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r ranson
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I made a loom this morning. It took about 10 minutes.

Here's the tutorial I used to make a backstrap loom


The loom worked marvelously well. Far better than I expected. My friend's kid (8 years old) was thrilled and took about 30 seconds to get the hang of how to weave with it. About two minutes later, she was weaving better on it than I do. I've set her up with the warp needed to make her own backstrap. Once she finishes it, I'll present her with her own set of sticks and then she will have made her very own loom. Not too bad for someone in third grade (the kid, not me. I passed third grade a few years back ).


I'm hugely impressed with backstrap looms. Always before, weavers have told me to avoid them. They aren't 'proper looms'. They are too difficult to make or use. Bla Bla, youcantcha bugs galore. My experience today has showed me that it's the opposite of what I've been taught. Backstrap looms not only are simple to make and use, they open up a whole new world of weaving.

It took no time at all to not just set up, but to make as well. Most of the trouble was trying to find an old pillow case, then deciding that an old kitchen towel would do.


This experience has got me thinking. Most of the world's most beautiful handwoven fabric has been created using simple looms like this. It's almost as if, the simpler the tool, the more complex and beautiful the weave can become. Simple tools like this backstrap loom, seem to allow for greater creativity.

In many cultures, for much of history, people made their own looms out of materials they had to hand. There are many variations on the theme, but you can see the basic idea in a backstrap loom. A few sticks, a bit of string and one has all they need to make beautiful cloth.



I may be a bit over-excited about my new endeavor. I don't mind. I love learning new skills. Especially skills that lead to self sufficiency.
 
Niele da Kine
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Good job! Learning new things is always exciting. Even the "fancy" looms are just sticks and strings when you look at them.

I've been weaving on a vintage German "kircher" loom that came with a spinning wheel we'd bought at a yard sale while back. I'd not thought much of it at the time, they just handed me this old cardboard box with some sticks in it and said it went with the spinning wheel. Some folks call it a "sampler" loom, other folks have called it a "kids" loom, but it's great fun.



Soon as I can figure out how to make that yellow plastic part from stuff around the house, then a couple more of these little looms will be made. They are small enough to easily carry around and you can sit at a table and use them.



I've not tried anything intricate, but it's lots of fun.

I suppose you could always sew pieces together if you wanted to make a large thing on your backstrap loom? Messenger bags would be lovely. What's your next project?
 
r ranson
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What a lovely little loom. Love your weaving. In case you ever want to talk to weavers (the first thing they ask is what sort of loom do you have), it's a 2 shaft, (max width of fabric you can weave, in inches), table loom, with string heddles.

The yellow plastic bit is called a reed. For those of you new to weaving, the reed on a shaft loom (a loom like this) controls how far apart each warp thread is, and generally determines the thickness of the threads you can use to weave. Most looms make it easy to change the reed, but this one looks a bit more difficult than normal. The reed is much more important than it looks and has a huge influence on the final quality of the fabric - with this type of loom. If it's bent slightly, twisted, not absolutely smooth, or any imperfection, it will show up in the weaving. Not so much for thick things like blankets, but when the time comes that you want to do fine cloth, a good reed will make a huge difference. Most modern reeds are usually made out of stainless steel and usually cost a ridiculous amount of money.

These days it's taken for granted that one cannot make their own reed. Poppycock! Before there was stainless steel, people made their own reeds out of... get this... reeds, or whatever local materials were available.


immage borrowed from here

Here's a great photo of a reed made from bamboo


check out the page for more photos

So, you see, it can be done. Has been done in the past. It's just a matter of dedicating some time to learning how to do it.

There is a stitch you can use to invisibly sew panels of woven cloth together. Or for something a bit more fun, you can sew them with a contrasting colour.



That's one of the things I like about the backstrap loom. You can use a reed with it, or even a rigid heddle reed, or no reed at all. The maximum width of the fabric you can weave on a backstrap loom is usually two times the width of your sticks and your sticks can be as long as your heart desires.

