Posts Tagged With: weaving

Warp weighted loom project

Continuing on with my weaving project for the warp weighted loom: 6.25 oz of locally grown Romney that I scoured, then combed, then spun with the worsted draft into lace weight singles. After skeining the yarn I wet finished it with hot water and hung it out, weighted down, on the porch to dry. I’m excited to have produced weaving yarn in accordance to the research presented from extant pieces in Greenland from the Viking era:)

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Warp Weighted Loom Resources

Lately I’ve really been enjoying the opportunity to weave on a Warp Weighted Loom. Following various sets of instructions that I found both on the web and in books the husband and I were able to construct a functional loom for between $30-35. It also can act as a warping board, a card weaving loom, and if warped up slightly differently a tapestry of upright loom. I find that I am enjoying the versatility of the loom and the way it leans against the wall, out of the way of day to day activities.

If you’d like to make a loom of your own here are some resources that I found to be helpful…

WWLoom Yahoo group…a group of weavers of all levels of experience who share an interest in this type of loom. The files and photos are especially helpful.

Huge listing of Links and resources!


Woven into the Earth: Textile finds in Norse Greenland by Else Ostergard

Medieval Garments Reconstructed: Norse Clothing Patterns by Lilli Fransen, Anna Norgard, Else Ostergard

The Warp Weighted Loom by Marta Hoffman

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Making Progress with the Viking Warp Weighted Loom

The Warp Weighted Loom is progressing.  I’m learning a lot from this weaving process.  It’s not a fast weaving.  It’s taken two solid afternoons/evenings to go about 5 to 6 inches.  I now believe that my wool weft choice has played into that and am trying to think of where to take the design to avoid using much more of that grey weft.

Here was the first try.  The weights weren’t heavy enough for a weft faced weave and the weft needed to be more robust.  I unwove it a few days ago and started over.

Here is the current progress.  Beating the weft is tough.  You throw an offside up into the center of the warp a minimum of 6-8 times to get the grey to pack down reasonably.  The color stripes actually go in really quickly in comparison.  I’m thinking of doing a color progression of these stripes till almost the bottom then going back to the grey to mirror the design on the top.  After this gets down I should be ready to start with the grey handspun project.  As far as this type of weaving goes though…weft faced blankets were made and used in Scadanavian countries in period and are still produced today in some tiny amount it seems.  The name for these is Grener or Grene.  Yep, spell check is my enemy with this search for info.

My Sweetie  gave it a few whacks on a row tonight. Notice he is just the right height for this loom whereas I need that white stool to stand on.  I choose this height due to the info presented on Viking era weaving but I’m thinking of chopping off some height cause I don’t enjoy falling off the stool while weaving.  Or slapping myself in the face with the beater for that matter:>.  It’s truly been a learning experience!

Here is the first of a great short series of weaving videos on using this loom.  This lady makes it look so easy!

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Vacation weaving

I hope to have this completed by the end ofntge day. It’s been a good learning experience:).

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Cut Pile/knotted pile weaving

Although this is a thoroughly modern tapestry loom the weaving style on it is ancient.  In the Scythian graves that I’ve been studying lately lies the oldest cut pile/knotted carpet ever discovered and it is a piece that showed sophistication and skill so it was already an established craft.  This is a very easy type of weaving to pick up although it requires patience (I know, why am I trying it then?) and is very relaxing.  Actually working from a chart till you memorize your pattern will produce a better weaving though:>.  Weave or twine a border then throw two weft shots.  Then do a row of knots.  On the selvedges though it has it’s own twining going on that is important to the structure of the piece.  After a few knotted rows come back and trim the wool to the length that you want it and there you have a cut pile rug started!  For some truly amazing work see  She has a yurt for a workshop so you know she’s got to be cool!  Cut pile and flatwoven bags have a long history of use in Central Asia as they are easily portable and stand up to a lot of abuse.  Ms. Lamb’s work is an awesome example of the old inspiring the new.  I’m looking forward to picking up her book this coming fall and furthering my rug weaving education.


Categories: nomad, Scythian | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Weaving Projects: How to make a Yurt Band on a Nomadic Ground Loom, Part One

Yurt Band
Yurts have a long history of use in Central Asia and are comprised of a circular lattice wall, roof poles, and a roof ring.  Straps are woven and wrapped around the lattice and the roof poles to help tighten and strengthen the structure.  In keeping with the nomadic lifestyle the traditional loom used is a ground loom.    The ground loom is traditionally staked out beside the yurt and can feature either a continuous warp or have the warp stretched the entire length of the piece.  This loom can be used to weave the straps and bands used for yurts as well as pile, soumak, and kilim technique carpets.  In creating a yurt band one source cites that it can take between 1 and 3 years to complete the band.

The band we bought at Pennsic this past summer measures 48 feet long and appears to be made of hand dyed and hand spun wool or wool/goat mix fiber.  The fiber itself is coarse and strong.   The wool yarn is formed of a tightly twisted 2 ply yarn.  The band is 48 feet long, 16 inches wide, and has a weaving sett of 16 ends per inch. The weft is brown and in areas where a lot of picking up of the design has occurred the brown weft shows through in between alternating rows of dark and light warp.  Verla Birrell lists  a two pick up stick method to achieve this which appears  very labor intensive.   The main theme of the band remains fairly constant but has a few variations which may have been mistakes, learning opportunities, or simply stem from a desire to do something slightly different.  These instances could also mark a place where a different weaver began working the design although there doesn’t appear to be any distinguishable difference in how tightly the weft has been beaten in those areas from the rest of the piece.  The colors are lovely though a bit faded, attesting to the age of the piece and it’s use outdoors as a band.   I believe the original colors may have been traditional pairings of red and blue, blue and white, and brown and white.   Interestingly the band fits our 16 foot diameter, amateur built  yurt perfectly and ties on at the doors exactly.


