A Practical Guide for the Non-Expert
Written and Illustrated
Published and Distributed by:
Volunteers in Technical Assistance, Inc.
1600 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 500
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Tel: 703/276-1800 . Fax: 703/243-1865
VITA acknowledges, with deep thanks and appreciation to
the author, this very special contribution to its development
Handloom Construction was written and illustrated by Joan
Koster–educator, anthropologist, artist and weaver. Koster, a
long-time VITA Volunteer, has provided assistance through VITA
to loom builders and weavers around the world. VITA is very
pleased to be able to offer a portion of Koster’s work collected
in one manuscript.
Special thanks go also to VITA Volunteer Virginia Palmer
for her review and comments, to Margaret Crouch and Laurel
Druben of the VITA staff for editorial work, to VITA staffer
Carolyn Marcus, whose skill at layout and page design so well
highlighted the author’s excellent work, and to VITA Volunteer
Kit Cone, for typesetting services.
Mt. Rainier, Maryland USA
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1 Which Loom to Build?
Fibers: Choice and Preparation
What Products to Weave?
2 A Weaver’s Dictionary
3 The Simple Frame Loom
How to Weave on a Frame Loom
Variations of the Simple Frame Loom
How to Weave on a Pegged Loom
4 The Inkle Loom
Set Up the Loom for Weaving
How to Weave on an Inkle Loom
Steps in Weaving
5 The Foot-powered Loom
Pit Loom Version
Free-Standing Loom Version
The Moveable Parts for Both Loom Designs
Warp the Foot-Powered Loom
How to Weave on a Foot-Powered Loom
Steps in Weaving on Both Looms
6 The Weaver’s Tools
The Skein Winder
The Warping Board for a Foot-Powered Loom
7 Weaves, Patterns and Finishing Touches
Planning the Fabric
Color Pattern Weaves
8 Where to Find More Information
With inexpensive machine-made cloth increasingly available almost
everywhere, it seems likely that fewer and fewer people will be interested
in producing their own cloth. As a result, handweaving may
be in danger of becoming a neglected craft. Yet there are many advantages
to handweaving–particularly in the home and on a cottage
Weaving can be done in one’s spare time using free or inexpensive
fibers available locally, and simple, efficient looms can be built
from local materials at
little cost. Therefore,
as long as the loom and
fibers cost little, the
finished cloth requires
an investment in time
rather than money.
There are other advantages
as well. Handwoven cloth
is often sturdier and
longer wearing than
It can be designed
to meet special
can be made in
a size and
shape that is
mats and rugs
can be made to
fit individual rooms.
A simple loom made
from local materials.
Loomed products can provide extra cash income, especially for agricultural
or herding families. Such products can be sold locally to
people unable to weave their own cloth, to the tourist trade, or
for export. Cloth and cloth products are relatively easy to store
and ship, and they suffer little spoilage if cared for properly.
Because people all over the world have been weaving since the very
earliest times, there are many styles and varieties of looms. This
is a book about building and using some of these. Three types of
looms, including two variations of a foot-powered loom, are presented
here. The book gives 1) detailed directions for building each kind
of loom, 2) the advantages and disadvantages of each, and 3) instructions
The most basic design for a loom is the simple frame loom. This
loom has been used throughout the world by people as widely
separated as American Indians and the villagers of Upper Volta.
Foot-powered looms–sometimes called multiple harness looms–are
those on which the weaver operates foot pedals to shift moveable
parts of the loom, making it possible to weave more quickly and
easily. Most foot-powered looms operate the same way but differ
in the design of the frame that holds the loom. One version of
this loom, called a pit loom, sits in a pit dug for the weaver’s
feet and the foot pedals. The pit loom described here, which is
similar to looms used in Greece, Turkey, the Balkans, and northern
India, can be supported by being attached to a wall or suspended
from the ceiling. The free-standing loom, on the other hand, has
its own supporting frame and a raised bench for the weaver. The
free-standing loom depicted in this manual is like those used in
Greece, the Balkans, Turkey, Iran, northern Europe and colonial
Read this manual carefully before deciding which loom to build. The
manual has been written to assist with thinking about the questions
which must be answered before a loom is built. For example:
— What types of fibers are available and how much do
— What product or articles will be woven?
— If the handwoven article is to be sold, is there a market?
— If the articles are to be sold, can they be made and sold
quickly enough to make the effort worthwhile?
— What materials are available for building the loom?
Once these factors–construction materials, purpose, fibers, and
so on–have been considered, it will be much easier to decide which
loom can or should be constructed.
This manual first describes briefly a range of fibers which can be
used and then presents a brief summary of each of the types of loom,
the construction materials needed and the products best produced.
As a guide to the potential loom builder, the looms are then compared
with each other in terms of all these factors. The first
chapter provides a very good framework for making decisions concerning
which loom is best for a given purpose. Chapter 2 is an illustrated
dictionary of basic terms used by a weaver and throughout
Directions for construction and use of each type of loom are covered
in Chapters 3, 4 and 5. Chapter 1 includes information on choosing,
treating and spinning fibers. Other sections cover types of weaves
and finishings, and weaver’s tools. An annotated list of references
is also included.
1 Which Loom to Build?
The decision to build one loom rather than another should be made after
considering a number of questions.
1. What kind of cloth or article is to be made?
If there is only one kind of fiber available, then this fact
can dictate the choice of product and the loom. If there is
a variety of fibers, choose a loom that can handle those fibers
used most often in the type of products or articles being produced.
2. What size cloth is needed?
Will all the cloth you make be the same width, or do you want
to make articles of varying widths? Some looms can weave
cloth of varying dimensions, but most weave only within certain
limits for width and length.
3. How fast does the material have to be produced?
Will you be weaving for personal use or to meet market demands?
In general, the more complex the loom, the faster it weaves.
However, a weaver’s skill can often compensate for the slower
rate of a simple loom.
4. What materials are available locally for loom building?
In general it is almost always cheaper to build a loom than to
buy one. In many places it may not be possible to find or
import the type of loom needed. The basic construction material
for simple looms is wood. Almost any kind of wood can
be used as long as it is as straight as possible and well-seasoned.
It need not be milled lumber. Tree limbs with
the bark removed make excellent loom supports.
With an understanding of the basic principles of weaving and a little
carpentry skill, the looms in this manual can be adapted to work
with most materials available anywhere.
This chapter will help the user make the decision by providing information
on each of these points, beginning with the discussion of
fibers. This seems a good place to begin because it appears to be the
case that few people realize the range and variety of materials which
can be woven. Guidelines are provided for preparing fibers and for
judging whether there is sufficient quantity to complete a product.
Fibers: Choice and Preparation
In order to compete with manufactured cloth,
handwoven cloth must be made from free or
inexpensive materials available locally. If
weaving is done now, or was done in the past,
learn which materials are used and how they
are prepared. Fibers from domestic plants
and animals will usually be available in
greater quantities than those from wild
sources. However, sometimes grain straw
or sugarcane residues can be used in weaving.
Domesticated animals such as sheep,
goats, rabbits, camels and many others can
also provide quantities of useful fibers.
Experiment with new materials as well.
Perhaps a nearby factory discards packing
materials of natural fibers, synthetics or
plastics. Sheets of plastic or old plastic
bags can be cut into strips and woven to
make waterproof mats and raingear. Old
clothing and cloth can be cut into strips
and woven into the rag rugs which are
traditional in many parts of the world. <see picture>
Even cardboard and paper, when made into
strips, can be woven.
Almost any fiber, if it is clean, pliable and
either in strips or capable of being spun
into thread, can be used in weaving; the
range of materials that can be used is almost endless. The following
list is just a sample of the variety of fibers and materials used in
different parts of the world for weaving.
Sources of Materials for Weaving
ANIMAL/INSECT VEGETABLE MAN-MADE
Buffalo Amaryllidaceae-Agave, Sisal, Mauritius Hemp Acrylics
Camel Apocynaceae and Asclepiadociae-Milkweed Cardboard
Cattle Bombacaceae-Kapok Old Cloth
Cat Bromeliaceae-Kapok Paper
Chinchilla Bromeliaceae-Caroa, Pineapple, Spanish Moss Plastic
Dog Gratineae-Broomcorn Polyester
Fox Leguminosae-Sunn Hemp Rayon
Goat Liliaceae-Formio Flax, African Bowstring
Guinea Pig Linaceae-Flax
Horse Malvaceae-Bimili, Cotton, Henaf, Hibiscus, Mesta,
Llama Okra, Urena
Musk Ox Moraceae-Hemp, Paper Mulberry
Opposum Musaceae-Abaca, Banana
Rabbit Palmae-Coir (Coconut), Crin vegetal, Palmetto
Racoon Piassava, Toquilla
Sheep Tiliaceae-Jute Basswood
Silkworm Thymeliaceae-Lace Bark
Vicuna Urticaceae-Ramie (China Grass)
Also various grasses, reeds and bamboos, as well
as crop residues-grain straw, bagasse (sugarcane)
Preparing Fibers for Weaving
Part of the consideration of whether a certain fiber is appropriate
for use is the quantity in which it is available and, of course, the
amount of time and effort required to prepare it for weaving. The
discussion here is not intended to be a complete guide to fiber preparation.
Indeed, that will be the subject of another book. Rather,
the purpose of this discussion is to give enough information on fiber
preparation to enable wise decisions concerning the use of the looms
to be described in this manual.
Very few fibers are ready for weaving in their natural state. Most
require some special preparation to make them flexible or thin enough
for weaving. Although each fiber requires specific handling, the
following illustrations summarize the basic processes required by
1. Cleaning – Most fibers must have dirt, seeds, sticky sap,
husks or oils removed. For some this involves
washing or soaking.
2. Drying – Fibers that are washed or soaked usually are air-dried
in sun or light shade.
3. Combing – Fibers are drawn through a
toothed tool in a manner
similar to combing one’s
hair. This straightens and
smooths the fibers to prepare
them for spinning.
4. Spinning or Twisting –
Spinning:some fibers, such as wool, hair
and fluffy plant materials – cotton,
flax, milkweed, etc. – can be made
into continuous strands by spinning.
Spinning involves pulling off small
bits of the fiber and twisting them
tightly together. This can be done
with a drop spindle or spinning
wheel as illustrated.
Twisting: strips of plant material – leaves,
grasses, stalks, etc. – and of old
cloth or plastic can be made thicker
and stronger by placing a heavy
weight on one end and turning the
strip in one direction until it
is round in circumference.
5. Plying – Fibers can be made
stronger by twisting together
two or more
strands. Spun or
twisted fibers should
be twisted in the
from which they
were spun or
The same technique
described for spinning
can be used. Two-ply
means the yarn
is made of two
from four, etc.
The potential builder now has some idea of the range of materials
which can be used for weaving and of the steps involved in preparing
them. It is also important that the builder or user at this point
have an idea of what needs to be woven and of how fast the articles
must be completed.
Key to this knowledge is understanding of the kinds of products which
can be woven out of which fibers and of how much material is necessary
for a given product.
What Products to Weave
Many items can be woven. Some woven products are not finished on a
loom, but must be sewn or fastened together after the material is
woven on the loom. Bags, sacks, clothing
are good examples. <see picture> Other products,
such as belts, mats and rugs can be
almost completely finished on the
loom. This is a time factor to be
Regardless of the fiber used or the
final product desired, all weaving
consists of alternating rows of
threads, yarn or strips made from
the raw material. The vertical
threads are called the warp; the
horizontal threads are called the
weft. (As indicated previously,
the fibers may be one-, two- or four-ply
depending upon the number of
strands twisted together. Essentially,
the purpose of all looms,
no matter how complex, is to hold
the warp (fibers) very tightly so
that the weft (fibers) can be pulled across over one strand, under
the next, over and under as shown in the illustration on the previous
When considering the product to be made it is useful to know that
warp and weft fibers do not have to be the same.
If you find you do not have enough of one fiber, it is possible to
combine two or more in the same cloth. Always use the stronger for
the warp. The following chart shows how fibers may be combined in
A selected warp from the chart may be used in combination with one
or more of the wefts listed for the same article. For example, an
attractive and sturdy bag for carrying water bottles could be made
using a two-ply wool warp and a weft of alternating bands of one-ply
wool, coarse goathair and jute. A similar bag might have a warp of
heavy cotton and alternating wefts of linen, cotton and jute. Combinations
of different fibers will produce cloth of varying textures.
