For the longest time I’ve been seeing these beautiful hand-made wall hangings all over the internet. Not only did I think this would be a super fun DIY to create a really original piece of home decor, I figured I could devise a way to use up my old knitting project scraps. So, I started looking into how I could make one myself. As it turns out, the web has ample resources for hand weaving. Most sites suggest starting with what is called a ‘lap loom’. There are a few different types within that category; some use notches and others just use small demarcation lines to show where the yarns should go. The more I researched, the more expansive the world of weaving became.
That’s why I decided to amalgamate a bunch of resources into what I’m calling the Lap Loom Guide For Dummies. Based on all my research, this tutorial will give you step by step instructions for the easiest ever lap loom project if you’re a newbie like me!
First off, we need to establish the difference between the warp and the weft. Warp refers to the lengthwise yarns that are held in place by tension and form the basis of your weave. The weft is anything you weave in perpendicular to the warp. Your basic weaving technique is to take the weft and go over one warp yarn, then under the next, and so on and so forth in a winding right-to-left pattern. This is called a plain weave.
Now that you know the basic concept of weaving, here’s what you will need:
- a 10″ x 12″ wooden canvas stretcher frame
- a small safety pin
- wool or acrylic yarn, leftover fabric scraps cut into strips and/or roving of various colours
- 56 x 1″ flat-top nails
- a hammer
- a fine tooth comb
- a 10″-12″ narrow dowel or suitable substitute (I used an old paintbrush)
1. Gather your yarn leftovers together. When people hear I like to knit, they pull out all of their nan’s old supplies and donate them to me so they’ll get used! I end up with a fabulously varied array of yarns. Suffice to say, this is only a fraction of my current reserves, but I chose colours that I thought would be harmonious. Your end result will be a little more edgy if you choose yarns with different weights and textures.
If you’re into sewing not knitting, don’t worry. You can complete this project with old scraps of fabric cut into 1/4″ – 1/2″ strips. Almost any fabric will work as long as its not too stiff. Jersey works particularly well. Just sew the strips together to create longer pieces and we’re off!
2. Now start with your loom base. I decided to make my own using a canvas stretcher, but if you want to buy a lap loom you can skip ahead to step 5.
3. Using a ruler, draw a line parallel to the inner edge of the frame. Use this as a guide for placing your nails.
4. Hammer in two rows of nails at the top and bottom of the frame ensuring that the nails are 1/8″ apart. I put 28 nails in each row.
5. Create a slip knot with the yarn you’re using for your warp. Secure it at the base of the bottom left nail by pulling to tighten.
6. This is the easiest part: wind the warp yarn up over the adjacent top nail then bring it back down and wind it around the next available bottom nail. Just keep going like that over the top row…
… and under the bottom row until you’re done. Make sure to keep the yarn taut as you’re completing this step.
7. Secure the warp yarn on the top right nail with a double knot. Leave an extra length of yarn because you will be using this later to finish off the weaving.
8. Your completed warp base should look like this.
9. Now we start on the weft. I cut a long piece of yarn from the skein so I could gauge how far this first colour would extend. Secure one end of your yarn or fabric strip to a safety pin. Some people use large needles for this step. Personally, I find I snag my warp yarns a lot when I have a sharp point. There’s a reason they’re called safety pins!
10. Starting from the far left, weave your weft yarn under one warp yarn, then over one, and continue all the way across the loom. When you reach the other side, just repeat the same process in reverse from right to left.
11. After inserting each weft row, you want to take your comb and tighten the weave by pushing it down towards the base of the loom.
12. Any time you want to switch to a new colour of yarn or fabric strip, just double knot the end on the back side of the weaving.
13. I started off my weaving with a plain weave technique, but you can play around with the over-one-under-one format. This can have a really nice effect, especially when you’re dealing with a thicker, more textured yarn or fabric strip. For the grey yarn in the image above I used a type of satin weave, which was over-three-under-one.
14. This is what my weaving looked like when I finished inserting the weft. I should mention that the really fluffy blue yarn was put in last. I just left space for it as I was completing the rest of the weft, then inserted it using an over-nine-under-one format.
15. Now that you’ve finished the weft portion, you need to remove your weaving from the loom. Take two loops off of their respective nails on either side of the top of the weaving.
16. Knot the two loops together at the base without pulling too tight. You don’t want to throw off the tension of the warp.
17. Continue along the top edge until all of the loops are knotted and secure.
18. Insert your dowel (or paintbrush) through the loops for added stability.
19. This is the part where you can make use of all those tiny scraps you’ve been holding onto. Gather them together and cut them into sections that are roughly the same length. If they’re not all exactly the same size, its fine- this will add a rustic look to the weaving.
20. Take 4 of the pieces you just cut and line them up.
21. Fold them in the middle and attach your safety pin at the fold.
22. Take the far right loop from the bottom of the loom off of its nail. Going from front to back, put the safety pin through that loop.
23. Feed the tails of the short yarn pieces through to the back of the loop you have just created with the safety pin.
24. Gently tighten the tail pieces and the loop. This is how you make the fringe along the bottom of the weaving. This technique is called a Rya Knot, and you can use it anywhere throughout your weaving. It’ s really useful because it allows you to use up even the smallest scraps.
25. Continue making your tassels all across the bottom of the weaving. I left one warp loop free between each tassel so it wouldn’t overpopulate the bottom leading to distortion in the weave.
26. Trim the bottoms of your tassels. I wanted a varied look, so I only trimmed the really long pieces.
27. Remember that extra length of warp yarn we left at the top when we knotted off? Take that length and secure it at the opposite side of the top of the weaving. Now you can hang up your beautiful new wall decor!
Here is my finished weave. For a first try, I don’t think its half bad! If you follow this tutorial it’s easy to see that the possible variations are limitless. Let your imagination run wild and make something amazing. If you try out this super simple DIY, let us know about yours in the comments!
More DIY ideas from STUDIO 403
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