How I Warp My Loom

This is how I warped my loom. I’m not saying it’s the only way or even the correct way. I have since received a book on Navajo rug-making and most of the stuff I’ve done so far has been pretty correct. One thing I forgot to do was add selvage cords to the sides of my rug. Oh well, next time.

I don’t have as many pictures for this process as I should but we shall persevere!!


The first thing you have to do is come up with some kind of “warping frame.” I used two modified saw-horses but I wouldn’t recommend this. If you can, build a square (like we did for the loom) and use it. The two main things your warping frame must do are

  • Keep your warp dowels parallel
  • Keep your warp dowels stationary

Misc Note – I marked my warp dowels every 1/8th inch so I would know how to space my warps

After you have attached the warp dowels to the warping frame tie one end of your warp to one of the dowels. It doesn’t matter which one. Now wrap the warp around the dowels in an over and under manner so that your warp forms a figure 8. (Of course, I did an under over wrap but hey, it works.) After you have enough warps for the width of your rug, tie the end of the warp to the dowel that you did not tie to already. In other words if you were looking at the picture above and you tied the beginning of the warp to the dowel on your left, you would tie the end of the warp to the dowel on your right.

Here’s another picture showing why you shouldn’t use saw-horses. Ack, what a pain that was.


Ok, now that we have the warp on the dowels it’s time to add the selvage cord at the ends. This is hard to explain but easy to do.

Measure and cut a piece of yarn that is approximately three times as long as your rug is wide. For example, if your rug is one foot wide, your piece of yarn will be about three feet long. Fold the piece of yarn in half so you know where the middle is. Now slide one end of the yarn into/under your first warp until you reach the middle. Twist the yarn once and slide the other end under the second warp. Repeat until you’ve twisted/slid the yarn under every warp. It should look something like this


Tie off the yarn with a square knot. Repeat on the other end.

I don’t have a picture for this particular step so work with me. When you look at the warp from the side you see a figure 8 (refer to one of the pictures above). The two open spaces in that figure 8 are called “sheds”. You must slide an additional dowel into each of those sheds. You are doing this because we are going to remove the warping dowels and reattach them on the outside of the warp. These two “shed sticks” will help with the re-attachment and also maintain the integrity of the figure 8.

Maybe this next pic will help


Yes those are broom handles. I was desperate.

Here we are reattaching the warp to the warp dowels.


I am using one of the shed sticks to hold the warp straight as I lace it to the warp dowel. First, tie the end of your lacing cord to the warp dowel. Then use the crochet hook to pull a loop up between the first two warps. Feed your ball of cord through this loop and pull tight. Make another loop, etc. Repeat until all the warp has been laced to the warp dowel. Do the same thing on the other end of the warp.

Ok, you’re all warped, laced and ready to go. Now you just have to attach the warp to the loom. This is the easiest part.


All you do is tie one warp dowel to the bottom crossmember of the loom (this becomes the bottom) and tie the other warp dowel to the tension rod at the top.

Tighten the tension rope until your warp is good and tight and get to weaving. What are you waiting for????


16 thoughts on “How I Warp My Loom

  1. Thank you so much for sharing instructions on building and warping a loom. One problem – I’m not able to find the Navajo loom plans using your links. It appears they no longer link to the plans. Could you please e-mail them to me at I need to learn how to attach the tension rod and warp rods.

    Instead of using sawhorseswhile wrapping the warp, the Navajos use the loom frame itself. Take the feet off your loom and lay the square frame flat on the floor. If you drill holes on the edges of the long sides and insert long nails that stick up, you can lay the warp rods across the loom and anchor them behind the nails. Then wrap your warp thread. Weaving Student

  2. I was searching online for instructions on how to warp a navajo loom (I have a schacht loom) and came across a website with your link on it. I visited your site and really enjoyed it. I also like what your previous visitor said about using the loom as the warping frame. I would like to ask permission to use some of your photos as I am putting together a flipchart on Navajo weaving for my students. I would also like to ask permission to post it on Promethean planet (a site for teachers to download flipcharts to use in their classrooms for free) so that all teachers may use this flipchart on navajo weaving.

    Thank you for the clear instructions and the photos. They will be most helpful for me to start weaving a navajo style tapestry and teach the students as well.


    Virginia Johnson
    Cedar Creek Elementary
    Bastrop ISD, Bastrop, TX

    1. freethnkr1965

      I’m so sorry, somehow I missed your comment totally. Yes you may use the post and photos as long as you credit I must warn you though, I am an amateur and this was an amateur attempt – you will probably get many “that’s not how you do that” responses. 🙂

  3. Melissa Johnson

    Help!! I have just warped my project – but, when I inserted my dowels (curtain rods) to “project my figure 8″ the first warp has no figure 8!! I am using Working with the Wool, making a navajo rug, by Noel Bennett and Tiana Bighorse. This shows the loop and knot falling 2” below the warp dowel and over to the other warp dowel. The loop created by the first knot is NOT tied to the dowel itself – any ideas? What did I do??

    1. freethnkr1965

      This was my first warp and I didn’t have any instructions so I just did it the way I thought would work. If you can find it, maybe at the library or bookstore, I would really recommend Weaving a Navajo Blanket by Glady A. Reichard. Pages 53 – 57 have detailed instructions on how to warp.

  4. Melissa Johnson

    well, a new day and even I don’t understand that question. I followed by the book, but I did untie the knot on the first warp, and instead of going over and under, I went under and over for the first pass. Then I repositioned my two shed sticks to keep my figure 8’s intake, and repositioned, and repostitioned, and then I think “Spider Woman” had compassion on me, and it finally “looked” right. So we will see. I am now in the process of tieing my warp to the warping rod. Wow, that’s easy – well, the process anyway. I used the method of the book which was 2 2×4’s on bricks with the warp poles tied to them. I think the sawhorses would be an improvement to that! As long as it was secure – I froze my butt off on the back porch warping, and when I moved into the kitchen the frame was askew to say the least. But level?, measuring tape?, pattern in the vinyl floor? somehow I think I got it square again. Difinitely, next time, I will build a square frame of 2×4’s. Now for the binding. hum………

  5. Melissa Johnson

    I think the binding of the warp was an unexpected hard task – there must be an easier way. i put it on the table, but it said keep it tight – it was so tight I could barely move it.

  6. Jennifer Iole

    Any chance you could do a video of this procedure. The reading of instructions does not suit me! Show me and I’ll be able to do it!

  7. Joe

    I am having a friend build a frame with holes set for pegs at an inch apart on both sides this way I can peg in my dowels and tie off know the measurement will always be precise

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