In choosing fibers for a specific article consider the textural effect
of the finished cloth: clothing and linens should use fibers
that are soft to the touch; rugs, sacks, and mats can use the
Suggested Warps and Wefts
ARTICLE WARP WEFT
Bags Heavy cotton Heavy cotton
2-4 ply wool 1-2 ply wool
Jute Coarse goathair
Belts Heavy cotton Cotton
2-4 ply wool 1-2 ply wool
Blankets Heavy cotton Heavy cotton
2-4 ply wool 1-4 ply wool
2 ply coarse goathair soft and coarse goathair
Fabric (Heavy–for Heavy cotton Heavy cotton
jackets, coats 2-4 ply wool 2-4 ply wool
capes, pants) 2 ply coarse goathair 2 ply coarse goathair
Heavy linen Heavy linen
Fabric (Light–for Medium, heavy cotton Medium, fine cotton
dresses, shirts, Fine 2 ply wool 1 and 2 ply fine wool
table linens) Fine, medium linen Fine linen
ARTICLE WARP WEFT
Mats Heavy cotton Jute
Heavy linen Hemp
Hemp Cardboard and many other
Raingear Heavy cotton Loosely spun goathair
Heavy linen Plastic strips
2 ply coarse goathair
Rugs Heavy cotton Heavy cotton
2-4 ply wool 1-4 ply wool
Heavy linen Old cloth cut in strips
Sacks Heavy cotton Heavy cotton
2-4 ply wool 2-4 ply wool
Heavy linen Heavy linen
Sheets Medium, heavy cotton Medium, fine cotton
Fine 2 ply wool Fine 1 and 2 ply wool
Medium, heavy linen Medium, fine linen
Wall Hangings Cotton Any
2-4 ply wool
Once there is an idea of what fibers are available and of the ways in
which fibers can be combined to produce a product, it is necessary
to make sure there is an adequate supply of fibers to produce the
thread or yarn for the desired products. Or to look at the same
point in another way, it is necessary to find out how much yarn or
thread is needed to produce the cloth for a given article.
Here is a rough formula for estimating the amount of thread necessary:
A. Estimate how many vertical threads (warp) there will be in
one square centimeter of cloth. (The thinner the thread,
the more there will be.
B. Estimate how many horizontal threads (weft) will be in
the same square centimeter of cloth.
C. Determine the width of the finished
piece of cloth. (in cm.)
D. Determine the length of the finished
piece of cloth. (in cm.)
(AxC) x D = the length of warp needed
(BxD) x C = the length of weft needed
(AxCxD) + (BxDxC) = total thread needed
Remember that this is just an estimate.
It is always a good idea to have extra
warp and weft. (See pages 127 & 128
for a further discussion of determining
amounts of warp and weft needed.
The Simple Frame Loom is the most
basic design for a loom. The
frame, a structure of four pieces
of wood, serves to keep the warp
(vertical) threads taut and
straight so that the weft (horizontal)
can pass through more
The loom has a shed stick and
heddle which make the weaving
go faster and more uniformly than
on an even simpler loom where
the weaver must intertwine the warp
and weft with just the fingers. The frame loom requires less time
in construction and in setting up the warp than the more complex
foot-powered loom, but requires a greater investment in time spent
in the actual weaving of the cloth.
Even though it is slower and simpler than other looms, the frame
loom has certain advantages to be considered. Only the frame loom
can be made big enough to weave large, one-piece fabrics, rugs and
mats. Variations of this loom are used, for example, to weave
Persian or Oriental rugs in Afganistan and Iran. Another advantage
of the frame loom is that it is especially suited to weaving very
coarse fibers and is useful for weaving
heavy mats of straw, grasses or similar
fibers. The frame loom is also
very suitable for weaving pile or
shag rugs, and tapestries. The
knotted and tapestry weaves used
for such rugs require slow painstaking
fingerweaving by the weaver
no matter which style loom is used,
and so the foot-powered loom loses
its advantage of greater speed
when this kind of work is being
The Inkle Loom is designed to
produce very strong continuous
bands or strips of fabric ranging
from about 2 to 28 centimeters.
This loom is popular for weaving
belts and decorative trims. Although
the inkle loom produces
a limited size and type of material (the strips range in length from
90 to 180 centimeters), it has advantages for some situations and uses.
The Inkle Loom is fairly small; some versions are small enough to
hold in one’s lap or work on a table. This can be an advantage if
working space is limited. An ingenious system of changing the warp
makes setting up the loom and weaving on it a very rapid process.
Many beautiful and intricate patterns can be developed and carried
out on the loom. The fabric produced is warp-faced which means that
the weft does not show at all in the finished cloth. This means that
if fibers for weaving are limited, excellent cloth can be produced by
using good fibers for the warp and poorer ones in the weft. Even if
one of the other looms is chosen, the Inkle Loom is a good supplementary
loom on which to weave straps and trim for bags, blankets, and
clothing woven on the other looms.
The Foot-Powered Multiple Harness Loom has been used with success in
many places throughout the world. It incorporates most of the features
necessary for a smooth, consistent production of fabric. Although
designs for more complex versions exist, and can be found in some of
the sources listed on pages 157-162, the foot-powered loom design presented
here has been chosen as more suitable for construction where
materials, carpentry skills and tools are in limited supply.
Two versions of this loom are presented. The Pit Loom is built
permanently into the floor and wall or ceiling of a dwelling. Because
it uses the structure of the building in this way, it requires
a minimum of wood and is, therefore, very suitable for construction
in areas where wood is expensive or in limited supply. The design
for this loom is based on models in current use in Greece, the
Balkans, Turkey, and Northern India.
The other version presented is a Free-standing or Self-supporting
Loom. The moveable parts of this version are supported by a large,
sturdy wood frame which can be disassembled for storage. This
loom requires more wood and carpentry skill than all the others presented
in this manual. However, it does not have to be made of
commercially milled lumber, but can be constructed from unmilled
tree limbs. Looms of this design are also used in Greece, and the
Balkans, Turkey, Iran, and were once common in northern Europe and
Both versions, the Pit Loom and the Free-Standing Loom, use the same
moveable parts. The advantage to this is shown particularly in
cases where it is not possible to construct enough frames for every
family that wishes to weave. When this is the case, a village may
choose to build a few of either or both types. Each family then
has a set of moveable parts and the families share use of the several
loom frames. This allows more people to weave than might otherwise
Some other important features of these last two loom designs are
the use of multiple harnesses and footpedals (or treadles). Multiple
harnesses refer to the combination of pulleys and heddles
which raise and lower the warp. These looms can use up to eight
harnesses. This means the loom is smooth and fast operating, and
also that there is a great variety of weaves and patterns possible.
(See Chapter 7.) The use of footpedals frees both hands to deal
with the weft and shuttles.
The warp used on these looms must be very strong and even. Cotton,
wool, linen, jute and silk have all been used on this type of loom.
(See chart on page 20.) The weft, however, can be quite variable–from
yarn to rags, raw wool and plant fibers. And although the
warping process is complex and time consuming, the foot-powered
loom can hold a great quantity of warp, enough for several large
articles, so warping need not be done frequently.
This loom is particularly suited for cottage industries where an
investment in the more complex framework will pay off in the resulting
uniformity and strength of the fabric.
The tables on the following pages bring much of the information which
has been presented together in a form which enables easier comparison.
Table I presents an overview of the looms from the standpoint of
size of finished material, fibers best used, speed, etc. For example,
the loom builder can see from Table I that if speed is not a consideration
and ease of construction is, the frame loom may be a good choice.
Table II shows some common fibers and their suitability for use in
warp and weft on these looms. Table III presents some guidelines as
to the products which can be woven on each loom.
Table I–A Comparison of these Looms
FRAME LOOM INKLE LOOM FOOT-POWERED LOOM
Size Range of h.30 cm and up 30 to 90 cm 120 to 150 cm
Loom Frame w.30 cm and up 6 to 30 cm 90 to 120 cm
Width of 4 cm and up 2 to 28 cm 2 to 100 cm
Length of Warp 2 X Loom hgt. 90 cm 200 cm to 3600 cm
Held on Loom
Ease of Easy, little Easy, some Complex, some
Construction carpentry skill carpentry carpentry skill
needed skill helpful needed
Type of Materials Wood Wood Wood
needed for Nails Dowels Reed or Bamboo
Construction Sticks Screws Cement, Shovel
Cord Saw, Chisel Saw, Chisel, Drill
(See specific Hammer, Drill Screwdriver Rope, Cord, String
sections on Knife Drill Knife
for more detail)
Best Fibers Fine to Coarse Good quality Good quality
of all kinds warps – thin to warps – thin to
thick; Weft does medium thickness;
not show – can be All kinds of weft
of varying quality
Speed Relatively slow Fast Fast
Handling Small sizes very Small, easy to Large; Pit Loom
convenient to use and store style is a permanent
use and store; installation in
Large sizes (90cm home; Self-supporting
and over) harder can be disassembled
to handle. Looms to store. Both are
wider than 120cm, easy to use – both
may require two hands are free to
weavers. deal with weft.
Table II–Sample Fibers and their Suitability for
use on these Looms
FIBER FRAME LOOM INKLE LOOM FOOT-POWERED LOOM
Warp Weft Warp Weft Warp Weft
Cotton – fine no yes no yes yes yes
Cotton – heavy yes yes yes yes yes yes
– long fibers yes yes yes yes yes yes
– tow no yes no yes no yes
Wool – 1 ply no yes no yes no yes
Wool – 2-4 ply yes yes yes yes yes yes
Jute – loose spun no yes no yes no yes
Jute – 2-4 ply yes yes yes yes yes yes
Angora rabbit no yes yes yes yes yes
– loose spun no yes no yes no yes
– 2 ply yes yes yes yes yes yes
Mohair – loose spun no yes no yes no yes
Silk yes yes yes yes yes yes
Straw no yes no yes no yes
Plastic strips no yes yes yes no yes
Table III–What to Weave on Which Looms
ARTICLE FRAME LOOM INKLE LOOM FOOT-POWERED LOOM
Bags yes no yes
Belts yes yes no
Blankets yes no yes
Fabric (heavy) yes no yes
Fabric (light) no no yes
Mats yes no no
Rugs yes no yes
Sacks yes no yes
Sheets no no yes
Straps no yes no
Towels yes no yes
Trim no yes no
2 A Weaver’s Dictionary
Before continuing with the text familiarize yourself with these words. Listed
here are some of the words used in this manual which refer to specific tools or
processes used in loom construction or in weaving. Words referring to parts of
looms have been defined in terms of their function rather than their construction,
since actual construction may vary with the loom type.
Balanced Weave (n) The warp and weft show equally
in the finished cloth.
Beater (n) A special tool used to push against the
finished row of weaving to create a tight,
firm cloth. Beaters of different types are
used depending on the fiber being woven and
the loom in use. (See page 113 for a more
Bobbin (n) A small spool used in some shuttles to hold the thread
or yarn being used as weft. (See page 118 for a more
Bobbin winder (n) A machine used to wind yarn on to a bobbin.
Beast beam (n) Another name for the cloth beam, or
the crosspiece of the loom which is
closest to the weaver during weaving.
It is usually applied to looms having a
Cloth beam (n) The crosspiece of a loom frame, or on
some looms a separate bar which holds
the rolled up finished cloth. See also
Comb (n) 1. A part of more complex looms which separates
individual warp threads to keep them straight and evenly
spaced and which also serves as a Beater, pushing
the newly put in weft against the finished edge of
the weaving. It is sometimes called the Reed,
because it may be constructed of thin slivers of
reed. 2. A toothed tool used to straighten and
untangle fibers before spinning. (See page 114
for a further description.)
Comb (v) The process by which fibers are straightened and
smoothed to prepare them for spinning into yarn.
(See page 9 for a more detailed description.)
Dents (n) The spaces between the teeth of the Comb.
Drafting (v) Drawing a diagram of a threading pattern
for the warp. (See page 130)
Fiber (n) The raw material, from a plant, animal or synthetic
source, from which thread, yarn or pliable strips are
made for weaving.
Handloom (n) Any frame which holds the threads taut for
Harness (n) A combination of pulleys and heddles which raise
and lower selected warp threads.
Heddles (n) A special device, of varying design, which
holds selected warp threads in the proper position
Heddle stick (n) A rod or stick which supports the heddles.
Lease Sticks (n) Two lightweight sticks or poles woven
into the warp behind the heddles. They increase
warp tension and help keep the warp
straight and evenly spaced.
Knotted weaves (n) A style of weaving in which the weft
is tied to the warp with one of several
Macrame (n) A technique for making fringes, braids, laces
and openwork designs using several types of knots,
especially the square knot.
Multiple Harness Loom (n) Any loom having more than one set of harnesses.
Overhand knot (n) A simple knot used to join two
threads together, and also used to tie
together the warp left at each end of a
Pile (n) A soft, upstanding weft, similar to fur or
velvet, produced by knotted weaves that have
been cut short. (See page 143)
Plain weave (n) The simpliest of all the weaves. The weft is
woven over and under alternating warps. Also
known as Tabby Weave. (See page 131)
Plying (v) Twisting together two or more strands of fiber or
yarn to produce a thicker or stronger thread or yarn.
(See page 10 for a more detailed description.)
Raddle (n) A special tool used to guide
the warp on to the warp beam
during the warping process.
Selvedges (n) The edges of the woven cloth that are
parallel to the warp.
Shag (n) A soft, upstanding weft, similar to pile,
except that the weft is left uncut and so has an
uneven, fluffy appearance. It is produced by the
knotted weaves. (See page 144)
Shed (n) The space created when selected warp threads
are raised and lowered through which the weft
Shed stick (n) A stick used on simple looms to create
the shed, or space through which the weft
Shuttle (n) A tool of various design that holds the weft
as it is passed through the shed. (See page 116 for a more
Skein (n) A measured length of continuous yarn wound in a loose
circle and tied at opposite ends.
Skeiner (n) A tool used to wind yarn into a skein. (See page 119 for
Skein winder (n) A tool used to hold a skein of yarn as it is
unwound on to a shuttle or bobbin. Sometimes called
a Reeler. (See page 120 for more detail.)
Spindle (n) A quickly rotating stick on which spun yarn is wound.
The rotating motion of the spindle twists the fiber into
thread. (See page 9 for more detail.)
