Craft a Homemade Loom and Coasters
I’ve always appreciated the process of creating things with my own hands. A few years ago, I discovered the world of weaving. I was intrigued by the beauty of it, and almost immediately, I wanted to learn. I started teaching myself by reading tutorials in old magazines and vintage books.
Over the past few years, I’ve fallen in love with fiber arts, especially weaving. I enjoy the entire process. Weaving is relaxing and meditative, as well as fun and rewarding. The time I spend on the loom helps clear my mind and gives me a sense of peace and satisfaction.
Before you can weave, you’ll need a loom. You can buy one, but they’re expensive. So, why not make one? Here’s a low-cost design for making your own, and it works great. Once your loom is complete, you’ll be able to make all kinds of things, such as coasters.
When I started my journey in weaving, I didn’t want to invest in a professional loom to learn the basics, and I decided I could easily make my own without spending much. I created a simple loom from cardboard, and it worked fine. After learning the basic process, though, I knew I needed a more stable and resistant frame that was also portable, so I made my own wood frame loom.
Tools & Materials
- 30-by-40-inch wooden canvas frame
- 1-inch nails
- Small hammer
- Yarn for warping
1. On one short side of the frame, mark a 1/2-inch margin toward the inside.
2. Starting from your initial marking, mark every 1/2 inch across the top of your frame.
3. Hammer a nail halfway into each marked spot.
4. Repeat Steps 1 through 3 on the other short side of your frame.
5 With yarn, start warping your homemade loom. Start at the bottom left of your loom and tie a double knot on the first nail. Carry the yarn up to the top of the loom, wrap it over and around the first nail there, and bring it back down again to the next nail on the bottom of the loom. Continue this process until you reach the last nails on your loom. Use scissors to cut the yarn, and then tie a double knot on the end.
This project is simple and quick to make. When I was in school, I made woven coasters using leftover fabric from my art classes. I was only 12 years old. I’m sure anyone can make this project — even the kids will want to give it a try. The directions that follow will make one coaster, so if you want to make multiple, adjust the materials accordingly. Each finished piece will measure 4 square inches.
Tools & Materials
- Weaving loom
- Cotton rug warp yarn
- Cardboard spacer, optional
- Cotton yarn in white, aqua-blue, and multicolored
- Tapestry needle
- Beater or weaving comb
Tabby Weave Directions
Also known as plain weaving, tabby creates a simple crisscross pattern. Moving from right to left, weave the weft (horizontal) yarn under the first warp (vertical) thread, and then over the next. Repeat this under-over-under process until you’ve finished the row.
In the second row, reverse the alternating sequence you completed on the first row. Working from left to right, pass your needle over a warp thread that you passed under on the first row, and vice-versa on the next warp thread. Continue until you’ve completed the row.
On the third row, you’ll repeat the sequence you did on the first row. The fourth row will repeat the sequence from the second row, and so on until your project is finished.
1. Warp your loom with thick cotton yarn, following Step 5 in the instructions for “Frame Loom.” Warp approximately 4-1/2 inches. You’ll start weaving about 1 inch from the bottom of the loom. If needed, use a cardboard spacer to help keep your weaving in place while you work.
2. Thread the tapestry needle with the multicolored yarn, doubled. Start your first row in a tabby weave (see “Tabby Weave Directions” at left). Finish the first row, and leave a 3-inch tail on it. On the second row, work in the opposite pattern from the first row — if you went under the last warp thread on the first row, start the second row by going over the first warp thread.
3. Change to the white yarn, and continue this alternating pattern until you’ve completed seven more rows of tabby weave. Don’t pull too much at the ends of the rows, or you’ll affect the structure of your piece. After each row, push the yarn down with your beater or weaving comb.
4. Switch to the aqua-blue yarn, and weave three rows, using the same technique as the previous rows. End the yarn in the beginning of the fourth row.
5. Switch back to the multicolored yarn, and start where you ended the last thread. Weave 14 rows.
6. Change to the aqua-blue yarn, and weave three rows of tabby, followed by seven rows of the white yarn. Finish with two rows of the multicolored yarn. You should end up with a symmetrical pattern.
7. Once you’ve finished your coaster, take it off the loom, and cut the warps on the top and bottom of your loom. Leave the ends long.
8. Join the warps in pairs, making a double knot on each end. You don’t have to weave in the warp ends on the back of your tapestry; the ends will work as a fringe and be part of the final piece.
Andreia Gomes is a self-taught weaver and the founder of LOOP Weaving Co. Her work has been featured on Etsy, at IKEA, and more. This article is excerpted with permission from her book Little Loom Weaving (Ulysses Press).
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