If there’s a solitary truth about weaving, it’s that it takes a hell of a lot of tools. Some tools make life more convenient, and some are essential to the process.
When I first began weaving, I had a free second hand table loom (here’s a link to getting started with weaving while on a budget) and a bit of yarn that came with it. I started warping on dining chair legs, and had a tiny stick shuttle for weft. I’d woven before, when I was about fifteen, but had let the hobby go until my youngest was about six weeks old (when is a better time to restart?). So I knew the basics and knew what tools I was missing.
First and foremost, the tools you require for weaving really depend on what type of weaving you want to do. For example, if you have a rigid heddle loom which is directly warped, then you won’t require a warping board.
I like weaving yardage to use for sewing (my tips on sewing handwoven fabric are here). I had a large floor loom with a 90cm weaving width, and generally wove between 5m and 8m on a warp.
Below I’ve categorised the tools I’ve personally made or acquired in places other than weaving specific spaces.
The information below is Australia specific (as that’s where I’m located), but can definitely apply internationally.
A warping board for measuring your warp is a must if you aren’t directly warping your loom. How big you want yours to be depends on how many metres you want to weave.
Kmart has pegboards which are around $20 and are perfect for measuring warps. They come with multiple holes and pegs so that you can adjust the warp length by changing which holes the pegs are slotted into.
As well as this, if you buy two peg boards, you can get up to 15m of warping space. The longest warp I’ve ever measured is 12m and I did it on a double pegboard.
The thing to watch with these is that the pegs can shift under the pressure of the warp threads. You can see above that some of the warp is looser, simply because the pegs have moved inwards.
Bunnings sells hardwood dowels in the timber section, as well as 2×4 of hardwood. In order to make a warping board, the dowels need to be inserted into the timber, rather than glued or screwed onto the wood.
The crossbars of the warping frame also needs to be squared with each other, in an a-frame.
If building a warping board, remember to sand and lacquer, because threads will snap if snagged on a corner or a splinter.
My first warp on my floor loom was a tension disaster, and not only because it was an unbalanced counter-balance loom. I’d used books to hold the tension of the warp chains while winding on and the result was some less than perfect tea-towels (gifted to family, of course).
After this, I looked up Joy from Joy of Weaving and found this article about an easy tensioning device. I highly recommend that you take a look at it, as the tools for the job can be easily acquired from Bunnings.
Remember with tension, it doesn’t have to be tight, it just has to be even.
My tensioning device also holds my cross, so once the warp is wound on, I bring the dowels forward and thread from them. This avoids having to tie up angels wings to use lease sticks.
I warp back to front, so use a raddle to wind on. Making a raddle from scratch is super dooper easy, and involves a 2×4 of timber, and some well placed nails. I work in inches when winding on, so my raddle is in half-inch spaces.
Mark out your wood, nail in inch-long nails, and you’re done! Most raddles have a wooden cover that stops the threads from jumping from their allotted half-inch space, but elastic bands work just as well.
My first floor loom used cord and knots to tie up, and being a counter-balance loom, they needed to be really accurate in length. Not only this, but when I received the loom, it hadn’t been used in years and the tie ups needed replacing.
Usually, you would buy some tex cord and count the links to match up the length. Another version of this is to buy lengths of chain at Bunnings and link, or delink, the amount that you need. I partnered this with screws and washers through my treadles. This made it easy to change a tie up, as well as being a cheap solution.
Bobbins & Quills
In the early days, I had a non-standard (read: 80 year old) shuttle, and only paper quills would fit. I only had 1, so used it as a template to create more.
I used cardboard and packing tape, and wound them onto a pencil, taping as I go. This makes them fairly uniform, and strong.
Other stuff you can do!
Here is a list of things that can be made out of stuff from Bunnings and Kmart, but I haven’t done it personally.
- Warping Paddle (using a piece of wood, a drill, and some sandpaper)
- Bobbin winder (using a drill)
- Shuttle (bit of wood)
If you’ve tried any of these and have further tips, let us know in the comments!
If you have any questions, feel free to ask below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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