Spinning (v) Twisting together animal, plant or synthetic
fibers to create continuous strands of thread.
(See page 10 for more detail.)
Spinning wheel (n) A human-powered mechanical device which serves
to rotate the spindle for spinning fibers into yarn.
Square knot (n) A strong knot used to join two threads
together; also used in Macrame.
Stretcher (n) A metal or wooden bar that holds the
edges or selvedges of the woven cloth
parallel. (See page 122 for a more detailed
Tapestry weave (n) A variety of plain weave in which
several colors are woven into a design or
picture. (See page 140)
Taut (adj) A string or thread pulled as tightly as possible. The tauter (or tighter)
a thread is pulled the higher the pitch sound will be made when the
string is plucked with the fingers.
Thread (n) A continuous strand of fiber, in this manual
synonymous with yarn.
Threading (v) Drawing the warp through the heddle and teeth of the comb.
Treadles (n) Another name for the footpedals which operate the harnesses on the
Twill weave (n) A weave produced when a
warp or weft thread, or both, go
over and under more than one
thread at a time in a regular
pattern. (See page 133 for a more complete description.)
Twist (n) The direction in which yarn is turned in spinning or
plying. A Z twist turns clockwise. An S twist turns
Twisting (v) The process of placing a weight on one end of a
pliable strip of fiber and turning the strip to produce
a rounded circumference. (See page 10 for more detail.)
Warp (n) The group of threads or yarns stretched across the loom
frame, and extending perpendicularly from the weaver’s body.
Also, called Warp Threads.
Warp beam (n) A bar or crosspiece found on most looms
which hold the unwoven warp threads.
Warp chain (n) A simple finger crochet stitch used to gather measured warp and
prevent it from untangling.
Warp-faced (adj) A cloth in which only the warp threads show.
Warping (v) The process of winding the warp on to the loom frame or warp beam
and threading it through the heddles and comb.
Warping board (n) A special tool used to measure
out long length of warp in a confined
area. (See page 124 for a complete
Weave (n) The pattern or arrangement in which the warp and weft intertwine. (See
Chapter 7 for a complete discussion of the different weaves.)
Weaver (n) The person who is operating the loom.
Weaver’s knot (n) A special knot used only for joining a
broken warp thread. It does not slip.
Weaving (v) The process of intertwining the warp and weft together to create a
piece of cloth.
Weft (n) The threads woven in and out of the stretched warp
to produce a piece of continuous cloth. Also referred
to as weft threads.
Weft-faced (adj) A cloth in which only the weft threads show.
Yarn (n) A continuous strand of fiber, in this manual
synonymous with thread.
3 The Simple
The following directions explain
how to build a very basic loom.
No dimensions are given since there
is no real limit on the size of the
loom. The smallest practical size,
however, is probably about 30cm in
either direction. While it is possible
to build looms smaller than 30cm, it is not practical because weaving
narrower than 30cm can be done on the 30cm framework. Therefore, loom
size can vary from one made small enough to hold in the lap (30 by
60cm is a good size) or large enough to weave a room size rug. Such
large-size looms must be worked by several weavers at one time.
FOR THE FRAME
Two (2) sturdy pieces of wood(*) slightly
larger than the desired width of the
finished cloth. These will be horizontal
pieces of the frame (AB and CD).
Two (2) sturdy pieces of wood(*) slightly
longer than two thirds the desired
length of the finished cloth. These
will be the vertical pieces (EF and GH).
(*) NOTE: This wood and any other wood used
for this loom need not be commercial
lumber. Tree limbs with the bark
removed may be used instead.
Lashing or Nails to join the frame.
FOR THE HEDDLE
One (1) strong stick, the width of
the loom frame.
A length of cotton or synthetic cord
(such as is used in fishnets) about
four (4) times the width of the loom.
Two (2) blocks of wood or two (2) flat
ended stones. (See page 92, “Heddle
Construction” for proper size.)
FOR THE SHED STICK
One (1) rounded piece of wood, the width
of the loom. For looms between 30 and
60cm wide, it should be about 4cm in
diameter; for looms between 60 and
120cm wide, 8cm in diameter; for
looms between 120 and 180cm wide,
12cm in diameter, and so on. Increase
4cm for every 60cm in width.
FOR LEASE STICKS
Two (2) lightweight poles, such as reed
or bamboo, the width of the loom.
TOOLS AND SUPPLIES
Hammer Drill Sharp Knife
Sandpaper Oil for Wood
Before beginning to build, please note the following:
1. The wood used must be as straight as possible and well-seasoned
so it will not warp during use.
2. Smooth and sand the wood so there are no rough spots that will
catch the thread or yarn.
3. Oil the wood rather than use paint or varnish. Oil keeps the
wood from drying and cracking, and provides a smooth renewable
finish for the yarn to move against.
4. The top and bottom crosspieces (called the cloth and warp beam
on the foot-powered loom) must be at right angles to the warp
threads and parallel to each other. Measure carefully during
construction to make sure they are parallel.
A. Prepare wood pieces
1. Remove bark if necessary
2. Sand and smooth rough places
3. Oil wood to prevent splitting
B. Build the Frame
1. Join the four pieces of wood to make a
2. The pieces AB and CD (width) should
overlap the pieces EF and GH (length)
as shown in the illustration. AB and
CD must be on top of EF and GH.
3. Lash or nail the joints together so
that the pieces do not move and are
at right angles to each other–as
shown below left.
C. Prepare the Heddle Stick
1. About 2 to 3cm in from each end of the stick cut
a groove 0.3cm deep completely around the circumference.
D. Prepare the Lease Sticks
1. About 2cm in from the ends of each stick, drill
a hole completely through to the other side. The
hole should be large enough to put a piece of
The Frame is Now Complete
Set Up the Loom for Weaving
NOTE: Before setting up the warp, you may wish
to read Chapter 7 , Weaves, Patterns and
Finishing Touches. This may help you choose
a weave and/or a pattern to set up. Plain
weave or a basket weave and/or a striped or
plaid pattern are recommended for your first
A. Warp the Loom
1. Gather the warp into a ball, or in the case
of very stiff fibers, into an easily undone
2. Tie one end of the warp, in an easily undone
knot such as a half-hitch, to the far inside
corner of crosspiece AB (as shown above).
3. Unwind a small length of warp and bring
it up and around crosspiece CD (as shown at
4. Bring the warp down and around AB in the
same direction you started as illustrated
at bottom left.
5. Continue Steps 2 thru 4 until the desired
number of warp threads is reached (as shown
below). (See page 127, for calculating the
number of warp threads.)
6. Untie the beginning end and join with a square knot
to the other end, so that they stretch diagonally
across the back of the loom. <see picture>
7. Make sure all the warp threads are stretched as
taut as possible.
NOTE: If your pattern calls for several different
color warp threads, such as in a plaid, start
warping as indicated in Steps 1 thru 4, and
a. When the desired number of the first color
warp is reached, do not cut off the extra
warp but set aside the whole ball of remaining
warp still attached to the loom.
b. Pick up a ball or skein of the next color.
c. Tie the end of the new color to AB using a
d. Wrap the new color around as described in
Steps 2 thru 4.
e. When the desired number of threads have been
wound, set aside this ball like the first;
do not cut it off.
f. Start the next color in the same way. If
you must repeat a color, just pick up the
original ball of that color, pull it taut
and continue winding.
g. When all the required warp is wound around
the frame, untie all the beginning ends from
AB and hold them in one hand.
h. Pick up the free ends of all the colors of
warp and tie both groups together using a
square knot. On very wide looms it may be
necessary to tie the ends in several groups. <see picture>
Your Loom is Now Warped
B. Place the Shed Stick on the Loom
NOTE: Look at the warped loom frame. Notice that there
is one set of warp threads on the top side and
another set on the bottom. If you grabbed all
the warp on one side and pulled on it, the warp
would slide around the loom, so that the side
that was in back moves to the front, or
top. This is a continuous warp–there
is no beginning and no end. In
the following directions, you
will be attaching the working
parts to the loom. They must be
attached only to the top side of
the warp, so that the warp will continue to slide around freely. When the warp is
referred to as being lowered or raised, this refers only to the top warp threads.
1. Lay the loom flat on a table or the
2. Place the shed stick across the middle
of the loom, at right angles to the
3. Weave the stick in and out of the top
warp threads, going over and under
every other top warp for Plain Weave.
If you are using another weave check
for the proper order. <see picture>
4. This shed stick will be left in place during
the entire weaving process, but it should be
free to slide up and down the loom at right angles
to the warp.
C. Place the Lease Sticks on the Loom
1. Take one of the lease sticks and place
it above the shed stick, going over and
under the same top warp threads as did
the shed stick. (Loom should still be lying flat on ground.)
2. Push this stick towards the top of the loom or crosspiece CD as shown above.
3. Take the other stick and place it in the space between the shed stick and
the other lease stick as shown below.
4. Weave the second stick in and out of the top warp, going under the warp
threads lowered by the shed stick, and over the ones raised by it. This
will tighten the warp on the loom.
5. Slide the two lease sticks together
until they are 4 to 8cm apart. <see picture>
6. Tie them together by putting a string through the
holes at each end and tying as illustrated (left)
using a square knot. This will keep the sticks together
and prevent them from slipping sideways.
D. Make the Heddle
1. With the loom still lying
flat on the ground, lay the
heddle rod across the lifted
top warp threads that are
in front of the shed stick as
2. Move the heddle rod closer to the shed
stick so that the bottom edge of the heddle
stick is even with the top edge of the shed
stick. Check this by looking at the loom
from the side. The heddle rod
should still be resting directly
on the raised top warp threads.
3. Place a block of wood or a flat
ended stone of the right size at
each end of the heddle stick so
that the heddle remains at the
same height as the shed stick.
If the loom will be used on the
lap or in an upright position
lash the blocks or stones to the
frame. Do not permanently fasten
them, however, as the heddle rod
must move up and down the loom
during weaving. A simple lashing
that can be untied easily works best.
On small looms tape can be used.
4. Tie the end of the cord
of string in the groove
at one end of the heddle
NOTE: The next Steps 5, 6, 7 and 8
describe the process
of attaching the heddle to
the warp. Read the directions
through and study the
illustrations before beginning.
Remember that raised and
lowered warp refers to the top
5. Loop the cord once completely around the heddle stick,
bring the end of the cord down, under the first lowered warp thread and then
back up between the same two raised warp threads. <see picture>
6. Continue the cord over the
heddle stick again, and then
repeat the process of going
between the two raised warp
threads, under a lowered one,
back up between the same two
warps and over and around the
7. As each lowered warp thread is
looped by the cord, pull the
lowered warp up to the same
height as the raised warp
8. Repeat the above process until all the lowered top warp threads are raised to
the same height by the cord. Tie the end of the cord in the groove at the other
end of the heddle stick. <see picture>
E. Check the Position of Heddle and Shed Stick
1. Position the heddle stick relative to the shed stick so that there is enough
room for your fist behind the heddle rod.
2. Press down on the warp behind the heddle with your fist.
3. This should create a shed or space in front
of the heddle and between the top warp threads
that is large enough to pass your shuttle
4. Lift up on the warp threads behind
the heddle using your fingers and
palm. This should also create a
shed big enough for the shuttle.
5. If your shuttle does not
fit through easily, adjustments
can be made in the
size of the shed by moving
the heddle and shed stick
either further apart or
closer together. <see picture>
F. Positioning the Loom
1. Depending on the size and shape of the loom it can be used in one of
1) Held on the lap
2) Leaned against a wall or tree, the weaver either sitting on the
ground or a stool, or if the loom is tall, standing.
3) Laid flat on the ground. As the weaving progresses the weaver
can sit on the finished cloth.
You Are Now Ready to Weave
How to Weave on a Frame Loom
You will need a Beater, Shuttle and a Stretcher to help you weave.
Consult Chapter 6, “The Weaver’s Tools” for directions for making
these and other helpful tools.
Steps in Weaving
1. Wrap weft on to shuttle.
2. Press down on warp behind
heddle with fist.
3. Slide shuttle into shed
created in front of heddle.
4. Move fist to next section
of warp, press down and
slide shuttle along.*
5. Repeat this process until
shuttle has reached other
side of the loom. With
practice you will develop a
steady rhythm. <see picture>
(*) On very large looms you may prefer to use a piece of wood instead
of your hand.
6. Pull shuttle out and beat
weft tightly into place with
7. Repeat from Step 3, but start
at the other side of the loom
and instead of pressing down
on the warp, lift it up using
the fingers and palm.* <see picture>
(*) On very large looms you may prefer to
use a piece of wood instead of your
8. Beat the weft in after each row.
Remember to alternate each row – one
pushing down, one pulling up.
9. After you have woven about 10cm of fabric,
put a Stretcher in position as shown in
illustration at left.
10. Continue weaving until you reach the
heddle and can no longer fit the shuttle
through the shed.
11. Release the tension on the warp by
removing the blocks or rocks holding
the heddle rod. Holding the
finished weaving on both sides,
pull down slowly and steadily so
that the finished cloth moves down
and under the bottom crosspiece AB. <see picture>
12. Adjust the position of the heddle,
shed stick and lease sticks so
that the shed is the proper size.
