Fruit of My Loom
November 29, 2010 12:56 PM   Subscribe

I think I would like to buy a loom. Yes, for weaving things.

But I don't know where to begin. A few general questions before we get to "what loom is best for me":

*Should I take a weaving class, or can I book/online tutorial it?

*I love monotonous stress-relieving activities; things I can do while "listening" to TV. However, I space out long-term projects.

For example, I've been working/procrastinating on a latch-hook rug for, say, a year. I know I will never finish it, because it's just too damn big of a rug. (Also, it's because it's a pre-printed rug, decorated with stupid bluebirds and little pink flowers.) Would weaving be similar to this, or can I make useful and cool objects that take about a week or two to complete?

Ok. Now: What loom would be best for me?

I found this guy and this guy, but I don't know if I want to spend that much on something that may well be forgotten about in a month. I also found a child's version, but don't why it's a "child's version." Is it because... it's good for beginners? Or crappier than the full version?
posted by functionequalsform to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Check out this site. It gives advice on first looms.
The one that our crafts teacher uses, is a Table Loom. It is one that the article says not for beginners, but she uses it with right after a cardboard weaving. The downside is that it can be pricey. I did see a kids table loom for about $160 online.
posted by nimsey lou at 1:08 PM on November 29, 2010

Taking a weaving class should allow you to try out at least one kind of loom, possibly more. I'd recommend doing that before you commit to buying one (they can get pretty expensive!)
posted by asperity at 1:09 PM on November 29, 2010

If you're looking for a, um, starter loom, you might try out the Bulgarian lap loom from American Science and Surplus. For $12.95 + shipping, you can try it out and see how you like weaving.
posted by Elsa at 1:09 PM on November 29, 2010

Have you considered knitting? The supplies are much less of an investment and the projects can be as simple or as complicated as you want. Knitting is also a lot more portable than a loom.
posted by TooFewShoes at 1:11 PM on November 29, 2010

can I make useful and cool objects that take about a week or two to complete?

Yes, you can. I've only used a rigid heddle loom (like a big version of the "child" loom you linked to) and I had it warped in one evening, and then wove a scarf on it over the course of a few more evenings. I warped and wove some washcloths out of cotton in one afternoon. You can use the fabric you weave to make bags, pillow covers, even a blanket if you don't mind sewing the strips together.
posted by cabingirl at 1:14 PM on November 29, 2010

If you're looking for a, um, starter loom, you might try out the Bulgarian lap loom from American Science and Surplus. For $12.95 + shipping, you can try it out and see how you like weaving.

That's great! Even if it's pretty limited, it seems perfect for tooling around to see if I even like it. Twelve bucks and change. Pffft. That loom is mine.
posted by functionequalsform at 1:14 PM on November 29, 2010

I'm not a weaver, just a knitter. That said, a few things apply to both hobbies. You should probably think of why you would weave, how you would weave, what you would weave first. That will help you pick the right loom, but it will also help motivate you. I am much more likely to knit things for other people than myself.


--Do you want to make (for example) placemats or napkins, or do you want to make belts?
--Will you be grumpy if you buy a loom that can only make one thing or another?
--Will you be grumpy if the fiddly setup and finishing stuff takes too long, for whatever value "too long" has for you? (I have a bunch of knitting projects that I've never sewn together.)
--What is your patience with new things? Do you want to master a core skill and then go on to something else, or do you want to do several things reasonably well?
--What is your yarn/supply/assistance-from-knowledgeable-teacher source like where you live? Can you get certain things nearby more easily?
--Do you know of people around you who would appreciate your work as gifts? (BE HONEST, okay?) What kinds of things would they like?
--Does portability matter? (If so, weaving is probably Not For You :P)

Also, keep in mind that there are types of weaving that don't require an expensive loom, lap-sized or otherwise. You may just LOVE the Weavette/Weave-It/similar handheld loom, which is more or less out of production but easily findable for not a lot of money. Backstrap looms are also a bit more portable. Or you can try some stuff by wrapping yarn around notches made in a piece of cardboard. Low-tech but easy :)

You may want to check out an inkle loom.
posted by Madamina at 1:23 PM on November 29, 2010

Definitely look into a class to see if you even like weaving; you should also be able to try different looms there. Looms come in different varieties: jack, countermarche, tapestry, etc. and you may gravitate to one over another. I started out with a tiny kid's table loom I got off ebay (I think) for about $10. I ended up getting way into weaving after taking classes so now I have a big-ass 4-harness LeClerc countermarche floor loom that I bought super cheap off of Craigslist to make rugs, wraps, and place mats. Honestly, I don't weave all that much these days partly because I don't really enjoy setting up (warping) the loom to begin a project. It is pretty tedious and also hard on one's back. And it's not really something I can do while watching TV since mostly I do pattern-based weaving like overshots and twills; you need to pay pretty close attention for that.