I've woven on a great many looms in my time, from tiny inkle loom to massive 70" 8 shaft, countermarch. Never before have I been so impressed by a loom for it's simplicity and versatility as I am by the backstrap loom. I'm really looking forward to putting it through it's paces.
 
r ranson
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I made three new looms yesterday. It goes a lot faster when you have someone to use the electric tools.



The first loom worked well, for the most part. I had trouble with it flopping around and not staying where I put it. I wondered if the loom was too big for what I wanted to weave. I was weaving a 3 inch band on a set of sticks 24 inches wide.

This time, I made three different width of looms: 12, 16 and 20 inch. I'm trying the 12 inch first to weave my own backstrap. The cloth should be a finished width of 4" if I did my math right. It is much easier to control the smaller loom. I'm glad I took the time to experiment with different size looms.

Setting up the backstrap loom is faster than a shaft loom. For a shaft loom we have to thread the warp through the reed and through the heddles (the things that make the yarns go up and/or down. I think it's on par with dressing a rigid heddle loom for speed and difficulty. I've noticed many experienced weavers are nervous about continuous string heddles on the backstrap loom. I found them tricky at first too, but once I got the hang of it, it's quite quick; almost intuitive.


Images from my blog used by me, with my permission.

I was in a hurry to make the looms, so I did something I don't normally like to do. I went to a big box store and bought 5, 4 foot dowels of appropriate thickness to make the loom. It came to about $10 for the wood. The yarn for making the backstrap will be about $5 for all three looms. The shuttles are made out of scrap wood. A final total cost of $15 for three looms, or an average of $5 per loom for materials when buying all parts retail. Later in the winter, when it's the right time for coppicing, I hope to make some more looms using local materials only at zero monetary cost, just time and local resources.

In the mean time, there are a lot of things I'm noticing can do with some adjustment. Some of the sticks would like grooves in it, others might be better not round. Lots of small customizations to make weaving easier.

This will do well for learning how to use a backstrap and to show you how affordable and easy it is to make your own loom.
 
r ranson
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Another kind of loom that is easy to make with some spare bits of wood is the Inkle Loom
. These are popular little looms and are excellent for making strong, narrow bands. Belts, guitar straps, all sorts of things.

Here are a couple of tutorials I came across.

From make magazine

nevermindhowiknowthat blog

instructables


One of the limitations of the Inkle Loom is that the band you weave can only be as long as the loom allows. If you want to weave miles of the stuff, a backstrap loom may be the best bet.

Also, the biggest problems with inkle looms, both hand made and commercial, is that the force of the warp will loosen or cause the dowels to lean in over time. This makes the warp uneven and the finished fabric slightly curved.

All these tutorials use commercial wood and hardware. Before the big box store moved into the neighbourhood, this kind of loom was constructed using local materials. At least I think it may have been. I can't find any definitive decision on where this loom originates. Inkle refers to the woven band, not the loom itself. This style of loom may be as recent as the second half of the 20th century. some interesting tidbits about it's history
 
r ranson
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The backstrap loom is loads of fun to use. I've been using it as my end of day wind down. Weaving for half an hour or so just before bed. This is very handy because the bed is one of the few things in the house heavy enough to attach the loom to.

I've woven my length of fabric. It has a nice long fringe on each end that I'll braid and when finished it will be the strap for my loom. No more making do with a kitchen towel for me.


images borrowed from my blog


One thing I learned is that the yarn has to be very smooth and EXCEPTIONALLY strong. What amazes me is that this type of loom is used in traditional cultures from many parts of the world. These people use handspun yarn, spun on a spindle yarn, that is very fine and remarkably smooth. It's not easy to make a yarn that will hold up to this kind of wear and tear. I'm looking forward to giving it a try.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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These are great!  My first loom was nails on the ends of a wooden fruit box.   I could make a placemat.   To make a runner, I made a much longer weft, by anchoring the box and across the room anchoring a 2x4 with another row of nails.  Once I had the warp measured out, I just rolled the extra around the 2x4.  (I must have had a piece of wood with holes that covered the those nails I warped around.

Also have an inkle loom.

One thing I remember was weaving a bag around a piece of cardboard.  It was warped "up and down".  The warp went over the bottom, then up to the "top".  But rather than going over the top, it turned around and went down to the bottom and up the other side.  Then I wove from the bottom up, around and around, and at the top, I tucked the weft thread in, and pulled the cardboard out, then kind of scrunched the weaving up against those warp threads at the top, where they turned and went down the same side they came up.

