Guide To Weaving Headers

Guide To Weaving Headers

Unless you were tie your warp onto your loom one warp at a time (not recommended…) you will end up with bundles at the beginning of your weaving. These bundles serve the purpose of attaching your warp to your loom, but they also make it so the spacing at the beginning of your weaving is off!

This is where weaving headers come in!



What are weaving headers?



Weaving headers play a really important part in setting up your loom and starting a successful weaving. 

No matter what way you warp your loom (front to back, back to front, direct, or indirect) you will need to tie your warp onto the front of your loom and space it out to create a perfect starting point. 

When you are ready to start your weaving you will be looking for a flat plane of evenly spaced warp with straight selvedges. This is because you will want to start your weaving off the same way you want it to continue throughout the entire weaving process. Have you ever heard the saying “set yourself up for success”? This is a perfect example of that.

To get that perfect starting point you will need to use a header at the beginning of your weaving! 

You can think of a header as sort of a “pre-weaving” because it is woven in your same pattern before you start your actual weaving to get your warps evenly spaced quicker than if you were to use up your regular yarn. 


Embroidery weaving is a hybrid technique of embroidery and weaving! It is a fun and portable weaving technique that is perfect for beginner and advanced weavers alike. The Warped Fibers Embroidery Weaving Kit contains everything you need for at least 3 samples and a finished embroidery weaving. Plus, if you have never done this technique before – don’t worry! The kit also comes with a download that will walk you through the process.


What can you use?


Different weavers may use different things for their headers depending on what their preference is or what they currently have on hand. 

Regardless of what you choose you can opt to either use short or long strips. Longer strips will require you to have a more continuous header which can be slightly easier to weave up (just make sure not to pull too tight!)

Shorter headers will mean inserting a new piece in each shed, but they may be easier to remove in the end. 

I usually do a mid range so that I can reuse them more often. If I keep longer ones than they will work for more weavings than if I only have shorter header pieces.

Some options for your weaving header are:


Fabric


fabric weaving header

Using fabric strips as a header is a really great way to get your warp evened out sooner because thicker fabric has a greater effect on the spacing. You might think you should just use the thickest fabric you can find then, but it does eventually have diminishing returns. 

I am a big fan of the fabric header and I usually stick with a fabric strip of about 1.5 to 2 inches wide. I also just use scrap fabric that I have left over from other things so that I am not cutting up virgin fabric for something that is ultimately not a part of the finished piece. 

Most of my weavings use an EPI of 6 -12 and this size works well for me. You might need to change it up if your EPI is different, so keep in mind there may be some experimentation involved!

Learn more about EPI and warp sett here.


Thick yarn



When I do not have any fabric strips available then I will usually use yarn that is thicker than my yarn that I am weaving with. Most often this is some chunky knitting yarn that I have sitting around in the studio, but any chunky yarn should do well.

You could also use a thinner yarn doubled over to make it weave thicker (you can see this in the first image of the post with the blue yarn). This is a really good use for scrap yarn that you have leftover from other weaving projects. For example, I have a scrap box of yarn from loom waste etc. that I keep for reasons just like this!

Learn about other ways you can use scrap yarn here.


Toilet paper


Yeah, I said toilet paper.

Never thought I would be talking about toilet paper here on Warped Fibers, but here we are.

While I have never used toilet paper myself as a weaving header, I have heard of other weavers using this as their preferred choice. If you do not have the fabric or yarn to use then this is something I imagine you have in your house that will be easy for you to use. 

A possible pro of using toilet paper is the ease in which you can remove it when your weaving is finished. Unfortunately, the toilet paper may not be as reusable as the other methods, though, so if you are looking for more sustainable options I would go with the other 2.


Getting the most out of your header


Your weaving header is doing a lot of work to get your weaving ready to go and set up for success. That being said, there are other things that you can do to make them even more successful and faster.

This can be really important because your header is taking up real estate on your warp but it is not a part of the finished piece. A large header will use up more of your loom waste and if it is too big then it may even eat into your weaving space!

If this happens then, at best, you will be wasting some yarn and, at worst, you will not have enough room to finish your planned weaving project!


Smaller bundles (find your goldilocks)



When you are tying your warp onto your front apron rod you will be doing so in bundles. First, I always tie my warp on with a half-bow because it is easy to undo but is also just as strong as a double-knot.

You can learn how to do half-bows here.

Like a lot of things in weaving when you tie your warp onto your loom there is a goldilocks sized bundle that you will want to strive for. This size will change depending on your EPI and size of your yarn. 

Essentially, you are looking for bundles that are small enough that they space evenly without adding too much header while not being so small that they are frustrating to tie and untie. 

All bundles will produce some space between them when they are tied onto your apron rod. Larger spaces will take more header to close up than smaller spaces. Remember: the more header you need the more loom waste you need to account for.

My most used sized bundles include about 6 – 8 warps per bundle, but yours may be different due to your EPI, total warp ends, and personal preference. I usually like tie my bundles in even numbers that divide into my total warp ends. This is because that way they will all be the same size and will tie up simply.

Play around with different bundle sizes to find your goldilocks size. Unless you are changing up the types of weavings that you are creating often, you probably will not have to experiment constantly with different bundles and instead use the same size more often than not!


