gifts they'll want in a pandemic

This Weaving Loom Saved Me When All My (Pre-Pandemic) Hobbies Disappeared

Photo: Retailer

I’m a hobby person. Outside of work, I like to fill my time with things like playing the violin in community orchestra and spinning wet clay at my local ceramic studio. The pandemic, however, put an end to all that. Just days before we were supposed to play Beethoven’s Sixth, my orchestra was forced to cancel our spring concert. Then the ceramic studio shut down, leaving hundreds of works-in-progress to dry out over the spring and summer.

I truly don’t know who I’d be without my hobbies, and I was devastated. Then I came across Strategist writer Kayla Levy’s article on how to start weaving and soon found myself buying a Schacht Lilli Loom, along with some Lily Sugar ‘n’ Cream yarn — a cheap cotton yarn that’s recommended for beginners — and some roving wool.

I opted for the Schacht because it came with (almost) everything I needed to get started: A solid, wooden loom, a beater, stick shuttle, pick-up stick, shed stick, and weaving needle. Mere hours after I bought my supplies, I was weaving. It was rough going at first — my weavings took on a distinctly hourglass shape because I was pulling my yarn too tight — but slowly I figured it out. Then, I really figured it out. Soon, I was weaving designs and sharing them on Instagram, where people who had followed my ceramic journey were into my latest hobby. (In October, I ended up selling several weavings to people all over the U.S.)

I still really miss my friends from orchestra and pottery — bonding over our mutual love of an activity is incredibly special. But weaving has been a nice substitute for the hobbies I miss. I just turn on a podcast (typically You’re Wrong About or Small Town Murder) and then get to work. And when I share my latest projects with friends from my pottery and orchestra days, it’s almost like being in rehearsal or at the studio all over again.

Ahead, everything I have found to be essential for weaving.

There are plenty of cheap looms you can buy online — you can even make your own from cardboard — but I knew I wanted something that came with all the tools I needed, so I opted for the Schacht. The company is amazing, too: When I broke one of the teeth on my loom from pulling my warp threads too tight, they sent me a replacement bar free of charge.

I was so excited to start weaving that I forgot the most important thing: warp thread! This is what you wrap around the teeth and build your weaving on. It’s not cheap, but it also lasts forever. I also use it to hang my weavings.

Another thing I forgot to buy was dowels. You have to attach your weavings to a dowel so they can hang in their full glory. These are cheap, simple, and reliable. That said, some people hang their weavings from sticks they find in their backyard and there’s nothing wrong with that.

As I discovered in the guide to start weaving, Lily Sugar ‘N Cream is one of the best yarns for beginners because it’s ridiculously cheap (usually $2–$3) and it comes in a wide variety of colors. You’ll want to start with cheap yarn because then you don’t feel so bad about wasting it on those inevitably bad first projects. My favorite colors are wine, dark pine, sage green, soft ecru, overcast, dazzle blue, and turquoise.

I purchased a few books to learn how to weave, but this was by far the most useful guide I found. It features tons of gorgeous pictures, clear and concise directions, and plenty of projects to get you started. Though I was not really a beginner by the time I bought this, I found it really useful for learning the foundational techniques you miss when you’re teaching yourself via Youtube, Instagram, and Pinterest — like how to do a weaver’s knot. Save yourself time and just get this book.

The better you get at weaving, the more you’ll want to work with multiple yarns at once. You need bobbins to do that. With two or three of these, you can work with different colors with ease.

All of this is going to sound like gibberish, but when it’s time to start “tucking tails” and “hem stitching,” you’re going to need a yarn needle. This is detail work and you need a detail-oriented needle to do both.

Finally, if you, like me, are a visual person, you’ll need a grid notebook. Not only is it great for planning out designs, but it can help you keep track of what yarns you’ve used, what row you’re on, and everything else you need to remember while weaving.

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This Weaving Loom Saved Me When All My Hobbies Disappeared