13. Weave as before on the new warp.
14. When you reach the top beam of the
loom with the lease sticks and shed
stick you can advance the warp by
pulling down on all the warp threads
so that the finished woven cloth moves under the bottom beam and
around to the back side of the loom. The unwoven warp will slide
over the top beam to the front. Adjust the diagonal warps so
they are parallel on the front side. (They will remain twisted
on the back) Move the heddle, shed stick and lease sticks into
proper position and continue weaving. <see picture>
15. When the weaving can be advanced no further, or the cloth
is the desired length, the weaving is finished.
16. Cut the warp so that there is an
equal length of extra warp threads
on both ends of the cloth. Remove
from loom and tie ends to prevent
unraveling <see picture> (See pages 145-155.)
Variations of the Simple Frame Loom
The Pegged Loom: This loom is suitable for places where the weaver
can work outside or where dwellings have earthen
Materials Needed: Same as Frame Loom except instead of four crosspieces
only two are needed. These should be
slightly longer than the desired width of cloth.
Prepare the materials as described for the frame loom.
Warp the Loom
1. Put the two crosspieces upright in the ground, slightly farther
apart than the desired length of the weaving.
2. Place the two lease sticks upright in the ground, between the two
crosspieces and about 30cm apart.
3. Tie the end of the warp to one crosspiece. Wrap the warp around
the four uprights as shown, until the desired number of warp threads
Each warp thread is tied to the loom separately. <see picture>
4. Untie the first warp end and tie it to the other end.
5. Taking care to keep the warp in place, pull up the crosspieces
and lease sticks carefully from the ground and lay them flat
where the weaving will be done. <see picture>
6. Drive stakes on the inside ends of each crosspiece. Make
sure the warp is stretched tightly.
NOTE: An important difference between the Frame Loom and
the Pegged Loom is that the Pegged Loom does not
have a continuous warp. This means that all the
warp threads both top and bottom will be picked up
by the shed stick and heddle as the weaver works.
Place the Shed Stick on the Loom
1. This is done the same way as the Frame Loom except all the
warp threads are used.
The Lease Sticks
The sticks are already in position because of the way the loom was
1. The heddle is put into position the same way as on the Frame
2. The blocks or stones that support the heddle will rest on the
ground, since there is no frame.
3. When looping the lowered warp with the cord, remember to pick
up all lowered warp threads. <see picture>
How to Weave on a Pegged Loom
Weaving progresses in much the same way as it does on the Frame
Loom–except that the warp does not move. Instead, as the cloth
approaches the heddle, the heddle, shed stick and lease sticks are
moved back. The weaver moves forward by sitting on the finished
4 The Inkle
The loom shown here produces
strips of fabric about 1 meter
long by 2 to 18cm wide. The
size of the loom can be increased.
DIMENSIONS: Height 25cm
LENGTH OF WARP HELD: 100cm
WIDTH OF FINISHED CLOTH: 2 to 18cm
FOR THE FRAME
One (1) board 3 by 5 by 45cm long
Two (2) boards 3 by 5 by 25cm long
Two (2) boards 1 by 5 by 15cm long
Five (5) dowels or rounded sticks 20cm long, 1.5cm in diameter
FOR THE HEDDLES
About 5 meters of cotton or synthetic string
TOOLS AND SUPPLIES
10 Wood screws
A. Prepare the Wood
1. Sand and smooth all rough spots
2. Oil wood to prevent splitting
B. Build the Base
1. With chisel, carve out two rectangular
slots on the bottom of
the 3x5x45cm board exactly as
B. Build the Base (cont’d.)
2. Place the two 1x5x15cm boards in the slots so that they are flush and
project equally on both sides
3. Screw in place, using three screws
for each board.
4. Turn the piece over so that the two projecting boards become the base.
C. Build the Frame
1. Drill holes A and D in the 3x5x45cm board. Holes should be 1.5cm in diameter
and spaced as shown.
2. Drill holes B, E, F in one 3x5x25cm board and hole C in the other 3x5x25cm
board. Holes should be 1.5cm in diameter and spaced as shown.
3. Screw the 3x5x25cm boards to the side of the 3x5x45cm board as shown. Use
two screws in each.
4. The base with uprights should now look like this.
5. Place dowels in holes. They should be tight. Loose dowels can be made
tighter by wrapping paper around the ends before putting them in the holes.
(NOTE: Right-handed weavers should have dowels projecting to right,
left-handers to left)
D. Make the Heddles
1. Place dowels in holes B and F
2. Wrap a piece of string from the ball around the dowels
and tie with a square knot. Remove the string circle
from the dowels. This is the heddle.
3. Repeat for each heddle needed. You will need half
as many heddles (or string circles) as number of
lengths of warp you will use. For example 18 heddles
would be needed to weave a 18cm wide belt made up of
36 lengths of coarse 2 ply wool. In general the
thinner the yarn the more heddles you will need.
If you run out of heddles, do not be concerned as
more can be made at any time.
Set Up the Loom for Weaving
NOTE: Before warping the loom, choose a weave and/or pattern to set up. Plain
weave and a striped pattern are good choices for a first weaving project.
A. Warp the Loom
1. Note the letters on the accompanying
drawing of the loom. Each letter represents
the hole and the dowel in that
position. This will be used to help
you guide the warp on to the frame.
2. Move the dowel from hole F (where it
was for making the heddles) to hole E.
3. Make one ball or easily undone skein
of each color warp to be
4. Tie the end of the first color to
dowel A, in an easily undone knot
such as a half-hitch.
5. Wrap the warp three times around dowel A, clockwise.
6. Take the warp from dowel A, between dowels B and E, and then over dowel
C as shown.
7. Bring yarn down and around dowel D and then back along bottom of dowels
8. Pull warp taut.
9. Repeat this winding from A, between B and E, over C and down to D
returning to A with the second warp. <see picture>
10. Bring third warp thread from A up and over B, then over C, down to D and
return to A.
11. Lay ball of warp down.
12. Place a heddle (string
circle) over the third
warp as illustrated.
13. Bring the two loops of the heddle
down and over the end of dowel E.
Slide back toward frame.
14. Pick up ball of warp. Bring yarn
from A to C around D and return
15. Repeat Steps 10 through 14
until warp is desired width.
Remember to alternate one
warp with a heddle and
one without. <see picture>
16. To end: For last two warps wrap the yarn around twice from
A to C to D to A, without heddles. Locate the first
warp end and untie it. Cut other end from ball.
Tie in a square knot under dowel A. <see picture>
NOTE: If your pattern calls for changing
the color of the warp,
procede as follows:
a. Lay aside the first
color when the warp
is at dowel A.
b. Tie new color to A
wind around A three
times in a clockwise
c. Continue warping as
before (Steps 10 to
d. When desired number has
been wound, lay aside color
and either take up the previous
one or tie on the
next new color and
continue warping as
Do not cut off any balls
e. To end: Locate all ends
and untie from A. Cut
off balls of warp leaving
enough to tie a knot.
Knot the ends together in
one knot, using the square
knot. <see picture>
Your Loom is Now Warped
How to Weave on an Inkle Loom
You will need a Beater
and a Shuttle for weaving.
Consult Chapter 6, “The
Weaver’s Tools” for directions
for making these
and other helpful tools.
Steps in Weaving
1. Wrap weft on shuttle.
2. Move the dowel in hole E to hole F. This will pull the warp much
3. Place hand under
warp behind dowels
B and F. Pull
up as illustrated.
the shed (or
space) in front
of dowel F.
4. Pass shuttle through shed.
5. Place hand on top of bottom warp
threads behind B and F, as illustrated.
6. Push down. Pass shuttle through.
7. Beat weft into place with a Beater.
8. Repeat Steps 3 to 7 until you can no longer fit shuttle
through shed. <see picture>
9. Advance warp by grasping it in your hands between A and B
and pulling toward yourself. The woven cloth will go under
the loom and the unwoven warp moves forward between A and B. <see picture>
10. Continue weaving until the beginning of the cloth is
behind dowel B. Cut warp between A and B at the heddle. <see picture>
11. Slide heddles off (they can be reused) and tie end of
warp to prevent unravelling (See pages 145-155).
5 The Foot-Powered Loom
There are two versions of the Foot-Powered Loom presented here. Directions
are given first for building the frames for the Pit Loom
(which can be fixed to a wall or ceiling) and the Free-Standing Loom.
Instructions for constructing the moveable parts and for warping and
weaving on the looms follow and are the same for both of these foot-powered
Pit Loom Version <see picture>
DIMENSIONS: Height: 120cm or height from floor to ceiling
LENGTH OF WARP
HELD: 200 to 3600cm
WIDTH OF FINISHED
WEAVING: 2 to 100cm
For the Frame of both wall-mounted and
Four (4) appropriately shaped forked
tree branches at least 15cm in
diameter at the base, and at
least 60cm in length from the
base to the bottom of the fork.
Commercial lumber, 5x20x75 with
a notch cut out as indicated,
may be substituted.
For the Frame of the wall-mounted
One (1) forked tree branch at least 15cm in diameter at
base and 120cm long. Commercial lumber 5x20x120cm with a
notch cut out as indicated, may be substituted.
One (1) piece of
wood 115cm long
and 5cm in
Tools and Supplies (for both types)
Oil for Wood
Pit Loom Construction
A. Find a Site
This loom is permanently built into the house or other building.
Locate so that it will not interfere with other activities and where
the weaver will be comfortable while working.
1. Locate the loom in a building with an earthen floor. After
the loom is constructed the floor may be cemented over.
2. Place the front of the loom in such a way that light from a
door or window will come from the weaver’s side or over his
or her shoulder.
3. Leave clear access to both ends of the loom from at least
4. Build a loom supported by a wall so that one of the long
sides of the loom runs along the wall.
5. Build a loom supported by the ceiling so that there is a
beam about midway over the loom from which to hang the
B. Prepare the Wood
1. Remove bark
2. Sand and smooth any rough places or edges
3. Put wood preservative on the bases of the five forked posts
4. Oil the wood to prevent splitting
C. Erect the Frame
1. Mark off a rectangle one meter wide by two meters long on
the floor where the loom will be located.
2. Dig a hole in each of the four corners. The hole should be
about 30cm deep.
3. Place the four short forked posts in the holes and fill the
earth firmly around them. Clay or mixed clay soils will
provide the firmest base. Make sandy soils firmer by adding
clay or cement.
D. Build the Pit
1. Mark off a second rectangle 20cm in from the front of the
loom, 60cm wide, 80cm long.
2. Dig the pit 40 to 50cm deep, about the length of the
weaver’s leg from the back of the knee to the sole of the foot. <see picture>
E. Attach the Wall-Supports for the Wall-Supported Type
1. Dig a hole 30cm deep midway along the outside edge of
2. Place the end of the 120cm forked post in hole and fill
as described earlier.
3. Place the meter length of wood in the fork and push until
it touches the wall. It should be parallel to the ground
and at right angles with the wall. Mark the wall where
4. Remove pole and make a hole in the wall at that spot, the
same diameter as the stick.
5. Put pole back into the fork and push until it is firmly
in the wall.
6. Seal with plaster or cement.
The Wall Supported Frame Is Now Complete <see picture>
OPTIONAL: If desired the floor and pit can be coated with a
smooth layer of cement.
THE MOVING PARTS FOR THIS LOOM AND THE WARPING AND WEAVING TECHNIQUES
ARE DESCRIBED STARTING ON PAGE 84.
Free-Standing Version <see picture>
DIMENSIONS: Height: 130cm TOOLS AND SUPPLIES:
Length: 200cm Drill Wood Glue
Saw 26 Wood Screws
LENGTH OF WARP HELD: 200 to 3600cm Hammer Sandpaper
Rasp Oil for Wood
WIDTH OF CLOTH WOVEN: 2 to 90cm Screwdriver
For Frame: (Letters are used to identify pieces in text)
(A) Four pieces of wood – 110cm long, 6cm in diameter OR 4x6x110
(B) Four pieces of wood – 132cm long, 8cm in diameter OR 8x8x132
(C) Two pieces of wood – 5x10x30
(D) Two pieces of wood – 200cm long, 8cm in diameter OR 6x8x200
(E) Two pieces of wood – 4x9x30cm
(F) Two pieces of wood – 200cm long, 6cm in diameter OR 3x6x200
(G) Two pieces of wood – 3x4x55
(H) One board – 32×110, thickness ranging from 2 to 5cm
(J) Two poles or sticks – 110cm long, 2cm in diameter
Fourteen (14) wooden pegs or dowels 15cm long, 3cm in diameter
Free-Standing Loom Construction
A. Prepare the Wood
1. Remove bark of unmilled tree limbs
2. Sand and smooth all rough spots and edges
3. Oil wood to prevent splitting
B. Build the Frame (all dimensions in centimeters)
1. Trim both ends of pieces A as illustrated.
2. Cut four slots in each of the four B pieces using the dimensions
indicated. Slots must go completely through piece. <see picture>
3. Shape piece C as illustrated.
Drill hole as diagramed. Sand
inside until smooth. <see picture>
4. Trim ends of piece D as illustrated. Cut a slot 2x7cm 32cm
in from one end of each piece D. Slot should be 7cm long.
5. Trim bottom ends of E
as shown. Cut out
notch as shown on
pattern. Sand inside
6. Trim ends of each piece F as illustrated.
C. Join the Frame
1. Attach each piece C to piece B in the position diagramed
using two wooden pegs and glue. <see picture>
2. Place the trimmed end of piece E in the slot in piece D.
The notch must face toward the shorter end as shown.
