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How to Start Weaving on a Table Loom: The Complete Beginner's Guide

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Weaving on the Louet Erica Table Loom - Thread Collective Australia
Weaving on a Louet Erica Table Loom (image credit: Louet on Instagram)

Weaving is the process of interlacing yarns together to create fabric. It can be done at home as a hobby or professionally. Weaving is an ancient craft that has been practised for centuries around the world. In this article, we will guide you on how to start weaving on a table loom. If you are a complete beginner to the craft, this article will help you find your way in the world of weaving.

What is a Table Loom?

A table loom is a small weaving loom that can be placed on top of a table or detachable floor stand. It is easy to use and great for anyone who is new to weaving. This type of loom is popular among beginners and experienced weavers alike because it offers versatility, portability, and endless possibilities. With multiple shafts, you can use table looms to create a wide range of woven items, such as fabrics for clothing, scarves, towels, table linens, napkins, and many more.

Beginners love to weave on the Louet Erica - Thread Collective Australiai
Beginners love to weave on the Louet Erica table loom

Table looms come with different accessories to expand your weaving options, which will be discussed later in this article. Keep reading and let us help you learn how to get started weaving on a table loom.

What are the Different Types of Table Looms?

Table looms have multiple shafts that help in creating endless varieties of weaving patterns. Here are the different types of table looms according to the number of shafts.

2 Shaft Table Loom

There are several benefits to using a two-shaft table loom. First, they are versatile and can be used to weave a variety of different drafts. Second, they are easy to operate. Some table looms come with a built-in raddle that ensures even warp tensioning. Finally, they can be upgraded to four shafts if you want to add more pattern options to your weaving.

Louet Erica Table Loom - Louet Australia
Louet Erica 2-Shaft Table Loom

You can create basic drafts with two shafts. If you are new to weaving or looking for an alternative to your rigid heddle loom, the 2-shaft Louet Erica loomis an ideal choice. This versatile table loom gives you the option to choose from 30cm and 50cm weaving widths and operates easily with a built-in raddle for even warp tensioning. The Erica loom can also be upgraded to four shafts.

4 Shaft Table Loom

Four-shaft table looms offer many benefits to weavers. They are compact and lightweight, making them easy to transport and set up. They also offer the ability to weave a variety of drafts, including twill, lace, and overshot. This flexibility makes them ideal for those who want to sample a variety of weaving techniques.

Ashford Brooklyn Table Loom - Thread Collective Australia
Ashford Brooklyn 4-Shaft Table Loom

A four-shaft table loom is designed for weavers wanting to sample and weave more complex drafts. Multi-shaft table loom enables flexible options. Some of the best ones you can find on the market are the Ashford 4-shaft table loom and the new Brooklyn table loom.

8 Shaft Table Loom

An eight-shaft table loom can be used to create a variety of fabrics, including plain weave, twill weave, and woven stripe. It is ideal for both beginner and experienced weavers and offers different weaving widths.

Ashford Katie 8 Shaft Table Loom - Thread Collective Australia
Ashford Katie 8-Shaft Table Loom

We highly recommend the Ashford 8-shaft table loom, which comes with three weaving width options and has the ability to fold flat for storage or travel, even with your weaving in place. This loom also comes with two weaving shuttles, a stainless steel reed, a threading hook, cross and warp sticks, Texsolv heddles, and an instructional guide. It is great for both beginner and experienced weavers. Another Ashford offering is the Katie Loom.

Louet also has a great table loom to offer, which is the Louet Jane. It offers outstanding features and performance. It has features that are both simple and innovative at the same time. This table loom comes with a built-in carry handle, a locking mechanism that keeps the beater out of the way as you are throwing your shuttle, and smooth toggles for uncomplicated shaft changes.

16 Shaft Table Loom

A table loom with 16 shafts gives the weaver more freedom and flexibility in their weaving. A multi-shaft table loom of this nature means that you're not limited to a tie-up, which gives you more options when weaving your draft.

Ashford 16-Shaft Table Loom - Thread Collective Australia
Ashford 16-Shaft Table Loom

Ashford has a wonderful 16-shaft table loomthat has a 61cm (24") weaving width. This loom comes with an overhead beater with an automatic bounce back, which provides a great shed and precise beating. The 16-shaft Ashford table loom is great for skilled weavers and also weaving newbies looking for a loom that will adapt as their skill progresses and explore more complex drafts.

Mechanical Dobby Table Loom

The main feature of the dobby table loom is the mechanical or computer dobby interface, which eliminates the need to change leavers with each pick. This increases the weaving speed and makes the loom perfect for complex projects. The smaller size of the table loom makes it easier to store, and the multiple shafts allow for a wide range of woven items. Table looms are less expensive than floor looms, making them a good choice for beginners or those on a budget.

Louet Dobby Table Loom - Magic Dobby 24 Shaft Mechanical or Comupter
Louet Magic Dobby Table Loom

The Louet Magic Dobby is a great choice. It is a portable multi-shaft table loom with a mechanical Dobby interface. it comes with an assembled main castle section, a floor stand with a treadle, a swivel beater system, raddles, a stainless steel reed, Texsolv heddles, tie-up sticks, and warp sticks.