Weave 2 beat 1






One trick that I love to teach my students when they are warping their looms is to weave 2 beat 1. 

This means that I want you to weave 2 picks and then beat your header into place instead of the normal weave 1 beat 1.

This works well because having 2 full picks in place before beating your header will add a bit of extra friction to the warp and make it even out faster than if you were to weave it in normally. 

The images above show the progression of your warp with a thick yarn header beaten 2 picks at a time from bundles to evenly spaced in only 3 steps!


Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!


Removing your header


Since your header is not a part of your finished weaving it will need to be removed during your finishing process. Depending on the material you used this could vary a bit, but generally you have 2 options for removing your header from your warp once it is off the loom.

A quick note before we get into that though: another advantage of your header is that it functions as a way to keep your weaving in place once it is no longer under tension before you finish off your warp! 

This is great for if you did not do a hemstitch on that end of your weaving. I have traveled with a weaving in my bag that was unfinished – just the header at one end – many times without worrying about it unweaving. So keep it in place until you are ready for your finishing!

Learn how to do a hemstitch here.

Learn about warp finishing options here.


Pull out with tapestry needle



Regardless of what you are weaving, every weaver should own at least a few tapestry needles. They are great for weaving in your tails on balanced woven projects and for helping you to remove your header without disturbing your finished weaving.

While you can, of course, also use your fingers to do this, I have found the dull point of the tapestry needle does a better job at moving only the header and not the weft once I get up to the weaving.

To do this: lay your weaving flat on a table with the header towards you. Use the blunt end of your tapestry needle to gently tug your header out of your warp one pick at a time. If you try to do multiple picks at a time then your warp could get a bit tangled. 

Removing your header this way is perfect for when you want to reuse it for later projects. 

Learn more about different types of tapestry needles here.


Cut it out



If you can not be bothered to slowly take the header out with your tapestry needle and you don’t care about reusing your header then you can cut it out! Just be careful not to accidentally cut your weaving in this process.

You can cut your header in a few different spots along your weaving and it should easily come out without much hassle. Shorter pieces should not get tangled if you tug them out.

Check out my favorite supplies (like tapestry needles and yarn snips!) here.


Regardless of what you choose for your header and how you opt to remove it, the importance of using one is something I cannot say enough! Just find out what works best for you and use that.

Do you use something other than what I mentioned for your weaving header? Let me know!


Best Inexpensive Weaving Looms On Amazon

Best Inexpensive Weaving Looms On Amazon

Starting out as a new weaver or trying a new type of weaving can be intimidating when it comes to finding and purchasing materials – especially looms.

Let’s face it, weaving can be expensive. Luckily, though, it does not have to be! There are definitely ways that you can start weaving that do not require you to purchase expensive equipment – especially not when you are first starting out. 

In fact, there are quite a few really good options for inexpensive looms that you can get on Amazon

Depending on what you are wanting to create, what you already have, and/ or your current level of weaving expertise there is a loom for you.

While I already have a post on the best beginner looms overall, today’s focus is on price and fast shipping!


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Loom with a heddle rod


heddle bar loom from Amazon

When you are weaving on a frame loom you have a few different options as to how you actually weave. What I mean by that is you can weave manually with a tapestry needle or use a tool to create a shed. 

One of the least expensive options for a loom with a heddle rod that you can get on Amazon is this one by kissbuty.

The advantage of this is that you can weave faster and with less wrist movement. If you have issues with your wrists then this may be a really good option for you.

This loom more closely mimics the shed creation that you find on floor looms, table looms, and rigid heddle looms and also allows you to more easily use shuttles to wind on more yarn. The fewer yarn pieces you have to use, the fewer tails you have to deal with when you are finished!

Learn more about dealing with your weft tails here.

Learn more about weaving shuttles here.


warped heddle bar loom from Amazon

This loom comes fully put together and includes your heddle rod, a comb, a shuttle, and some yarn to start with! This means you have everything that you need to get started experimenting with your loom. 

I will say that the yarn it comes with is not the best – so keep that in mind, but it will get you started if that is ultimately what you are looking for in a weaving loom.



Travel Loom Set


simple travel loom from Amazon

This is probably one of the simplest looms that you can get that is not cardboard! This makes it one of the best looms for beginner weavers who just want something to get them started.

Not ready to purchase a loom yet? Learn more about cardboard looms here.

The wood really brings them up one notch from cardboard looms because they will last and you can weave on them for a long time. The issue with cardboard is that it can fall apart and does not hold the same amount of tension as a wood loom will.

This is also a really good deal because it comes with almost everything you need (x2)! Beyond getting yarn, there is not much else you need to get started!

When you buy the wool queen loom you get 2 frame looms, 2 wood tapestry needles, 2 shed sticks, and 1 comb. Granted the comb is almost comically small, but it works, and that is what matters!

If you are looking for a better tapestry beater then make sure to check out this post!

You may also want to look at other tapestry needle options to find the one that works best for you!

These looms are both very flat which makes them great for travel. You can set one up for your kid and one for yourself for traveling to keep everyone entertained and busy. Or just have 2 projects going at once! You do you.

When you are done weaving you can put them back in the envelope they came in so that everything stays together.

