loom Weaving Techniques

Regardless which type of loom you use; the way you move the weft through the warp will depend on what kind of weaving technique you are using.

Let’s go over some of the basic weaving methods.

Plain Weave

The plain weave is one of the fundamental and most basic weaving patterns. It gives a strong and hard wearing weave that is used for many types of clothing.

In the plain weave, the weft thread alternatively goes over and under the warp threads. On your way back, the weft will go under first and then over. This gives a checkerboard pattern.

The plain weave pattern is shown below.

Tabby1asm.pngBy Jauncourt – CC BY-SA 3.0

Basket Weave

The basket weave is a simple adaptation of the plain weave. When using the basket weave, the weft threads will go over a certain number of warp threads and then go under the same amount of warp threads.

For example, you can go over the first 3 warp thread and under the next 3 threads.

Check the difference between the plain weave pattern and basket weave pattern below.

Basketsm.pngBy Jauncourt – CC BY-SA 3.0

Twill Weave

The twill weave is the second fundamental weaving pattern. If you use weaving twill patterns you will create a diagonal rib. This is done by moving the weft over several warp threads and then offset one or several rows.

Twill patterns are designated by a fraction such as 3/1 or 2/2. The first number indicates the amount of warp threads the weave will go over. The second number indicates the amount of warp threads the weft will go under.

Let’s look at the 3/1 twill weave as an example. In the first row you will go over warp threads 1-3, then under warp thread 4 and over warp threads 5-7, etc. Then to create the diagonal pattern, in the second row you go under warp thread 1, over threads 2-4, under thread 5, etc.

The pattern below shows the 3/1 twill weave.

31twillsm.pngBy Jauncourt – CC BY-SA 3.0

Rya Weave

The Rya weave is a weaving method to create fringes throughout your weave. The Rya weave is used in a variety of different carpet weaving techniques and rug weaving techniques.

To create these fringes, you will be tying short pieces of weft thread around 2 warp threads as shown in the video below.

It might be a little extra work, but don’t you just love that fluffiness?

How to Finish a Weaving Loom Project using a Basic Weaving Frame?

If you have filled your entire warp with your weft thread, you are probably wondering how to finish a weaving project?

  1. First, carefully take off all the loop from the nails without tugging or pulling the threads too much and cut the knot around the last nail.
  2. At the two edges, you want to take the lose strand and the adjacent loop and knot them together. You can use an overhand knot or any other knot you prefer. The loops in the middle can be knot individually.
  3. Now that you know how to finish using a weaving loom, you can do the same process on the other side of your weave.
  4. To safely secure the two side strands, you can either weave back in or simply knot them around the adjacent loop.

Notice that tying knots is much easier if you have left sufficient distance between the loops and the start of your weave.

How to Finish a Weaving Loom Project using a Rigid-Heddle Loom?

If you are using a rigid-heddle loom, the process of removing the weave from the loom is slightly different.

  1. First you will have to cut the yarn that is on the apron bar. Make sure not to cut the apron strings as well!
  2. Remove the thread from the reed by simply pushing down on the weave.
  3. Unroll the entire weave from the front bar and remove the weave by untying the bow ties.
  4. Tie the tassels with your favorite knot.
  5. Secure the side thread by weaving it back into your project. If the thread is too long you can cut it shorter.
  6. Optionally you can align the tassels on both sides and cut them to the appropriate length.