Weaving a Navajo Blanket – a great old book for continuous warp weavers.
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????
This is how I built my loom. I hesitate to call this a tutorial because I don’t really have pictures for every single step and because I kind of faked my way through the process. But hey, I’ve got a loom now and it works. So if you’re interested read on. (P.S. These instructions look complicated but they’re not. I built my loom in about 3 hours with nothing but ideas from the web. You can do this!)
I’m going to put links to a set of Navajo loom plans
right here. **Go here instead**They also appear as part of Step 9 in the tutorial. It might be a good idea to go look them over before you start this. Be warned, my loom is not exactly the same as what you’ll see (it’s simpler) but the principles are the same.
What You Will Need
Four, 9′ 2X4s (You will not find 2X4s that are actually 9′ long, they will be 8’11” or so)
One dowel rod, 1″diameter by 4′ long
Two dowel rods, 1″ diameter by 3-1/2′ long
Drill with a drill bit that is the same length as but slightly smaller in diameter than your screws
Screwdriver or screwdriver bit for your drill
Wood screws 2-1/2″ long
Scissors or knife
Cotton clothesline (I think this usually comes in a 100′ package)
Burly helper (this is optional and in fact may be more of a hinderance than help, use your best judgment)
Step 1: Gather your materials and tools.
Step 2: Select the two straightest 2X4s. Measure and mark each of the two boards at 6′. Cut the two boards. You should end up with two (2) boards that are 6′ long, and two (2) boards that are a little less than 3′ long.
Step 3: Select the two uncut 2X4s. Measure and mark each of the boards at 4′. Cut the two boards. Now measure and mark the uncut part of the boards at 4′ again. Cut the boards. You should end up with four (4) boards that are 4′ long and two boards that are just under 1′ long. Your cut materials should look something like this (pay no attention to the dowel rods in this picture, they are actually old closet rods that were in the garage)
Step 4: Lay the two 6′ long pieces parallel to each other about 4′ apart ( do you see where this is going?). Now lay one 4′ long piece at the top of the two long pieces so that you are beginning to form a square. Lay a second 4′ long piece at the bottom of the two long pieces and adjust all the pieces until your square looks like this
NOTE: The short pieces DO NOT GO BETWEEN the long pieces, they should cover the ends of the long pieces.
Step 5: Screw all the pieces together. (Here’s where the burly helper would come in handy, but you can do it by yourself also). At each corner, drill two pilot holes through the short piece into the long piece. Use these holes to fasten the pieces together with the wood screws.
Step 6: Select one (1) of the remaining 4′ long pieces. Place this piece across your square so it rests on the long pieces and is parallel to the top crosspiece. Place it so that there is a 1″ gap between it and the top crosspiece. Drill two pilot holes through each end of the short board into the sides of the long boards. (Steps 6 & 7 & 8 don’t have real pictures so you’ll have imagine from the completed loom)
Use these holes to fasten the pieces together with the wood screws.
Again drill pilot holes, two at each end and attach with wood screws.
Step 8: At this point you should still have four (4) pieces of unused wood. Two pieces that are a little under 3′ long and two pieces that are a little under 1′ long. The two 3′ pieces will be the feet. The two 1′ pieces will be heddle holders later on but are not needed during construction. Select the two 3′ pieces and mark the center (length) on each. Set aside for a moment.
The easiest way to attach the feet is to first turn the loom onto one of its long sides (again the burly helper would be nice here). After the loom is on a long side, select one of the 3′ pieces and align its center mark with the center of the side of the loom at the bottom. Lining up the centers is not critical but you should make sure that the bottom edge of the foot is flush with the bottom edge of the loom. Drill three (3) pilot holes in a triangle pattern through the foot into the side of the loom. Attach with wood screws. Repeat for other foot.
Step 9: Attaching the tension rod and warp rods (dowel rods). This is a booger to explain so I’m going to give you a link to a PDF file with pictures and stuff. If you can’t open the file or have a question let me know and I will try to help.
Navajo Loom Plans (The first page is hand drawn… badly. Don’t let that put you off. These are the best plans I’ve seen.) Navajo Loom Plans 2 (These are the same plans as above only in “engineer-ese”. Scroll to the last page to see how to tie the knots for the tension rope.)
For loom plans see the link at the top of the post.
Step 10: Admire your new loom! Or conversely, leave a comment saying that these were the worst instructions you ever read and I should never attempt to teach someone to blow their nose much less build something. Either way, let me know what you think and how you did.