I also do card-weaving to make woven belts; cards can be had for a few bucks, or you could make them yourself with a deck of playing cards.
posted by medeine at 2:23 PM on November 29, 2010

Oh yeah, "Learning to Weave" by Deborah Chandler is my weaving bible/reference book. It only made sense to me after taking a class, though.
posted by medeine at 2:26 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Definitely check out craigslist if you live in an area with an active craigslist. I took a weaving class which was a good way to learn the basics and get some chance to try out a Real Loom.
posted by that girl at 5:39 PM on November 29, 2010

Oh gosh, you are all my new craft crushes! Thank you-- I actually just looked into a class in Brooklyn, but I think I'm going to noodle around with the Bulgarian lap loom that I just happily bought. Before I spend $350 on lessons. I will definitely have n00b (except for latch hook) questions for you all.
posted by functionequalsform at 6:35 PM on November 29, 2010

You can finish weaving projects in a week or two. There's some fiddly setup on all but the simplest looms, but the actual weaving tends to go faster as a consequence of that setup labor.
To use the looms you've pointed out as examples - the setup on that Schacht tapestry loom will be super fast, but to weave you'll have to pick up each thread by hand. This is absolutely the right thing if you want to make tapestries - the ultimate in pattern flexibility - but a bit of a drag if you want to crank out a baby blanket.

The setup for the second loom you've mentioned (the Glimakra rigid heddle) will take a bit longer - still only a couple of hours - because you'll now have to thread your warp ends through the heddle (in addition to all the winding and beaming that you'd have to do on the tapestry loom too). But once you've gone through that setup, the weaving progresses much more quickly because the heddle enables you to lift the thread-groups simultaneously.

The tradeoff between setup labor/loom complexity and weaving speed continues through to four- and multiple-shaft table and floor looms to dobby and computer controlled and Jacquard looms.

I have woven on a Schacht Baby Wolf, and I primarily weave on a Glimakra standard 12harness floor loom - both companies have high standards of craftsmanship and have been very responsive to questions and concerns. I think you'd be fine with either brand (note that Schact has a rigid heddle loom called the Cricket, and I think Glimakra has a tapestry loom, so you have a lot of options. I have no experience with Beka, but my first loom was a LeClerc Penelope rigid heddle/tapestry loom and it was good to me until I outgrew it.

Before buying any loom, though, I'd propose that you head to a bookstore and peek into a copy of Time to Weave for some weaving projects that don't require a loom. That might help you determine whether weaving is going to work for you.

ps. If latch-hook is too slow and boring for you, tapestry probably is too. But there's so much more to weaving than tapestry!
posted by janell at 7:02 PM on November 29, 2010

For near-instant gratification (no ordering a loom and waiting for it to arrive), there's always card weaving, also known as tablet weaving.

Card Weaving by Candace Crockett is an excellent book on the subject.
posted by Lexica at 7:25 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Alas, I was too late!

If anyone else in Brooklyn wants to borrow a Bulgarian lap loom there is one I found on the street about eleven feet away from me.
posted by soma lkzx at 7:53 PM on November 29, 2010

I had seriously considered getting a Knitter's Loom a few years ago. I saw some samples from one and they were beautiful.
posted by bristolcat at 1:01 PM on November 30, 2010

Update: I love my Bulgarian lap loom. I had it warped in about an hour. It was very intuitive to do. I bought my own cool yarn in lovely shades of gray and orange, and a foot-long rectangular weaving bit in about three days.

Also, you need to warp it a lot tighter than you would think. My first attempt did not go so well because of that.

Thanks everybody!
posted by functionequalsform at 2:30 PM on January 4, 2011

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