How to start a bead loom project
Welcome to the second in the series of Bead Loom Weaving posts by guest, Caroline French. (You can find the rest of the series here). In this post, Caroline is going to teach you how to start a bead loom project. That basically calls for two steps: setting up the warp threads on your loom. Then starting to weave. She has also been kind enough to include a free pattern that you can download and try.
Before I hand you over to Caroline, I have a confession to make. Caroline actually wanted to call this blog, ‘Warp me UP Scotty, and Weftie Leftie.’ I confess, I love that idea – and you’ll see why she did it in a second. But, in terms of helping people to find useful information as they are searching on google, I’m afraid this title is a little too ‘out there’. So, you’ve got a much more boring title from me! But, let me hand you over to Caroline to explain why her title is going to be so helpful to you…
Warp me UP Scotty, and Weftie Leftie
So now you know from the title that I am also a huge Trekkie, but there is method in my madness. People often get confused as to which are the warp and weft threads. This is my method of remembering.
The warp threads go up and down – Warp me UP Scotty. (For anyone who isn’t familiar with ‘Star Trek’, probably the most popular catch phrase from the series is ‘Beam me up Scotty’)
The weft threads go left and right – Weftie Leftie.
I know this may sound daft but it works for me.
How to start a bead loom project…warping UP
So let’s talk about adding the warp thread onto your loom. Getting the correct tension first time takes a lot of practice, so do not be discouraged if you don’t get it right for a while. This is why it is beneficial to have a loom with adjustable tension. If the tension is too loose the bead work can get a bit slack and the rows of beads may appear to have small gaps between them. It can also make it difficult to get the first couple of rows on.
If the tension is too tight, and this is usually the case with new weavers, your work may appeared puckered (bead rows not sitting flat) when removed from the loom. I usually tell new weavers that they want the warp threads tight enough so that none of the threads “look” loose but not so tight that you could play them like a guitar.
When adding the number of threads to the loom you always add one more than the number of beads wide. i.e. If a cuff is 15 beads wide, you will need to have 16 warp threads. This is because you have a thread either side of each bead.
In the pattern that I am giving to you (below) the cuff is 14 beads wide so you will need to add 15 warp threads. Do this by attaching the thread to one of the pins and then go up and down wrapping the thread around the pins until you have 15 threads added. When you have all the threads added tie off around one of the pins and cut the spool free.
If you would also like to see this process demonstrated on video, click here to get a copy of Caroline’s ebook, ‘Modern Bead Loom Weaving’.
Getting ready to bead
Adding the first two rows is probably the trickiest part. My advice is to just take it slow and if you need to, walk away and try again later. I always start a new project with a nice straight needle as this makes it so much easier.
You will be picking up a whole row of beads so make sure you have them all out and labelled up ready to go.
Using a comfortable length of thread tie the end, using a single knot, to the outer warp. I usually do this on the left because I am right handed. You will tie it on the opposite side of your dominant hand. Leave a tail of about 6 inches.
The First few Rows
Take the thread UNDER the warps and come out on the other side. Now using the pattern pick up ALL of the first row.
Lift the beads up so they are sitting in-between the warp threads and hold in place with your finger.
Go back through all of the beads but making sure the needle is ABOVE the warp threads.
Gently pull the weft thread so that the beads snug up together but don’t pull too tight.
This is your first row of bead loom weaving done.
Now take the weft thread back UNDER the warps and repeat the process for each of the remaining rows.
Continue adding all the rows of beads in exactly the same way until you are finished.
In the next blog post we will look at how to remove the work from your loom and finish off.
Remember if you have any problems you can contact me on my Crafty Chimp Facebook page. I am always happy to help.
Free pattern: learn how to start a bead loom project
At the start of this post, I promised you a free project from Caroline. So, she has kindly given you this to help you with the practical steps as you learn how to start a bead loom project.
I think you’ll agree with me, this ‘Retro Squares’ design is a really fun pattern. Caroline has given you both a picture chart and a word chart to follow in the download. So, you can pull out your loom, get started with this and then tune in next time to find out how to finish off your project.
If you enjoy that, you can find more of Caroline’s patterns in her Etsy store.