Charlie and I have wanted to try weaving for some time, but didn’t want to invest in a pricey loom until we knew it was something we would do. In our imaginations, we would make large, beautiful pieces on a big, complicated floor loom. In reality, we’re very aware that something that large could easily become an expensive coatrack, that takes up a lot of room.
We went to the Fiber Fusion show in the fall and discovered something new: a peg loom. Even when we had our weaving tutorial at Spinners Guild, peg looms weren’t mentioned, so I have to believe other people haven’t heard of them. Then again, if anybody has seen one on a shelf, with nobody using it, you would have no idea what it was.
Yep, that’s it. A board, maybe 1″ x 2″, with holes drilled in it; another board, I’m guessing 1″ x 3″, attached to the underside, blocking the holes; and a set of pegs. I don’t know about you, but I would never have looked at this and thought, “Yeah, I could weave something with that.”
Peg looms come in different widths, from about 6 inches to 3 feet. I imagine you could make it as wide as you want, but if it were too wide it would become pretty difficult to work with. We selected one with two rows – one row of big pegs and one row of small – but they are also available with a single row of one or the other. The thick pegs would be used for something like a rug or blanket, while the thinner pegs would be used for something like a scarf.
Here’s how the set up works:
First, decide how long you want your project to be, and cut your warp strings to twice that length, plus 6 extra inches at either end. (Warp: the strings that are set up ahead of time, that you will weave through) The measuring part can be a little tricky. Since each warp string will be doubled, they will need to be cut 2 feet longer than the final length – 6 inches at either end with each string becoming 2 ends. Since I wanted my first piece to be 5 feet long, I measured my warp strings to 12 feet each. I put two chairs, spaced 6 feet apart, and wrapped the string around and around and around. It may seem weird, but I really didn’t want to measure out 12 foot strings, one string at a time. After I had enough threads to fill the loom, I only had to make one cut through the top row of threads in order to have 12 foot segments.
Next, you thread your strings through the little hold drilled at one end of each peg. Our loom came with a threader that the pulls the string through the hole. Remember, the wider you want your project to be, the more pegs you have to thread. Pull the string through until both ends are even.
As you thread each peg, place it in the loom. I felt pretty lucky that my dining table has these handy dandy grooves along the sides. It helped to keep the strings from tangling while I got the whole thing set up.
Once all the pegs are threaded and inserted into the loom, tie ten or so strings together into a loose knot at the end. This prevents the strings from getting all tangled up while you’re weaving.
The first project I set up took about 2 hours, but part of that was figuring out the easiest way to cut 12 foot lengths of string. I imagine future large projects will probably take about an hour to set up.
Once you’re all set up, find a comfy place to sit and start weaving! The project in the following pictures in going to be a scarf, made from the alpaca yarn I spun last summer. (I used just 16 of the thinner pegs, instead of using the whole width of the loom) All you do now is slalom your string back and forth through the pegs. These strings are called the weft. As your strings reach the top of the pegs, pull each peg out, push the string (weft) down the threads (warp), then return the peg to the hole. Since the string is threaded through the peg, it will just pull through as you go.
When there are about 12 inches left at the end of your project, stop weaving. Push your strings down until there is 6 inches of thread at either end of the project. At the loose end of the project, tie together 4 strings at a time. Then remove the pegs from the loom, cut the threads, and tie them like you did at the other end.
The weaving goes very quickly, and is very easy. There are limits to the designs or patterns that can be done, but it’s a great way to start.
Originally, Charlie and I looked at these looms and thought, “We could make one of these!” Of course we could, but then we also realized we wouldn’t take the time to make one. If you wanted to make your own, I’m sure you could. Just Google “How to make a peg loom” and lots of tutorials and videos come up.
If you’re like Charlie and me, you can get one from Lavender Acres Alpacas like we did.