Glue and peg in place. Make sure it is securely attached:
this piece undergoes great stress during weaving.
3. Place pieces A into the corresponding slots of pieces B. Note the position
pieces C in illustration glue and screw together.
4. Place the trimmed ends of D and F into the appropriate slots in pieces B.
Hammer them so that the trimmed end projects as far as possible.
5. Drill a hole 2cm in diameter, as close as possible to the
crosspiece at each point where the trimmed ends project.
6. Taper the remaining eight pegs so that they are 3cm at the
top and 2cm at the bottom.
7. Drive the tapered peg into the drilled holes. <see picture>
8. Place Piece H, the seat, between the end of the loom and
D. Make and Attach the Rod Holder
1. Cut ten semi-circular notches out of the top edge of piece G
with the dimensions illustrated.
2. Smooth inside edges of cutouts with rasp and sandpaper.
3. Glue and screw pieces G to the top of pieces F in the location
4. Place pieces J, the rods, across the top of the loom frame,
resting in the notches of piece G.
The Moveable Parts for Both Loom Designs
The following parts–the beams, beater, comb and heddles–are designed
to be interchangeable for both foot-powered looms. These parts are
not a permanent part of the loom frame. When necessary they can be
removed–even when there is still cloth being woven–and stored away.
This means that more people can weave than might be possible otherwise;
it is not necessary for each weaver to have his or her own frame. It
is possible to construct a set of moveable parts for each weaver so
that several people can share the same loom frame.
I. Cloth Beam (SEE ILLUSTRATION ON PAGE 85)
A. Materials Needed:
One (1) straight tree limb – 125cm long, 10cm in diameter,
or milled lumber – 10 x 10 – 125cm.
1. Trim the piece of wood to 6cm in diameter for 115cm of
2. Leave the remaining 10cm in diameter, but drill and
chisel a hole 2cm by 5cm completely through one side.
3. Drill a similar hole from the other side at right
angles to the first.
4. Cut a notch 2cm by 90cm completely through the beam in
the 6cm diameter section.
The Cloth Beam Is Now Complete <see picture>
II. The Warp Beam
A. Materials Needed:
One (1) straight
tree limb, 125cm
long, 10cm in
1. Construction proceeds as described for the cloth beam
from Step 1 to Step 3.
2. Cut groove 2 x 90cm only to a depth of 2cm; do not cut
completely through the beam. <see picture>
The Warp Beam Is Now Complete
III. The Beater (SEE ILLUSTRATION ON PAGE 85)
A. Materials Needed:
Two (2) pieces of wood – 5 x 5 x 120cm
Two (2) pieces of wood – 1 x 4 x 120cm
Two (2) pieces of wood – 1 x 2 x 4cm
1. Drill and chisel a hole 1cm by 4cm
in each end of both pieces A.
Smooth the insides of the
2. Carve a groove 1cm deep the length
of both pieces A between the two
holes as shown.
3. Nail piece C to the bottom of
each piece B.
4. Sand and smooth each piece B.
Taper the top end to a point,
to ease assembly.
5. Slide pieces B into the holes in pieces A so that the
grooved edges of pieces A face one another.
The Beater Is Now Complete <see picture>
C. Attach the Beater to the Loom
1. Ceiling type: suspend
a rod one (1) meter long
from 2 hooks in a ceiling
beam. <see picture>
2. Wall type: suspend from
a crosspiece which is
attached to the wall and
supported by a fork. <see picture>
Attach to rod (J)
across top of
pieces G. <see picture>
a) Tie arms of beater to rod as illustrated. A leather
shoe sole may be used to create a simple hinge.
b) The beater should swing freely at the same height as
the top edge of the cloth beam. <see picture>
IV. THE COMB
A. Materials Needed:
1. Four (4) pieces of lightweight wood – 0.2 x 0.8 x 100cm.
2. Reed – 220 pieces – 0.3 x 0.5 x 12cm for heavy two-ply warp.
– 380 pieces – 0.15 x 0.5 x 12cm for medium cotton warp.
– 500 pieces – 0.1 x 0.5 x 12cm for fine cotton warp.
NOTE: The size and number of reed pieces is determined by
the diameter of the warp thread used. You may have
to make adjustments in the above recommendations to
suit your particular warp.
3. Two pieces of wood – 0.5 x 2 x 12cm
4. Cotton string, about 20 meters, and the same diameter
as that of the warp to be used.
5. A sharp knife.
1. Take two of the pieces A and one piece C and place
them together sandwich style as shown.
2. Securely knot the end of
the cotton string around
one piece A at the end
as shown. A small notch
can be made with the
knife to prevent slipping
3. Loop in and out of the two ends of
pieces A in a figure eight about six
4. Bring the string parallel to piece A
on one side past piece C.
5. Holding it in that position with
one finger, bring the rest of
the string under and up around the
top of it.
6. When it meets the string being held
by the finger thread it through the
loop as shown.
7. Pull down and then up to tighten the
loop. Knot should be on the side
of the meter length.
8. Repeat Steps 1 through 7 with the
other two (2) pieces of A, attaching
them to the bottom of piece C.
9. Place one of the slivers of reed between
the two sticks. Loop the string
around as diagramed.
10. There should be a space of about 0.1cm
to 0.2cm created by the string. If
there is no space, or if the space is
too small for your warp, either start
over using the string doubled, or make
a second loop as done in Step 9.
11. Repeat Step 9 at bottom, fastening the
reed in place at both ends.
12. Place another sliver of reed in position. Repeat the knot
as shown in Steps 9 through 11.
13. Continue, doing both top and bottom, until you are 3cm from
the end. You may not be able to fit all the reed because
of variation in the spacing, or for the same reason you may
need a few more pieces to complete the length.
14. Place the remaining piece C at the end and tie off the string
as You did in Step 3 with a figure eight, and a secure knot.
At this point the string should hold all of the reeds
securely enough so that they do not slip out.
The Comb Is Now Complete <see picture>
V. The Heddles (SEE ILLUSTRATION ON PAGE 85)
A. Materials Needed for two (2) Heddles.
Note: Both looms may use up to
eight (8) heddles each.
1. Four (4) rods of strong wood
2-4cm in diameter, 130cm long.
2. One (1) kilo of strong cotton
string divided into four equal
3. A board similar to the rod in
width, 15cm high and 60cm long, to serve as a form.
1. Cut a groove 3cm from the end of each rod.
2. Cut a piece of string 140cm
long and tie it in the notch
at one end.
3. Tie one end of a ball of
string to the same notch.
4. Place the rod on top of the
5. Hold the shorter string taut
along the top length of the
rod. (This string is shown as
black in the illustrations).
6. Steps a thru f show the “looping” process. Pass the
ball of string under the board as shown in Step f.
Every ten loops pass the ball between the rod and
the board to fasten it to the rod.
NOTE: The total number of loops made should be even
and they should be double the number of spaces
in your comb.
7. As the loops are made they are slipped off the board and
the board is moved forward.
8. When the desired number of loops is reached, tie both
strings in the groove at the other end. <see picture>
9. Using the second rod, repeat
the above except this time
when each loop is passed
under the board pick up a
loop from the first rod
and pass the ball of
string through that as
10. When all the loops are
picked up, one heddle is
complete. Tie off in
the grooved end.
11. Repeat all of the above
directions for the second
heddle. <see picture>
The Heddles Are Now Complete
VI. Machinery for the Harnesses
A. Materials Needed:
1. Two (2) small
2. Light rope, 1cm
3. Four (4) hooks,
either of heavy
wire or appropriately
4. Two (2) pieces of wood about 3cm x 8cm x
5. Heavy rope, 2cm in diameter.
6. A piece of pipe, metal tubing or strong
wood 30cm long, and about 1.5 – 2cm in
B. Foot Pedal Construction
1. Drill holes 2cm in
diameter in the
top of the two
wooden pieces as
2. Drill holes 2cm
in diameter in
the side of the
same wooden pieces
C. Machinery Set Up
1. Tie a loop of light rope to each end of the heddles about
10cm in from the end on the top rod.
2. Tie a similar loop in the center of the heddle from the
3. Hang pulleys from the same rod the beater is attached to
on the pit loom and to a separate rod laid across pieces
N on the self-supporting loom.
4. Cut two pieces of light rope, Tie one end to
a hook, thread it over the pulley wheel and
tie the other end to another hook.
5. Hang heddles by loop from the hooks. <see picture> They
should hang evenly and at the same height
or slightly higher than the beater and the
comb. Adjust lengths of ropes if necessary. <see picture>
6. Put a secure knot in the ends of
two short pieces of heavy rope.
Thread them through holes in
drilled blocks of wood so that
the knots are on the bottom.
7. Thread metal pipe, tube or stick through holes in
the side of wooden blocks.
8. Tie two pieces of rope to the ends of the pipe.
9. Tie rope at front of the blocks to the loop in the
bottom of the heddles.
10. Tie rope at back of blocks to the cloth beam supports.
The Harness Is Now Functional
NOTE: During warping, the
heddles are removed
from the machinery
MACHINERY IN PLACE ON FRAME LOOM SIDE VIEW
MACHINERY IN PLACE ON CEILING-SUPPORTED LOOM
Warp the Foot-Powered Loom
NOTE: Before warping the loom, read Chapter 7: Weaves Patterns and Finishing
Touches for help with selecting a weave and/or pattern for a first project.
Plain weave, basket weave and/or a striped or plaid pattern are
recommended for the first weaving. It is also necessary to have the
raddle (p. 115) ready before beginning.
I. Measuring the Warp (See also Warping Board pp. 31 & 124.)
A. Equipment Needed:
Four wooden or metal stakes about 30cm high
B. Measuring Procedure:
1. Place two stakes in the ground: the total distance apart
desired for the piece of weaving (2 to 36 meters).
2. Place two more stakes about 30cm inside the two stakes.
3. Tie the beginning of the warp (wound in a ball) to one
of the outer stakes. Walk between the stakes wrapping
the warp in the pattern illustrated.
4. Count each length. It helps to tie warp threads in
groups of tens when working with a large number of
threads. When desired number is reached, untie the
beginning of the warp and tie it to the end.
5. Tie a string around the warp where it crosses between
the stakes. <see picture>
6. Ending: when the desired number of warp threads have
been counted, untie the beginning end and tie in a
weaver’s knot to the other end.
7. Changing color: Warp colors can be changed as was
cribed for the frame loom (page 38, Steps a-h).
C. Gather up Warp in a Warp Chain.
1. Slide the loop off at one end of the stakes.
2. Open the loop and put your hand through. Draw up a
section of warp and bring it through the first loop
to make a second loop. <see picture>
3. Continue until end is reached. Pull the end through
and pull snugly, but not tight.
4. To undo: Take the end out of the last loop and pull;
chain will release.
II. Wind the Warp
A. Equipment Needed:
One (1) stick cut to fit the groove in the warp beam.
One (1) stick that fits the hole in the end of the warp beam.
Several thin sticks – 90cm long.
1. Place one of the open loops over
the end of the warp beam. Slide
2. Place warp beam on either of the
beam supports of the loom. It
does not matter which support or
which direction the warp is going
as long as it can be extended full
length. This, of course, will depend
on the location of the loom. <see picture>
(If it is impossible to use the loom supports because of inadequate space, you can
set up two forked posts similar to the beam supports on the pit loom (see page 97)
in an open space. These can then be left in place permanently for future warping.
3. Prevent the warp from slipping as it is wound by:
a) Cutting a stick to fit into the groove in the warp beam.
b) Pushing the stick against the warp and into the groove.
c) Turning the warp beam in a clockwise direction so that the stick
is locked into place by the covering warp. <see picture>
4. The following steps require two or three people:
a) One person inserts a stick in the hole in the
warp beam and slowly turns the beam in a clockwise
direction winding on the warp. Every turn or so,
he or she inserts a thin stick between the layers
of the warp.
b) Another person holds the end of the warp extended
at full length, keeping it taut and straight as
it is wound.
c) A third person opens the raddle and lays groups of
warp threads between the nails. The raddle is
closed and tied shut. Then, holding the raddle,
he or she guides the warp as it is wound, making
sure it is evenly spread. If no other person is
available to assist, the raddle can be tied to
the other beam. <see picture>
5. Place the lease sticks (two (2), one meter-lengths of
reed or bamboo) in the positions shown just before
winding the end of the warp on to the beam. Tie
together as shown.
III. Thread the Heddles and Comb
The following process requires two people if it is to be done
quickly and efficiently. (It is possible for one person to
perform the task if he or she threads small sections of the
warp – – first through the heddle and, then, reversing his or
her position, threading the warp through the comb.)
A. Equipment Needed:
Small size crochet hook or bent piece of wire or sharp knife.
B. Threading Procedure:
1. Two people sit facing one another with the two heddles
(removed from the loom) and with the comb suspended
between them from the backs of two chairs or from the
beam supports. <see pictures>
2. One person holds the warp
beam, warp and lease sticks
in his or her lap, and faces
the heddles. The other
person faces the comb.
3. Cut the end loop of the warp after
sliding the two lease sticks back to
free about 30cm of warp.
4. Take one piece of warp at a time
in order check order against
lease sticks) and thread it
through the heddles following
the steps below:
5. In Plain Weave, every other
thread is inserted through a
twist in the near heddle. The
alternate thread is inserted in
a twist in the far heddle. (For other weaves, and in cases where
more than two (2) heddles will be used, see Chapter 7).
