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Make and Use a Cardboard Loom

Here’s a project I’ve long wanted to try, and finally got around to! This very simple cardboard loom taught me a lot about how the craft of weaving evolved. It’s a fun and easy activity.

To make a loom from cardboard, you will need:

  • Cardboard for base – about the size of your lap.
  • Cardboard for spacers – two 1.5 inch strips
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Thread for warp and weft
  • Large needle
Base of loom with notches cut

Mark and cut notches on both ends of the base piece. This loom has notches 1 cm apart, and that worked well for the materials I used. Finer threads will need the notches closer together; heavier threads will need the notches further apart.

Spacers attached across top and bottom of loom

Glue spacers across the top and bottom of the base piece. These will lift the threads a bit so there’s room underneath the weaving.

Run the warp of the weaving up and down the front of the loom

After the spacers are secure, wind the warp threads onto the base. Do this by tying a knot in the end of the thread, and starting in one corner run the warp from top to bottom, wrapping around the cut notches, from one side to the other. Knot the warp at the end. You want it snug, but not so tight it pulls free from the notches. I used some jute string.

Beginning to weave on a cardboard loom

Now, begin to weave! I used some fuzzy yarn, and a basic over-under-over weave. Pulling that long string of yarn through with every pass made me realize why weavers developed a shuttle that would carry it all across at once. And while I didn’t mind working the needle over and under each thread for this small project, you’d really want a more advanced machine – one that raises and lowers the threads so the shuttle can pass through easily – for anything larger.

After each pass, when the thread was pulled through and snug, I pressed it down tightly and then started another pass. When I got near the end of each piece of yarn, I started another one so that the two pieces wove together for a few over-and-unders. That way I didn’t have knots in the weaving.

When the warp between the bottom spacer to the top spacer is filled in with weft, the piece is done. Knot the last pass and cut the weft.

The weaving is easy to detach from the loom by lifting the warp threads off their notches. In this case, the whole weaving slid along the warp so at one end the warp is snug into the fabric. At the other end there’s a length of warp which I braided for now, and maybe will string some beads on them later.

The piece holds together and feels sturdy. The fuzzy yarn makes it soft – I can’t feel the rough jute at all.

This experiment was interesting. It’s a very peaceful, soothing occupation – and strangely satisfying.

The finished woven piece, removed from loom. Scissors for scale

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