Peg Loom Weaving

I learned about peg looms when I was checking out any book from the library that contained the words “warp”, “loom” or “weaving” months ago and thought it looked interesting.

I looked on Etsy for looms and saw some nice ones but they all were a little pricy and seemed like something I could make myself if I had access to the tools. I joined a peg loom group on Facebook and liked looking at their rug projects but didn’t feel any real urgency to get a peg loom. I had so many pin looms, two under used floor looms and frame looms already!

But…I got a good coupon from Michael’s and thought I’d see what they had in the way of weaving supplies. The last time I checked specially for weaving was last fall when I was trying to buy my dad a pot holder loom—they didn’t sell one and didn’t have any real weaving supplies at all. Maybe a few circular knitting looms or a sock loom. But that’s it.

So I was a little surprised to see that now they are selling two kinds of frame looms for tapestry, some needles, a pot holder loom, not heat-safe pot holder loops, some tapestry/wall hanging weaving kits and to my real surprise, a peg loom!

What?? Peg looms definitely wouldn’t have been my guess for what Michael’s would carry. I can see the frame looms since tapestry/wall hangings seem fairly popular right now. Pot holders are classic. I would not been surprised to see a Zoom Loom knockoff. The pot holder and pin loom people seem out in force in 2022 making a ton of things. There have been cotton pot holder loop shortages! But peg looms? Even the peg loom groups aren’t very active. I found one video on Tiktok and not much on Instagram. I haven’t found a single peg loom project in the Little Looms archives.

I guess it is an easy and inexpensive product to make. With the coupon it was under $20. Will there be a rush of peg loom interest now? The store had plenty in stock as did all the other locations around me so they are out there actually on the shelves.

Now I did have some issues putting it together. One set of instructions labeled “how to assemble” had you hammering the screws in while the inside of the label said to screw them. I did screw them right away before I noticed the second set of contradictory instructions on the label because it only made sense but that was odd. The second issue was the one of the feet would not stay screwed on so I ended up using some all-purpose silicone glue I had around to attach and secure the foot. If I really love peg loom weaving I can always upgrade to a fancier homemade version, especially if I figure out the difference between them and this one.

The instructions on the label were pretty bare bones (I’m really not sure why there was a separate Xerox copy looking instructions included—they were wrong and the instructions printed on the back of the label were fine) but they were clear about the assembly, there was some modest weaving tips about leaving space, not pulling tightly and how to finish off the piece and even a illustration showing how to make a lark’s head knot for fringe and tassels. More than I’ve seen in some Little Looms rigid heddle and pin loom projects to be honest! No project ideas beyond the rug(?) photograph on the label.

I used a technique similar to direct warping my rigid heddle by using the warping pegs from those looms, placed the length I wanted apart then I wrapped them the same number of pegs I wanted to use and cut one end. Then I used a needle to thread the pegs on the loom. I thought I was very clever figuring that out (I see people on the peg loom FB group talking about how tedious the warping is and measuring out each warp individually ) but then I opened up the peg loom and stick weaving book I got from the library and saw this illustration showing exactly what I had just done:

Ha! At least it was validating. I don’t see a lot of projects in the book that I’d want to make but it is the only peg loom and stick weaving book I can find. Even Little Looms magazine and other books about small looms or weaving pretty much ignores peg looms and weaving sticks.

I’m just practicing with some scrap yarn I didn’t end up using for my temperature blanket and the warp (which I don’t think anyone will really see) is some random thrifted yarn but it’s kind of a fun process. Very quick even with this relatively thin sport weight yarn. I can imagine it would be extremely quick with fabric strips or very thick yarn. Thicker yarn would probably be a better choice for how chunky the pegs are. Or maybe doubling the yarn? I don’t really like working with two strands at once so I didn’t bother.

The process of lifting the sticks to slide the yarn weaving onto the warp seemed counter intuitive to me (I wanted to pull the yarn over the sticks, not just lift them up) but obviously it works!

My husband asked what you can make on the peg loom that’s different or unique than other methods and I honestly don’t know. If I had to guess the loom came about as away to quickly weave up scrap yarn for rugs and mats. It has to be faster than hand braiding, the loom itself is easy to make and fairly collapsible, no sewing needed and you can use pretty much anything you can wrap around the pegs.

