‘Tis the season for loom building, I guess. Several people on the Facebook Pin Loom Weaving Support Group have been posting pictures of their latest hand-built loom. In fact, I have posted one myself. My husband built it, a 2.5″ x 2.5″ loom with ultra-skinny pins–a replica of the 4″ x 4″ Weave-it in miniature. The same patterns suitable for the Weave-it can also be woven, with finer thread, on this loom. It has a tighter weave and produces (obviously) a smaller square.

The 2.5" x 2.5" loom nesting inside the 4" x 4" Weave-it. And a look at the two needles.

The 2.5″ x 2.5″ loom nesting inside the 4″ x 4″ Weave-it. And a look at their two needles.

I had to try out my signature stitch, “Horizontal Xs,” to break in the new loom. Quite a difference between the two!

"Horizontal Xs"

“Horizontal Xs”

Today I was working on a new project and using a 2″ x 2″ loom. I decided I needed an even smaller piece of weaving. I have a Loomette with bars–an adjustable loom that allows you to create several different sized “squares.” But I’m not crazy about using it. If I only have to weave one or two squares I’ll put up with the inconvenience of working through the outer 4″ x 4″ pins, but I wanted a lot of these little pieces. Also, the adjustable Loomette’s yield is not wholly satisfying. The weave is looser along the bar edge. I just don’t like it. Instead, I prefer the inconvenience of constructing my own loom. It only took about twenty minutes* to make, and the size of the finished piece was perfect.

A true "pin" loom, made with dressmakers pins, foam core, and fun foam.

A true “pin” loom, made with dressmakers pins, foam core, and fun foam**. The two layers of foam are glued together with a glue stick–nothing fancy.

However, notice the white background on the loom. The squares I needed to make were also white, so it was hard to see to weave properly. And the pins have heads on them, so getting the square off the loom was difficult. I wanted to be able to make lots of squares quickly, so I needed smooth, headless pins.

Not everyone has one of these:

When disaster strikes . . . make lemonade.

When disaster strikes . . . make lemonade.

But I do and I finally had a chance to use it. Getting the pins out of the decrepit plastic was a lot easier than you might imagine. They fairly flung themselves out of the wreckage.

While the dressmakers pins were out of the loom, I decided to do something about the white surface of the loom. Watercolor paint to the rescue!

I chose this tint of green because it's light and even green yarn would show up well on it.

I chose this tint of green because it’s light and most yarns, even green, would show up well on it. Note the lack of centering and the excess frame (actually that’s a plus; the needle is plenty long so the frame’s size didn’t effectively shorten the needle; the extra length gave me something to hold onto–a necessity with this tiny loom).

It was difficult to poke the Weave-it pins into the fun foam, so I had to use a paper-piercing awl. The opposite end of that tool also came in handy for pushing the blunt pins all the way through the two layers of the frame, as well as for making pilot holes. Fun foam has a sort of self-healing quality, so it closed around the pins and held them firmly in place. Stiff foam core and flexible fun foam combine to make a sturdy little loom.

Two views of the loom.

Two views of the loom.

It was soooooooooo easy to weave! And I got exactly what I wanted–the right size, repeatable results, and ease of use.

An experiment gone right!

An experiment gone right!

Two tiny pieces of fabric from this loom combine to make the equivalent of a 2″ x 2″ square.

"Practically perfect in every way."

“Practically perfect in every way.”

You might want to consider making yourself a red and green and white loom–’tis the season!

*I didn’t even bother to draw out my design on graph paper, just grabbed a scrap of it, plopped in down on the scrap of foam core, and started poking holes. You can design your own free graph paper to meet your size specifications.

**”Fun foam” refers to craft foam sheets, or shapes, that are 5mm thick. It’s like those kneeling pads for gardeners, but not as thick (though you could use that too). I think it’s also called high density and/or closed cell foam.

12 Thoughts on “Adventures in Pin Loom Weaving — ‘Tis the Season?

  1. Lucina on 7 June 2016 at 5:03 AM said:

    That’s very interesting, thank you. So the loom your husband made has the pins closer together than a weave-it/Zoom loom and produces a finer fabric, is that right? Whereas your foam-based one is the same spacing and makes the same fabric, just smaller around?

    About your crumbly old Weave-It: I used to collect hard plastic dolls and there was something called “Hard Plastic Doll Disease” where the plastic disintegrated and had a bacterial infection that reportedly smelt awful and was actually “catching” between dolls, so that infected dolls shouldn’t be in contact with “healthy” ones. Weave-Its may be a different type of plastic, so it might not apply but I thought I’d mention it in case.