6. Insert (second person) a crochet hook, needle or sharp knife edge
through one of the dents of the comb after the thread is inserted. <see picture>
Loop the thread over and pull
it through. Take care not to
miss any threads or spaces,
nor should threads cross.
7. Tie every group of ten
threads in an overhand
knot to prevent them from
slipping out of the comb.
8. Put two warp threads
through the same heddle
at both ends.
IV. Place the Warp on the Loom
1. Place the warp beam on its supports
so that the warp extends out to the
cloth beam, and unrolls from the top
of the beam. <see picture>
2. Use a pole such as a broomstick
to wedge between the hole in the
warp beam and the floor, to prevent
it from turning.
3. Replace the heddles on the pulleys
and attach the footpedals (see pages
96 & 97).
4. Open beater and insert the comb in the
grooves. Close it snugly so that the comb is firmly caught
and does not bend or move when the warp is pulled.
5. Place the cloth beam in position. Find a stick that fits
the hole in the beam. Drill a small hole in the end of
it and insert a strong piece of wood. Tie the beam in
position as shown above.
V. Attach the Warp to the Cloth Beam
1. Tie a piece of cord to one end of the
beam. Wrap it loosely around the
beam twenty to thirty times. Tie off.
2. Sit down at the loom. Tie each group of ten (10) warp threads
to the looped cord on the beam (do not undo the knots made
during threading). <see picture> Use the following knot to tie them.
3. Tighten the tension on the warp when all have been tied on
by removing the cloth beam counter clockwise and tying in
4. Test the tension of the warp by running your finger across
the warp threads.
5. If necessary, release the tension on the warp slightly and
retie any loose bunches of warp.
6. Tighten the warp as much as possible.
You Are Now Ready to Weave
How to Weave on a Foot Powered Loom
You will need a shuttle and stretcher for weaving. Consult Chapter 6
The Weaver’s Tools, for directions for making these and other helpful
Steps in Weaving on Both Looms
1. To start or end weft: take end and bring
through several opposing warps. After
weaving several more rows cut off end
even with weaving. <see picture>
2. Wrap weft on the shuttle.
3. Depress right footpedal and feed weft through shed. <see picture>
4. Place weft at oblique angle
to the warp. <see picture>
5. Depress left footpedal.
6. Push weft firmly into place
using the beater. (below)
7. Feed weft through from opposite side with left foot still depressed.
8. Depress right footpedal. Beat weft into place.
9. Release tension on warp and adjust. <see picture>
10. Repeat steps 2 to 7 until there is about 10cm of woven fabric.
11. Put the stretcher into place and
continue weaving. <see picture>
12. Release the warp beam and cloth beams
and turn them forward one hole when
there is no more space between the
fabric and the beater. Refasten and
13. Untie the warp from the beam and thread the
cloth through the slot in the beam as shown
after 1/2 meter of cloth or more has been
Cross section of
cloth beam showing
cloth wrapped around.
14. As the warp shifts to the cloth beam on the free-standing loom,
it may be necessary to balance the weight of the weaver and the
cloth by placing a rock on a board at the back of the loom. <see picture>
6 The Weaver’s Tools
Each loom requires certain tools to help with the process of weaving.
The following chart lists these tools as well as which looms require
them. Instructions for making the tools follow.
TOOLS NEEDED FOR EACH LOOM
TOOL FRAME LOOM INKLE LOOM FOOT-POWERED LOOM
Beater yes yes no
Raddle no no yes
carpet yes yes yes
boat optional no optional
Skeiner yes yes yes
Skein Winder optional optional optional
Stretcher yes no yes
Warping Board no no optional
While it is extremely important that
the warp be kept taut during the
weaving process, it is equally important
that the weft threads be put
in as close together as possible.
In general, the more threads per
centimeter of cloth, the more durable
and long wearing the fabric
A “beater” is used to push the weft
threads together. There is no set
design for a beater for simple looms. It is usually a toothed tool
which can be slipped between the warp threads and beaten against
the weft. It should have some weight behind it, but at the same
time not be so heavy as to tire the weaver’s hand.
The frame loom and the inkle loom both require similar beaters.
Beaters can be constructed specifically for the looms, or they
can be made from objects found about the home.
A. Improvised Beaters
1. Forks: metal table forks make
suitable beaters, especially when
used with a medium warp on a fairly
narrow piece of weaving.
2. Metal Hair Comb: a metal toothed
hair comb can be used for weavings
having rather fine warps.
B. Constructed Beaters.
1. Nail and Wood Beater: drive a
row of nails completely through
a length of wood about 30cm long.
The heads of the nails should
project evenly. Sand and smooth
the wood to make it easy on the
2. Carved Wooden Beater: from a piece
of well-seasoned, fine-grained
wood, carve a toothed fork as
3. Iron: if iron-working is done in
your area, have a blacksmith fashion
a beater as illustrated.
The “raddle” is used to guide the warp evenly onto the warp beam
during the warping of the foot-powered loom.
2 pieces of wood about 3 x 3 x 100cm
1. Hammer nails 5cm apart, in an even row into one of
the pieces of wood.
2. Chisel a groove in the other pieces about 1/3 the
depth of the projecting nail heads.
3. Grooved piece should fit snuggly over the nail heads.
1. Place the piece with the nails upright under the warp.
2. Put even amounts of warp in the spaces between the
3. Place grooved piece
4. Tie pieces together
with string or strips
of cloth. <see picture>
A shuttle is often used to thread the weft through
the warp. Stiff fibers, such as cane,
reed, straw and leaves, can probably
be pushed through the shed by hand
and no shuttle is needed. Coarse,
but flexible fibers such as goathair,
jute, old rags and plastic strips as
well as some finer threads can be put
into place using a “Carpet Shuttle.”
Very fine wefts such as linen, cotton
and silk can be put into place using
a “boat shuttle.”
The Carpet Shuttle
Flat pieces of wood 60cm long or smaller if your loom is smaller
(You will probably require one for each color weft).
Oil for wood
1. Sand the wood as smooth as possible.
2. Cut a notch at each end of the stick as shown.
3. In the notch at one end, make a small cut
to hold the end of the weft. <see picture>
4. Oil wood to prevent splitting.
5. Wrap weft around shuttle as shown.
The Boat Shuttle
One piece of light, easily carved wood about 5 x 8 x 20cm
Small, hollow tubes 7cm long such as bamboo or plastic tubing.
Piece of wire 15cm long
1. Shape the wood so that the two
ends come to a graceful
taper, like the bow of a
boat. <see picture>
2. Sand smooth.
3. Carve out a retangular
hole in the center, 4x8cm.
4. Using the knife point, drill
a small hole in the front
5. Dig a groove about 5cm long at
1. Wind yarn on to the tube – or bobbin.
2. Slide the wire through the tube.
3. Place bobbin in hole in shuttle, putting
one end of the wire in the hole and
the other in the groove. <see picture>
In almost all weaving, there are times when yarn has to be measured.
The “skeiner” will help you measure continuous strands of yarn and
also make skeins to prevent the thread from tangling.
A tree branch 60cm long which has two
smaller branches projecting from the
same side which are at least 40cm
1. Trim off any other branches and
cut the two selected ones so that
they project 5 to 10cm.
2. Remove bark and sand and oil
1. Yarn is wound onto the skeiner,
looping it around the two projecting
branches. If necessary,
the thumb holds bottom Toops in
place. <see picture>
2. To determine the length of yarn:
a. Measure the distance between the two projecting
b. As you wind the yarn count the number of
turns you make (T).
c. Multiply the number of turns by the distance
(D) between the two projections.
T x D = length of yarn
3. Before removing a completed
skein, tie at top and bottom
The Skein Winder
The “skein winder” is used to hold and turn skeins of yarn as they are
unwound either into balls for warping, or onto shuttles and bobbins.
The skein is opened up and placed over the top, so that there is no
chance of it tangling, and then rotated so that the weaver can stay
seated at the loom as the yarn is unwound.
Although it is not an essential tool, it is an extremely useful one,
and well worth the effort of construction. It will save many hours of
untangling skeins of yarn.
Two (2) pieces of wood (A) 1 x 4 x 30cm
Two (2) pieces of wood (B) 1 x 4 x 50cm
Four (4) pieces of wood (C) 1 x 4 x 60cm
One (1) length of pipe 2-3cm in diameter, 120cm long
One (1) old bucket or gallon can with lid removed
Cement, saw, hammer, drill, nails
1. Place pipe in center of bucket or can.
Make sure it is perpendicular. <see picture>
2. Pour cement around pipe until container
is full. Let set.
3. Take pieces of wood (A). Drill
a hole in the center of one
piece, the diameter of the pipe. <see picture>
4. Overlap both pieces (A) at right
angles so that they form an X.
Nail together. <see picture>
5. Take pieces of wood (B). Drill a hole
through the midpoints of both pieces. The
hole should be slightly larger than the
diameter of the pipe. <see picture>
6. Overlap both pieces (B) at right angles
so that the holes line up and the pieces
form an X. Nail together. <see picture>
7. Nail pieces (C) from the ends of cross-pieces
(A) to the ends of the crosspieces
(B) as shown.
8. When cement is set, slide
frame over pipe. Pipe should
pass through bottom hole and
rest in the top hole. The
wood frame should spin
Open the skein into a circular shape and
drop over the frame. Untie the strings
holding the skein together and find the
outside end. Pull on the end to rotate
You may add the weft in one of two ways.
(1) Each length of weft can be a single strip
slightly longer than the width of the loom.
Each length is put in individually and the
ends hang freely on each side and later become
a fringe on the finished piece. This technique
is often used with mats. (2) Or you can
wrap a much longer weft on a shuttle and pass
it through the shed. When it reaches the
other side, the shed is changed and the
shuttle is turned and put through the shed
in the opposite direction. This technique
produces a finished edge called the Selvedge,
which makes the cloth much stronger. However,
there is a tendency for the edges of the cloth
to pull in slightly as the weaving progresses.
You can make a “stretcher,”
described below, to keep
the edges parallel.
A – Cloth with non-parallel selvedges.
B – Cloth with parallel selvedges.
Two (2) very strong straight pieces of wood of the same diameter.
Together, their combined length should be slightly wider than
Piece of string or leather.
1. Sand both pieces of wood.
2. Cut three deep teeth in one end of each piece of wood. <see picture>
1. After weaving progresses about 10cm from the beginning,
hook the teeth of each stick into the selvedge or end
warp threads just below the last row of weft.
2. Push downward on both sticks until the edges are parallel.
3. Bind the sticks
together where they
overlap, using the
string or leather. <see picture>
4. Where the two ends meet, make a mark with a pencil or
a light scratch in the wood to facilitate resetting
the stretcher when it must be moved up. <see picture>
5. After every 5cm of weaving, move
the stretcher up to the new edge
of the weaving. <see picture>
NOTE: A similar stretcher
can be made of iron
by an iron worker.
Design is shown in
The Warping Board for a
If it is inconvenient because of climate, or space to measure the
warp outside on the ground (as described on page 99), the following
tool can be used. It may be made of wood or built directly into
the wall of a house.
Two (2) pieces of wood 0.5 x 4 x 60cm (A).
Two (2) pieces of wood 0.5 x 4 x 100cm (B).
Eighteen (18) dowels or rounded pieces of wood,
2cm in diameter by 15cm long.
Nails or screws or four (4) bolts and wing nuts
if the warping board will be taken apart for
Drill, hammer, sandpaper.
1. Nail, screw or bolt pieces (A) and (B) together
to make a rectangle that measures about 50 x 90cm
on the inside.
2. Drill holes in the positions shown on the illustration.
3. Sand and smooth all wood.
4. Place the dowels in the drilled holes(*)
(*) Note: If the warping “board” is built into a wall, all that is
necessary is to put dowels or sticks into the wall in the
1. Determine the length the warp will be.
2. Measure a piece of yarn or string the length of
3. Wrap it around the posts on the board to determine
how many posts will be used. Follow the pattern
of wrapping shown in the diagram.
4. Tie warp end to first post A. Follow pattern set
by string. When you reach last post reverse and
retrace your steps back to A.
5. Continue wrapping, counting each length. Tie into
bundles of ten (10) or twenty (20), to prevent losing
6. When done, tie the end of the warp to the beginning
of the warp.
7. Tie a piece of contrasting string where the warp
crosses between A and B and R and Q.
8. Remove from board by chaining as described on pages
7 Weaves, Patterns and
Planning the Fabric
Before warping the loom, it is necessary to decide:
— Amount of warp and weft needed
— Weave to be used
— Finishing needed or desired
Determining Length and Width
Cloth Width: The width of the loom frame limits the maximum
width of the cloth, but the same loom can be used to make
narrower cloth. It is wise to use an uneven number of warp
threads; in this way both edge warps are in the same position
and patterns can be more easily centered.
Cloth Length: The ranges of warp lengths for each loom are
listed on page 19. The cloth cannot be the maximum length
because it is necessary to leave some warp at the beginning
and end for fringe or ending off. However, weaving several
articles on the same warp is possible, if you make articles
less than the maximum length; for example, on a warp of
3,000cm, you could weave ten rugs 270cm long with a 10cm
fringe at each end.
