More About the Types of Looms
In addition to the more commonly thought of floor, rigid heddle, and tapestry looms there is a plethora of other specialty looms. These looms typically weave one type of item instead of having a wider range of weaving options. Shaped looms such as circle and triangle looms are a good example of this category. The various looms that fall into this category are:
Circle Looms: This is a very simple loom in the shape of a circle. They come in various sizes and allow people to weave circular objects without having to cut and sew the woven fabric. The resulting textiles are often decorative, though they can also form a center motif for a shawl or other piece of clothing allowing the weaver to add onto the original weaving by knitting, crocheting, or sewing additional fabric onto the piece.
Triangle Looms: Like the circle loom the triangle loom is a simple loom in the shape of a triangle. They are most popular for weaving triangle shawls, though triangles can be seamed together to form larger pieces of cloth for other purposes like blankets and table coverings. Triangle looms come in various sizes including adjustable looms that cover a wide range of sizes with one loom.
Pin Looms: Pin looms are typically a small, shaped loom. Most are squares, though you can get other shapes like rectangles and triangles. The most common pin loom is a 4 inch square though bigger and smaller ones can be found. They are normally used to make smaller objects such as toys, decorative flowers, and accessories such as scarves. They are a great way to use up left over yarn from other projects. There are a variety of patterns out there for objects made of pieced together panels from pin looms. Blankets, shawls, vests, and even bow ties are some of the more unusual objects that can be made from pin loom panels.
Potholder looms: These looms are the ones that many people remember from their childhood. They use loops of stretchy cotton or other materials that are woven on a square frame to make a pot holder. These looms come in a smaller traditional size and then a larger size that some people prefer. The square ‘pot holders’ can be used to make rugs, bags, and other sturdy textiles by piecing the squares together to make larger item.
Peg Looms: Peg looms are a long, narrow board with holes drilled into the board for pegs. The pegs themselves have a hole drilled into them which holds a length of the warp thread used for weaving. Peg looms can make various lengths of cloth just depending on the length of the warp used. They weaving is weft faced as a thin warp yarn is paired with a bulky weft yarn. The fabric is typically bulky and is suitable for different purposes such as heavy scarves, bags, blanket panels and even rugs. Just keep in mind that a rug woven on a peg loom will not last as long as a rug woven on a floor loom that is sturdy enough to make a rug!
Backstrap Looms: Backstrap looms are a very simple type of loom and was one of the ways that people wove cloth before more automated looms, such as floor looms, were invented. One end of the warp is tied or clamped to a stationary object and then the other end of the warp is attached to a belt that goes around the weavers back. Hence the name backstrap loom. The weaver is then a key piece of the loom as leaning forward and back adjusts the tension on the warp for weaving. A rigid heddle can be used to keep the warp organized and weaving is accomplished through the use of a shuttle and weaving sword. This type of weaving is very skill intensive and can be hard on a weavers body as they are part of the loom. floor However this type of weaving also provides for a great amount of flexibility in that the weaver can pick up patterns on the fly allowing for a vast array of design options.
Weaving narrow bands that are both sturdy and decorative is a different style of weaving than is typically done on floor or rigid heddle looms. Both of those looms are capable of weaving bands, but there are other tools that are specifically designed for band weaving. These tools are simple and most are portable. These looms do one job but they do it very well.
Inkle Looms: An inkle loom is a compact loom that focuses on weaving inkle style bands. The looms tend to be long front to back, but have a lower profile, and are on a base that sits on a table. There are floor style inkle looms that are taller, allowing the weaver to sit on a chair with the loom on the floor. This style of inkle loom is less common than the smaller inkle looms. The larger the loom the longer and wider of an inkle band that can be woven. One side of the loom will be solid, then the other open for easy access to the pegs that the warp is wound upon. String heddles are used to make the plain weave shed, with more complex designs being created manually by the weaver. Belt shuttles are used to both hold the weft and beat the weft firmly into place while weaving. Examples of portable inkle looms are the Ashford Inkle, Ashford Inklette, and the Schacht Inkle loom. The Leclerc Cendrel is a floor style inkle loom that also doubles as a warping board for floor and rigid heddle looms.
Band Looms: These are larger looms that sit on the floor and typically have two treadles which are used to create the plain weave shed to make a basic band. These looms are quick to use as your feet are doing one task while your hands do another. Instead of using a belt shuttle like the inkle looms use, these looms are more efficient when the weaver uses a short paper quill to hold the weft and a weaving knife to beat the weft into place. Glimakra makes a band loom that is of this style.
Tablets/Weaving Cards: Tablet weaving is a style of band weaving that can be accomplished several different ways. The tablets themselves are made of a stiff material, normally a sturdy laminated paper though wood and bone can also be used, and have holes in them for the warp threads. The most common cards are shaped like squares and have four holes, one at each corner. Other shapes can be used that allow more holes such as hexagons which allows for six holes, one at each corner. Tablet weaving can be done backstrap style, on a very sturdy inkle loom, on a sturdy frame loom, or on a sturdy rigid heddle loom. When using a frame to hold the warp keep in mind that as the tablet band is woven the tension increases because the warp shortens dramatically when compared to other types of band weaving. This type of stress is very hard on a loom, particularly inkle looms, so pay attention to the tension of your warp when weaving so you do not damage your equipment.