The EPI for the wool queen looms is on the low side so keep that in mind when choosing your weft yarns. The warp sett comes out to about 4.25 ends per inch. Doubling up your warps will get you an EPI of about 8.5 – in case you want to work with thinner yarns or create more intricate weavings.

Learn more about EPI here.



Upright tapestry loom


Beka tapestry loom from Amazon

My go-to for weaving tapestry on a frame loom is always a simple frame loom. I won’t go into the reasons for that here – you can read all about simple frame looms in this post.

That being said, I understand the desire from new students to have something that is a little more straightforward to warp or for weavers who already know what they want to do – to get a loom that is set up for exactly that. 

When you start looking for tapestry looms in general you may notice that they can get pricy. With that price, you get some extra bells and whistles, but for just starting out or if you want something on the simpler side then grabbing an upright tapestry loom from Amazon can be a really great option.

The one that I like is the upright tapestry loom by Beka. There are a lot of different options to choose from, but the biggest reason that I chose the Beka loom is that it has more notches per inch than the others and its sturdy design will keep your warp tension tight – just as you want it for tapestry.

Learn more about tapestry here. 


Beka tapestry loom single and double warped

It should be said that first, your preferred EPI is just that – your preferred EPI. So a loom that allows for one EPI may work well for me, but not as well for you. It always helps to know what you want to weave before purchasing a loom so that you are not limited.

Second, finding out the EPI for these looms on Amazon is not the easiest thing to do. Since Amazon is not a weaving or fiber art-specific website like The Woolery it does not always have all the information that you may be looking for. 

The Beka loom has an EPI of 5 which means you could also double up your warp for a denser or more balanced weaving to get 10 EPI (seen in the image above).

Generally speaking, 6 EPI is really good for tapestry, so 5 EPI is pretty close and usually still does the job well. 

The fact that the Beka loom is made to stay together is also a plus because you can expect that the warps will not loosen up as you keep weaving. Some looms that I have seen on Amazon have more moving parts to allow you to create a smaller weaving.

This is unnecessary because you can stop your weaving at any part on your warp for a shorter finished project! The tension on your warp is way more important to your tapestry than potentially saving a bit of yarn by shortening the overall height of your loom.


Want to learn how to weave tapestry? It is more than just imagery (although that can be a big part of it too!) Follow along with this self-paced online course that you can take from anywhere at any time.

There are now 2 ways to take it – either purchase the whole course at once for a discount or “create your own” course by purchasing just the parts you want! Either way, get 10% off for being a member of the Warped Community!


Beka tapestry loom from Amazon

The Beka loom comes completely deconstructed but is simple to put together. It also comes with a heddle stick, shuttle, and tapestry needle to get you started. 

The legs on the loom are adjustable for angle and therefore you can move it around to best suit your weaving position. This allows you to make sure you are sitting at the best angle for prolonged weaving sessions.

The teeth of this loom are made of plastic and while I usually like to avoid a lot of plastic pieces, the plastic on this loom makes it incredibly easy to warp. You do not have to worry about any snagging from wood that has not been sanded properly – an issue you may run into when purchasing a loom on the inexpensive end of the spectrum.

The Beka is also the largest loom on this list and sits at 20” x 23”, which means it really is not a travel loom, but it is great to set up and leave up wherever you get your weaving on. This also means you can create a decently sized wall hanging or larger pieces for a weaving that will be pieced together later!

Learn about sewing your woven artwork here.



Get started weaving!


When it comes down to it you need very little to weave most of the time. I never want you to feel like you need to spend a lot of money to get started weaving! Just find the best loom that works for you and go for it!

Once you get your loom and you are ready to get started, make sure to check out my supplies page to order some yarn and anything else you might want for your weaving projects. You can also check out where to buy yarn online and of course, check out my tapestry course to learn how to put your yarn to use!


Simple Woven Loom Bag Project

Simple Woven Loom Bag Project

There are so many different types of weaving that you can do! One common type is to create yardage to be turned into other things. 

We have talked about yardage before when we made a cushion for your weaving bench and also when we learned how to sew your handwoven fabric (and get over your fear of cutting and piecing your weavings together.)

So I think it is time to start on another handwoven fabric project!

This time? 

We are making a handwoven bag to sit at your loom or to carry around your supplies.

The difference is in the size.


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Weaving the fabric


rigid heddle loom with yarn

Yardage for this weaving project can be done on any loom that has an advancing warp.

A loom with an advancing warp is a loom that allows you to have a long warp that will roll upon itself and make way for more weaving! Floor looms, table looms, and rigid heddle looms are all examples of looms with advancing warps.

For this project I will be using a rigid heddle loom for no reason other than that is what I have available at the moment. You can use whatever loom you want!

I will also be recycling a pattern from a scarf pattern posted on the community page because I think it would make a great bag, but you can use any pattern you want.

If you want access to this pattern then make sure to become a member of the Warped Community. It is free and you get access to patterns, ebooks, course discounts, and more! You can sign up from my form above!


rigid heddle loom with weaving

If you are using a rigid heddle loom then the pattern you choose will probably be plain weave.

Plain weave is also a great option for any bag that will be getting a lot of use. You will want to avoid using weaving patterns with a lot of floats because they will be more likely to get snagged onto things while the bag is in use. 