It’s a little bulkier than pin loom weaving but just as mindless to do while watching tv or a movie. Or weaving while your husband is washing dishes and you’re chatting.

New Triangle Loom!

I had two triangle pin looms that have the pins spaced evenly along all three sides. Some times they are called “bias” looms.

They are fine but I found using using them a lot more tedious than my Zoom Loom or bookmark loom. You need to use a crochet hook or a small locker hook to weave, similar to how “turtle looms” work. I find this kind of bulky and awkward. Part of what I like about pin looms is that it’s easy and I can do it without paying a lot of attention. The bias looms weren’t difficult once I got the hang of it but they are more hands on. You have to hook the yarn just so or it will fall off or get caught. It’s easy to grab or snag the wrong strand as well. I wish there was a better tool to use rather than trying to adapt tools from other crafts.

Part of the reason I got the 4 inch triangle loom was to be able to make designs pairing it with my Zoom Loom squares. I quickly realized that they didn’t quite fit together right. The Zoom Loom is three (sort of four, depending on how you count) layers and the bias loom was only two or one depending on the technique. Unless I was using very thick yarn, it gave a much more “lacy” look to the triangles than the Zoom Loom squares. It didn’t look quite right when you held them up to the squares I made on the Zoom Loom. I really wanted to be able to use the same yarn for both looms for a project and get a uniform look. I don’t have a square bias loom and didn’t really want one.

Oddly it was tricky to find a triangle loom with the 3 pin set up. Dewberry has some but the shipping was pretty high. I poked around and a lot of people talked about using Wunderwag Looms. I was hesitant because they don’t have a website and aren’t on Etsy. You just email them and they send you the details. I debated about it and finally emailed them and it went fine! He replied right away with a list of products and shipping prices. He offered a discount if you buy a set of three so I did that. I figured I probably would want a larger and smaller one eventually so why not save on shipping? They shipped and arrived super quickly.

Unlike the other looms I saw they were made out of clear plastic. They have numbers on all three sides to make it clear how and where to warp and weave. My only quibbles is that the instructions show a fully warped and woven triangle. I would have liked a break down of each layer like how the Zoom Loom instructions are. It’s color coded but it’s a little tricky to see. He also included some written instructions. I also think I would have preferred solid plastic rather than clear, it is a little distracting to see my fingers, the floor and the rest of the yarn through the loom.

I love how the triangles look. They are the perfect thickness and size to pair with my Zoom Loom woven squares which is exactly what I wanted!

It’s a little tricky at the top and around the hypotenuse where there is a lot of tight overlapping but it works up quickly. I really like the 3-pin method so it’s worth a little struggle. Using the crochet hook was a lot more tedious than this.

Finally Warping!

I reached out to a woman who I had messaged with before when I was researching the grant I was trying for before the Sheep and Wool fiasco. I asked if anyone in her guild (not the greater Baltimore one, it’s north of the city) would be willing to help me get started and she offered to meet me at a library to help!

I quickly tried out my warping reel and chained up some yarn and then I packed my Wolf Pup in my Matrix and met her there this morning! So nice of her and I finally got the loom warped up. It makes so much more sense to see someone do it live and in person. Videos just don’t always work for me, a lot of people aren’t good teachers or videographers. I wanted to warp front to back which seems less popular but that’s what she preferred too. I feel like she did it a little differently than I saw in the DVD from Red Stone Glen, it was pretty similar to what I did with my rigid heddle. Maybe because we just warped one color?

Her daughter recommended a nearby ice cream place so I even got a salted caramel chocolate milkshake and some ube ice cream to go! Great morning all around.

It wasn’t hard to transport the Pup! A little tricky getting back up my front steps alone but not horrible. Now it’s all warped and ready to go!

I only have an 8 dent reed for the Pup so I used some Plymouth Yarn Galway Worsted. I think it will make a nice scarf. Now I need other Wolf Pup project ideas!

