Great Fun with Little Looms
Some of you may know of Anne Merrow, editor of Spin-Off, but you might not know she’s an avid weaver as well! Anne recently collaborated with Handwoven as the editor of a special issue, Easy Weaving with Little Looms. Here she is to tell you why she’s so passionate about weaving on smaller setups, like pin looms, tapestry looms, and rigid-heddle looms. Enjoy her insights! ~Andrea
Pattie Graver once told me that, in her opinion, there are two kinds of weavers: “color and texture weavers” and “structure and pattern weavers.” I can’t remember which she thought I’d be, but I personally identify as more of a “yarn weaver.”
I love putting together a few yarns and seeing what they look like together. Textured yarns, luxurious yarns, and even “unweavable” yarns can make a big statement in plain weave when using the right loom. In particular, I encourage you to check out the possibilities of weaving on little looms.
Here are my favorite things about weaving with small looms:
1. Little Looms, Little Waste:
Some yarns are too precious to give over to loom waste, which is where little looms have a big advantage. Rigid heddle, pin loom, and free-form tapestry weaving are great ways to make a little yarn go a long way. Some rigid-heddle looms can get by with just 16” of loom waste, a small enough amount to twist into fringe for close to no-loss weaving. (Your mileage may vary—try it yourself before putting on a handspun cashmere warp!) Tapestry and pin looms leave essentially no waste.
2. Little Looms, Little Investment:
Many pin looms and hand looms can be had for under $40, and many rigid-heddle looms for under $200. For a getting-started loom, a second loom, or a loom to get a friend hooked on weaving, there are a lot of weaving possibilities for a small financial outlay.
3. Little Looms, Little Limitations:
Small looms allow you to weave just about anywhere. OK, so maybe you wouldn’t drag a 30” rigid-heddle loom to the coffee shop, but a cute 15” rigid heddle makes an easy traveling companion. Pin looms and hand looms are small enough to tuck into a purse and weave in public.
4. Little Looms, Little Setup:
The powerful pattern possibilities that come with multiple shafts have the drawback of adding complexity (and possibility for errors). When you want to measure a warp and weave right away, there’s no substitute for a small loom.
I may not go as far as Liz Gipson, a longtime weaver who gave up her floor loom and switched to weaving only on a rigid-heddle loom, but I won’t give up my little looms, either.
If you’re feeling inspired to give one of these smaller looms a try, I encourage you to check out Easy Weaving with Little Looms. This special issue of Handwoven contains 28 patterns for rigid heddle, pin loom, and tapestry. These projects are perfect for beginning weavers, travelling weavers, or experienced weavers looking to showcase some gorgeous specialty yarn, so you’re sure to find a project you can start on right away! What do you love about weaving on small looms? Let me know in the comments!
Posted April 29, 2016. Updated May 20, 2017.