Learn more about plain weave patterns here.

Learn more about the 3 basic weave structures (and what they are good for) here.

As far as yarn goes, I am using Gist Mallo yarn in the colors Frost and Spice. This is a really sturdy cotton slub yarn that is perfect for this project. Slub yarn is always one of my favorites because visually it adds something extra to even just single colored areas of your weaving.


Want to learn how to weave tapestry? It is more than just imagery (although that can be a big part of it too!) Follow along with this self-paced online course that you can take from anywhere at any time.

There are now 2 ways to take it – either purchase the whole course at once for a discount or “create your own” course by purchasing just the parts you want! Either way, get 10% off for being a member of the Warped Community!


Choosing your size


The size of your bag will depend on what you want to use it for and/or what size loom you have available to you. The great thing about making your own bag is that if you are wanting it for something specific then you have the option to tailor it exactly to that need!

Say you want a bag to be able to carry around your frame loom.

Perfect!

Measure your frame loom to get a rough idea of the size that you will need. Do not forget that you will probably want to make it a bit bigger to make sure it slides in and out easily, plus have room for extras like yarn, tapestry needles, and more.

If you are creating a bag for something that is larger than the weavable area of your loom then keep in mind that you can always sew panels of woven yardage together.

This, obviously, will change the look of your bag, but you can embrace and plan it if you are aware of the fact going into your project. 


measure bench for woven loom bag

Since I am weaving a bag for my loom bench I measured the depth of my bench to get the parameters for my bag.

My loom bench has a depth of 9 inches.

I added an extra inch to my weaving to account for sewing seams so that the width of my weaving will be 10 inches.

For the depth of the bag, I decided to go for a depth of 11 inches, which is just over half the length of my longest flat shuttles. Again, I want to make sure there is enough for sewing seams so I will add an extra inch to my yardage length as well.

This means that the woven yardage will be 12″x10″.


Cutting your pattern pieces


woven bag pattern pieces

If you have not already read through my post on how to sew your handwoven fabric then I recommend doing that before continuing with this project. We will be using the same interfacing that we used for our loom bench cushion to keep our woven fabric together as we cut into it and sew it up. 

So make sure to attach your interfacing before you do anything else!

Once that is done, lay out your fabric and begin figuring out the pattern pieces. 

Since we are doing a simple bag, everything is at 90-degree angles. This means you will not need to print out any special patterns to make this work – just use a tape measure!

You will also need the back of the bag – this will be the same size as the woven fabric and the inside fabric. The fabric for the inside of the bag will be almost the same width, just a half inch narrower. This will make everything match up better once we insert it. You will also need 2 of them that we will sew together.

While I am using a neutral muslin for the back and inside of my bag, you can have the entire outside of your back be woven if you want. Since my bag will live at my loom, this seemed unnecessary to hide handwoven fabric where you will barely see it.

Overall we will have:

handwoven fabric = 12″x10″

Back fabric = 12″x10″

Inside fabric = 2 panels 12″x9.5″

Fabric strap = 12 inches


Putting your handwoven bag together


woven loom bag liner

The first thing we will need to do is put together the inner liner of the bag.

If your fabric has a right and a wrong side then make sure to put the right sides together before sewing. Then sew around the outside of the fabric on 3 sides – leaving one of the short sides open.

This will be the opening at the top of the bag.

I used a zig-zag stitch for this to make sure it is extra secure. A straight stitch can also work, though.

You may also notice I used a bright blue thread. I did this mostly so you could see the stitching on the fabric. You will not be able to see the blue in the finished project, though – so it works out! Feel free to use a neutral-colored thread or one that matches your colors for this instead.

Leave this part of your bag as-is! Do not turn it inside out.

Next, you will need to sew the front and back of your bag together. You should probably not use a crazy-colored thread for this one.

When sewing the outside of your bag you will need to put the right sides of your fabric together and sew around the same three sides.

Turn this part of your bag outside in when you are finished,


woven loom bag project in process

Fold down the top half-inch of both parts of your bag. The outside of the bag will be folded in and the inside of the bag will be folded out.

Do not forget to iron your edges to make sure your folds are nice and crisp!


fold over edges woven loom bag

Place your liner inside your outer bag and make sure that your side seams match up. Matching your seams first will make lining up the rest of your bag a lot easier. Insert pins around the bag to keep everything in place before you sew it up.

If you are adding your straps to the inside of your bag then this is the time to do it.


I am using this twill tape ribbon for my straps. In hindsight, I wish I had purchased a slightly wider ribbon for this, but the 3/8″ works fine. That is just a visual preference. You can find twill tape in many different widths and colors.


Insert your strap between the liner and the outside of your bag. Use a pin to keep it in place and this pin will also work to hold the 2 parts of the bag together.


pin woven bag project

Before you bring your bag to your machine, I recommend trying it out with the pins in it.

If you are using it for a frame loom then make sure the loom fits and the straps are the right lengths for what you want.

If you are using it on your bench then make sure it hangs as you want it to. This will allow you to make any necessary changes before you start sewing.


woven loom bag try out before sewing

If you have a color thread that matches the colors of your bag then you can use that to do the final touches. If not you can probably get away with a neutral grey thread.

