Ingenious Pin Looms

You know those conversations you have with your friends sometimes about why and how some things came to be? I.e., “Who decided it was a good idea to eat an artichoke, and did they have mayonnaise?” or “I understand knitting but who figured out purling?” or “Why would someone think you could fold squares of paper into origami animals?” I have decided to add pin looms to that list of unanswerables: Why didn’t I discover them sooner? They are a simple and ingenious way to teach weaving concepts.

At the Interweave Yarn Fest last weekend, Anne Merrow, editor of Spin Off, asked me to help her teach a couple of short classes on pin loom weaving for beginning weavers. I accepted readily, but I then I had to be honest and admit I had never actually woven on one before. For those of you in the same boat, pin looms are (surprisingly!) nothing at all like the potholder looms we used at summer camp.

Pin loom weaving has 4 rounds or steps. Rounds 1–3 involve wrapping yarn around the pins—forming the warp and half the weft—and it isn’t until round 4 that you actually start weaving with a long weaving needle. Pin looms use lengths of yarn rather than the loopers of potholder looms.

Pin Loom Weaving at Interweave Yarn Fest 2017. Photo by George Boe.

Pin Loom Weaving at Interweave Yarn Fest 2017. Photo by George Boe.

The wrapping rounds can be a little confusing. (Luckily for me, we were using Schacht Zoom Looms that are clearly marked with numbers and arrows to help you start wrapping.) I had woven a few squares before the classes, but to my embarrassment, I still had to consult the booklet a couple of times to keep us all on the right track. Before long, however, everyone was going in the right direction, and the first 3 rounds were done.

Then actual weaving started and I saw people fall in love with weaving. I didn’t expect that, which is crazy since I’ve been in love with weaving myself for a long time. I thought you could only love “big” loom weaving. But it turns out there is something about any kind of weaving that is compelling. Maybe it’s the little bit of magic of seeing a length of thread miraculously turn into a piece of fabric. I would guess that of the 15 or so people who took these beginner classes, about 13 were on their way to the Yarn Fest marketplace after class to buy their own pin loom.

If you’re a big loom weaver, I encourage you to look at weaving on smaller looms too: rigid heddle, inkle, pin loom, tapestry, harness loom, card weaving. They all have their compelling points and one or more might be just right for you—or for a beginner who wants to learn weaving. And would someone please tell me: why would anyone think that mixing eggs and oil would create mayonnaise? And, was it before or after the artichoke?

Weave well,

Featured Image: Artichokes, Getty Images.

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