Creating Calm in Quarantine: Build a Simple Loom and Learn To Weave

Mia Hanson, Owner, Creator, Instructor with Mia’s Handwovens

A picture of a woven tapestry wall hanging on an acrylic loom overlaid with the phrase “Lean into your happy place” and the logo for Mia’s Handwovens

There are affiliate links in this post. In this case, I love books. Like… a whole lot. And I also love bookstores and want them to stick around as long as possible. So I set up a Bookshop.org affiliate account so I could recommend my favorite books to my favorite people, support local bookstores whenever I make a purchase, and maybe make a buck or two on the side if you like my recommendations. Thanks for your support!!

Creativity is a powerful way to work through the stressors of our day-to-day lives, but the irony is, it can be difficult to start a new creative pursuit when we are stressed. The anxiety that has pervaded our lives — the introverts who relish the quiet time at home as well as the extroverts who thrive on in-person interaction they cannot get right now — is challenging us all.
As such, I’ve been brainstorming ways to make my creative pastime, weaving, more accessible to our community. This is truly something that anybody with access to a piece of cardboard, some scissors or a utility knife, a few minutes, and some yarn can do.

Why Share This Now?
By their very nature, the simple back and forth, over and under motions of weaving provide a meditative rhythm and structure that is invaluable. We all need to take some time and breathe. Why not do so while creating something? Personally, I don’t sit still very well, and having something to do with my hands really enables me to be present and focused on the here-and-now. When I weave, I thrive on the knowledge that what I have made expresses a feeling, is an embodiment of a moment in my life, or even has become a useful and beautiful object. Weaving combines the stillness of focus and meditation with the physical evidence of a tangible pursuit, fulfilling so many of my internal needs. It is a sensual experience, combining touch, hearing, sight, smell, and even, in some cases, taste (if you have to lick the end of a piece of yarn to thread a tapestry needle, for instance). Anything that can be pushed between the vertical threads that comprise the warp can be incorporated into a woven structure.

Simple Steps to Build a Cardboard Loom

1. Run and grab a cardboard box. Yes, any cardboard box. But preferably one with at least one solid, not bent panel about 6" x 6" (or whatever size you would like — your loom dictates how big your woven piece will be, though!)

Much longer than about 10" from top to bottom will make weaving more difficult, as the cardboard will be under a lot of tension and may bend or break. I recommend you start small.

2. Using scissors or a utility knife, cut out a piece of flat cardboard in a square or rectangular shape about 2 inches wider and 3 inches taller than you would like the main part of your woven project to be.

3. Cut little notches or slits along both the bottom and top edge of your piece of cardboard. These slits should be about 1/4 inch apart and as evenly distributed as possible (don’t stress about this part! Perfection isn’t necessary!) and about 1/8–1/4 inch deep into the cardboard.

These slots are where you’re going to thread your warp string, so they really only need to be deep enough to wedge your yarn into and hold fairly secure.

Voilà! You’ve made a loom!

What Now?
Well, now that you have a loom, I suppose you want to make something with it, huh?

1.Go find some yarn or twine — sewing thread will be too fine for this, and will probably destroy your new loom (and your hands! We’re going to be pulling it pretty tight.)

2.Take the end of that yarn and tug it gently through the first slit in your cardboard loom, leaving about 3–6 inches of yarn hanging off the back of your loom. Either secure this end to the back of the loom with a piece of tape, or hold onto it for the first few passes around the loom.

3.Now, pull the yarn from that first slit at the “top” of your loom straight down to the first slit at the “bottom” of your loom.

4.Wrap it around the back of your loom and to the second slit on the “top”.

Your loom will end up with yarn wrapped around it from top to bottom on both the front and back of the loom.

5.When you reach the last slit, tie the loose end from the first slit to the yarn in the last slit, securing it so that it doesn’t slide out.

Now you’ve warped your loom!

You’re ready to weave. Weaving is simply the act of moving things through the warp yarns and securing them to create a structure. Most commonly, yarn, but artists around the world get really creative with this idea, incorporating sticks and plants, small items, anything that can be secured to the weave structure is fair game.

Resources You Might Like
The following pages have all kinds of valuable information on weaving techniques, making your own loom of various styles, and other ideas:

  • Rebecca Mezoff is a well-known tapestry weaver living in Fort Collins, Colorado, where all the good beer comes from (fight me on this — I dare you). She has all sorts of interesting information on her blog, but this post in particular is a great reference for making a loom out of pipes from the hardware store. Her new book is absolutely phenomenal, too!
  • Hello Hydrangea blogs and videos are great resources for those of you who are just starting out, as well as those who are more advanced and looking for a challenge. She and I weave very differently (I started with big looms and worked my way smaller, which influences my weaving style quite a bit.) She’s also got a couple of books that are supposed to be great.
  • The Weaving Loom posts blog and video tutorials for modern lap-loom weavers. She’s clear and concise, and it can be fun for new weavers to follow along on her journey as she posts about her new weaving discoveries.

P.S. There are affiliate links in this post. In this case, I love books. Like… a whole lot. And I also love bookstores and want them to stick around as long as possible. So I set up a Bookshop.org affiliate account so I could recommend my favorite books to my favorite people, support local bookstores whenever I make a purchase, and maybe make a buck or two on the side if you like my recommendations. Thanks for your support!!

P.P.S. This blog was originally posted on The Collective Seattle’s Quarantine Blog, 5/4/2020

I formally opened Mia's Handwovens to share weaving with the world in an accessible way.