Learn when else I use grey thread in my weaving studio!

Sew around the top edge of your bag with a straight stitch. I recommend backstitching over your straps while you have it on your sewing machine. This will give it a little extra staying power in case you store heavy tools in your bag!

Make sure to snip any loose threads and you are good to go!


finished woven loom bag with weaving tools

What will you be using your woven bag for? Let me know!



Warp Separators – Why Do You Need Them?

Warp Separators – Why Do You Need Them?

A question I get quite often is what are warp separators and why do you need them?

Warp separators are a tool or material that you can use to keep your warp on any advancing loom (rigid heddle, floor, or table loom) evenly tensioned for the duration of your weaving. 

To fully understand this you will first need to understand how the back beam of your loom works and what it is for.

The back beam on any loom will hold your unwoven warp during the weaving process. When you have a loom with an advancing warp that most often means that your warp is very long and needs somewhere to go until you weave it. In this case, the warp will wind around the back beam and eventually start winding on itself. 

Even tension is really important when you are doing any sort of weaving project. It makes sure that your entire weaving builds up the same way and is not a struggle to weave. 

Using some sort of warp separator ensures that when you warp winds over itself it does so in an even layer. Without this layer, your warps can fall into the gaps of the warps immediately below them. These warps will end up tighter than the warps that do not!


This page may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through these links then I will receive a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Please read our DISCLAIMER for more info. Thanks for the support!



Types of warp separators


different types of warp separators

There are 2 main types of warp separators to choose from that (of course) have their pros and cons. The type you choose will depend on what type of loom you are weaving on and your own personal weaving preferences.

Long warp separators and stick warp separators do the same exact thing but in a slightly different way. 

The long option is great for when you are using a loom that is not going anywhere.

This is because as you advance your warp the separator will be hanging from the back beam. If your loom is moving from place to place then this can get really annoying as it can get in the way.

Depending on the type of separator you choose it may also be prone to damage. Moving it around while it is hanging down will make it more likely to get damaged!

Long separators are also great because they roll on with less effort.

Since they are long you can wind on faster with less stopping. You just have to make sure that it is rolling on straight. If it starts to roll on crooked then just give it a tug to straighten it out and keep going!


Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!


Stick separators are great for portable looms.

Since they are much smaller they do not have the same issue with draping down from the loom as you advance your warp. Instead, they will fall out as you keep going. While you can use these on a stationary loom, they are a bit more work to put in when you are warping.

When warping your loom with stick separators you will need to stop every time your warp starts to contact itself again. When this happens you insert a new separator.

Since they are skinny you will have to do this often.


Long warp separators


cardboard and kraft paper from woolery.com

Cardboard


When I started weaving this was the only type I ever used! This is just because that is what was available at the university that I went to. So for a long time, cardboard rolls were the only option I really knew of. 

Cardboard is a really great option for when you are weaving something that has to be really tight because it gives less than some other options. Since the point of your warp separator is to make sure your warps do not fall into the gaps the stronger your separator – the better!

Using cardboard from boxes is not quite what you are looking for because it is too stiff, but if you take that same cardboard and separate the layers then it can work really well.

You can also purchase corrugated cardboard specifically for this purpose. This is great because it is already the perfect flexibility and it has clean straight edges.


Kraft paper/ paper bags


kraft paper as warp separator on rigid heddle loom

You can find kraft paper and paper bags just about anywhere. My favorite way to obtain this type of separator is to upcycle the packing paper often found in packages.

I always put it aside expressly for the purpose of using it for weaving. This is also great for being more sustainable!

Reusing your old packaging materials may limit the size of paper you have on hand to use. If you want something where you can control the width and length as well as to make sure you have straight edges then you can also purchase kraft paper on rolls. 

1 roll of kraft paper should last a long time because you can reuse your warp separator as many times as you want until it starts to tear or get damaged. 

You can also cut up paper grocery bags to use for this. Depending on how you cut it up you should be able to get a decent length out of it. 

If you are looking for another way to reuse grocery bags (this time plastic) you can check out my tutorial on making yarn out of plastic bags here.

I have also had students use paper towels. So if you keep paper towels in your kitchen then you can grab a roll and use that to separate your warp for a really inexpensive option!

Funny story: when I ordered some cardboard roll for my warp separator it came with some kraft paper in the package! 2 for the price of 1.


Sushi mat


sushi mat as warp separator on rigid heddle loom

If you want something that is going to have a bit more staying power then you can try using a sushi mat as your warp separator! This is also a really great option because it is not going to flex much and will make sure your tension stays even as you weave. 

The biggest possible issue with using these is that they do not come in large sizes.

You will be limited with the width of your weaving at less than 9.5 inches. You will also need to have many on hand because they are only 9.5 inches long. 

This means that you will have to continue adding more mats as you wind on your warp, but it also means you will have less flowing down from your beam after advancing your warp. 

These sushi mats are a great middle option between a long and a stick warp separator.


Stick warp separators


warp separator sticks on rigid heddle loom

Chipboard


Using chipboard or cardboard sticks is a pretty cost-effective way to use stick separators on your loom. Depending on the type of rigid heddle loom you have it may even come with separators right out of the box.

