If you’re embarking on your pin loom weaving career, or are ready for some clarifications, here are some 102-level basics.

***Remember, you can click on a photo to enlarge it; click the back arrow (upper left corner of this page) to return to these instructions.

Right, Left; Odd, Even; Corners, and Edges

When I talk about weaving and patterns, I frequently have to refer to the edges of the loom. Top and bottom, left and right are arbitrary if you turn the loom while weaving, so I try to refer to the sides by their corners, e.g. the “left” side of the loom is the 1-3 side. This information is useful, though for the life of me I can’t think why at the moment!

Corner and side designations shown on a Weave-It

Numbered Rows

If you’re going to weave patterns it’s helpful to know how to count your rows. Sometimes in patterns I refer to even and odd row numbers–this has nothing to do with the sides of the loom. It’s just a count of the rows you’ve done. In a three-layer warp there are 16 rows, in a two-layer warp, 31. The plastic Weave-It and later model Loomettes number the rows for you, so they’re easier to count.

The 1/3 side of the Weave-it showing the even numbered rows. The location of the number is also the place where the needle is inserted to begin weaving the row.

The 1/3 side of the Weave-it showing the even numbered rows. The location of the number is also the place where the needle is inserted to begin weaving the row, i.e. between pins 2 and 3 of each 3-pin group.

Wooden Weave-Its (as well as Bakelite and primitive plastic ones), old Loomettes, and the new Zoom Loom don’t have numbered rows. It’s a little harder to count rows when there are no numbers, but you can still keep track. For instance, whichever side the needle ends up on tells you if your next row will be odd or even. If you’re on side 1-3 your row will be even numbered; if on 2-4, it will be odd. That’s one of those quirky details you have to commit to memory: odd side = even rows; even side = odd rows. Row 1 (usually a plain weave row) is always woven right up against the 1-2 row of pins; row 16 (also usually a plain weave row), against the 3-4 side. Every row is begun between pins 2 and 3 of each three-pin group and ended in the blank space between each group (though Row 1’s blank space is less obvious than the others).

Old-style Loomette (featuring work-in-progress), wooden Weave-it, and Zoom Loom: they all have their corners marked, but not their rows.

Old-style Loomette (featuring work-in-progress), wooden Weave-It, and Zoom Loom: they all have their corners marked, but not their rows.

You can add numbers to your loom. I used a fine point black Sharpie. If you’re right-handed you might find it difficult to write the numbers on the 1-3 side–I did. I also marked the center on the bottom of some of my looms because it helps me when I’m designing patterns.

Old plastic Weave-it with numbers added by me, Loomette (wearing one of its bars) has numbers printed on it (hard to see because the wood is dark), and wooden Weave-it also with added numbers. Use a fine point Sharpie and be sure to get the numbers in the right places!

Top L: Old plastic Weave-It with numbers added by me. Top R: Loomette (wearing one of its bars) has numbers printed on it (hard to see because the wood is dark). Center: wooden Weave-It also with added numbers. Use a fine point Sharpie and be sure to get the numbers in the right places!

Basic Warping and Weaving

There are a number of ways to secure your yarn to the loom before you begin the warping process. Some people tape it or clip it or have a piece of Velcro on the back of the loom. I like to tie a slip knot, slip the noose over the second pin at corner 1 and then tighten the noose. This knot will be untied after the square is taken off the loom.

Slip knot couture as modeled by the Loomette (with numbers)

Slip knot couture as modeled by the Loomette (with numbers)

“Warping” the pin loom is a bit of a misnomer. What really happens is Layer 1: warp, Layer 2: weave, Layer 3: warp, Layer 4: weave. By placing layer 2 between 1 and 3, we’re setting up the alchemical reaction that will take place when we start using the needle. The needle draws layer 1 to the top while pushing layer three to the bottom.

