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My Outside Loom

loom2I built it!  And it works!

I started with the idea of a backstrap loom like the Mapuche people of Chile use, as do many Latin and South Americans, as well as Asians.  I was fighting it too much; clearly I need lessons here.  So I moved on to Navajo looms.

Use this to decipher terms that follow.

What a gift the internet is.  Read much; saw a lot of pictures, watched some videos.  Saw looms made of copper pipe, floor looms made of PVC pipe, lots of DIY directions and blogs, and some commercially made looms that didn’t interest me at all.  Just Google  “handmade looms” and select images.  [My favorite way to Google now.]

Thought about what I wanted—not to clutter house with big loom, just plain weave to make some rag rugs, the fun of solving the problems of construction.

Voila!  My loom.loom1

Sent DH to the store to buy some rods for the top and bottom beams—the man who uses a 50 pound picture hanger to hang a 3 oz photo came home with 2.5 inch PVC pipe.  Two 10-foot pieces.  I think I could hang a car from it.  But it isn’t warping from the tension.

The arbor has been there many years.  I just hung the top beam from the arbor crosspiece with nylon braided rope.  This is the tensioning agent so it will be loosened and tightened often.  I used the same knot the Navajo weavers use on their outdoor looms.  <g>

The bottom beam is wedged under the bottom of the arbor.

I wound the warp differently.  Actually for this first sample piece, I just cut lengths and attached them to the loom bar.  Then I manually added the shed rods.  It was only 40 strings, not the hundreds needed for a big rug.  Then I tied them to the loom bar as I would if I were warping a floor loom.
loom5

Hardest of all was making string heddles.

They need to be the same length to have good tension.  After much adjustment I had something workable if not good.  Then I had to figure out how this whole business of picking up the right threads and getting the right sheds worked.  It is so simple, it has been done this way for many centuries; it only took me hours to figure it out.  [Duh!  I could have had a V-8.]

Still had spacing problems—no reed to hold the threads evenly spaced.  Back to the books to discover using a twined thread and realizing why the Navajo do not cut the bottom warp ends.  [Ah, learning by discovery.  No, I do not read instruction manuals.  Instruction manuals are for when you have messed it up so badly that you are desperate.]

Finally, days later, I tore up an old sheet and began to weave.  It worked pretty well.  I still need to figure out the best sett [threads per inch in the warp] and the best width for the strips to make a serviceable and dog proof rug.

Then the monsoon hit.  Days of big rain.  The loom was drenched—frequently.  But once dried, it maintained the tension pretty well.  I am going to move it further in under the arbor roof, but it is good to know that the apparatus is indeed weatherproof.  The Navajo don’t use a roof for their looms.  But it never rains in New Mexico.


Can’t think of everything, and learning anything is fun.

More later–

3 Responses

  1. What’s the prognosis on your knee. Surgery?
    Love the loom…wish I could do that.

  2. That’s so amazing Jane! I want an invitation to come and see this loom! I think the idea is just wonderful!

  3. you did an amazing job… missing you this summer but know Ft. Collins will be wonderful… Enjoy!

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