This is the case for the Ashford rigid heddle loom. These looms come with long chipboard warp separator sticks included. You can learn more about the Ashford rigid heddle loom in my review here.

If you are not careful these types of separators can get damaged, but are probably less likely than if you were to use a different material.

Due to this, these will not last forever and you will probably have to purchase more or change what you are using in the future. 


Wood


If you like the way that stick separators work but you want something a bit more durable, then wood may be a good option for you. (disclaimer: I have not tried wood warp sticks, but I know of many people that like them.)

Not surprisingly, these are going to be more expensive than chipboard or cardboard, but they are also stronger.

Your wood should not flex at all under the tension of your warp, so these will potentially have the best tension retention of all of our options.

They are also the most expensive especially because you tend to need a lot of stick separators for a long weaving.


Want to learn how to weave tapestry? It is more than just imagery (although that can be a big part of it too!) Follow along with this self-paced online course that you can take from anywhere at any time.

There are now 2 ways to take it – either purchase the whole course at once for a discount or “create your own” course by purchasing just the parts you want! Either way, get 10% off for being a member of the Warped Community!


Front beam separator


Where a warp separator of any kind is necessary for your back beam you can most definitely get away with not having any sort of separation on your front cloth beam. This is because your cloth is a solid piece of fabric and should not fall through any gaps below. 

That being said, if you notice that when you are winding your cloth onto the front of your loom your apron strings are displacing any of your warp and weft then it may be a good idea to add a front cloth beam separator as well.

This could be done in many different ways – including all those mentioned above, but since it should only really be an issue at the beginning of your weaving process you can get away with something much shorter.

If you do not have extra stick separators then you can use a paper towel tube that is cut down one long side to open it up. This can then slide onto your front cloth beam to smooth out where the apron string attaches to the front rod. 


Like most things in weaving it is important to think about what you want to do and the circumstances you have. These things can vary by weaver and by weaving. 

When trying to decide what warp separator option you want to use you can ask yourself these questions:

What kind of loom do I have?

Will I be traveling or moving my loom around?

Am I weaving something (tapestry) that requires a very tight warp?

Do I want to use found materials to be more sustainable and save money, or do I want to purchase something that will have straighter lines and was made for the task?

Am I worried about my front beam displacing my yarns?

When you can answer these questions you can start to make some decisions about what you want to use now and in the future! 


How To Fix Threading Mistakes: Repair Heddles

How To Fix Threading Mistakes: Repair Heddles

Ideally, when you are warping your floor loom or table loom you will not make any mistakes. 

While mistakes help you learn (the Warped Fibers motto!) avoiding mistakes should still be your goal. 

The best way to avoid threading mistakes (or any mistakes) is to take your time and look over what you have done before moving forward. 

This is really important in many of the steps of warping and weaving, but especially when you are threading your heddles. 



If you are new to using a floor loom or have never used one before here is a little refresher:

On a floor loom (or table loom) your heddles are the metal pieces that are within your harnesses. These heddles will have a hole in the middle of each one that you thread your warp yarn through. The heddles that you choose to thread will depend on the pattern that you are weaving up. 


It is really important to pay attention and double-check yourself as you go when you are doing this step of the warping process. If you do not then if you mess up one heddle it may mess up the sequence of the remaining heddles. 

Threading mistakes are not fun.

If this is the case then there is no shortcut – you must undo all of your warps to the point of the mistake and start over. If you do make a mistake and it only affects a heddle or few then you can fix your threading mistake by using repair heddles. This is most likely if you have doubled up a harness but otherwise continued correctly.


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How to use repair heddles



Depending on the type of repair heddle that you choose to use, they should be easy to install wherever needed. 

Locate the spot and harness that needs your repair heddle and isolate it as best as possible. This usually means pushing the threaded heddles to the side. Since they will all have warp yarns in them this may be harder to do than it sounds, but do your best. 


Here is a little tip: Use a comb to keep your warps out of the way!


repair heddle isolation with comb

Installing your heddle will vary a bit depending on the type of repair heddle you are using, but they should all be pretty simple. Each repair heddle should have an opening at each end that will go around the metal part of your harness.

Re-thread your new repair heddle with the correct warp yarn and finish it off as usual!

For example, if you have a straight draw threading pattern: 1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4 … and you accidentally thread 1,2,2,4,1,2,3,4 then you can un-thread the second “2 heddle” and insert a repair heddle on harness 3. This warp yarn will be threaded on the new repair heddle and you can weave as normal!

It is really that simple.

The hardest part about fixing threading mistakes is finding them before you go too far!


Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!


Types of repair heddles


No matter the type of heddles you already have on your loom, you can really use any repair heddle you want because they all essentially work the same.

The one that you choose mostly depends on what you can get your hands on and what will fit your loom. Prior to purchasing repair heddles, you will want to measure the height of the metal bars in your harness. Most repair heddles will come in 9.5″, 10.5″, and 12.5″ options.


Wire heddles


wire repair heddles

Wire heddles are thin and usually come in multi-packs.

The multi-packs are really great because you will more than likely want to have more than one on hand at a time just in case. Since they are thin wire, they are generally pretty cost-efficient despite the fact that you buy multiple at once.

