Posts tagged: homemade loom

Square – Picture Frame Loom (Weekly Unplugged Project)

By , January 11, 2009 9:25 pm


The theme for this week’s Unplugged Project was square, an unpremeditated choice on my part.

While at Walmart the other day I saw $2.00, 8″ x 10″ oak picture frames, and had a random thought.  I wondered if it would be possible to turn a picture frame into a loom.  These are the kind of odd random thoughts that I have from time to time.

I had looked at a few children’s looms like this one at Christmas time and found them to be rather expensive.  Not knowing if my 8 year-old daughter would enjoy it enough to justify the price, I gave them a miss.  But obviously looms have been on my mind.

I bought a $2.00 frame, dug some nails out of the garage, and away we went.  The only catch is that the frame is actually a rectangle, not a square.  Should I have saved this for a future quadrilateral theme instead?  Hmmm…..  But couldn’t this project have been made just as well with a square frame?

After extensive deliberation, The “Unplug Your Kids Weekly Unplugged Project Standards Committee” (ie.  me), declared that it does indeed meet the official Unplug Your Kids Weekly Unplugged Project Standards (our standards are quite loose).  :)

If you want to try this, you’ll need an inexpensive or thrift store wooden frame, some small nails, a hammer and some yarn.  Try to choose a sturdy-looking frame since you’ll be hammering on it.

Take the glass and back off the frame and save them for some other project.

Place a ruler along the short edge of the frame to measure where to put the nails.  Put a dot about half an inch inside of the inner edge of the frame, and then put dots every half inch.  Stop when you get half an inch from the inner edge on the opposite side.  Do this on both short edges.  If you do it properly, you’ll have the same number of dots on each side and the dots will be opposite each other.

Hammer a nail into each dot.  Try your best to make them straight and about the same height (but don’t worry if it isn’t perfect).

Voilà, your loom is made!  That’s it!  Easy, isn’t it?

(NOTE:  I am NOT a weaving expert and didn’t even know my “warp” from my “weft” until I researched the topic, so I hope I am accurate in the following terminology.)

Now for the weaving part.  But first, we need a few weaving accessories:

A shuttle holds the yarn that is passed through the loom (the “weft“).  I made a simple shuttle by cutting a strip of corrugated cardboard and cutting a notch in each end.  Then I wound the yarn around it lengthwise.  I made one for each color that we would use.  Here they are:

Real looms have something to compress the rows as they are woven.  I believe this is called a “reed.”  We used a wide tooth comb for our reed and it worked perfectly!

To make the passage of the yarn through the weft easier, looms usually have some mechanism for raising the strings of the “warp” (the strings that are tied onto the pegs and form the base for the weaving) which the weft must pass over and under.  The space that is created is called a “shed.”

We used a wooden paint stirring stick (the kind you get for free from the hardware store when you buy paint).  Again, a very successful choice.

To attach the warp I tied a piece of yarn to the nail at the top, pulled it as tight as I could, then tied the other end onto the bottom nail.  I did it for each pair of nails:

I tied the end of the red weft yarn to the top left nail and began weaving:

The paint stirrer easily threads over and under the warp. Turn it on its end to raise the warp and create the shed. Pass the shuttle through the shed.

Remove the paint stirrer and repeat, making sure each time to raise the opposite set of warp strings from the time before.  Pull the weaving tight, and every few rows, use the comb to push the weft up to the top to tighten it.

To change colors, as we did, at the end of a row simply cut the yarn leaving about an inch. Tie the new color on to the cut piece of the old yarn. Try to tie it as close to the warp as possible so you can hide it under your weaving and it will be on the back.

Use the same method to add more yarn to your shuttle. When the shuttle is getting low, tie the end from your ball of yarn to the tail on the shuttle and start winding more on. When the knot appears in your weaving, just tuck it through to the back and no one will see it.

We are not quite finished with our project, but I’ll be sure to post a photo when it is completed and removed from the loom.

By the way, this could be done with any size picture frame.  If 8″ x 10″ is too daunting, start with a 5″ x 7.”

If you are unsure if your children will like weaving, then try this approximately $4.00 project before spending $60.00 or more for a “real” child’s loom.

Please send me a photo of your picture frame loom creations and I’ll post it here!



  • Here is a basic link on how to set the loom up and weave:  How to Weave (it also explains how to get it off, which we haven’t tried yet).


If you did a square Unplugged Project this week, then please put your link (to your actual project, not just your blog) in Mr. Linky below.  If you didn’t join in, then please don’t link, but read more about how to join us here.


The theme for next week’s Unplugged Project is thanks to Meg of Bare Baby Feet.

It is:


Thank you so much Meg.  I love it!


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