Table looms are portable and generally come with two to eight harnesses. The number of harnesses partly determines the variety of design capabilities. Putting a project on a table loom is a fairly quick process once a few skills are mastered. Table looms are useful in making smaller items such as scarves, table runners, bags and fabric.
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Determine how much yarn you will need for your finished product. Most weaving patterns give guidelines for each individual project. Decide on the length and width of your finished piece. Add an additional 24 to 36 inches in length for loom waste and an extra 1/4 to 1/2 inch in width for take up, shrinkage and pulling in that occurs during the weaving process. The reed on the loom will determine how many ends per inch, or strands of yarn per inch, your loom will hold. For example, if the reed holds eight strands per inch and you are making a piece 8 inches wide, you will need 64 strands of yarn all the same length.
Cutting the Yarn
Use a warping board designed for measuring yarn or two stationary objects of the correct distance to measure the yarn. If possible, make a figure eight on one end when winding the yarn. Loosely tie the group of yarn strands in the center of the figure eight where the yarns cross and on each of the four groups of strands. You will have five ties. Tie the yarn group at several intervals down the length of the yarn. This keeps the yarn from tangling during the warping process. If you do not make a figure eight, secure your yarn with ties at several intervals to prevent tangling.
Warping from Front to Back
Warping is the process of putting the yarn, or warp, on the loom. Place two flat sticks called lease sticks in the openings made by the figure eight. Old venetian blinds cut to fit work well. Secure these to the front beam on the loom. Cut the loop at the end of the group of yarn above the figure eight. Cut the loop at the other end of the yarn group. Next, cut the ties on the yarn. Spread the yarn out across the sticks. If you did not make a figure eight, tie the yarn in small bunches at intervals to prevent tangling. Wrap the yarn group loosely around the beam with the looped end of the yarn group near the reed. Cut the loop at the end of the yarn group and thread these through the reed. Cut the ends at the opposite end of the yarn group.
Centering the Project
Determine the center of the reed. This will be the center of your project. Move to the left or right the appropriate number of inches and start warping the loom at that point. Be sure to allow a few empty slots on each side of the reed. Pick up the outermost strand of yarn and put that through the slot that was determined to be the starting point. Move across the reed placing the next strand of yarn in the next open slot. Rigid heddle looms will have a slot, then a hole. Thread in the same order, putting the next piece of yarn in the next opening. When all your yarn is warped, check for any crossed pieces and redo if this occurs. Special sleying hooks make it easier to pull the yarn through the reed. If the loom is a multiple harness loom and not a rigid heddle loom, it will be necessary to put the yarn through the reed and then the heddles. Thread the yarn in the heddles following the pattern instructions. Once the yarn is through both the reed and the heddles, it can be tied on to the rod at the back of the loom, wound to the back and then tied to the rod at the front of the loom.
Wind the warp toward the back of the loom. Hold the yarn on the front end or pull on it to make even tension when winding. Place blind slats, brown paper or flat sticks between the layers of yarn. Doing this keeps even tension on the yarn. Make sure there is adequate tension on the yarn to hold it taut. Wind the yarn to the back, leaving several inches in the front for finishing and to tie onto the front rod. Tie the yarn in bunches to the front rod. Secure the knots by tying all groups once and then going back and tightening and tying in a second knot. Tie the knots with equal tension for an even piece.
Winding the Shuttle
The yarn that weaves back and forth is called the "weft." This is either wound onto a shuttle or wound into a small butterfly to be passed through the open shed. To make a butterfly, separate the fingers on one hand and wind the yarn in a figure eight around fingers. Secure one end inside the figure eight and slide the butterfly off the fingers.
Once the yarn is tied onto the loom, it is necessary to weave a few rows using a scrap of paper or a paper towel. This brings the yarn together and fills the spaces created when tying bunches of yarn together. To begin weaving, create a shed (or open space) by raising or lowering the reed on a rigid heddle loom, or the heddles on a multiple harness loom. Pass the shuttle from right to left, leaving a few inches of yarn hanging out, close the shed and beat. Next, create a new shed. Pass your shuttle from left to right, close the shed and beat. Continue in this manner until you near the end of the piece. Allow several inches for fringe or a hem.
When the project is finished, release the tension on the yarn. Cut the yarn from the loom and remove any paper. Finish the edges in whatever method you choose to use either by tying bunches of yarn in equal knots or turning the edges under and sewing a hem.