Getting Started in Rigid Heddle Weaving: Handy Supplies

When I started weaving I didn’t realized how many little extras you needed beyond the loom and some yarn. I guess this will be a running list but so far I’ve found I needed:

  • Kraft paper or warping sticks slightly smaller than the size of your loom’s weaving length. Easy to find online from Amazon, Etsy stores or the Woolery. I used this 30 inch craft paper for my 32 inch Kromski Warp Forte but vastly prefer the Kromski warping sticks.
  • Weights for weighing down broken warps. I made one using a small plastic cube and some coins but Ashford sells some that are weights attached to a hook that look promising.
  • T-pins. Easy to find on Amazon or any craft or sewing store. Used to secure a new warp after a breakage in the fabric.
  • Extra shuttles the size of your loom. Makes using multiple weft colors easier. If you have a large loom, smaller ones for smaller projects are ideal.
  • A stand for any loom over around 24 inches.
  • Something to weight down your loom/stand when indirect warping. A bag of yarn and some small Kettlebells worked but you need something or it wants to move.
  • A table wider than your loom with a “lip” large enough to clamp your loom to if you don’t have a stand. A surprising number of our tables do not meet this requirement.
  • A second small table or even a chair to attach the peg to for indirect warping. It needs to have a wide enough edge that you can clamp a peg onto it. Tables without much of a “lip” do not work.
  • Cones of yarn. Not 100% necessary but they do generally work out cheaper than buying even the same yarn in smaller quantities. You Warping takes a lot of yarn. I’ve had good luck finding them on clearance and even at our local SCRAP, a thrift store for craft supplies that’s in several cities. You can use pretty much any yarn for weft but warps need strong yarn which often means pricier wool, cotton and linen.
  • Knitting or other counter. I use a very basic one from Clover. It’s great for keeping track of how much of each color you are using in your warp or weft.
  • Thick rubber bands to connect your heddle to where you are trying the yarn on when indirect warping. I use these.

Rigid Heddle Project 2: Yellow and Blue Shawl

I ran into a little bit of trouble with this one. I used Lion Brand Mandela (cake) yarn in I think Yeti but it was very yellow and blue heavy and light on the tan/white colors. I used most of one cake for the warp and most of a second for the weft on my 32 inch Kromski. It’s about 28 inches wide and just under 60 inches long.

One warp snapped very close (about 2-inches in) to the side in the beginning after I had woven about 4 inches. I ended up just cutting off the warp on that side up and continuing to weave. I ended up with a slightly narrower shawl than expected. Which was fine! I was really just practicing. It had a small square hanging off the side but I was able to just pull it off with some careful snips and unraveling. I was nervous but it pulled right off and you can’t tell.

I accidentally snipped the apron string while cutting the warps. I tied a knot in it and it seems fine, just a little bumpy in the beginning. I will replace it next time I order from the Woolery because they sell the cord by the foot. A whole cone is quite expensive.

I think it still came out very nicely though! I picked yarn I liked but didn’t love so it’s not quite “my colors” but it would look great with a blue dress.

Getting Started in Rigid Heddle Weaving: Loom & Stand Assembly

As you know from my last post I got a Kromski Harp Forte Rigid Heddle Loom (and stand and overpriced bag) that does not need to be finished. Other looms by other brands nine times out of ten are bizarrely sold unfinished so make sure you do that before you do anything else. I can only imagine how grimy highly handled wood beams get if they are left unfinished. You do need a Phillips head screwdriver to assemble the loom. We set up on the floor because we don’t have a table big enough to lay all the pieces out on.

I was mostly thrilled with the unboxing and set up of my loom. It came in a fairly narrow long box. The loom is pretty light weight so I was able to manage that (and the larger box with extra heddles, the stand and the overpriced bag) by myself. Jammed in the box with the parts was a bunch of Polish Lidl ads which was interesting to look at and a thrifty eco friendly way to keep things from shifting during it’s long journey from Poland to Kentucky and then to Baltimore.

The loom box was marked “Kromski Harp” not “Harp Forte” which is the “newer” version (from what I can tell, the Forte came out a few years ago) which gave me a brief moment of panic but the gears were metal and not plastic which is the difference between the “Harp” and the “Harp Forte”.

The directions also note that it came with the double heddle block vs the single heddle block which until very recently were standard. Double heddle blocks hold two heddles and allow for more complex weaving and sold separately are about $40 so that was a nice surprise.

The directions were mostly clear–I would lay out all the parts to make sure they are there and ready to go–some of the screws look very similar at first glance. While the cover of the directions mentioned the heddle block upgrade it did not mention any changes of where to attach it, which seemed important. There are two notches it could go in and we just had to guess what made the most sense. I’m not sure why they didn’t redo the instructions to make it more clear.

