Weaving – with or without a loom

Riggid Heddle Loom- plain weave

I want to start a little series of postings about different weaving techniques. In the first place about different looms – or even about weaving without a loom at all. I discovered recently a book: Weaving within the reach, that really fascinates me. It shows so many possibilities to make beautiful weavings without or with simple handmade looms, I have to experiment and explore some of these patterns. And naturally share my trials and errors here!

But I think I’ll start in the beginning and bring together in this post some basic facts about weaving and make a list of the most common weaving looms I found so far and that I want to test. Afterwards I’ll share every week another project with one of these looms. That’s the plan.

So, here we are²:

Basically: Weaving is the formation of a fabric through the combination of two sets of threads-  the warp and the weft – at right angles. The warp threads are held parallel under tension, typically in a loom, while the weft passes over one warp thread and under the next, than on the return  does the opposite to create fabric.


Howto: There are several ways to pick up the warp yarns in order to pass the weft through them, depending on the type of loom and the weavers chosen technique. To simplify I’ll separate the process into two families: 

                                                       1. Weaving            2. Tapestry

1.Weaving: Done with a horizontal loom. First a selection of warp yarns is lifted to form a “shed”(hole). Second, the weft yarn are passed through the shed from one side to the other; finally, the weft is beaten towards the previous row with a comb. Afterwards the shed is changed with those warps that were lifted being lowered and vice versa, so the process can begin again in reverse. This means you need a kind of system to lower and lift your selection of warps, for example the shafts in a floor loom or the heddle in a riggid heddle loom.




2. Tapestry: Often done on a vertical loom. It’s a specialized form of weaving, which like all weaving necessitates a vertical warp, but uses instead of the more common continuous weft of nearly all other weaving productions discontinuous wefts. Rather than travelling edge to edge, the shorter wefts means that the tapestry weaver is free to change colours at will and to work on each small section at a time, which makes the tapestry much more versatile and free forming. In generally there is no system to lift or lower several warps at once.



The design of a fabric is determined by which warp threads the weaver chooses to lift and which are left behind, determining which warps the weft passes under or over.

In tapestry weaving the design is completely free , no repetition or predefinition is necessary.

In weaving on the other side the selection of warps lifted and lowered, pre-chosen during the warping process, leads to a more or less repetitive motif and structure of the fabric. 

Some examples:


Loom types (from left to right):

  1. Weaving without a loom (no image)
  2. Weaving with a self made loom (Cardboard loom for example or weaving around branches)
  3. Weaving with a simple loom (school frame loom for example)
  4. Weaving with specials looms: shaped loom, circular loom, belt loom, 
  5. Weaving with a Tapestry Loom
  6. Weaving with a Riggid Heddle Loom
  7. Weaving with a Table Loom
  8. Weaving with a Floor Loom


(images from the shop “Tricotin”)

Next week I want to start exploring possibilities to weave without a loom. Never done, never heard of before reading this book, but seems so intricating. We’ll see! Stay tuned!



² Textes from the book: Weaving/ Contemporary Makers on the Loom/Katie Treggiden

6 thoughts on “Weaving – with or without a loom

  1. Quelque chose que j’aimerais aussi explorer prochainement…. surtout après avoir vu ce que tu as déjà tissé !

  2. Il est vraiment très intéressant ton article, tu sais combien le sujet me passionne. Ça me donne vraiment envie de m’y mettre.. mais il me faudrait des journées de 48h

    1. Ah oui…. j’ai surfé encore sur Pinterest ce soir et je me dit la même chose… il y a tellement des choses maniqfique à faire avec des mains…. mais le temps me manque….

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