    • Goodness! I’ve kept this Weave-it in its separate box away from the others, but thanks for the warning. The loom doesn’t smell bad. I have a good sniffer.

      Yes, you’re exactly right about the two looms. The one my husband made has really thin piano wire pins.

      I’m hoping this post will show people that there are alternative ways to construct a loom if you want to explore different sizes. The pins are the hard part!

  2. Thank you for sharing. You always make it look so easy.

    • This one’s probably not as easy as I made it look. It was easy for me because I’ve made foam core looms before. Since I never put anything away, my stuff was still out, and as luck would have it, there was a brand new piece of thick fun foam on the table too!

      I occasionally see beat-up looms on eBay; I suppose now we’ll start seeing the broken ones selling for big bucks!

  3. Linda on 9 June 2016 at 11:33 AM said:

    Hi, been reading your blog a long while but rarely post on anything anymore. I’ve been wanting a loom like this with a finer gauge so I can use some of my finer weaving yarns with it. You gave me an idea, so I got the pdf of Margaret Stumps 6 inch weavette, I have her book, (but it’s so much easier to download again) and printed it off at booklet size and it’s a bit under 4 inches, but the pins would be really close. I’ll have to try printing it off slightly larger to get it to a standard 4 inches. Though this might be better with the 8/2 cotton and rayon. I usually use cut paper clips for pins, cheap in economy boxes and they are tiny pins. I won’t be sure of the frame size until I make some more measurements.
    I am so glad of the work you are doing with pin looms, I’ve wanted to, but my eyesight is so bad now, its hard to see the patterns. Please consider writing another book on them. The more books there are it seems the more people become interested in small looms.

    • Hi Linda, thanks for your input. Updating the old pattern books is a marvelous idea. I know someone who is planning to do that.

      Do you know Meg Stump has an updated version of the 6×6 loom on her website? You might want to print that resized to 4×4. Find it here: http://www.pinloomweaving.com/p/blog-page_13.html

      Paper clips! Great idea!

      • Linda on 9 June 2016 at 1:31 PM said:

        I know Meg Stumps site, been reading it too for a long time. Her corrected 6×6 is the one I printed out. As I look at it, it would probably work at this size for my light stuff, I might not want to go larger for it, the pins look like they might just barely accommodate 8/2 or 10/2. I’m occupied right now weaving squares for a small lap quilt. I will have to wait to dig out the wood and pins to make another loom.
        I want to work on an Album of the old patterns, just for myself, I don’t know a lot about copyright really, so I’m just weaving them out and photocopying the sample and matching it with the instructions, so I know how to do it. Then I put them in an Album. I want to do the same with Davenports textures and patterns for the rigid heddle, I think they could be adapted for pin looms.
        If you don’t mind, I’d like to add yours to it too.
        I had thoughts of a small album, but I fear it will be a humongous notebook full of stuff. I loved that Bronson lace you did and the pulled thread type stuff. Have you made more and tried to put them together like for a top? I saw some needle lace the other day I want to try. OOoops, sorry, I get too enthusiastic. I put my looms away for a while and tried to forget about them. I was organizing my sewing room. I don’t know now if the room will ever get done. I made the mistake of getting them out again before I finished the room.

        • Wow! Sounds like you have a lot going on. I’m glad you’re keeping up with the other sites and Facebook too, apparently. Amber is hostess for the current Weekly Weave-Along and she’ll be providing updated versions of those old pattern books as we go along.

          I know what you mean about small projects becoming big! Don’t they all? 🙂

          I’m more of a square maker than a project maker, so I haven’t made anything fancy yet with my squares. Good luck with your organizing and loom building and pattern following!

  4. Linda on 9 June 2016 at 2:16 PM said:

    I’m not on face book, I just read Ravelry a lot. I got off face book due to family issues. It got bad for me. I make things all the time, I guess you could say that’s how I define myself, I make stuff. I make jewelry , sew, crochet, draw and paint, learn calligraphy, a small amount of woodworking, mostly small looms and tools to work them with. That along with keeping house is my occupation. Sad to most people. I like making things with my hands. I’ve been meaning to join some of the small loom groups but so many seem to have lost interest in them. I stay with the same hobbies for years, there is always something new to learn about old pastimes. I am never bored that’s for sure. This is the most I have posted in years on anyone’s blog.

    • You’ve kind of described me too (except for Facebook issues . . . so far) 🙂

      My interests come and go and come back again. It’s hard to keep up with everything. I’ve found the Facebook group helps me keep up the constant interest in pin loom weaving, but of course it’s not necessary.

      Nice of you to pay me a visit!

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