Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The cutest little loom you ever did see

I'm teaching one of my favorite classes at YarnFest next week. It is an introductory class called Tapestry Answers and it is all about why you might want to be a tapestry weaver.  The class includes being able to try out a wide variety of tapestry looms. I've been wanting to add some different looms to my stash for students to try for a long time and so yesterday I made a trip to a couple hardware stores for the parts.
I was inspired by a recent post by Tommye Scanlin on her Tapestry Share blog where she built a tiny galvanized pipe loom.
And before that I was inspired by seeing Sarah Swett's little pipe loom in a workshop and her subsequent posts about looms on her blog.
And before Sarah Swett introduced me to the tiny pipe looms, I read about all manner of looms in Kathe Todd-Hooker's books So Warped and Tapestry 101.
And I would dare bet that all three of these tapestry artists got a lot of their information straight from Archie Brennan.
Sarah Swett weaving on a small galvanized pipe loom she made
I have been influenced by all four of these sources and the links to their work are below.
To paraphrase something Archie says in his DVD series, hardware stores stock looms! You just have to know how to put the parts together.

Yesterday I set out with the intention of getting parts for two looms: a very simple copper pipe loom, and a tiny galvanized pipe loom.

I have been asking about 1/4 inch galavanized pipe at hardware stores here in Fort Collins for at least six months and not found it. But after seeing the photos on Tommye's post, I had a better idea of what I was looking for. The first hardware store had the copper pipe and elbow joints, but they didn't have the steel pipe I wanted.

The second store had a row of dusty boxes labeled 1/4" nipple... and that was what I was after. I bought almost their entire stock and judging by the layer of dust on these parts, they aren't restocking. For a complete list of parts, see the Tapestry Share blog post linked below.
All the steel parts were in the shopping cart. I'd already bought the copper at the last store. All I needed was threaded rod. In case you hate wandering around a big box store pushing a gargantuan cart as much as I do, look in the vicinity of the hardware first. The big orange box had the rod I needed for both looms as well as wing nuts and hex nuts.
The galvanized pipe loom was pricier than I thought it would be. The copper pipe loom parts were definitely cheaper and I even bought the special locking corner joints so I don't have to solder. I'll give you a price comparison when I get the second loom done.

This is what two looms look like when you're hunting in the hardware store.

Links to make your own pipe loom:
Tapestry Share post by Tommye Scanlin
Sarah Swett's post about pipe looms on her blog, A Field Guide to Needlework
Kathe Todd-Hooker's website: Tapestry 101 has a great description of how to make a copper pipe loom and So Warped shows you how to warp a million kinds of tapestry looms.
And Archie Brennan's legendary loom plans can be found on his website.

The galvanized pipe loom goes together in a snap. I spent much longer shopping than assembling it.

I'd put that second loom together right now, but I have about a foot of snow to shovel first.
Yesterday I put the little loom pictured at the top of the post together on the back deck in the sunshine in a T-shirt.
This morning, this is what I woke up to. Welcome to spring!

I am pretty sure the garbage man is not going to pick up our recycling today. I am off to find the sidewalk that is under that drift. The daffodils are going to have to fend for themselves.

P.S. I still have spots in my color class at YarnFest. Live close enough to Colorado to come and hang out with me? I'd love to see you. 
P.P.S. I thought my Tapestry Answers class that I am using these looms for was full, but it turns out it isn't. You can still get in. HERE


  1. What a fantastic class. A joy to give people myriad things to try and turn them loose. Can't wait to hear the varied reactions. And yes, all my galvanized/ black pipe looms are based on Archie's. I am endlessly grateful.
    Note that my hardware store (the only local one with small threaded pipe), has the galvanized parts in a different place than the black pipe parts but for loom building they are interchangeable and black pipe is slightly less $$.

    1. Now I wonder if I could have found these parts in black pipe instead. The galvanized is pretty and shiny, but I think the black pipe would have been a lot cheaper. Next time I'll ask... and since they are interchangeable, I think I'm going to own more pipe soon. I'd like to swap out the horizontals for wider pieces sometimes. I am also wondering about just putting another bar across the leash holders instead of using a dowel. Lots to play with. Thanks for the inspiration Sarah!

    2. Ooh, I think I need another loom! I wonder just how wide you can go with 1/4" to handle the warp tension. I think Archie is careful to increase the diameter of the horizontals for wider looms. Any ideas?

    3. I actually don't know Merna. I haven't even found this pipe in a wider piece than 6 inches. I'd like a couple 8 inch pieces to make the loom wider, but after that I'd probably use bigger pipe. This is a tiny loom. I'd definitely go up to the 1/2 inch if it was larger. Though this pipe is super strong and isn't at all like copper. Copper would definitely bend. I think mostly Archie is using copper for his smaller looms.

  2. I'd love to come to your class, but live in the UK!!
    Your pipe looms are totally fascinating and I will be off to my local hardware store as soon as I've read all your links in the post. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Well the UK is a great place to live! I can't blame you for not coming to Colorado for a one-day class though. :-)
      I have realized that there are a couple kinds of steel pipe. This is galvanized pipe and it is shiny silver. I think you might be able to get this same kind of pipe in something called black pipe. Same size, same connections, costs a lot less. So ask around about that. You can also of course use thicker pipe. I just wanted the tiny little pipe because it is so cute. This loom is only about 8 inches wide, so didn't want to make it out of 1/2 inch pipe as it wouldn't look nearly as cute. Have fun!

  3. Thank you for this post. Being new to weaving and tapestry, I want to practice small and buy big later. You do a great job with your videos and blog, they've been very helpful!

    1. No problem Jess! I'll have more information about the whole thing soon. I had so many people asking questions when I posted a photo on Instagram (rebeccamezofftapestry) that I had to put up a post with the links. Starting small is just fine. You don't know what you need until you give it a go!

  4. My son Evan, in Arvada was talking about the snow blizzard yesterday! He said he was lucky he got home when he did (he works nights) because they were ordering people not to go anywhere... AFTER they all got to work, or something like that.

    When I get some more money in, I'm going to have to look at some of those pipe loom parts! Wheee!

    Back to finishing up my U/U tapestry... last minute... gonna have it in Monday's mail!

    1. We definitely got a big dump of snow! It has mostly melted now in town. Interstate was closed as well as all the schools...
      The pipe looms are fun! Good luck getting that tapestry off. You can do it!

    2. around here, they close the schools & roads for a lot less than what you guys get, LOL! But there's good reasons for it: we don't have the snow & ice clearing equipment that you have because it happens so infrequently, usually once or twice a year. This winter was unusually warm, but we did have one or two school delays this winter.

  5. Your loom picture is going straight to my Pinterest. More work for my Dad.


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