142: Frame Loom

So, back in December I made some delightfully chunky yarn on our laser cut drop spindle. The next logical post would actually be using this yarn for something. Fun looking laser cut frame looms have been popping up all over the internet the last couple years, so it is the perfect time to try and make my own!

See my very twisty, very lumpy handmade yarn in the background. Thanks, Lana, for letting my play with your roving!

Frame looms are super easy to make on the laser, because there really is no engineering. It’s basically a flat open rectangle, with crenelations, or teeth, at the top and bottom to hold the warp threads. There are much more complicated looms you can laser cut, like heddle looms, and I admire those who can wrap their heads around that.

When doing projects, I like to have them finished up in a neat little package. Most frame looms are designed that you can easily remove the your woven fabric and then use the loom again. I just wanted to skip a step and make the loom frame decorative enough that my mini masterpiece tapestry would be woven, and then displayed, in place. So, instead of the teeth, I made row of holes inside the frame at the top and bottom to hold my warp threads securely. I thought I was brilliant, but it turns out, lot of other people are too!

Almost finished piece…I didn’t quite get to tucking in the ends.

The empty space inside the loom where your weaving should go is the perfect place to cut out some tools some tools. From left to right, the tools inside the frame:

Pair of looms. I couldn’t decide how big I wanted my argyle pattern, so we made two!

Comb – This is so you can push down the threads you weave back and forth (technically called the “weft”), making them tight enough to cover the warp. I was particularly proud of how easy this was to make. I copied the top row of holes, removed one (because with ten holes, there are only 9 spaces between). I elongated the whole row, then made a rounded rectangle as wide as the 9 elongated holes. Placing it over top the bottom half of the row of ovals, I united all the pieces to make the comb. No fuss, no muss, no hard thinking! And seriously useful.

Needle – Perfect for getting your yarn back and forth. There are drawbacks to this kind of needle though – I had to make it wider than my frame holes for stability, and it’s too wide and thick to use to weave the loose ends back into the piece. Also, my wood wasn’t great – little slivers kept catching my rough homemade yarn. I wasn’t impressed. If I did it again, I’d made my needle more like a cool one sided shuttle that the Interlace Project designed. Much cooler, and easier to thread. I’d also sand it a bit. And then I’d still need a metal tapestry needle for the fine detail work of weaving in the ends.

Yeah, I was totally using two needles. I didn’t want to have to re-thread when I needed more white!

Shuttle – this is intended to hold yarn as you weave, and can be used instead of the needle. My design was pretty useless, though – it was way too small to hold my chunky yarn, and my loom wasn’t really wide enough to warrant the shuttle.

Pick up stick – this tool is designed to hold your warp threads apart so you can shoot your shuttle or needle straight through – no needing to weave up and down wrap thread by wrap thread. I didn’t really bother with it – as I said before, the frame was rather small. My weaving space is roughly 2.5 inches wide, 3.5 inches tall. In step 13 of this weaving Instructable, you can see the pick up stick and shuttle in action.

This post is not intended to show you how to weave – there are many much better teachers out there for that just a quick google search away. But, this post is intended to show you how cool lasers can be with weaving!
There’s a lot of fun opportunities to play with the relationship between the frame and the weaving – there’s no reason the weaving space has to be square. Or contiguous. You could weave laser cut pieces inside, or stack or hinge them so they are more 3D than 2D. Weaving is a forgiving, generally flexible medium, and the juxtaposition of it with the rigidity of most laser cut materials is interesting. I’m not sure fiber arts are really my “thing,” but hopefully my experiments will inspire someone else to really push those boundaries.

It was a fun little experiment, and will make a nice little gift for a friend. I love how my homemade yarn added some lovely texture that the commercially made yarn (the blue) just doesn’t have. And yes, if you are wondering – that shiny gold bit is some chain. There’s no reason you only have to weave with fiber. Go crazy, experiment (and Google “Mixed Media Weaving” for inspiration!)


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