It is also kind of fun to weave a circular hat, kind of a tam.   You get a circle of nice firm cardboard, a little bigger than the desired size of your yat.  the weft goes around and around the flat piece of cardboard, crossing the center point, so that the warp makes pie shaped spaces.  To weave start at the center and go round and round.  You may want to bundle the warp threads until you get a little ways out from the center.  Keep going round and round til you get to the outer side, then, and this is a little more difficult to keep the tension, weave from the perimeter inward on the second side.  Then, when you get as far in as you think will be just right, you cut the warp threads where they cross in the center of the second side.  If you want a band around your head, then you finger weave or crochet, or what ever you can figure out to weave about an inch or so of tube that will fit down around your head.  I guess you could use those warp threads to bind in /cast on a row of knitting and make the band that way.  It makes a great hat, and I wore mine for years.

Once you get into weaving the shape of fabric you want for your garment directly on a piece of cardboard (sometimes several thicknesses) you can design some wonderful and beautiful things to wear!

While I am on the thread where all the weavers and future weavers are, I want to mention I have a 48 inch 4 harness Nilus Le Clerc loom in excellent condition I got a few years ago, and have not used.  it has a piece missing, the metal rod to tie the warp to the warp beam, possibly the apron for the warp beam is also missing.   I know I did not think either of these missing pieces was a big deal, but in three years I have not even thought of using it.   If anyone is close enough and interested in coming to get it, I'd sell it cheap.

Photos available.

 
Thekla McDaniels
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R Ranson wrote:A
One of the limitations of the Inkle Loom is that the band you weave can only be as long as the loom allows.  If you want to weave miles of the stuff, a backstrap loom may be the best bet.

Also, the biggest problems with inkle looms, both hand made and commercial, is that the force of the warp will loosen or cause the dowels to lean in over time.  This makes the warp uneven and the finished fabric slightly curved. 

All these tutorials use commercial wood and hardware.  Before the big box store moved into the neighbourhood, this kind of loom was constructed using local materials.  At least I think it may have been.  I can't find any definitive decision on where this loom originates.  Inkle refers to the woven band, not the loom itself.  This style of loom may be as recent as the second half of the 20th century.  some interesting tidbits about it's history


You can make some moveable pegs, so that as the warp draws up into the woven strap, and tightens the warp and begins to bend the pegs, you move the peg to the next hole.  Then it is floppy loose of course, but if you look at the situation and how much slack you need to take up, you can do it with a few pieces of polished lath, or one of those handy shuttles, or you could have a sleeve that fits over the peg and takes up the slack. 

Inkle looms are easy to understand and easy to modify once you see what problem you are trying to solve.  I bet a person with better wood working skills than I have could make an inkle loom where the long base piece of wood had a slide built in some how.
 
Dave Bennett
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R Ranson wrote:I made a loom this morning.  It took about 10 minutes. 

Here's the tutorial I used to make a backstrap loom


The loom worked marvelously well.  Far better than I expected.  My friend's kid (8 years old) was thrilled and took about 30 seconds to get the hang of how to weave with it.  About two minutes later, she was weaving better on it than I do.  I've set her up with the warp needed to make her own backstrap.  Once she finishes it, I'll present her with her own set of sticks and then she will have made her very own loom.  Not too bad for someone in third grade (the kid, not me.  I passed third grade a few years back ). 


I'm hugely impressed with backstrap looms.  Always before, weavers have told me to avoid them.  They aren't 'proper looms'.  They are too difficult to make or use.  Bla Bla, youcantcha bugs galore.  My experience today has showed me that it's the opposite of what I've been taught.  Backstrap looms not only are simple to make and use, they open up a whole new world of weaving.

It took no time at all to not just set up, but to make as well.  Most of the trouble was trying to find an old pillow case, then deciding that an old kitchen towel would do.


