Table Loom Weaving at Fort Frederica

Last summer I learned how to weave on a floor loom at Pipe Spring National Monument.  When I told the Volunteer Coordinator at Fort Frederica, Ranger Michael, about it, he decided to buy a small table loom.  After pricing them (even small looms can be expensive) he bought a Tumbleweed table loom for Fort Frederica.  My job for this season will be weaving on it.

The Tumbleweed Table Loom is a small, two shaft loom made entirely of wood.  As such, it is appropriate for demonstrating colonial weaving even though it is much smaller than most looms.  The Tumbleweed allows me to weave a cloth 11″ wide.  Most colonial floor looms allowed cloth around 36″ wide.  So I can weave scarves and table runners and other narrow things.

The first challenge in using the Tumbleweed Table Loom is figuring out how to warp it.  Of course, this is the hardest thing to do in any weaving.  The advertising calls it “a great beginners loom that children can use.”  Maybe after you get it warped.

But warping a loom is similar no matter what the size of the loom.  So I rewrote the instructions, which were long on humor and short on helpful step by step instructions.  I took pictures along the way and hope that some future weaver will be able to use my instructions to warp this little loom.  Here are the step by step pictures:

Measure the desired number of strings on a warping board
Spread the strings on the warping apron
Tie lease sticks through the cross
Drape strings across the castle
Tie off strings in small groups
Wind strings on warping beam, keeping strings spread and tension even
Use paper or cloth to separate layers
Pull each string through a heddle
Be sure you alternate shafts
Pull the strings through the reed
Tie on to cloth apron
Begin weaving
Passing shuttle back and forth between shed as you move shafts up and down

After all that, I’m sure you would be able to warp a loom and begin weaving on this little table loom.

There are some frustrating things about this table loom.  The dents (spaces) on the reed are so far apart that all my fabric is weft-faced.  That means you can’t see the warp threads.  This makes the fabric very thick.  Weaving “looser” doesn’t help.  So I will be experimenting with more warp threads.  I’m also not sure why I picked these two particular colors.  I envisioned more black as a contrast.

I have two more months at Fort Frederica to play around with the Tumbleweed Table Loom.  You can be sure I will share any finished products with you in a future post.