The rope part to attach the wooden dowels you need is a little odd but apparently a streamlined version than their older instructions which involved you cutting the rope and burning the ends with a candle. You don’t have to do this any more, it is one continuous thin rope. I used what came with it but I’ve heard of people upgrading to Texsolv Loom Cord which is something to keep in mind for the future.

It took us a little over an hour to put the loom together. Hopefully we did not mix up the back and front with the directions warned was a “fatal error”. The wooden parts were lightly marked. One person probably could assemble it alone but it was nice to have a second pair of hands to help hold things still.

The loom comes with warping pegs (the bottom of the loom can double as a warping board to prepare your yarn for indirect warping) and clamps to do direct warping but absolutely no instructions on how to warp your loom or any ideas of what other materials you might need to get started (namely kraft paper or warping sticks) or first project ideas. None at all.

The directions for the stand were stapled backwards which was confusing at first. It comes with a hex key/Allen wrench/Allen key for assembly. The screws are very similar in size and appearance and we had to make a last minute switch out. The stand screws into your loom so you need to have that assembled first. I do wonder if you can put a third heddle in the loom with the frame attached. It doesn’t mention it on the loom or stand instructions but in looking at it (and conformed by a review on the Woolery site by Lianna F) it doesn’t appear to allow it. This is a little strange because if you have the 32 inch loom you basically need a stand and there are three heddle patterns out there.

The stand instructions were not great. Do able but the pictures were not very detailed especially when contrasted with the better instructions for the loom.

Our pughuahua was very interested but no help.

Getting Started in Rigid Heddle Weaving: Picking A Loom

I ended up with a small amount of money from my mom’s estate as a gift from my dad. She was a crafter so I thought she would appreciate me taking some of it to start a new hobby.

I was all into rigid heddle weaving research. I requested books from the library, started researching looms, joined Facebook groups despite loathing Facebook. I was ready!

Then I realized that there were no places near Baltimore City where I live that really have any supplies for any sort of weaving at all, much less rigid heddle weaving. Oddly, there is a yarn store across town that has giant floor looms for rent in a studio but they don’t have any smaller weaving items at all. I actually found that store to be very cliquish and didn’t really want to buy from them but I would have if they had anything!

If not locally, where do I buy my loom and supplies?

I soon realized that the yarn store I wandered into on a deserted main street about 5 years ago on a trip to Kentucky after visiting a small candy factory where I bought a rug hooking kit that took me until this spring to actually make, is a big name in loom shopping and weaving. Who knew? So I decided to order from the Woolery. They were so nice when we visited I figured they could get all my money.

But what loom do I buy? I soon found out that there isn’t as much information about looms and weaving as you would think. Many, many, possibly most websites and forums seem to assume that you already know how to weave and what you are doing when you are picking out a loom. Real comparisons were rare.

I quickly realized that the big names in Rigid Heddle Looms were my old friend Schacht, Ashford and Kromski. Schacht is US based but Ashford is based in New Zealand and Kromski in Poland. The availability of each seems roughly the same. I did notice that the stores that carried a small amount of rigid heddle items in my start did only carry the Schacht and the Ashford but I’m not sure if that is true nationally.

Schacht has a loom called “Cricket” that apparently was aimed at children initially but adults took to it as well. It seems like most of the focus at least at first in rigid heddle looms was for play or for sampling weaves that you would then make on your more complicated multishaft tabletop or floor looms. Then people started enjoying it for what it was and focusing on the rigid heddle loom for actual projects and becoming primarily rigid heddle loom weavers vs floor or tabletop weavers who dabbled in the rigid heddle. I got this impression from the plethora of “you know what, I actually like it” and slightly and oddly apologetic message board, website and blog posts about the RHL and the fact that there are very few books explicitly on weaving rigid heddle looms.

While doing this pieced together ragtag research I realized that most if not all of the Schacht and Ashford looms are sold unfinished. No thank you. When I get something I’m spending hundreds of dollars on I do not want to have to wax or stain it myself. This might not be true of you but I’m just not doing it. I know this about myself. It would be a real barrier to ever getting that thing out of the box and doing anything with it. It took years for me to do that rug hooking kit because I didn’t know what I was doing and I was worried it didn’t have enough yarn if I messed up.

