How to warp a frame loom with a heddle bar
First thing you need to learn when you want to start your adventure with weaving is how to warp a loom. Warp are all vertical threads you stretch between top and bottom beam of the loom. You will use them to weave weft - horizontal threads - between them. It’s important that your warp is stretched properly and has a good tension. This way you will make sure your weaving is going to look nice and neat when cut off the loom. In this tutorial I will work on a loom with adjustable top and bottom beams, that allow you to control the tension even after you warped the loom. You can find these looms in 3 different sizes in my shop, and here are the links to all 3 sizes:
Apart of the loom you will also need a heddle bar. Heddle bar helps to speed up the weaving process by creating an opening between alternating warp threads. There twice as many grooves on a heddle bar as on a warp beam.
The best threads to use for warp are the ones that are not too elastic or stretchy. If you’re a beginner, I recommend either cotton or linen warp.
Later, for weaving, you will also need weft (horizontal threads), shuttle sticks and a tapestry needle. You can find a detailed weaving tutorial here.
Attaching the warp
Make a loop with your fingers and attach the thread to one of the “tooth” on the top beam. Make sure the knot is tightened properly and not moving when you pull the thread. A loose knot will make it difficult for you to keep the tension even, and that’s the most important part of warping.
Stretching the thread between two beams
Pull the thread and wrap it around a corresponding tooth on a bottom beam. The thread will go through the heddle bar, hook around the bottom tooth and go back to the top bar through the next groove on a heddle bar.
Use the grooves on warping beams twice!
Every thread has to go ONCE through each grove on a heddle bar but TWICE through each groove on warping beams.
Go to back and forth with your thread until the loom is warped. Remember to tension your threads equally when hooking them around the teeth. Make sure the thread is hooked correctly and it’s not going to slide down later, as it might mess the tension of your weaving. It is better to take it slowly and double check every hook as you go. There’s nothing more frustrating than loose warp while weaving.
Securing the warp
Finish off by making a knot around the bottom beam. I like to make at least two knots to make sure all threads stay in place.
Adjusting the tension
With this kind of loom you are able to adjust the tension after warping is completed. It can happen, that all your threads are tensioned evenly, but the tension is either too strong or too weak. By unscrewing the nods at both ends of the beam, you are able to adjust a tension. Once you’re done, just screw the nods tight back again and you’re good to go!
Working with a heddle bar
When your warp is stretched correctly, you can use a heddle bar to create an opening between warp threads. Alternating threads are placed in alternating grooves of the heddle bar. It means that every time you turn the bar, every second thread will be lifted, so that you can easily place your weft between your warp threads.
Creating a shed
Once the first strand of weft is placed, just turn the heddle bar again. All warp threads that were at the bottom a second ago will be now lifted, and all the ones that were lifted before will go to the bottom now. Push the shuttle with the weft back through the opening…
…keep turning the heddle bar and pushing the shuttle through the opening until your weaving is finished. For more detailed instructions how to weave, please visit this blog post.
A stop-motion video of the whole process
Here’s the full process again as a video. If you’d like to purchase a loom pictured, you can order it directly here:
Looms in action
Due to the popular demand I'm stocking locally produced German looms in my shop now. I'm offering single loom and loom kits together with my plant dyed yarn. If you want to step up your weaving game visit my shop.