This experience has got me thinking.  Most of the world's most beautiful handwoven fabric has been created using simple looms like this.  It's almost as if, the simpler the tool, the more complex and beautiful the weave can become.  Simple tools like this backstrap loom, seem to allow for greater creativity.

In many cultures, for much of history, people made their own looms out of materials they had to hand.  There are many variations on the theme, but you can see the basic idea in a backstrap loom.  A few sticks, a bit of string and one has all they need to make beautiful cloth. 



I may be a bit over-excited about my new endeavor.  I don't mind.  I love learning new skills.  Especially skills that lead to self sufficiency. 

Wow this is very cool.  Thanks for posting it.  I like to think of this type of ancient technology as basic survival.  In a community setting there should be several skilled craftspeople to produce cloth however primitive.  Some will build shelter, some will hunt, some will father other types of sustenance.  Way cool and again, thanks for sharing.
 
Andrea Redenbaugh
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R Ranson,
Do you have any experience with a warp weighted loom? I have done Viking reenactment and was told this is what they used. Any information or resources are appreciated.

I have used the backstrap method with tablet weaving. Wonderfully simple to set up and easy to bring along. I have even used my foot when a suitable post was not available
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Many years (decades) ago I used a backstrap loom. I even demonstrated weaving at a 'crafts fair'. The 'loom' (parts of wood and plastic) is still somewhere here ... why don't I start weaving again
The problem is: I start so many things. At the moment there's a knitted chair cover to finish, some dresses to be made (for myself and a friend) and a lot of dark brown sheep wool to be spun. But that wool I might use for weaving ...
 
C. Hunter
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I like backstrap looms, but they get trickier the wider you get, and the ergonomics can be iffy if you've got any back problems at all. I much prefer my rigid heddle. (I have a Kromski Harp Forte, an older Harp, and a Beka). I do find that the backstrap style weaving with a rigid heddle instead of string heddles is easier for me though,and I want to try out the Scandanavian-style bandweaving this winter if I get through some of my other projects.

I've also got a floor loom whcih I've yet to use because I'm intimidated by it But I know I'll love it once I get used to warping it.

The little toy German loom would technically be a coutnerbalance loom, no? There's a very cool little PVC table loom detailed here - http://www.pvcloom.com/?paged=3 - which might be useful info for someone who wants to build a multi-harness loom. It'd be easy enough to adapt to wood for someone with good building skills. (The PVC is, frankly, I think because many of us do not have good woodcrafgint skills )

YAY WEAVING.
 
Miles Flansburg
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I love this guys work, at about two minutes in he builds a loom from the forest around him.

 
r ranson
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Andrea Redenbaugh wrote:R Ranson,
Do you have any experience with a warp weighted loom? I have done Viking reenactment and was told this is what they used. Any information or resources are appreciated.


I haven't tried those yet but they look amazing.  I'm seeing one of my weaving mentors this weekend, she's done Viking reenactments and woven on a warp-weighted looms.  I'll ask her about it.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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I love the video, Miles.  Had to look carefully for how he is getting two sheds from that stick he raises and lowers.  It is in where he has the stationary warp threads tied.  It looks like any one could get a functional loom pattered after it.
 
r ranson
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Made another loom, this one from an old set of playing cards.



It's for a style of weaving called tablet or card weaving.  This style of weaving is as old as agriculture and makes an incredibly strong strap.  One end is usually tied to the weaver, the other end to something firm like a tree or sofa.  One string goes through each hole, and the cards are turned towards or away from the weaver to make the pattern.  You can make fancy designs, even lettering.

In the last picture, you can see some examples of commercially available weaving cards.  Depending on where you get them, these are fifty cents to a dollar per card!  I like the homemade ones better because they are easier to hold in the hand.  Some people like the larger cards because they make it easier to pass the shuttle through the shed.



You can make these cards from almost anything stiff.  Historically they were made from bone, wood, or leather, but later on, people started making them from stiff paper or card.  To get started, what you need is a square card, 4 holes, one in each corner, and some string. 

To square the cards, I put another card over at a right angle and drew a line.  Cut along the line and rounded the corners. 



Then I used a hole punch to put one hole per corner.