Kromski it is! I did a cursory check to make sure the company hasn’t been mired in some sort of scandal and it came up clean. It also came with the most accessories of the looms as far as I could tell. The back doubles as a warping board to help you measure and prepare your yarn, a peg to help warp, shuttles to hold your yarn and a pick-up-stick to create designs as well as the basic heddle. The newest Kromski Harp Forte also came (unexpectedly!) with a double heddle block which allows you to use two heddles for more intricate designs and which used to be something you’d have to buy separately. I also liked that the Kromski was all metal and wood–no plastic cranks or pieces like Schacht and Ashford.

Now what size loom to do I get? Again, I found virtually no good, concrete aimed at complete novice weavers information.

Since the width is set, you can’t make anything wider than your loom without having to make it twice and stitching it together somehow. So a lot of scarves, narrow wraps, table runners and towels for your smaller 16 or 20 inch looms. The 8 inch is obviously even more limiting. Larger looms can make anything the smaller looms can but can also make wider items like blankets, wide wraps and even ponchos, wider fabric to cut to make bags, pillow cases, curtains etc. The loom mechanics are basically the same in both, the larger ones are just bigger. I couldn’t find a consensus on what was better for beginners and why. I had to rely heavily on the very good and detailed reviews people left on the looms on the Woolery site (I bet they are so good because so many people are in the same position I am of not being about find anything out online or in books and having to wing it). They were mostly pretty evenly divided between people who love the near lap capabilities of the smaller 16 inch looms and those who deeply wished they had bought a larger loom because they love it so much and don’t want to be stuck making scarves forever. A lot of the negative comments about the larger looms was how wide it was to weave on. I think, in my early 40s, I am on the younger side of weavers I’ve come across and the weight/mechanics of reaching 16 inches on either side of me isn’t an issue the way it might be for someone with more limited mobility.

All of the looms are fairly expensive and it is a huge leap of faith to pick one out, sight unseen and then be stuck with your choice. I ended up getting the 32 inch Kromski Harp Forte in Walnut. The walnut was in stock, a tiny bit more than a light wood version that seemed more common but beautiful. It really looks like a piece of furniture and a real piece of equipment. It was more expensive than getting a smaller loom but when you are already spending a few hundred dollars, the difference of about $50 wasn’t enough to sway me to go smaller. My thought was that if I ever wanted to make anything bigger (which I thought I’d might) I’d need the larger loom but I could also make anything of any smaller width I’d want on it. It does fold in half (even if you have a project on it) so while it is set up it takes up a fair amount of room but can be stored easily. Another plus is that if I want a smaller loom in the future, the outlay for that will be less than it would be to upgrade to a larger loom

The downside of the 24 or 32 inch loom is that you really need a huge table or stand to use it. I did get the stand and the too expensive storage bag which you can clip the stand to for storage and travel. Normally I think I would resist getting the bag but it does seem handy and as I said, I am buying this with money from my mom’s estate so I really felt like I could get whatever would make my experience a little more pleasant. I also bought the matching walnut heddles in the other available sizes in a moment of madness and thinking that I have a lot of yarn in various sizes that the heddle it came with can’t handle as you vary your heddle size to reflect the thickness of the yarn you are using–thick yarn–small number heddle.

What they don’t tell you– When you go to warp (string up) your loom before you can make anything you need flat craft paper or warping sticks to keep your yarn from getting bunched up on the back of your loom. I did not know this! No video I watched about picking a loom or supplies you need mentioned this and I watched dozens. You need plain craft paper about the width of your loom or wooden sticks (also the width of your loom) to get started. I don’t know about you but I don’t have rolls of random craft paper in my house or flat paper bags I can cut up just on hand. I couldn’t find it at Staples, Joann Fabrics or Michaels and we already know my local yarn stores don’t have much of anything. Order the paper or the sticks. I had to order some paper on Amazon (I can use the leftovers for steamed crabs) and then when I read that it is easier to warp alone using the sticks, I ordered two sets of them (not cheap!) from the Woolery. I have watched a video of someone using mini blinds as sticks but that sounds like a pain too. Do yourself a favor and order this when you get your loom so you’re not waiting to get started like I am.