These heddles are easy to use because they untwist at the top and bottom which allows you to easily attach them to your harness at any spot that they are needed. Just twist them back together after putting them on your loom!

The wire repair heddles that I have can be found here.

For reference: my Harrisville 8-harness, 10 treadle loom, uses 9.5″ heddles.


Flat heddles


flat repair heddles

Flat heddles are great if you need something really sturdy or you want something that more closely matches your other heddles (assuming you have flat heddles!) 

These heddles do not require any untwisting at the top and the bottom, but instead, they open up and slide into place. This makes them a great option if you have trouble with dexterity or strength in your fingers which could make the wire heddles difficult to use.

These heddles are more expensive and are usually sold individually, but they are sturdier than wire heddles.

You can find these flat repair heddles here.


String heddles


string repair heddles

String heddles are usually a DIY option that can be great if you need something right now and you do not have other options on hand. The downside of a string heddle is that you have to DIY it…

They are not hard to make, but they take more time than if you had metal ones laying around. We will go over how to make them in the next section.

String heddles work the same way any other heddles do and they take up even less space than the other options when they are not being used. 

Even if you have other options ready for when you need them, it is not a bad idea to know how to make string heddles in case you need more and just can not wait for shipping.


How to make a string heddle


String heddles should be made out of strong yarn that is smooth. I like to use the same yarn that I use for tapestry samples: 8/4 cotton rug warp. This yarn is inexpensive and makes a great string heddle option.

You will also want safety pins for your repair heddles to easily install and remove them.

First, measure the height of your harness area that hosts your heddles and double that then add an extra inch. You should have 1 piece of yarn that is just over the same height as your harness (between the bars) when folded in half. This extra yarn will allow for your knots without taking away from the height.

Insert your yarn into the hole at the end of your safety pin. This first safety pin should sit at the fold of your yarn. 


how to make a string repair heddle

how to make a string repair heddle

Using one of your regular heddles as a guide, create a square knot at the bottom of the warp eye.

Create a second square knot at the top of the eye. This is where your warp yarn will be threaded through.

Using square knots creates an opening that is more easily threaded. You can also use overhand knots, but the opening will not stay open.

Learn how to make different weaving knots here.

Insert your heddle string into the hole of your second safety pin. Tie another knot to close up your heddle. Again, use your regular heddle to get this in the right spot.

Cut off any excess yarn.


how to make a string repair heddle

Your string heddle is now ready to use!


fix threading mistakes

You will always want to try to keep your mistakes to a minimum, but it is good to be prepared.

No matter how long you have been weaving and how well you think you double-checked your threading, it is inevitable that you will need to fix threading mistakes with repair heddles sooner or later. 

Either having them on hand or knowing how to make them, will make sure that a missing thread does not bring your weaving to a halt.


Best Weaving Looms For Beginners

Best Weaving Looms For Beginners

Starting out on your weaving adventure can be a bit daunting. There is so much to learn and so much to buy! This is a common topic here at Warped Fibers because I am always hoping to bring more people around to weaving.

Why wouldn’t I?

Weaving is awesome.

I have talked a bit about what you need to start weaving here and if you want to know the looms and supplies I use in my studio you can see those here.

Also if you are a new weaver or just someone looking for a weaving refresher then check out my FREE Weaving Guide For The Absolute Beginner. 

Yep. 

Free.

You can enter your info into the form below to sign up for my mailing list to get access to the free guide or just click the link above!

You can also check out my beginner weaver post for even more weaving tips for when you are starting out!


This page may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through these links then I will receive a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Please read our DISCLAIMER for more info. Thanks for the support!



Looms are one weaving supply that might be the scariest to buy because they are the one that is the most exclusive to weaving. Everything else that you will need you will probably already have or will be able to use for other things. 


What to look for in a beginner loom


Once you get to know what you want to do it can be easier to figure out what type of loom you want. I will be going over the 2 main types of weavings that you will probably be starting with and what type of loom you will need to weave them.

That being said, there are so many different looms out there, and all of them offer different things.

When you are first starting out it can be a good idea to try to find a goldilocks loom that is not too expensive and has some options but is still simple to use.

If you want to go all out from the beginning because you do not want to buy another loom later, just remember that there is nothing wrong with having more than one loom! You can also upgrade later once you know what you really like. There are many different places you can sell a used loom if you decide to make room for a new one.

Other things you might be looking for are a frame loom with a stand for easier weaving or a loom that is small either for storage or portability.

Make yourself a list and go from there.


Why you should start weaving with a frame loom


beginner friendly looms - frame looms

If you are new to weaving or looking to get into it then these are my recommendations for looms to get you started and get you hooked!

If you are brand new to weaving then the best way to dip your needle in is with a frame loom!

Frame looms are my favorite beginner looms and not just because they are how I originally started weaving.

That being said, there is a reason that most people start with frame weaving. They are (mostly) inexpensive, (mostly) small, and generally easy to warp. 


Want to learn how to weave tapestry? It is more than just imagery (although that can be a big part of it too!) Follow along with this self-paced online course that you can take from anywhere at any time.

There are now 2 ways to take it – either purchase the whole course at once for a discount or “create your own” course by purchasing just the parts you want! Either way, get 10% off for being a member of the Warped Community!


