I guess I thought I didn’t have enough hobbies. After all, I only spin, knit, crochet, felt, and quilt. Also, incongruously, I play video games *shhh, don’t tell Mom*. But a friend was biking to work the other day when he saw a loom at a yard sale, and he immediately thought of me. For only $200, this loom was too good a deal to pass up.
So I armed myself with 20 minutes of Wikipedia knowledge about loom construction and biked over to the sale to take a look. It was a Schacht table loom, the widest they make at 25 inches, with 8 harnesses (the number of harnesses determines how complex a pattern you can weave, 8 is a lot for a table loom). I convinced the lady selling it to hold it for me while I went to get the car. I can move quite a lot of things around on my bike, but a loom is not one of those things. I fidgeted my way through work, and even though I knew I had a ton of other projects I should doing, I sat down to the loom as soon as I got home. I started with a pattern I got from Hand Weaving.net, which is an amazing repository of patterns, though hard to search.
The first thing you do, according to the internet, is make all your warp lengths. These are the lengthwise threads that you weave between. I used acrylic, since this is my first project and nearly guaranteed to be a disaster. I learned pretty fast that the warp threads have to be way stronger than buy-it-at-a-box-store yarn. To make all the warp threads the same length you use yet another specialized piece of equipment, the “warping board”. No, this is not a piece of wood you’ve left out in the rain until it’s shape has warped beyond recognition, it is a frame with pegs you wind around to get consistent lengths of yarn.
Since when has not having the proper tools ever stopped me? I made one for myself out of my buffet table, masking tape, and wall hooks.
Next step is attaching all those threads to the back of the loom, making sure they stay all organized. The piece of turqouise string below is helping me with that, but warping your lengths in a figure eight creates a natural division between each thread.
Next, I threaded them through the “heddles”. These little pieces of metal attach the warp thread to the different harnesses in a order specified by your pattern. I used my orifice hook to get them threaded, but I suspect there is a dedicated tool for that as well.
Once everything is threaded through the heddles and attached to the front of the loom, by lifting one or more harnesses, you can also lift the warp threads, allowing you to weave between them. Cool mechanism, right?