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16 December 2015 @ 08:28 am
Hand Loom Weaving - Part I - Weaving  
So, I've been wanting to do this because I think it's interesting. Perhaps you'll think it's dead boring. I dunno. But this is a craft that I literally only know that my mum and I do. So... I would like to share.

Hand Loom Weaving! Part I

Step 1 – As with any craft, step 1 is choose your yarn. I’m not advanced in the arts of knitting or crochet, but with weaving, the yarn is a little more important for one reason – how resilient it is. Yarns that have no give in them, that don’t stretch, are horrible to work with. For this reason, it takes a lot to make me with Red Heart yarns when I’m weaving. As pretty as the colors are, it has next to no give, so you have to set your loom VERY loosely in order to weave it, and generally it’s still very tight and hard to work with by the end of the last row.

Since this weaving method is especially good for baby blankets, I prefer to work with Bernat baby yarns. If you’re going for regular yarns, the Simply Soft brand is pretty good. If you’re working with a new yarn, you’ll often have to work with a couple of squares before you figure out how tight or loose to set your loom.

For this project, I’m making a baby blanket from Bernat Softee Baby in Antique White (which I think is a very pale yellow, but hey, I’m abnormal).

Step 2 – Get your tools together. First off, these are your main tools. Your loom (4” hand loom) and your needle (4”-ish … tapestry needle?).

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For beginners, I definitely recommend digging up one of these, especially since the pegs are set in groupings of three and the rows are numbered (especially helpful when you’re doing a pattern, which I don’t suggest beginners do). My other loom is wood and isn’t grouped, but I’ve been doing this since I was about eight years old. Mum’s is wood, inherited from the old lady who taught her when she was around eight, and grouped like mine but not numbered, I believe.

The brand of mine is Weave-It! It seems, from what I remember from shopping around years ago on E-bay, primarily, that this brand is the one that is set the way I like. I also have a tiny, two inch loom as well, which I’ll show another time. (This one is a 4” loom.) There’s a more modern seller that makes triangles and such too but they’re so expensive, and I’d need a new main loom too, since the sizes don’t jive with mine (which is circa 1940s, if you’re interested).

You also need your yarn and a pair of scissors. That’s all. This is a highly portable craft, at least in this stage.

Step 3 – Tie off your starter. Technically you don’t need to tie it – the wooden looms all have a notch where you can set your yarn – but it makes life a lot easier, honestly.

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Step 4 – Set your first layer. Go around sets of two pegs.

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Step 5 – Make certain your bottom layer is loose enough. Use your thumb to press down on the yarn. The bottom row being loose enough is the key, I’ve found, to make it easy on you.

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Step 6 – Turn loom and do your second layer, again by twos. Remember loosely. I don’t go back and loosen this row, only because it’s difficult. Your yarn will be key in how loose is too loose.

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Step 7 – Turn your loom and do your third layer. If you look (yes, I wish I’d chosen a dark yarn to show you this part, my bad), the bottom-most and top-most layers are offset.

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Step 8 – Wrap your yarn about 4 ½ or 5 times around your loom. This will give you enough yarn to weave as well as a respectable tail. (I like long tails – I use them to sew with in later steps you’ll see in Part II.)

Step 9 – Weave your first row. First and last rows are generally the hardest to do.

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Step 10 – Keep weaving! Straight up weaving, no pattern, is pretty zen once you get the hand of it. Biggest problem you’re going to come across is how your rows travel a bit as you go, and you have to use the needle to nudge them over. As a beginner, you’ll have to keep an eye out to make certain no strings overlap or such. With a pattern, you have to count initially to keep the pattern, but it becomes second nature after a while.

Also, I use my finger to press the threads up and down. You can also see about how I hold the loom in my hand. I generally brace it against the counter or my leg.

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(I wish I could video this somehow, but I can’t video and hold the thing at the same time.)

Step 11 – Tie off the end. When you’re done with the last row, turn the corner, go under, and knot your yarn. I double knot for security.

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Look, a finished square!

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Step 12 – (Optional) Push your weave so it’s more even. I dunno that anyone else does this. But I’m a little perfectionist, and patterns are especially prone to not being quite even, so I take a moment before I unloom it to make things a little more even.

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See, much prettier now.

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Step 13 – Unloom your square! I turn it over and press it out pretty gently, going not quite two times around. If you just yank it off, you risk stretching out the loops on the edges, which makes sewing in the later stages harder.

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Look, a square! (Now you can see my pattern – a regular weave will just be a straight up woven square.)

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For your viewing pleasure, the back of the square.

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Step 14 – Stack your squares. I stack mine in piles of ten. When I get to ten, I wrap the long tail around them and set them aside. This makes them easy to keep up with and easy to count, especially since when you sew them for a baby blanket (which is 100 squares), you’ll be doing it in rows of ten.

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And voila! You’re weaving your squares! Do this 100 times, and you’ll have a baby blanket.

As entertainment, I timed myself in doing this entire process, from setting my loom to setting the square aside. It takes anywhere between 10-15 minutes, barring interruptions. I think I average around twelve minutes, when I’m not interrupted or distracted. This means this stage of a baby blanket project will take between 16 hours and 25 hours to do. (Which means mum’s afghans, which are much larger, take significantly longer.) I’m pretty fast, though if you have to ball the yarn (I don’t, except when forced to. I think that the last blanket I did got cursed at quite a bit since, of course, I was in a hurry and of course the entire middle of every skein I used was a tangled mess and I had to ball it all up.This is barring the next stage, which is sewing.