The design starts with a solid reddish row which is the background row.  The next row is red with blue pebbles ie. two red picks, 2 blue picks, 2 red, 2 blue, etc.  When the pattern  is on the solid background row it has pebbles of background within the design every pair…RRRRbbRRbbRRRR…but when the pattern is picked in a speckled or pebbled row the pattern is solid with no pebbles/speckles.  The piece is warped so that all the patterning on it is done in pairs causing two of each color to be picked up to achieve each part of the design if you were to graph it out on paper.  Bands of plainweave stripes separate the central design on either side then a smaller framing design is used followed by a wide band of plainweave on both sides of the main design.  There are no more than 3 row floats used in the design which is very important with this method for durability.

beginning of band

The method of weaving used to make the band is called the Warp Substitution Method.  With this type of weaving a loom with 2 sheds using 2 pickup sticks or 4 to 6 heddles can be used.  The simple 2 shed ground loom is used traditionally in Central Asia and fits the need for sparseness of equipment and ease of transport.   Yurt bands are a traditional item to weave and are, according to traveler Karen Page who is a noted felter and teacher, easy to find right now in town markets  in Kyrgyzstan although her pictures were of very brightly, probably analine or acid dyed pieces.  One  photo on the website Flickr actually showed a non-traditional hybrid style of rigid heddle loom at use in a business to produce yurt bands.  Unfortunately the photo was oddly labeled and I have yet to be able to relocate it.


If you go to about halfway down the page there is a picture of a young Karakalpak woman using a ground loom to create a yurt band.  It appears to be a continuous warp.  The person has a padded seat which rests with one layer on top of the warp just woven and the rest underneath it.  From the tripod hangs only one heddle and behind it a shed stick is placed to create a second shed.  Variations of this basic loom appear to be fairly universal in the Yurt dwelling nomad cultures who are still practicing traditional weaving and can also be found in the Middle East among nomadic, rug weaving groups.  The simplicity of this loom seems to suggest that the method of warping it would be the pairings of light and dark warp threads which would initially create a solid light shed then a solid dark shed when the sheds are changed.


The use of Pickup weaving forms the basis of the warp substitution method or pebbleweave method.  According to Birrell (p. 121) its been used since “remote” times in Africa, Syria, Norway, and Sweden.  In North America, Mexico, Central America, and South America it is woven by indigenious populations.  “Warpfaced belt weaves containing pickup patterns which resemble someof the workof the Peruvian Indians of today, hae een found in ancient Peruvian sites which may date back from 2500 to 1200 B. C.” (Birrell, p. 121).  The conditions in these areas was favorable for the perservation of textiles in graves just as in the Tarim River Basin finds along the Silk Road sites in Central Asia.  Unfortunately I have not been able to find records of extant pieces of this technique yet for Central Asia although there are other examples of advanced techniques such as tapestry, soumak, kilim, and brocade. There are two items to consider for this technique: first is that warp faced patterns are best created when the pattern yarns contrast starkly in color and value from the yarns used for the background hence traditional pairings such as black and white, red and blue, yellow and green, and so on.  The second is that the yarns used to form the pattern can be heavier then those of the background to give more visual weight to the design thereby causing it to pop out at the eye of the viewer.  This is not true, however, for the yurt band from Central Asia that we purchased on consignment from a merchant at Pennsic.  In the actual weaving of this type of piece knitting needles or pickup sticks can be used for picking the pattern and speeding the design work although a skilled weaver could easily use their fingers on smaller width pieces.  The “sheds found beneath the picked up yarns are held open with shed swords turned sideways in the warp”. (Birrell, p. 123)

Interestingly the Central Asia yurt bands which use the warp substitution method share many similiarities with pebbleweave bands from Central and South America in terms of both design and technique.  These bands are also known as Peruvian Pebbleweave.   Marla Mallett’s article discusses technique generated designs and may be applicable to this situation.

…to be continued with instructions and photos forthcoming…


“The Textile Arts” by Virla Birrell

“The Art of  Bolivian Highland Weaving: Traditional Techniques for the Modern Weaver” by Majorie Cason and Adele Cahlander

“The Book of Looms” by Eric Broudy

“Spinning and Weaving with Wool” by Paula Simons

“Folk Designs From the Caucasus for Weaveing and Needlework” by Lyatif Kerimov

“Inkle Weaving” by Helen Bress

“The Weaving, Spinning, and Dyeing Book” by Rachel Brown

Web Resources Eve the Just’s Pickup weaving tutorial Eve the Just’s video tutorial (use the blue and white method) An awesome site about the people, culture, and history of Karakalpakastan Sara Lamb’s tutorial and exceptional site (hint, she has a Yurt) Wonderful site on Beduin Ground looms which are very similar to Central Asian ground looms

Additional book for cardweavers wishing to create a similiar look using cardweaving…

“Two-Hole Andean Pebble Weave for ages 10 and up” by Linda Hendrickson

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