Most of the time, when someone thinks of weaving looms, or weaving, they envision those massive floor looms that with the right person's creativity and knowledge can be used to create amazing rugs, or large pieces. However, even those talented weavers might not always have access to a floor loom. So what do they use when not weaving on a machine the size of a piano? Portable or small looms.
Portable looms come in many shapes, sizes, and purposes. At DYNT we carry the Schacht Cricket tabletop rigid heddle loom, and the Zoom Loom. Today I'm going to showcase the Zoom Loom, a 4" pin loom - what it is, how to use it, why and what you can do with it.
Pin looms are small, handheld looms that look like picture frames with nails sticking up around them. Pin looms were quite popular years ago, and vintage ones are often still found at yard/estate sales, online, or if you're lucky, in the fiber supply stash of an elder family member. They range in size from a wee 2" to the larger, but still handheld, 6", and they were available as squares and rectangles. There are also many DIY instructions in print and online to build your own pin loom. Personally, as much as I love upcycling and general crafty things, by the time I find or make a suitable frame, do the math and attach the pins, it's more practical for me to purchase a ready-made pin loom. But that's just me. I'm sure many of you have the wherewithal to build on from scratch.
The Zoom Loom is a modern version of the older manufactured pin looms. It still works the same way to create self bound squares; and you can still use 4" pin loom patterns on a Zoom Loom, and Zoom Loom patterns on a vintage 4" pin loom. Each square or "weavie", a term you may find in some patterns and websites, uses just 8 yards of yarn. The Zoom Loom is manufactured in Boulder Colorado by Schacht Spindle Company. It's $39 + tax and is available at DYNT.
So what's the big deal about such a little loom? As mentioned, it uses just 8 yards of yarn! This is important to many fiber fans. Remember the last time you finished a daunting project (or even a simple one), and your game of yarn chicken worked out in your favor? Now you are left with a wee ball of amazing yarn. If you're like most of us, you stuff it back into your stash, thinking you'll need just a few yards of something fabulous sometime soon... with a Zoom Loom, you can make a square or two and use that fabulous leftover yarn for something more than just as scrap yarn to hold a few stitches on your next project - save your not so fabulous yarn for that job.
Also, for handspinners, when you put your heart and soul into every yard spun, 8 yards is not much to sacrifice as a sampler swatch! I know a number of spinners who weave up a square of their handspun on a pin loom to check gauge, drape and hand qualities, as well as test a few possible felting and finishing techniques. The little squares are also great swatches for their record keeping, helping them keep track of the final results when they spin different breeds of wool, how different roving preparations work for them, or how different drafting and spinning techniques compare in their finished yarns. This is especially handy for those spinners who are trying to spin yarn for a certain project.
This may sound great, but I'm sure you're wondering, what do you do with all those squares? If you aren't using them as spinning samplers, it's all about connecting and folding! I've seen everything from bedspreads and tunics to stuffed animals and doll clothes to bags and needle/hook cases! If you need inspiration, DYNT carries Margaret Stump's book, Pin Loom Weaving, Ms. Stump also has a website dedicated to pin looms, it's full of information! (Below photo includes just a few items from the book and website). DYNT also carries a few "Critter Kits" from DJE Handwoven. These kits include yarn and pattern to make small stuffed animals like frogs and teddy bears. Basically, if you think small, it's like fiber origami, and if you think big, it's all about how you connect them to form larger pieces of fabric.
DYNT has a few Zoom Loom workshops and Weave-A-Longs on the upcoming calendar of events. No prior weaving experience is required, but a 4" pin loom is! When you register for one of these workshops, if you don't already own a 4" pin loom, Zoom Looms are 20% off.
On Saturday May 21st and 28th at 1 pm we will hold a Fairy Tea Workshop. During this 2 week workshop we will be making adorable Spring Fairies using kits from DJE Handwoven and Zoom Looms. $35 fee covers yarns, stuffings, and tea - bring your own 4" pin loom. Registration is required and space is limited. Children are welcome to register with a responsible and participating adult. This workshop is being led by Ms. Spike.
In June we will hold an art camp style workshop in which we will make an adorable 12" teddy bear. This workshop will run three days in a row on Thursday, June 23rd, Friday the 24th, and Saturday the 25th. The time of day and fee have yet to be determined. Even though this is set up as an art camp, adults are welcome to attend. It will be led by a local art teacher (Ms. Spike). Fee will include materials to create the bear, including a pattern for a knit sweater. You need not be a knitter to participate in the workshop/camp. Your bear simply won't wear a sweater, or you can barter with a knitter you know to have them stitch up the little sweater. Registration will be required. Space is limited.
It seems a long way off, but in October there will be a "The Holly and The Ivy Wreath" Weave-A-Long, it may extend into November. This is the wreath pictured in the top photo. The day and time of this event have yet to be determined, but I wanted to get you thinking about it and the Zoom Loom possibilities! There will be a fee - it may cover the extra supplies, like the wreath form and flora pins, or it may include everything, including the yarn. We will meet weekly in the Knit/Crochet-A-Long style of workshops, with the final week meeting including assembly of our wreaths. This will require registration, but for now, just keep it in mind.
This is a lot of information! But I hope you take away how much fun and useful a pin loom can be! If you have any questions, as always, feel free to stop in the shop and ask!