One skein of 5 ounces of this particular yarn got me 45 squares. Given I threw away two or three squares initially when I effed up the pattern, and I could have shortened the tails to get another square, you could probably eke out 48 squares. You’ll get more or less depending on yarn type. Less resilient yarns will take more yarn, given how much more loosely you’ll have to loom it. At some point, I’ll grab a skein of Red Heart and show you how much more difficult it is to work with, maybe.

And how to do a normal square, and maybe I’ll even experiment with plaids (instead of with a variegated yarn). I know one of my books I bought a few years ago tells how to do one, but I think with a few hours of experimentation I could figure it out on my own.

So, thoughts?
moreteadk on December 16th, 2015 02:25 pm (UTC)
Can you make other shapes than squares? A triangle, for example? Can you do more colours on the same square?

I believe I may have seen a device such as this in my preferred hobby shop. Will see if I can remember to have a look next time I go.
Gelseygelsey on December 17th, 2015 02:31 am (UTC)

I have seen a more modern set that comes with triangles (I will look for the site and see if it still exists) but on this loom I can't figure out a way to do them. However, that said, I have several books that show you how to see things so that doesn't matter. You can make anything from booties to a skirt and jacket set with these if you do it right apparently.

You can do different colours but I don't usually. I am going to figure out how to get a proper plaid (I know one of the books says how). However variegated/multicolor yarn does fabulous for getting different things in. I'll post a few pics for you when I get home of stuff mum has done. You can also do pretty much any design you can make with squares.

Gelseygelsey on December 17th, 2015 11:10 am (UTC)


This is the site I found ages ago! And they now have a 4" triangle which they decidedly did not have last time I was there, or I'd have bought it. Wlel that will be $40 down the drain ;)

Honestly I could buy all these if I were rich. But they seem to have some that specifically go with the old 4" looms now, and I know they didn't before because I was disappointed that their sizes didn't jive with what I had already paid good money for.

I do still want the larger weave-it loom too that you can supposedly use for rugs and woolly yarns.

alysenuclearpolymer on December 16th, 2015 03:21 pm (UTC)
I've never tried this sort of weaving. The thing I don't understand is how the weaving part you do interacts with the threads from the second layer which are going the same direction. Like, I get that the threads from the first and third layer are the cross direction ones that you are weaving through, but what happens with the second layer?
Gelseygelsey on December 17th, 2015 02:33 am (UTC)

I'll take pics later but I'll try to explain (won't guarantee I'll succeed).

It has to do with the threads being offset in the final pic of the set loom. You weave before one thread, and turn to go the other way on the OTHER  side of the same thread, and in doing so, the one you surround is automatically over and under the correct cross threads.

I'll post you a pic later to illustrate if I can. But it all comes down to the appropriate set up.

alysenuclearpolymer on December 17th, 2015 02:45 am (UTC)
huh, that sounds cool...might have to try it sometime
Lisajuniperus on December 16th, 2015 03:31 pm (UTC)
I really need to come hold the iPad and record this! Emma would be so jazzed (she uses the peg looms and has a box loom and inkle loom, plus hand looms with tacks in a wooden spool or two forks rubber banded... she loves stuff like this!)
Gelseygelsey on December 17th, 2015 02:35 am (UTC)

Yes! If you think she could use one where the pegs aren't grouped like this, I have a spare wooden loom I could send her (and I could scan in all the books). If I can bribe someone to film me, I'll make an even more in depth how to. There are some brilliant things you can do with these things.

Lisajuniperus on December 17th, 2015 11:28 pm (UTC)
Cool! I just showed her this post and she's excited! She doesn't read, so these pictures are awesome (she learns everything via youtube) and I read your descriptions to her. :D
Gelseygelsey on December 18th, 2015 03:47 am (UTC)
I just had a thought (thank you, shower gods!). My brother will be here for Christmas, and i can trust him to wield my phone to record me. I'll do up a couple of quick videos then, if I can. If anything I can upload them to photobucket and send you the link. I should hopefully have strips ready to sew together by then. I know there's different ways of sewing them together, or you can crochet them together, but I do the one way I like best.

Pictures always help me, since descriptions can get confusing, which was why I wanted to do a picture tutorial.
Her Hamsternesshamsterwoman on December 16th, 2015 05:27 pm (UTC)
This is so cool! I'm hopeless with crafting, but have so much admiration for people who can do stuff like this!
Gelseygelsey on December 17th, 2015 02:36 am (UTC)

Once you actually do this, it's really absurdly easy. It just looks complicated. The big thing is in the time consuming portion, though I do it as I watch tv.

It's also highly portable, which I enjoy.

luvscharlieluvscharlie on December 16th, 2015 07:23 pm (UTC)
It's awesome to see that from beginning to completion of the square.

Very nifty!
Gelseygelsey on December 17th, 2015 02:38 am (UTC)

I was hoping people would find it interesting. Ultimately I'm going to go through the entire blanket making process (only I'm not up to the sewing point yet, and I get bothered if I jump ahead before I'm finished).

Dahlra's Submissiveteddyradiator on December 17th, 2015 12:11 am (UTC)
This is absolutely beautiful! I am so impressed with the pattern. I have looms like this, but I've never tried this kind of weaving - I'm inspired!
Gelseygelsey on December 17th, 2015 02:41 am (UTC)

You should try it! I have a booklet if all possible patterns, if you'd like me to scan it in for you. It's more a subtle texture than anything, but it's great.

kellychambliss: Xmaskellychambliss on December 17th, 2015 03:03 am (UTC)
Beautiful! I'm impressed.