Posted by: bschutzgruber | August 30, 2018

Big Looms….little looms…and a bit of color

The Michigan Fiber Festival held at the Allegan County Fairgrounds in Allegan, Michigan the third week of August.
I’ve been attending on and off for the past 20 years
[See blog post August 2016 City Mouse…. Country Mouse…. part 2]
and it is a feast of creativity and inspiration.


This year I took 3 one-day workshops: Hand Painting Yarn pt1 and pt2 with Ellen Minard (Norwich, VT), Building a Warp Weighted Loom with Gail Hollinger (Wayland, MI) and Weaving on a Inkle Loom with Joan Sheridan (Lake Orian, MI).

Day 1
I don’t work with dyes very often so signing up for both Part 1 – Intro to Hand Painting Yarn (morning) and Part 2 – Fun with Hand Painting Yarn (afternoon) was a wonder chance to spend a day learning and playing.

The morning was a review of safe working practices,

an introduction to basic dyeing principles,

and then working with 5 different techniques.

In the afternoon I had the opportunity to dye several skeins of un-dyed wool yarn I had in my stash.

Day 2Building a Warp Weighted Loom
I saw one for the first time at the 2001 AGWSD Summer School held in Bangor Wales and have been fascinated ever since. This style of loom has been used for thousands of years. My instructor Michael Crompton had been asked to build one for an exhibit near York, England and partnered with a woodworker who used only the tools available in the 7th Century: axe, adze, draw knives, saw, chisels, and mallet.

We were not going for a historical recreation so we used 21st Century power tools!

We had been sent instructions for bringing our lumber already cut to length and spent the morning drilling

and assembling our frames. Mine is 6 1/2 ft tall so it can fit in my small car.

One of our class members built hers 8ft tall!

The afternoon was spent winding out a warp,

attaching it to the header beam

and hanging the weights – 2lb bags filled with pea gravel that we made in advance.

We hand crocheted cord to act as a reed keeping the warp at the proper width

and attached heddles to pull the back warp forward when weaving.

This was as far as most of us got by the official end of the workshop at 4pm. I decided to stay longer so I could do some actual weaving.

When the mosquitoes came out at dusk, it was time to dismantled the frame, wind the cloth and warp around the header beam, and pack everything into my car. This was a LOOOONG day but one filled with accomplishments!!

Day 3 – Weaving on a Inkle Loom
Inkle looms have also been around for thousands of years and are used to weave bands and belts. I have woven bands using a backstrap loom [See blog post September 2015 On the Road and Across the Sea] but have never worked with an Inkle loom.

I had been given one awhile back but had not yet learned to use it so this class was a perfect opportunity to have an introduction.  When I arrived at class it was apparent that my little loom (7″ W x 14″ L x 8″ H) might well be homemade as it did not look like any of the other looms there and our instructor Joan Sheridan had never seen one like it!

In the class we learned how to make string heddles the proper length for our individual looms

and Joan devised the best way to warp my little loom.

The rest of the morning was spent weaving straight and tubular bands.

In the afternoon we wound out a second warp and continued with some other patterns.

Of course there was shopping too and a walk through the livestock barns to check out the sheep, goats, rabbits, llamas, and alpacas. The weather was humid and hot – it is Michigan in August! I was glad I did not camp this year because sleeping on a real bed in air conditioning was very nice… especially at the end of Day 2.

The big warp weighted loom is very roughly made so I will be redoing parts now that I know how it all goes together.

The little Inkle loom will be nice to take when traveling.

And my colorful skeins will find their way into some future project.


  1. Great post, thank you. I am sending you a pm.

  2. I have very much enjoyed this post particularly – I enjoy all your posts.

    I took a one day course with Michael Crompton in Tapestry Weaving many years ago. I have had a talk on making a warp weighted loom in a previous Shetland Wool Week by Elizabeth Johnston and two friends who all wrote a superb book together. I will add a copy of the cover. This year I am spending a day with Elizabeth at a workshop on using a warp weighted loom during Wool Week. It is less than a month away now and I am very much looking forward to it.

    I also love my little inklette loom by Ashford. Do you know Anne Dixons’s book on inkle braids ? I think it is published by interweave. I am also a Dyer! Thank you for such a great start to my day today.

    Janet sustainable styling, sustainable textiles 07990 702223 sent from my iPad


    • Hi Janet-
      Super that you’ll be weaving on a warp weighted loom!!
      Yes – I have Anne Dixon’s inkle braid book. I was in the Narrow Bands course with Susan Faulkes at the 2015 AGWSD summer school in Warwick so between Susan’s books and Anne’s I have lots of patterns to play with! I plan to use the little inkle loom to make small bands from warp/weft yarn to use as button hole loops for my handwoven garments.

      How do I sign up to follow your blog? I’ve never been able to figure out how to do that on Blogspot.

  3. It’s so nice to take classes! The warp weighted loom looked interesting. I had seen one in a museum exhibit once. Yes, your inkle loom is a nice size for traveling. Now you can make all those special braids.I’ve never tried tubular before and will have to now.

    • The inkle loom will be great for making small bands using warp or weft yarn to use for button hole loops!

  4. That’s great! Love the skeins. Wonderful how all the classes fit together. I am in awe of your endless curiosity!

    • Thanks Lila. It’s always a great set of days and a wide variety of workshops.

  5. […] rather sporadic in my attendance [see blogs August 2016 City Mouse…Country Mouse pt2 and August 2018 Big Looms…Little Looms…and a bit of color] but each time I am able to be there it’s been fabulous and seeing once again the giant […]

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