To make a whole deck of 55 cards (52 cards plus two jokers and another card that was in the pack), took about half an hour and coast nothing as these were old cards on their way to the recycling bin.  One usually only uses 10 to 25 cards at a time, so 55 cards is one heck of a lot! 



All one really needs is some cards and string; however, I'm trying out a new Ashford Sampleit loom and I wanted to see what tablet weaving would be like if I set up the cards on the loom.  It's working great to keep the warp organised and it means I'm not tied down. 
This is a sample for a design that I am making for my goat.  He needs a bigger collar and I'm hoping to start training him to carry a pack saddle - so he needs strapping. 



If you are interested in learning more about tablet weaving, I can write up a tutorial about it in a new thread.  Just let me know.
 
Regan Dixon
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I have a bunch of looms that were gifted to me, and one that I made, and a set of weaving tablets...some I haven't used in ages, and others, never.  Really *should* make a point of using or regifting them.  One thing I've never used is an inkle loom, but noting your comment that inkle looms become lopsided after a while from the tension of the warp, I had this thought: 

Since inkle looms appear to be one-sided, could one not build a two-sided inkle loom, where the dowels pass through to the other side?  And keep the non-dominant hand side under tension while weaving on the side one was comfortable with using?  That opposing tension would offset the pegs-bending-in syndrome, and be usable for left- or right-handed people.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Hi R. Is this telepathic or what?
I just started weaving with cards, using the linen yarn you sent me! I waited with posting about that on Permies, because the work is not yet finished; I wanted to show the result too. But now I think I have to show you (as well as all Permies) what I'm doing with your handmade natural linen yarn:

The end result will follow later on. This is the start of the weaving.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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It is difficult to make a photo while you're 'backstrapped' yourself doing the tabletweaving
You can see the narrow band I am making, turned around my belt a few times to keep the threads at the right tension while weaving. The cards or tablets are not self made, I have them since about 1980, as well as the book on this technique and many other things related to textile hand crafts.
 
r ranson
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Funny you should mention Inkle looms.  Recently I have come across a couple made by Ashford that don't seem to have such a problem with the pegs leaning in.  I hope to try these myself soon.

There are some inkle looms with two sides, but they can be more challenge to warp than the open side ones. 
 
Regan Dixon
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Oh, by two-sided I meant pegged with long pegs through to the other side, so both sides were pokey, not smooth.  Then it wouldn't make it hard to warp, and the tension on the other side might offset the tendency of the peg to pivot in its hole and make for "warped warps".  Unless the pegs decided to become U-shaped under tension at both ends.  This might also make the loom more leftie-friendly.
 
r ranson
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Regan Dixon wrote:Oh, by two-sided I meant pegged with long pegs through to the other side, so both sides were pokey, not smooth.  Then it wouldn't make it hard to warp, and the tension on the other side might offset the tendency of the peg to pivot in its hole and make for "warped warps".  Unless the pegs decided to become U-shaped under tension at both ends.  This might also make the loom more leftie-friendly.


Oh, that sounds like a neat idea.  I wish I had the skills to make one and give it a try.
 
Judith Browning
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While cleaning my work room I found a piece of tablet weaving from many years ago.  I made this piece and one other small narrow band that was long enough for a bag strap and that was all.  Passed the cards on to a friend who had more patience with it than I.  Fun to learn and I love the patterns and twists that can happen by manipulating the cards. 


I have inkle looms on my high shelf that I used and we sold (Steve made them and other weaving tools).  Those I used a lot...belts, guitar straps,  and as webbing to finish clothing edges.  I taught many children at shows to weave on an inkle loom...it is mesmerizing once threaded and time to weave.....might find myself weaving on them again one day
IMG_2200-(4).JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_2200-(4).JPG]
 
Ryan Hobbs
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I'm working on this lever based brocade (simple brocade, nothing crazy) loom.



 
Gretchen Austin
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If I post a picture of my inkle loom, any chance one of you could try to explain to me how to thread it? I'd love to try tablet weaving on it. Thanks in advance!
 
r ranson
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Gretchen Austin wrote:If I post a picture of my inkle loom, any chance one of you could try to explain to me how to thread it? I'd love to try tablet weaving on it. Thanks in advance!


here's a pdf that teaches how to weave on an inkle loom.  I don't think it covers tablet weaving on the loom, but its a good starting place to get famiular with the loom and what it can do.  I saw some amazing pick up work on a inkle loom recently that was even more complex than tablet weaving can do.  Fantastic stuff.
 