Computer Dobby Loom

The Workshop Dobby Loom by AVL is a portable and lightweight weaving loom with a Computer Dobby interface. With this loom, you have the option to work with 16 shafts or 24 shafts. It is considered AVL’s most affordable computerized dobby loom, making it an ideal entry-level loom for any weaver who wants to try computerized weaving.

AVL Workshop Dobby Loom - Thread Collective Australia
AVL Workshop Dobby Loom

The Workshop Dobby Loom comes in 16-inch and 24-inch weaving width options and includes a stainless steel reed, a standard bottom swing beater, a sectional warp beam, and 25 polyester heddles per shaft.

What Do You Need to Start Weaving on a Table Loom

Aside from the table loom itself, these are the essentials to get started weaving.

1. Yarn

Australian Cotton Sock Yarn - Thread Collective Australia
Australian Cotton Yarns from Ada Fibres

There are many types of yarn that can be used for weaving on a table loom. One of the yarns to use is cotton. Cotton is a strong and durable fibre that can be easily woven into a variety of different fabrics. It is also relatively inexpensive, making it an ideal choice for those just starting out with weaving. Additionally, cotton yarn is available in a wide range of colours, so you can easily find the perfect shade to match your project.

2. Boat shuttle

Leclerc Boat Shuttles - Thread Collective Australia
Leclerc Boat Shuttles with styrene bobbins

A boat shuttle is a handheld tool that is used to pass the weft yarn back and forth through the warp threads. To use a boat shuttle, first, thread it with the weft yarn. Then, hold the shuttle in one hand and pass it over and under the warp threads. Finally, pass the shuttle through the shed (the space created between the upper and lower warp threads) and beat the yarn into place with a reed or beater.

3. Warping tool

Ashford Warping Frame - Thread Collective Australia
Ashford Warping Frame

Warping tools are used to warp a loom. In table loom weaving, you can use a warping board or warping frame. There's also the option of using a warping mill. The best way to warp a loom is the way that is easiest for you as a weaver and what works best with your particular loom. For example, the Ashford warping frame is very useful for the Ashford Katie and other small table looms.

4. Reed and Heddle hooks

Ashford Double Ended Threading and Reed Hook - Thread Collective Australia
Ashford Double-Ended Threading and Reed Hook

Reed and heddle hooks come in different lengths to be used depending on the number of shafts on your loom. These make threading your table loom much easier and more convenient. Selecting a heddle hook of the correct size will assist with your threading.

Other Table Loom Weaving Accessories

Aside from the essentials, some of the accessories you might want to use to make your table loom weaving process more efficient include the bobbin winder, weaving temple, fringe twister, and additional reeds and heddles. Weaving books will also serve as a huge help in learning the ins and outs of table loom weaving.

Tips for Weaving on a Table Loom

Choose the right table loom for you.

As mentioned above, table looms come with two to sixteen shafts. The number of shafts partially determines the assortment of design capabilities of the loom. Weaving on a table loom is a pretty quick process once you master the basics. With this loom, you can make plenty of small weaving projects, such as scarves, table runners, placemats, and bags.

Choose your yarn and make sure you have enough supply.

Different types of yarn can be used for weaving, but some are better suited than others. Good weaving yarn is strong yet flexible, with a smooth texture that will not snag on the warp threads. Wool, cotton, and linen are all good choices for weaving yarn.

Some yarns are better suited for specific projects. For example, if you want to weave a scarf that is soft and drapes well, choose a yarn made from natural fibres such as wool or silk. If you want a scarf that is warm and cozy, choose a chunky yarn made from wool or acrylic. If you want a light and airy scarf, choose a fine-weight yarn made from cotton or linen.

The next step is to determine how much yarn you are going to need for your weaving product. If you are following a weaving pattern, it will typically provide information on how much yarn you need. Decide on the length and width of your finished piece. You will then have to measure the yarn using a warping tool, such as a warping board.

Be mindful as you are weaving.

To start weaving, create a shed by raising or lowering the heddles on your multi-shaft table loom. Throw the boat shuttle from right to left, making sure to leave a few centimetres of yarn dangling, close the shed, and then beat using a beater. The next step is to create a new shed, pass your weaving shuttle from left to right, close the shed, and beat again. Repeat these steps until you finish the piece. Make sure to make several inches of allowance for creating a fringe or hemming.

Enjoy your weaving.

Woven fibre crafts can be enjoyable, even when they can get tedious at times. The process of weaving is easy, but the focus is on the present moment and the task at hand. Enjoy your weaving process and don't forget to take pictures to journal your progress to help keep you motivated along the way!

Get Started Weaving on a Table Loom

Thread Collective has a great collection of table looms from different brands, including Ashford, Schacht, Louet, Leclerc, and AVL. Choose from 2 shafts through to 24 shafts in a wide assortment of weaving widths and table loom weaving accessories.

If you still need assistance in choosing the right table loom for you, don't hesitate to reach out to the Thread Collective team for an individual consultation. Let's get you started weaving on a table loom!

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