So you want to start weaving.
Then you are probably wondering what you need to buy to get started, right?
You don’t want to buy anything unnecessary, but you also don’t want to miss out on anything essential.
A quick search online will show you that there are dozens of different weaving tools available.
But don’t worry. You definitely don’t need all of them.
In this article I’ll go over the most important tools used in weaving and what each of them is used for.
1 Weaving loom
Deciding which loom to buy is the most important decision that you’ll have to make as an aspiring weaver.
There are many types of weaving looms available. Both the frame loom and the rigid heddle loom are good options for beginners.
However, for absolute beginners the frame loom is probably the better option because it’s the easiest to learn and use.
The frame loom is rectangular in shape, normally made out of wood, and has no moving parts. What you see is what you get.
Some people prefer to call it a lap loom because you can easily use a small frame loom in your lap
The most important thing to look at when choosing a frame loom is the size, since you can only weave as big as the frame itself.
However, big frame looms are of course heavier and don’t always fit in your lap.
In that case you can use a stand that will keep the frame up right for you. That way you can use both hands for weaving while sitting in front of it.
You can find frame looms that either use pegs, notches, or tabs to keep the warp into place. But this doesn’t influence the actual weaving, so you can go with whatever type you like.
2 Warp yarn
The warp yarn is strung vertically on the loom and will be the skeleton of your weave. Therefore, it needs to be strong enough to resist a fair amount of tension.
Traditionally wool or linen yarn was used to set up the warp. However, nowadays most people use cotton for their warp because it is sturdy and cheap at the same time.
Normally you can hardly see the warp threads in the final weave. So you don’t have to worry about the color of the cotton yarn. Personally I like to use lighter colors such as white, cream, or gray.
Sometimes you can choose to show warp threads in the final weave on purpose. In that case you want to choose the color of your warp yarn more carefully.
If you have some yarn at home and you aren’t sure if it’s cotton, you want to test its strength before warping. You can do this by pulling the ends of a thread with moderate force and see if it unravels or not.
3 Weft yarn
You can use pretty much any type of yarn for the weft, so you can really be creative by combining different yarns together.
For most weavers finding and trying out new yarns is one of the most exciting things about weaving. Over time, you want to build a collection of different yarns as well.
When choosing yarn you want to go with a variety of different thicknesses and colors, since contrast is often what will bring your weaves or tapestries alive.
Yarn can be spun from either natural of synthetic fibers.
Synthetic fibers have been engineered to be strong and cheap at the same time. They can also come in all kind of colors.
Natural fibers are normally more expensive but I personally prefer the feel over synthetic fibers.
You can also find blends that contain a certain percentage of natural and synthetic fibers, which offers a trade-off between the two.
You can find yarn in pretty much any arts and crafts store. They normally have all the basic colors and enough choice for beginners.
However, for the most beautiful yarns you definitely want to take a look at one of the many specialty stores. They often have yarns that you won’t be able to find anywhere else.
Note: many stores will offer a small discount if you buy a set/pack of yarns or if you buy in bulk. If you are a fervent weaver, this can be a simple way to keep the cost down.
4 Weaving shuttle
Passing a ball of yarn through the warp threads is a huge hassle. Most yarn balls and skeins are simply too bulky and easily get stuck somewhere along the way.
Considering that hand weaving mainly consist passing yarn back and forth, you want this to be as frictionless as possible.
Fortunately, a weaving shuttle solves all these problems.
You can wind the yarn around your shuttle and then pass the shuttle through the warp. Passing a shuttle is much easier than a ball of yarn due to the shuttle’s shape.
The weaving shuttle is without a doubt the most used weaving tools out there and most weaving looms actually come with a shuttle already included.
The most common shuttle is the stick shuttles. These are rectangular pieces of wood or plastic with notches on both ends to hold the yarn.
There are also a few different shuttles that can be used for special situations. For example, you can use a ski shuttle weaving with bulky yarn or use a boat shuttle for weaving on a rigid heddle loom.
5 Weaving needles
Needles aren’t just useful for sewing or embroidery, weavers need needles as well!
Roughly speaking, weaving needles can be categorized as either straight or bent needles.
These needles are used to weave in loose yarn ends when finishing a weaving project or to introduce a different color to your weave.
Some weaving techniques also require you to use a needle because small details are easier to weave with a needle than a shuttle.
Compared to regular needles, sewing needles are normally blunter because they don’t need to pierce fabric, and also contain a bigger eye to accommodate some bigger types of yarn.
6 Weaving combs
Weaving combs and beaters are used to firmly press down the new line of weft yarn onto the old one.
This way the weave will look more even and consistent, and it will make the weave stronger as well.
These beaters can come in a lot of different sizes and shapes. But all of them basically do the same thing and the cheapest and most basic one will serve you just fine.
If you don’t have a weaving comb, you could even try to use a regular comb or even a fork as a temporary replacement. Although this only works if your warp threads have the right spacing.
7 Shed sticks
Shed sticks and weaving swords are two different words for the same tool. They are normally rectangular shaped and made out of wood or plastic.
They are used to create a gap between the warp threads such that your shuttle can pass through easier.
This is done by simply rotating the shed stick between a horizontal and vertical position.
Without a shed stick, you will have to go through the extremely tedious process of manually inserting the shuttle over and under the warp threads.