Loom with layers 1 and 2 in place

Loom with layers 1 and 2 in place

Layer three is in place. Notice the yarn is tied off at corner 2--this particular warping is planned as a two-color weaving.

Layer 3 is in place. Notice the yarn is tied off at corner 2–this particular warping is planned as a two-color weaving.

A close-up of the slip knot that anchors the final end of color 1 to the loom. It doesn't matter which pin you tie it to--I like to keep it away from the corner since Row 1 is tricky to weave.

A close-up of the slip knot that anchors the final end of color 1 to the loom. It doesn’t matter which pin you tie it to–I like to keep it away from the corner since Row 1 is tricky to weave.

Wrap color 2 five times around the loom, cut, thread the needle and get ready to weave. This color combination is referred to as a 3/1 warping--the first three layers in one color, the last layer in the second color.

Wrap color 2 five times around the loom, cut, thread the needle and get ready to weave. This color combination is referred to as L1-3/L4 warping–the first three layers in one color, the last layer in the second color.

The loom in the above photo is ready for weaving.

Outer Loops vs. Inner Strands

If you look closely at the yarn figuration on the loom, you’ll see there are “loops” around the pins. Sides 1-2 and 3-4 have two sets of loops in each three-pin group; sides 1-3 and 2-4 have only one set each. You’ll be adding the second set as you weave layer 4. Those outer loops DO NOT COUNT when you’re following a pattern. You’ll always take the needle through the outer loop at the beginning of each row, so it’s not part of the stitch count. There are 31 vertical strands in layers 1 and 3 combined–these are the things you’ll be going over and under with the needle; these are the stitches you’ll count.

Most commonly you’ll start (row 1) with a plain weave row (which anchors all the stitches) and the first stitch will be Under. Here’s a close-up of the first Under stitch.

Try to think of taking the needle down through the out loop rather than over it.

Take the needle down through the outer loop and then Under the first strand.

Here’s another look at the same photo with its anatomical parts labeled. It’s difficult to see that first strand because it’s beneath the others and obscured by the loom’s frame. (It’s also hard to take a photo of it with my left hand while the needle is in my right.) Don’t forget to click on it to enlarge the photo; click the back arrow to return to these instructions).

Needle goes Under first strand, Over second, Under third, etc. The needle always goes through the outer loop, never Under it.

Needle goes Under first strand, Over second, Under third, etc. The needle goes through the outer loop.

This is what the first row looks like with the needle in place of the yarn.

Row 1 before pulling the needle through.

Row 1 before pulling the needle through.

To see the fate of this two-color square, go to http://windsweptmind.com/2016/04/04/adventures-in-pin-loom-weaving-announcing-our-first-weekly-weave-along/#more-2140 and scroll toward the bottom of the page to The Two-Color Challenge.

 

6 Thoughts on “Pin Loom Basics—corners and numbers and loops, oh my!

  1. Michelle finch on 5 April 2016 at 9:59 PM said:

    I really love this, and appreciate your work. I feel like I should be paying for a class given all I’m learning.

  2. Lindy on 6 April 2016 at 9:36 AM said:

    This was really well done Sue. Very clear and good illustrations. Thanks,

  3. Lucina on 22 May 2016 at 8:58 AM said:

    I am so happy to have found your blog – I had been looking for something like this for a long time! The weave along is great too, just what I needed. Thank you so much for doing this! I love that pink Weave-It by the way 🙂 We don’t get Weave-Its or Weavettes or any of the vintage looms here in the UK, so it’s good to see photos of them.

    • You’re so welcome, Lucina. And thank you for your kind words. I learn so much by answering other people’s questions and writing out instructions. I’m glad the blog is helpful. Too bad you don’t get the vintage looms in Europe–I guess that makes sense though. A number of people on the Facebook group lately are building their own. In the UK you can get paneling pins to use on the looms which we can’t find here in the US. Maybe not a great consolation . . . 🙂 I have several different colored looms, so I’ll try to feature some of them from time to time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post Navigation