Weaving is a craft that has come down through the ages. It was an essential home craft of the pioneers and early settlers; Indian tribes still create rugs and materials on handmade looms. Weaving is a craft of people who lived by the skill of their hands; they used the materials to be found around them, sometimes natural materials such as reeds and rushes, sometimes materials such as flax or wool which they raised and processed. Some weaving calls for extensive equipment, such as table or floor looms, but there are simple looms that may be made by campers; some of these are portable and may be used for pocket crafts. Woven belts with hand-carved buckles, camp symbols, mats for sitting on the floor or ground, decorative hangings for cabin walls-any of these may introduce campers to the fascinating world of weaving with natural materials. Basic campcraft skills of lashing, knot tying, and toolcraft are put to good use in making and setting up the simple looms which are presented in this chapter.

Terms Used

The following are some of the terms used in weaving:

Weaving consists of interlacing one set of thread, yarns, strips, etc., with another set.

A loom is the apparatus on which the weaving is done.

Warp and weft: a loom contains a set of stationary strips, threads, or yarns that are known as the warp. Horizontal, interlacing strips or threads are called the weft, or sometimes, the woof.

A shuttle is used for this interlacing; it may be a large-eyed wooden needle or a forked wooden strip around which the yarn or thread for the weft is wound (Figs. IX-1 a and 1 6). A beater is used to press the weft into place as the weaving progresses; usually a comb is used as a beater with a small loom (Fig. IX-2); sometimes wooden beaters with teeth are used. Simplest weaving is the darning stitch weaving in which the weft is woven under and over the warp (Figs. IX-7 and 8).


Tools Used In Weaving

Looms used in weaving

Looms Used In Weaving

Materials used in weaving

Materials Used In Weaving

plate IX.

More advanced weaving employs the use of a shed or space through which the shuttle may pass without being interlaced over and under the warp threads. One method (see Navajo loom, Figs. IX-26-32) uses a heddle stick and a heddle rod. The heddle stick is a strip of wood which is woven under one set of warp threads; when turned on edge, a shed is created for the shuttle. The other set of warp threads is attached by loops to a heddle rod; when this rod is pulled forward, a second shed is created for the return of the shuttle to the starting side (Fig. IX-3 a and 3 b).

Another method is to make a harness of several wooden or metal heddles, each with an eye through which a warp thread is strung (Fig. IX-4); these heddles, in the harness, are moved up and down to create shed (see T-D Looms, Figs. IX-24 and 25). Table and floor looms (not included here) use a number of similar harnesses.

Techniques. To Make A Frame Loom

A frame loom is the simplest type of loom; others are described in specific projects in the following pages. This project makes use of rough sticks that may be picked up at camp, and the skill of lashing.

Equipment needed: knife with reamer; sandpaper; hammer; ruler and pencil; glue or household cement.

To Make A Frame Loom

Materials needed: 4 sticks, size to be determined by size of loom; wood matchsticks for pegs or brads; cord for lashing; string for warp.


1. Trim ends of sticks, making them desired sizes.

2. Notch corners, or shave off ends, top sides of the A sticks, under sides of B sticks. Whittle off whole length of tops of B sticks to make flat for brads or pegs (Fig. IX-5). Sand ends and top.

3. Lash (see any campcraft book) at corners with square lashings (Fig. IX-5).

4. With ruler, mark a pencil line across middle of top of B sticks; mark spaces between spots for lashing.

5. If wooden pegs are to be used, whittle to desired length, point one end and round the other; make holes at spaces with reamer of knife. Insert pegs with a drop of glue or cement. If brads are used, hammer in at marked spaces. If loom is to be used extensively, fasten small screw in each corner, under lashing, to make more secure.

To string a frame loom: start warp thread at upper left-hand peg or brad; carry warp to first peg at bottom; carry along to second peg on bottom; carry up to second peg at top (making threads parallel); carry across top to third peg, down to third peg at bottom; continue to end of frame (Fig. 1X-6). Start and end thread with clove hitch (see chapter on Braiding and Knotting, Fig. 11-19).

Darning Stitch Weaving

This, the simplest form of weaving, is a good practice step. Use frame loom, as for mat (see Figs. IX-16 and 17), or weave strands or strips without a loom, as for mat (see Figs. IX-18 and 19).

Equipment needed: frame loom; flat whittled needle or upholstery needle; comb for beater.

Materials needed: thread, string, yarn, etc., for warp; same for weft, as desired.


1. To weave: thread needle with piece of yarn or other material about 24" long. Have loom ready with warp wound in place. Starting at either side, weave needle under warp thread 1, over 2, under 3, over 4, etc., across to other side (Fig. IX-7). Pull needle through, then pull yarn through loosely, leaving small end at starting side. Press into place with comb.

Return, threading needle over the odd-numbered warp threads, and under the even-numbered warp threads to other side. Press into place.

Repeat these two rows, to end of weaving. Do not pull weft threads tight at turns between rows, but leave a slight loop at ends (Fig. IX-8).

2. To add pieces to weft: when the end of piece of yarn or thread is reached, lay end of a new piece beside old end two to three warp threads back (Fig. IX-9); any loose ends may be snipped off even with material at end of weaving.

3. To begin or end weft: weave weft thread or yarn back between first or last two rows of weaving. Cut off any extra.

Preparing Natural Materials

Grasses, palmetto strips, reeds, and similar materials are used in the natural state for weaving many projects. Preparation of such materials is the same as for basketry, and is described in Chapter III (Basketry) on Basketry.

Natural dyes are good to use in camp weaving projects. Suggestions for making and using such dyes will be found in Chapter XV (Camper'S Correlation With Nature) on Correlation with Nature.

Designs For Weaving

Designs for simple weaving projects are usually made with straight, rather than curved, lines. The design should be worked out full-size on paper; this pattern may be slipped under the frame, to follow in the weaving. Combinations of interesting colors and shapes serve to individualize projects of campers; crayons or paint are used on pattern to indicate colors. A symmetrical design is made by folding full-size paper in half vertically and then in half horizontally. The design is worked on one quarter and transferred to the other three sections, being sure corresponding lines match or register (Fig. IX-13).

Designs For Weaving

Steps To Weave A Design

1. Make a paper pattern of design, full-size.

2. Wind several small shuttles with background color; wind separate shuttles with colors for design, or thread needles with colors.

3. Start at bottom of loom and weave 1/2" selvage with warp thread (Fig. IX-14 z).

4. Proceed with design in color A (Fig. IX-14).

5. With a needle threaded with background color B, fill in two lower corners, joining B weft with color A. Be sure to loop color B around the last warp thread used for color A, to avoid a slit in the material.

6. Use shuttle wound with B when the background color goes across the entire width of material.

7. Use needle for small design areas; count warp threads on both sides of design, to ensure evenness of design. Count rows of background color B between colors A and C, and repeat on upper half of material (Fig. IX-14).

8. Finish design with 1/2" selvage of the warp material.

To take material from loom: cut warp threads at top and bottom of loom (Fig. IX-15); tie together in pairs with square knots (see chapter on Braiding and Knotting, Fig. 11-16).