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A FIRST HAND INTRODUCTION INTO THE WORLD OF RAISING FIBER ANIMALS, SPINNING, WEAVING, AND NATURAL DYEING.

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Tutorial: How to Warp a Metal Frame Loom

Kacie Hodges

A brief history.

These looms were created as a way to teach the basics of weaving to my first ever Farm Tour attendees, a home school group of 20+, ranging in age from 2 to 12. At that time I had access to a metal fabrication shop and a pile of scrap materials, so I managed to piece together a handful of metal rectangles that would serve as frame looms, each measuring roughly 6" x 9".

2013 - first farm tour + home school experience, weaving with Radiant Shade

2013 - first farm tour + home school experience, weaving with Radiant Shade

The kids took surprisingly well to both warping the loom and simple weaving techniques, using ripped up bed sheet fabric in various colors. The looms were sturdy enough to withstand being dropped and stepped on (both of which happened) but light enough to allow an independent young artist to work on their project without constant assistance from an adult.

These looms were originally created to teach the next generation about basic fundamentals of weaving, but as time passed and the popularity of this ancient art spread, I have modified them and created a series of 100% naturally dyed and locally sourced Weaving Kits to serve as an approachable way to learn a craft that holds endless creative potential.

Jonas Art Foundation | Creative Arts Guild Weaving at Southeast High School, Dalton GA

Jonas Art Foundation | Creative Arts Guild Weaving at Southeast High School, Dalton GA

If you have arrived at this post because you purchased a kit and would like to know how to warp your recently purchased metal frame loom, thank you so much for supporting my shop! If you already have a frame loom, welcome! Some of these techniques may not work exactly the same with your setup, but are most likely pretty adaptable if you want to follow along. If you are extra thrifty and have a picture frame (without the back) or anything rectangular (scrap wood nailed together), you may also find this tutorial helpful in warping your homemade loom.

Welded Metal Frame Looms in Slate, White, Moss

Welded Metal Frame Looms in Slate, White, Moss

Supplies. You'll need a frame (loom), some pretty sturdy yarn, and a dowel or something similar. In the Weaving Kit you may find a spool with wool thread on it. Unwind yarn from that fancy little spool and you're ready to go. In order to secure the dowel to the frame, you'll need two 8" pieces of yarn.

Step 1 - Attaching the Dowel

Step 1 - Attaching the Dowel

1. Lay the Metal Frame Loom on a flat surface, positioned so that the vertical posts are on top. Position the dowel at the top of the frame (along vertical posts) and secure either ends with string. Wrap the dowel + horizontal post several times and triple knot for good measure. You will want the dowel to be pretty securely tied at either end, as it is going to serve as a foundation for warping in the next step.

Step 2 - Preparing an Impromptu Warping Ball + Triple Knot Location

Step 2 - Preparing an Impromptu Warping Ball + Triple Knot Location

2. Once the dowels are tied securely to the top of the loom, measure roughly 3 wing spans of yarn (your arms spread wide open, three times) and wrap loosely around 3 fingers. You've just made a little impromptu warping ball. (see above photo for reference). Tie the end of your warping ball to the lower horizontal bar, about 1" away from the left edge. Triple knot for good measure.

Step 3 - Warping Around the Dowel ONLY

Step 3 - Warping Around the Dowel ONLY

Listen up folks, this is important.

3. Take your impromptu warping ball and wrap it up and over the dowel but NOT over the top of the metal frame. (see above photo for reference). To repeat, you will go up and over the dowel only, which will force you to squish your impromptu yarn ball in between the wooden dowel and the top of the metal frame.

Step 4- Warping + Tension

Step 4- Warping + Tension

4. Warping Success - [watch this video tutorial first] Once you have rounded the dowel, go back down and wrap the yarn around the bottom of the metal frame. Repeat this process roughly 6 times, or until you run out of string. You will want to have pretty tight tension once your warping is complete. (The video tutorial link above shows a good technique for doing this.)