Determining Amount of Warp and Weft
It is not easy to determine the exact quantity of thread needed for
weaving a particular article. A formula for making rough estimates
of the warp and weft needed was given on page 119. The formula is
Number of vertical threads per [cm.sup.2] x width x length = warp needed
Number of horizontal threads per [cm.sup.2] x width x length = weft needed
There are several adjustments which can be used to get a more accurate
result from this formula.
Fringe Allowance: Make an allowance for fringe at both
ends of each article woven. Even if the edge will be hemmed,
leave at least 10cm for tying off the warp before hemming.
Very elaborate fringes will, of course, require much more
than 10cm of warp at each end.
Fiber Allowance: If using more than one type of fiber for
the weft, adjust the amount of thread needed to take into
account the different diameters of weft being used:
1. Determine the number of horizontal threads per cm for each fiber.
2. Determine the length of cloth containing each fiber.
3. Multiply the result of step 1 by the result of step 2 for each fiber.
4. Multiply the result of step 3 by the total width of the cloth. <see picture>
EXAMPLE: The total length of this piece of fabric is
30cm; the width is 9cm. The warp is a 2 ply
wool, the weft a 2 ply wool with three stripes
each of heavy goathair 3cm wide. The number
of threads per cm2 for the wool is 3 and for
the goathair 2.
1. Wool threads per cm = 3
Goathair threads per cm = 2
2. Length of wool weft = 30 – 9 = 21
Length of goathair weft = 3 x 3 = 9
3. Number of wool threads needed = 3 x 21 = 63
Number of goathair threads needed = 2 x 9 = 18
4. Total length of wool needed = 63 x 9 = 577cm
Total length of goathair needed = 18 x 9 = 162cm
It is hard to remember all the different threadings, yarns, patterns,
etc. that are used in weaving a piece of cloth. Keep a record (as
illustrated) of this information on a card or in a notebook. Then
it will be possible to make the same cloth again without doing the
calculations over again each time. If there is a small piece of
the fabric left, attach that to the record as well.
SAMPLE WEAVING RECORD
# per cm –
total length –
# per cm –
total length –
Types of Weaves
Interesting textural patterns can be created by varying the ways in
which the warp and weft interlock. In this section a number of
different weaves will be described. The following chart lists these
weaves and the looms for which they are best suited.
Frame Loom Plain weave
Inkle Loom Plain weave
Foot-Powered Loom Plain weave
Drafting Threading Patterns
After chosing a weave or pattern, the warp is threaded
through the heddles in the proper order to produce that
weave. The diagram shows the order in which the warp
will be threaded. This order, or pattern, is called the
draft of the weave or pattern.
The long rectangle or bar represents the heddle rod. Each
square represents one heddle eye or hole. A black square
means a warp thread passes through that hole. The white
squares represent a thread that does not pass through the
In all drafts two squares at each end will either be black
or white. This is because two warps should be threaded
together at each end to strengthen the selvedge and to make
the cloth longer wearing.
The pattern is indicated between the double selvedge squares.
Some patterns will require an even number of warp threads;
others require an odd number of warps.
The Inkle and Frame looms have only one heddle rod – so only
one draft will be shown.
The foot-powered loom, on the other hand, has two or more
heddle rods. Every thread must pass through one, and only
one, heddle. Drafts for this loom will show two or more
bars. The lowest bar on the page represents the rod closest
to the weaver. The numbers represent the foot pedals running
left to right (make sure the foot pedals are tied in this
In plain weave the weft crosses over and under alternate warp
Drafts of Threading for Plain Weave
In basket weave two or more adjacent
warp threads are lifted together
and two or more weft threads are
inserted together, in other words,
2 warp/2 weft or 4 warp/2 weft.
Drafts of Threading for Basket Weave
In rib weave, different numbers of
warp are lifted alternately; for
example 3 warp/1 warp or 4 warp/2
Drafts of Threading for Rib Weave
Twill Weave (Foot-Powered Loom only)
Twill can only be woven on a four-heddle loom. Twills are very sturdy
and durable and this weave is suitable for heavy woolen fabric used
in pants, jackets and suits.
Draft of Threading for Basic Twill
Draft of Threading for Herringbone Twill
Variation of Twill Weaves
After a twill is threaded, different twill weaves can be created by
pressing the foot pedals in a different order. For example, if the
loom is threaded in the herringbone twill above, a diamond twill can
be produced by pressing the foot pedals in the following order:
A basic twill threading treadled
in a different order might
produce the following:
1/3 Broken Twill:
1 2 4 3 1 2 4 3, etc.
Two foot pedals can be pressed
together. For example: (1-2)
(2-3) (3-4) (4-1) will produce
a 2/2 twill.
Color Pattern Weaves
Use different colored warps and/or wefts in the same article to
make attractive patterns. Because it is important to know what
kind of facing–warp or weft–the finished cloth will have when
planning a color pattern, facings are discussed first. If this
step is overlooked it is possible that warp or weft threads may
hide some of the pattern.
Balanced weave: Both the warp and
weft show equally: most looms
produce this kind of weave when
the warp and the weft are the
same diameter and evenly spaced
Warp-faced weave: Only the warp shows
on the finished cloth: usually produced
when the warp is thicker than
the weft, or if the weft is more
widely spaced than the warp. The
Inkle loom usually produces a warp-faced
Weft-faced: Only the weft shows
on the finished cloth: it is
usually produced when the weft
is thicker than the warp and
the warp is more widely spaced
than the weft.
Color Pattern Weaves
Stripes: Thread the loom for
plain weave but alternate the
color of either the warp or
weft. The facing can be either
warp or weft-faced. If the
warp varies in color, the result
will be vertical stripes; if the
weft varies in color, horizontal
stripes will result.
Broken Stripes: On warp or weft-faced
cloth, one thread of a contrasting
color placed between groups of
another color produces a broken
or dotted line.
Simple Check: On warp or weft-faced
cloth, alternating single threads
of two different colors produce a
feathery check design.
These three stripe patterns presented above can be combined to
produce a great variety of attractive designs.
Plaids: When the color of
both the warp and the weft is
varied, and the facing is
balanced a plaid will result.
Threading as for plain weave.
True Checks: Checks are most
suitable for balanced weave
cloth: use the same type of
warp and weft in two contrasting
colors. Thread as for
Tapestry weave is used to create designs or pictures in the cloth
as it is woven. The loom is threaded for plain weave. The cloth
must be weft-faced (thin warp, thick weft).
In plain weaving, the weft is threaded back and forth across the
entire width of the warp. In tapestry weave, wefts of different
colors are woven within selected areas of the planned design.
1. Planning the Design:
Draw the design on paper
and lay it beneath the
warp threads. Using a
water soluble material,
draw the design directly
on the warp. This will
help guide the weaver.
2. Putting in the Weft:
a. Shuttles are not used in tapestry
weaving. Rather, lengths of
colored weft are tied in “butterflies”
(see illustration) and
worked in the area needed.
b. In tapestry weaving, all the colors of the pattern are
put in row by row. In other words, if the row has part
of a red flower, a green leaf and a yellow background,
then you must put in red, yellow and green weft for that
row before you change the heddle position (see illustration.
c. Within the row the adjacent colored wefts can be interlocked
in one of several ways.
Slit Method: This method creates
a slit between the two colors.
Although this method produces a
clean definition line between
areas of the design, it weakens
the fabric and should, therefore,
not be used where weakened
strength or slits in the cloth
would be undesirable–as in
sacks or in blankets. It is a
useful method for rugs or decorated
bags, where the slits
do not extend more than 8cm.
Interlocking over Common Warp:
Produces a strong, continuous fabric;
the edges between the different colors
of the design are feathery or saw-toothed
in effect and not as sharp
as in the slit method.
Interlocking Wefts: Produces a
strong, continuous fabric; the
edges between the design are
sharp, but a slight raised bump
may show at the join.
Knotted weaves produce a pile or shag-faced cloth. Thread the loom
for plain weave. Knot short lengths of weft around two warp threads,
as shown. The knots are illustrated below. After a row of knots,
several rows of plain weave are woven to strengthen the cloth. Then
the tails of the knots are trimmed to produce the pile or are left
long to produce a shag.
Knotted weaves are used generally for heavy rugs and carpets. They
can also be used for Jackets and blankets. When worn with the shag
on the inside, an insulating effect results and the garments are
1. Varieties of Knotted Weaves
a. Velvet Pile: The velvet
finish of oriental type rugs
is produced by using a good
wool for the knotting and
by tying about 40-150 knots
per square centimeter. After
several rows of knots are
tied and two to three rows
of plain weave are in place,
the pile is cut very short–about
0.5 to 1.0cm.
b. Shag Finish: A shaggy finish
does not require as many
knots per cm2 as does the
pile. A good range is from
4 to 5 per cm2. Wool, mohair
and soft synthetic mixes
produce attractive shags.
Tails of knots should be
about 5 to 8cm.
c. Looped Shag: A shag can also be
produced by putting a weft
through the warp and then pulling
the loops out of the weft (as
shown left). This row is alternated
with several rows of very
tightly woven plain weave. The
tightly woven plain weave is
necessary because there is no
knot to hold the loops of weft
2. Cutting the Weft for Knotted Weaves
In order to cut uniform lengths of yarn
for knotting, make a gauge from a piece
of wood or heavy cardboard. Wrap yarn
around so no loop overlaps another and
slice off with a knife as shown.
3. Placement of Knots
a. Knots can be alternated to
avoid small openings on the
back as shown (left).
b. At the selvedge, take the yarn over
and under the two outside warp
threads. Do not make a knot. This
will give you a smooth edge.
This section describes techniques for finishing off woven articles.
After an article is woven, it is necessary to secure the weft at both
ends to prevent it from unraveling. Several methods of tying off the
warp are presented here. You will also find directions for joining
two woven pieces of cloth as well as suggestions for bag handles.
Overhand Knotted Fringe
1. Cut the warp at both ends; leave about 15cm.
2. Separate the warp into groups each having the same
number of threads in each. Groups should not be wider
3. Take one group and make a loop as shown below.
4. Pull ends through loop.
5. Push knot as close as possible to the end of the cloth
as you tighten it.
6. Repeat for each group until all warp is tied.
7. Make sure all knots are made in the same direction.
1. Cut the warp at both ends, leaving about 8cm in length.
2. Separate the warp into groups having the same number
of threads in each.
3. Tie each group with an overhand knot.
4. Fold over the edge to the back.
5. Tuck under the tied warp.
6. Hem with an overcast stitch.
Variations on Overhand Knotted Fringe
The following illustrations show some of the many possibilities
longer the warp must be left.
1. Cut a piece of weft six times the
width of the cloth.
2. Mark the center of this length and
wind each end into a butterfly.
3. Place midpoint of yarn around the
first 4 warp threads at right edge. <see picture>
4. Bring end on top of the warp under
the next group of four.
5. Bring end below warp, up and over
the same 4 warp threads.
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until the left
edge is reached. Turn and return
to right end continuing twining the
1. Separate warp into groups of eight.
2. Begin at left edge.
3. Take the fifth and sixth ends of the
first group and wrap around the first
to fourth ends making a half-hitch as
4. Take the seventh and
eighth ends and wrap
over and back the third
to sixth ends.
5. Repeat for each group of eight
warp. <see picture>
Square Knotted Fringes (Macrame)
1. Secure the weft using twining or the
2. Separate the warp into groups of four, or multiples of four.
3. The following illustrations show how to make a square knot.
4. After the first row of knots,
divide the warp from each knot
into halves and make a knot
using the half from two adjacent
5. Square knots can be used in
patterns similar to these
shown for the overhand knot.
6. More patterns and techniques for macrame can be found in
some of the sources listed at the end of this manual.
Finger Woven Edges
This technique, although time-consuming, produces a strong,
durable edge very suitable for bags where the warp edge
forms the opening of the bag.
1. Leave about 8cm of warp on each end.
2. Lay fabric on flat surface and separate the first 5 or
7 warp threads.
3. Take the first thread and weave it in and out of the
next four threads. <see picture>
4. Pull end down toward the fabric.
5. Pick up next warp thread, so that you continue to have
an odd number of threads. <see picture>
6. Weave second thread through the next four. Pull
down toward fabric.
7. Repeat steps 3 to 6 picking up a new thread each time
one is woven and pulled down.
8. With this technique the warp lays against the fabric.
It can be braided and tacked down to produce an
attractive edge. <see picture>
Sometimes you may want to put a fringe on the selvedges, or
you may wish to make a fringe of yarn different from the
1. To Add Fringe to Warp Ends.
a. Hem edge as described under hemming (page 146)
b. Cut yarn for fringe twice as long as desired.
c. Using a needle, insert each piece of yarn into
edge from front to back, and then through front
again as shown (below).
d. Fold ends over and pull through loop.
e. Repeat for each piece of fringe desired.
2. To Add to Selvedge.
a. Skip step 1 above, and continue as described in
Handles for bags of all kinds can be made in many ways. A
handle should meet the following requirements.
Support the weight of what will be carried in the bag.
Be attached well.
Match the yarn and colors used in the bag.
1. Monk’s Cord
This is the easiest and quickest way to make a handle.
