Sewing was once a necessary skill for the average woman. When mass production of clothing took off, it became optional. Today, it's a hobby for some and an occupation for others.
Weaving is also less common than it once was. This process is used to produce fabrics, rugs and tapestries. We can easily buy these items in stores, but for those with the time and interest, creating them by hand is a rewarding pastime.
To start weaving, you'll need a loom. There are many kinds of looms, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. What type of loom you will need depends on a number of factors. Here are some things you'll need to consider.
What will you be weaving? If you're planning to weave rugs or tapestries, you may need a different loom than you would use to weave fabrics.
What is your skill level? Experienced weavers may be able to use various types of looms with ease, and will choose one based on its features. Novices do well to start out with less complicated looms.
How much space do you have? Some looms are very large, requiring a great deal of floor space. Others are small and portable.
What brand of loom will you buy? Cheaply made looms may break or malfunction with normal use. More experienced weavers and dealers can help you choose a reputable brand.
Types of Looms
Rigid heddle looms – A rigid heddle loom may sit on a table or a stand. They are among the easiest looms to learn on, but weaving on them takes longer. This type of loom is highly portable.
Inkle looms – These looms are quite small. Designed to weave pieces up to 4 ½ inches wide, they can be used to make belts and other small items.
Table looms – A table loom is a bit more complex than a rigid heddle or inkle loom. They are best suited to weaving lightweight fabrics.
Tapestry looms – A tapestry loom is capable of weaving intricate patterns. It may be used to produce detailed images.
Floor looms – This is the largest type of loom, and also the most efficient. It can produce much wider fabrics, and heavier floor looms can be used to make rugs. Unlike the other types of looms, a floor loom allows the weaver to use her hands and feet, making a project go much faster.
If you're just getting started with weaving, a small, simple loom is usually best for learning. More experienced weavers might choose a larger loom with more features. Carefully evaluating your needs before purchasing a loom will help ensure that you select the right one.