Step 5 - Spacing

Step 5 - Spacing

5- As you are warping your loom, be mindful that you want to have relatively even spacing between the yarn. I suggest allowing 3/4" in between each string when starting out so as not to overwhelm yourself with the first project. You can adjust this as you are going, or you can wait until the end once you have tied off the warp string.

Step 6- Tie Off

Step 6- Tie Off

6- Once you have made roughly 6 passes from top to bottom, tie off the yarn at the bottom, triple knot for good measure (see above photo) If you don't have enough yarn to make it to the bottom of your loom, unwrap it once and don't worry about the excess yarn (You can use it in the next step). The reason you want to tie off on the bottom is for aesthetics, but it also gives you an even number of strings to work with which makes it easier if you decide to get into pattern work or making shapes in the future.

Step 7 - The "P"

Step 7 - The "P"

7. This is the hardest thing to explain in my opinion, but once you get it, you're golden. Doing this step helps set the foundation for the weaving. It brings the warp strings onto an even plane and sets you up for a nice, even weaving experience. Having said that, this step isn't required, it's just highly suggested.

The image above shows this step a few strings in so that you can see how to make the knot. Start with an 18" piece of yarn and knot it on the furthest left (#1) warp string. Going from the furthest left string (#1) to the string immediately to its right, you will lay the yarn over the #2 string, making a "P", then wrapping it behind #2 and back through the open loop of the P, and pulling relatively tight. The image above shows the same exact process going from the #2 to #3 warp strings. You will repeat this process all the way across the top of the loom until you get to the end, where you will tie a triple knot for good measure.

Follow this low budget video tutorial (above) that will add a bit further explanation. You will want to complete these steps for each warp string all the way across, connecting each warp in a series of loops, as seen in the photo below. (triple knot at the end for good measure)

Warped + Knotted

Warped + Knotted

Now that the warping is complete and foundation row of knots has been tied, you're ready to start weaving.

8. Weaving Magic. At this point the world is your oyster and you can get as creative as you like.

Here are a few very basic weaving videos to get you started, although you will find a large rabbit hole from simply typing "Introduction to Weaving" on YouTube tutorials, using the #weaveweird hashtag on Instagram.... heck even Pinterest has some pretty amazing ideas out there. No shame.

Intro to Tabby Weaving

Plain Weave Tutorial

Rya Knot / Fringe

Soumak Stitch

Step 8  [inspiration]  created using limited edition Autumn Reminisce Weaving Kit

Step 8  [inspiration]  created using limited edition Autumn Reminisce Weaving Kit

Step 9 - Knots

Step 9 - Knots

9- Once you are finished with your woven masterpiece you will want to secure it at the bottom with some basic knots. (triple knot for good measure) Start on one side of the loom and cut the first two strings (three will come undone because one is a loop) and tie the first two together, repeating this process all the way across (see above photo for reference) Make sure to pull the knots snug against the bottom of your weaving, but be conscious not to tie too tight to keep from distorting the shape of your piece.

Step 10 - Releasing the Weaving

Step 10 - Releasing the Weaving

10- Once you have cut and tied the warp strings on the bottom of your piece, you can now cut the top two threads holding the dowel in place. Your masterpiece is free from the loom! The above image illustrates the threads to cut in red. When removing your piece from the loom, make sure NOT to cut any of the threads looped around the dowel, as they are holding your woven piece in place.

Step 11 - Personalize + Hang

Step 11 - Personalize + Hang

Once you have removed your piece from the loom, you can now swap out the dowel for a more personal touch - a branch, knitting needle, animal bone, etc. Tie a string to either side of whatever hanging device you chose (triple knot for good measure) and it's ready to hang.

Holiday 2015 Weavings, hanging from found animal bones.

Holiday 2015 Weavings, hanging from found animal bones.

Disclaimer.

There are as many ways to successfully warp and weave as there are breeds of sheep roaming the Earth. (check it out, you'll be astounded!) Here is my humble offering of one of those many ways in which I've found it to work. Please feel free to add to this discussion in the comments section below; sources of inspiration and demonstration are encouraged.

As always, feel free to get in touch with any questions you may have: 

kacie@fiberfarm.net | 423.280.4004