Use a strong but flexible fiber that will stand heavy
use – such as 4 ply carpet wool, heavy linen or cotton.
a. Determine how many strands you need, by taking
two or more pieces of yarn and twisting them
together tightly to see how thick a handle it
b. Cut the desired number of strands three times the
c. Put an overhand knot in one end and place on a hook
on a wall or stake in the ground. <see picture>
d. Twist as tightly as possible for the entire length.
e. Take the end you are holding and fold it back to
the end on hook.
f. Remove hooked end and let the two pieces twist together. <see picture>
g. Whip stitch the ends (see below).
a. Select a number of strands to make
the handle the thickness desired.
b. Cut into lengths twice as long as
c. Separate into 3 groups for a three-strand
braid, or into 4 groups for
a four-strand braid.
d. Braid as illustrated. (It is helpful
it to a hook, while you are braiding
J. Attaching the Handles
Attach the handles securely to the body of the
bag. The following method offers the most
strength, plus the option of quickly adding a
new handle if the original breaks or becomes worn.
1. Detachable Handle.
a. After bag has been sewn together and all edges finished,
take a piece of cord and with a heavy needle insert
it into the right corner of the bag opening. Go through
both front and back of bag, several times making a loose
b. Tie into ring.
c. Select a sturdy yarn that matches the bag and tie
end around cord.
d. Draw end of yarn through cord ring and then back
through its own loop making a half-hitch.
e. Repeat, making half-hitches completely around the
cord until it is completely covered. <see picture>
f. Repeat steps 1 to 5 on the left corner.
g. Tie handle to loops.
2. Permanent Handles
Other methods involve
sewing the handle to the
bag. Use very heavy
thread and a large eye
needle. A 3″ shoemaker’s
needle is helpful on heavy
woven fabrics. The styles
of handle attachment presented
here are in order
Joining Two Pieces of Woven Fabric
Most looms make cloth of only limited width; therefore, it
is sometimes necessary to join woven pieces together for
larger articles such as rugs, bedspreads, sheets, or
When joining two or more pieces, weave each section so that
the pattern and weave match on the edges being Joined. Use
strong thread or yarn in a color that either matches or
contrasts with the fabric, depending upon the effect desired.
1. Butt the selvedges of the pieces to be joined together so
that the pattern matches.
2. Baste lightly with large stitches to keep
the pieces in place.
3. Fasten thread on right selvedge at top.
4. Bring needle diagonally across left to
right. <see picture>
5. Go under left selvedge and push needle from back to front
2-3 threads lower than beginning stitch. <see picture>
6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 going from right
7. Stagger the stitches so no stitch is opposite one on the
other selvedge. <see picture>
8. Continue steps 4 to 6 until bottom is
reached. Tie off Joining thread.
8 Where to Find More
Bress, Helene. Inkle Weaving. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1975.
Complete information for creating all kinds of patterns using the Inkle loom.
Contains plans for a floor model Inkle loom that weaves longer strips than the
loom in this manual. An invaluable tool for anyone interested in all the
possibilities of the Inkle loom.
Channing, Marion L. The Magic of Spinning. New Bedford, Mass.: Reynolds-DeWalt,
4th edition 1971.
Directions for spinning with an emphasis on wool and its preparation. Information
on using traditional English and American spinning wheels.
Davenport, Elsie G. Your Handspinning. Tarzana, California: Select Books, 4th
Most comprehensive book on spinning. Covers a wide variety of wheels and
their use. Describes several methods of spinning, with an excellent section
on spinning fibers from rabbit, camel, angora goat, silk, cotton, jute, hemp,
sisal and flax.
Duncan, Molly. Spin, Dye and Weave Your Own Wool. New York: Sterling Publishing Co.,
Very good description of preparing wool for spinning. There is also a discussion
of spinning wheels and handspinning. Weaving section gives plans for an
inkle loom of unusual design made from plywood, and tells how to weave on a
small commercial table loom. Warping section is well-illustrated and pictures
some useful tools for winding and measuring the warp.
Garrat, Cay. Warping – All By Yourself, Santa Rosa, California: Thresh Publications,
Describes how to warp a two- or four-harness loom with just one person. Uses
more elaborate technology than presented in this manual, but it is clearly
illustrated and written and may prove helpful to those attempting to warp a
large loom by themselves.
Gilly, Myriam. Free-Weaving. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1976.
Describes history of loom design and construction and gives directions for
techniques used in contemporary style wall-hangings.
Gonsalves, Alyson Smith ed. Weaving Techniques and Projects. Menlo Park, California:
Lane Books, 1975.
Good discussion of weaving problems and techniques, with plans for a very
simple loom. There is a large section of patterns and projects usable with
the looms presented in this manual.
Harvey, Virginia I. Macrame: The Art of Creative Knotting. New York: Van Nostrand
Complete information on macrame, with many suggestions for fringes.
Hope, Elizabeth, Estine Ostlund and Lisa Melen. Free Weaving on Frame and Loom.
New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold,
Mainly deals with tapestry weave techniques. Many color illustrations.
Ingers, Gertrud. Flemish Weaving. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1967.
Guide to techniques and patterns for pictorial tapestries.
Innes, R. A. Non-European Looms. Halifax, England: Halifax Museum, 1959.
Catalog of African and Oriental looms should interest those looking for other
styles of looms that are basic in design and simple to construct. Not all
looms are illustrated; however, many details such as pulleys, heddles, reeds
and beaters are pictured. The Mende Tripod Loom from Sierra Leone and the
Egba Narrow Loom from Nigeria are interesting versions of the foot-powered
loom presented here.
Kluger, Marion. The Joy of Spinning. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1971.
Emphasis is on preparing and spinning wool. Includes directions for spinning
with a drop spindle and a treadle spinning wheel. Brief section on other
fibers – flax, cotton, dog hair, quivit.
Marlin, Shirley. Off the Loom: Creating with Fiber. New York: Viking Press, 1973.
Directions for using the Inkle Loom; plans for a simple frame loom and techniques
Mosely, Spencer, Pauline Johnson and Hazel Koenig. Crafts Design. Belmont,
California: Wadsworth Publishing Co., Inc. 1962, 1967.
Chapter 4 offers clear, well-illustrated directions for building very simple
looms. Good section on weaves and patterns for the Inkle loom. Weaves for
two- and four-harness foot-powered looms are well-diagramed. Knotted weaves
and tapestry weaves are also discussed. Sections on decorated textiles and
leatherworking may also be of use to weavers. Well-illustrated.
Murray, Rosemary. Practical Modern Weaving. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1975.
Well-illustrated collection of patterns and weaves for all types of looms.
Parker, Xenia Ley. Creative Handweaving. New York: Dial Press, 1976.
Techniques and patterns suitable for the Frame, Inkle and Foot-Powered Looms.
Pendleton, Mary. Navajo and Hopi Weaving Techniques. New York: Macmillan, 1974.
Describes Navajo and Hopi rug weaving techniques. Special attention paid to
techniques of putting in the weft in creating tapestry patterns. Patterns
presented for the belt loom can also be used on the Inkle Loom.
Plath, Iona. The Craft of Handweaving. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1972.
Patterns and weaves intended for use on a jack harness loom. Some are suitable
for use on a four-harness, foot-powered loom.
Redwood. Backstrap Weaving of Northern Ecuador. Redwood, 1974.
A limited edition of a very beautiful book giving complete and easy to follow
direction for building and weaving on a backstrap loom. (Available from The
Regensteiner, Else. The Art of Weaving. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1970.
Covers all aspects of weaving. Brief discussion of animal, vegetable and
mineral fibers and their use in weaving. Most looms discussed are commercially
made, although there are rather complicated plans to make a backstrap loom in
the Appendix. Deals extensively with types of weaves and patterns with a good
section on tapestries and rugs.
Reed, Tim. Loom Book. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1973.
Directions for building a foot-powered loom slightly more complex in design
than the one presented in this manual.
Reichard, Gladys A. Weaving a Navajo Blanket. New York: Dover, 1974.
Directions for building a Navajo loom with patterns and techniques for
weaving Navajo rugs and blankets.
Rubenstone, Jessica. Weaving for Beginners. New York; J. B. Lippincott, Inc., 1975.
Describes construction of a very simple loom – a rigid heddle backstrap type
loom using tongue depressors.
Schery, Robert W. Plants for Man. Englewood, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1972.
Chapter 7 discusses a wide variety of vegetable fibers and their potential
for use in weaving. Good source of information for those looking for new
sources of fiber from domestic and wild plants throughout the world.
Scabey, Joan. Rugs and Wall Hangings. New York: Dial Press, 1974.
Excellent section on the historical significance of tapestry weaving throughout
the world. Many illustrations. Contains techniques and patterns for
rugs based on traditional designs.
Svinicki, Eunice. Step-By-Step Spinning and Dyeing. Racine, Wisconsin: Western
Publishing Co. (Golden Press), 1974.
Very clearly illustrated methods of spinning using several types of drop
spindles. Includes section on dyeing fibers and a very brief section on
simple weaving techniques.
Swanson, Karen. Rigid Heddle Weaving. New York: Watson-Guptill, 1975.
Describes construction of a rigid heddle loom of the backstrap type (similar
to Rubenstone’s) but on a larger scale. The patterns and techniques presented,
however, are suitable to any loom and may interest those constructing
any of the looms in this manual.
Tacks, Harold and Sylvia. Band Weaving. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1974.
Techniques and patterns for weaving strips of cloth such as those produced
by the inkle loom.
Tidball, Harriet. The Weaver’s Book. New York: Collier, 1977 (soft-bound).
Instructions for weaving on a multiple harness loom. Some techniques may be
useful on the Foot-Powered Loom presented in this manual.
Weir, Shelagh. Spinning and Weaving in Palestine. London: British Museum, 1970.
Looms described here are similar to the Frame Loom in this manual. Those
interested in constructing it may find the photographs of the looms in
use very helpful. A Foot-Powered Pit Loom is also illustrated. (Available
from The Unicorn)
West, Virginia M. Finishing Touches for the Handweaver. Newton, Mass.: Charles
Directions for making fringes and handles and for Joining woven fabrics
Wigginton, Eliot, ed. Foxfire 2, Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1970.
“From Raising Sheep to Weaving Cloth” describes the preparation of wool for
spinning, the spinning of the wool on a wool wheel, and gives plan for
building a skein winder (vertical), a spool rack, a boat shuttle similar in
design to the one in this manual, and a warping board. Photographs and
drawings are of a foot-powered loom slightly more complex in design than
the one in this manual. Brief directions for warping and weaving may
interest builders of the foot-powered loom.
Wilson, Jean. Weaving is Fun. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1971.
Excellent section on fibers, especially animal sources, and their preparation.
Geared toward teaching children to weave with Simple looms. Interesting
section on basketry.
Wilson, Jean. The Pile Weaves. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1974.
Detailed descriptions for making and using twenty-six different pile weaves.
Very useful for anyone considering making pile rugs.
Worst, Edward. Foot Treadle Loom Weaving. Mayne Island, British Colombia, Canada:
Cloudburst Press, 1976.
Collection of traditional weaves and patterns, many suitable for use with
the Foot-Powered Loom in this manual.
Zielinski, Stanislaw. Encyclopedia of Handweaving. New York: Funck and Wagnalls,
Definitions and illustrations of the many confusing terms used in describing
Znamierowski, Nell. Step-By-Step Weaving. New York: Golden Press, 1967.
Very complete book which includes plan for a frame loom (different in design
from the one in this manual), directions for warping, planning a fabric,
dyeing yarns and directions for many types of weaves. Contains suggested
projects for the frame loom and for a four-harness, foot-powered loom.
Most of the books listed, plus a great many more, can be obtained from the following
Craft Book Distributors.
Earth Guild, Inc. 15 Tudor Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Catalog $2.00)
The Mannings R. D. 2, East Berlin, Pennsylvania 17316 (Catalog $.50)
The Unicorn Box 645, Rockville, Maryland 20851 (Catalog $.50)
The following periodicals often contain articles of interest to weavers.
The Mother Earth News, P.O. Box 70, Hendersonville, North Carolina 28739 (One year
Back issues can be ordered. Articles of interest are listed below.
Lindeman, Joan. “A Very Primitive Loom” Mother Earth News. No. 22, July 1973,
Describes the construction of a very simple loom, built into the ground,
suitable particularly for weaving mats of heavy fibers.
Lichtenstein, Bernie. “We Built A Spinning Wheel for $2.50” Mother Earth News.
No. 39, May 1976, p. 106.
Describes construction of a spinning wheel (wool wheel type) using a
bicycle wheel. Very rough design, but may get a creative person
thinking of other possibilities.
Shuttle, Spindle and Dyepot. Published by the Handweavers Guild of America, Membership
includes subscription. 998 Farmington Avenue, West Hartford, Connecticut
06107. ($12.50 in U.S., $12.50 outside)
The chart in Figure 3 is useful
for quick conversion from meters and
centimeters to feet and inches, or
vice versa. For more accurate results
and for distances greater than 3 meters,
use either the tables in Figure 2 or
The chart in Figure 3 has metric divisions
of one centimeter to three meters,
and English units in inches and feet
to ten feet. It is accurate to about
plus or minus one centimeter.
An example will explain how to use
the tables. Suppose you wish to find
how many inches are equal to 66cm. On
the “Centimeters into Inches” table look
down the leftmost column to 60cm and then
right to the column headed 6cm. This
gives the result, 25.984 inches.
1 inch = 2.54cm
1 foot = 30.48cm
1 yard = 91.44cm
1 mile = 1.607km
= 5280 feet
1cm = 0.3937 inches
1m = 39.37 inches
= 3.28 feet
1km = 0.62137 miles
= 1000 meters