Deb Rebel
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Gretchen Austin wrote:If I post a picture of my inkle loom, any chance one of you could try to explain to me how to thread it? I'd love to try tablet weaving on it. Thanks in advance!


This might help:

http://www.weavezine.com/content/weaving-inkle-loom.html

http://www.earthguild.com/products/riff/rinkle.htm

This is a PDF
https://www.ashford.co.nz/images/download_pdfs/learn_to/learn_to_weave_on_the_inkle_loom.pdf
 
Gretchen Austin
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Yes those sites help! Though since I posted about needing help on the Inkle loom, I've made a back strap loom (it works! Really well!), and really enjoyed making the continuous heddles, so I'm wondering if it would be possible to make continuous heddles on an Inkle loom. I like having the cross in the warp, which seems only half there on an Inkle loom. It also seems that the tension would be different between round 1 warp threads and round 2 warp threads, but I suppose since they are connected, even if the two rounds are a slightly different length, the tension will even out once the heddles are in place and looped on their peg. I like how the warping is done right on the loom. I'll have to give it a try!

I bought the video tutorial from Interweave Press by John Malarkey on tablet weaving, which gives some good starting projects, but I haven't actually tried any tablet weaving yet. Hopefully this winter. The nearest city is hosting a big weaving/spinning conference in May of 2018, and I am hoping I can teach a few workshops there. Backstrap weaving, Inkle weaving and tablet weaving are the best ideas I've come across so far, so many thanks to all of you for bringing these techniques up! I grew up in Guatemala (from age 7 to 15) and so was exposed to all kinds of backstrap weaving. My sister learned how to weave when we were there but I always thought it was too difficult, and became a fairly proficient knitter during that time instead. But now since moving to northern Ontario, I have learned to weave on a harnessed loom and now have 3 looms that are all 4 harness looms (a Dorothy Leclerc, a 36" floor Leclerc, and an older tabletop Ashford 24" that is 'out of print' now), and I love them all. Plus I have hooked up with the local yarn store and hooked them up with a fellow selling off a deceased weaver's possessions, so they bought a 70" 4 harness Leclerc loom for $100, and I get to weave on that too. Currently working on a blanket that will have some semblance to a Canadian flag, by intersecting the red and white weft shuttles, bringing the shuttles up to sit above the warp while I change the shed, and then passing the shuttles back into the new shed. I know this technique has a special name but it's late at night and I can't quite remember what it is called. Hopefully I'll be able to figure out how to post a picture.

If anyone has any questions about setting up a loom with 4 or more harnesses I would love to help. I know the threading process can be tedious, but for making blankets and other wide cloth, it is a great way to grow the fabric with a little time each day. I'm also frequently trying to think of simple weaving tools that can be made at home, and it is such fun to share these ideas with other weavers!

On another topic, has anyone tried spinning using a spinning top that is meant to be a child's toy? (Not to be confused with top for spinning where top is the cream of the fiber from a sheep!)
 
Gretchen Austin
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Has anyone tried sprang? I'm certain we had a sprang hammock when we lived in Mexico. There are videos on Youtube. I have yet to figure out what to do in the middle, when the piece is nearly done, to keep all the threads from untwisting. Looks fun!
 
Deb Rebel
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Okay, I want to make one to take with me this weekend... what length and diameter are your dowels, please? That'll help a lot with recreating what's in the original picture. Thanks.
 
r ranson
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Deb Rebel wrote:Okay, I want to make one to take with me this weekend... what length and diameter are your dowels, please? That'll help a lot with recreating what's in the original picture. Thanks.


Any thickness and any length you like.  That's the wonderful thing about this loom, it can be made with whatever materials you have to hand. What'ever is smooth - broom handles, sticks, whatever.

My preference for teaching on is about 18" long.  The big sticks are 1/2 to 3/4" thick and the thinner sticks are just over a quarter inch. 
 
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