Inexpensive


Frame looms are just about as simple as you can get when it comes to starting your weaving journey. While, yes, you can start with a cardboard loom (learn how to make a cardboard loom here) if you have the ability I recommend you give a frame loom a try instead.

Frame looms will not only give you better warp tension but also will not fall apart after a few uses. They can even be just as inexpensive or almost as inexpensive as just pulling some cardboard out of your recycling bin. 

That is because you can use a repurposed picture frame that you already have laying around or grab something from a clearance section for only a few dollars. 

This type of loom is called a simple frame loom and if you want to learn more about them then you can learn about simple frame looms here. 

Speaking of warp tension, their ability to hold a very high tension makes frame looms ideal for tapestry weaving. If you are wanting to start your weaving adventure with tapestry then frame looms are the best option.

If you want something that may actually be simpler than a simple frame loom then you can get a loom with notches or make one with nails. These will warp up even faster than a simple frame loom (which already warps up fast) because everything is already spaced out and good to go.

You can also learn about spacing hacks for your simple frame loom here.


Easy to warp



Since there are many different types of frame looms there are varying degrees of difficulty when it comes to warping your loom. All of them though, are going to allow you to get weaving fast and with little effort.

The easiest frame looms to warp are going to be ones with dedicated notches or nails with either no shed system or a simple heddle bar (see above video.) These looms require no extra math to figure out your EPI and keep your warp spaced perfectly as you go.

Other types of frame looms are not hard to warp, but they may require a little extra effort. They do have their advantages though.

Learn about different types of frame looms here.

Learn specifically about simple frame looms (my favorites) here.




They don’t take up a lot of space


Most frame looms are small.

This means that not only are they good for travel, but they are also good for when you do not have a bunch of dedicated space to devote to a skill that you may not even love.

Do not worry. You will love it.

That sounded threatening… anyway.

Not only do you probably not know if you will love to weave or not, but you may not even know what you really want to weave. It is never a bad idea to start small and work up from there. If you decide later that you want a larger loom of any type you can still rest easy knowing that you can always still use your frame loom for smaller weavings or samples.

You can read more about finding the best second loom here.


Why you should start weaving with a rigid heddle loom



Not everyone wants to weave tapestry.

When you are looking to weave something else, then a rigid heddle loom might be a better object for your creative input than a frame loom – at least to start.

Rigid heddle looms are great for weaving longer weavings that are either balanced or pattern woven, but tapestry should be left for a loom with the ability to hold more tension.


Easier to warp than a floor loom


Floor looms are notoriously annoying to warp. Not necessarily hard, but there are a lot of steps and it takes a while. The more steps there are, the more opportunities you have to make a mistake in the process.

Mistakes are good. They are how we learn. 

For most people though, when first starting anything new it is a good idea to start on the easier side to get hooked first. It is a lot easier to deal with things that can be frustrating when you love what you are doing. 

Rigid heddle looms have the ability to be warped directly instead of using a warping board or mill. This means that you eliminate a step in the warping process that requires you to measure out your warp first and then put it on your loom. Beyond this, the warping itself is simpler because there are fewer moving parts to deal with.

Unlike a floor loom, a rigid heddle loom only has 1 heddle for you to pull your warp through. This means fewer chances to make mistakes.


Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!


Longer weavings than a frame loom


Sometimes a frame loom is just not going to cut it for what you want to weave. If you know going in that you want to weave scarves or other long pieces of fabric then starting with a frame loom may not make sense.

Weaving on a rigid heddle loom is great for when you want to create longer weavings and when you want to work on balanced or pattern weavings.

With its ability to have an advancing warp you can create weavings that just keep going!

Even if your goal is not to weave something specific, rigid heddle looms can be great for beginners because they allow you a lot of room to practice your weaving skills. Weaving, just like any other skill, will only keep improving with time and practice.

The more time you have to weave without having to re-warp your loom keeps you in the weaving mind-frame longer. A.K.A. more time to get hooked!


My beginner loom recommendations


choosing beginner looms

If you really just want to get started with no fuss then purchasing a loom that already has notches and a shed device will get you weaving the fastest with the least amount of learning involved in the warping process. 


Frame looms


If you are going the simple frame loom route then you can use any old frame you have laying around or one that is found in a clearance bin to keep it cheap. You can also use canvas stretcher bars for a more tailored size. I usually purchase mine here.

Another inexpensive frame loom that is great for beginners is this notched loom that you can find on Amazon.

Easy to warp? Check

Inexpensive? Check

Portable and easy to store? Check

Heddle bar capability? Check


Rigid Heddle Looms 


Rigid heddle looms for beginners are usually less expensive, but still capable of weaving a lot of different techniques including pick-up weaving.

The Schacht Cricket rigid heddle loom is great for beginners because it is small and does not have any extra frills. You can read my full review here.


Take a class


If you are still having some doubts then the best loom to start with is one that you do not own! Taking a local class helps you to get your needle on the loom without committing to anything you have to keep in your home. A lot of times you will get to use a loom that may even be beyond beginner status (but still has beginner capabilities.)

If you are in the Richmond, Virginia area then check out my in-person classes. If you are not, then just google weaving in your area to get in with a local weaver who can teach you on their looms before you purchase your own!


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