The Cricket Loom is a wonderfully accessible way to create woven fabrics without committing to a room-size loom. It's an amazingly engineered tool, sturdy, compact, and totally easy; and with it, you can make gorgeous fabrics, like our Woven Scarf, pictured above.
The Cricket Loom comes with a thorough instruction booklet, but here are an extra few pointers and re-iterations which you may find helpful!
Assembling the Loom
Putting a new Cricket Loom together is a whole lot easier than an afternoon with an Ikea dresser! With the help of a small electric drill, I assembled mine in less than half an hour. (You can also use a screwdriver, it just mihgt take al ittle longer.)
The reed, aka the "heddle", is the device that holds the threads of the warp in alternate slots and holes. Moving the reed from one position to another is what moves some threads up and others down, creating the "shed", i.e. the space through which you pass the weft.
Both widths of the Cricket Loom come with an 8-dent reed, which is the perfect size for worsted weight yarns. There are also other reed sizes available to accommodate other size yarns! Here's a guideline:
5-dent: Bulky yarns
8-dent: Worsted yarns
10-dent: Sport weight yarns
12-dent: Fingering weight yarns
Warping the Loom
"Warping the loom" is putting the threads (i.e. the "warp") onto the loom. (Don't worry, Cricket's instructions go over all the basic weaving terms!)
Although the how-to booklet mentions starting to warp the loom two inches from the heddle's edge, you can warp the loom all the way to the edges of the heddle. Remember that even if your warp reaches the edges, the finished cloth will be a little narrower than the 10 or 15-inch reed because the cloth tends to shrink a bit when you take it off the loom (the Woven Scarf, for example, shrank about 1/2 inch).
When winding on the warp, make sure the paper is wider than the warp and that the warp doesn't fall off the edges of the paper as you roll.
When you're tying on the front ends of the warp, start out by tying just half of the surgeon's knot so that you can adjust the tension more easily. Once the tension feels even, you can finish the knots.
Once I got the hang of it, it took me about 4 minutes to weave an inch of this scarf. A lot faster than knitting, and mind you, I was using fingerweight yarns. Imagine how fast anything thicker would be!
WINDING THE SHUTTLE
You can pack quite a bit of yarn onto the shuttle. As long as it fits through the shed, you're good, and more yarn means more uninterrupted weaving!
Make sure to bring the yarn through the shed at a 45-degree angle. If you bring it straight across, the fabric will "draw-in" and won't have a nice, relaxed finish.
This is a good place to mention, too, that it's worth paying special attention to the tension of the weft at the selvedges. Try to keep the yarn relaxed but not sloppy at the selvedges, and most importantly, try to be consistent.
When you come to the end of the yarn that is on the shuttle, just wind a new shuttle and overlap by a few inches the new end with the old end. There will be a short distance where the weaving pattern is interrupted, but it is hardly noticeable!
ADVANCING THE WARP
You should try to keep the warp's tension as even as possible each time you advance the warp. You don't have to go crazy with this, but an even warp tension will help keep the weft threads consistent throughout the fabric.
Most techniques for finishing hand woven fabric involve a fringe. One of the prettier options is the hemstitch. Click here for a full tutorial on Finishing with Hemstitch. You can also experiment with hemming the ends over, embroidering the ends or making fringe with overhand knots or more elaborate knotting techniques.
Once your finished piece is off the loom, it's important to hand wash the fabric, squeeze out the excess water, and lay the piece out flat to dry. Depending on the washability of the yarn you used, you may see that the fibers bloom a bit, filling in a loose weave.
Try using different size yarns for the warp and weft. A heavier warp with a thin weft can have a beautiful effect.
A thin yarn on a large reed with a lightly beat weft will result in a light, gauzy fabric.
And once you've got the hang of it, you may want to research different way of setting up the warp for different weave structures. The internet is full of rigid-heddle weaving patterns and inspiration!
Your First Project
Ready to get started? Try our Woven Scarf! It's easy, fun and gorgeous! Get the details right here! -Whitney