Make: DIY, Kid-Friendly Picture Frame Loom

Make: DIY, Kid-Friendly Picture Frame Loom



Curious to try weaving or want to introduce weaving to a child?  Make this simple loom from an old picture frame.  Be sure to get the kids to help – building the loom and weaving are both great ways to practice fine motor skills, hand eye-hand coordination, concentration and confidence.  Use the loom over and over again for all your weaving projects.


Materials – for the loom
  • Wooden picture frame, glass removed
  • Small nails
  • Hammer
  • Ruler
  • Pencil


Materials – for your weaving
  • Yarn – all sorts, colors and textures
  • Scissors
  • Wide tooth comb
  • Small piece of matboard, thick cardstock or a wide wooden craft stick



Choosing a frame

Any size or shape of frame will work.  The larger the frame, the larger your weaving can be.  Real wood is preferred over particle board or similar materials which are more likely to splinter when you hammer in the nails.  Hot tip:  If the front of your frame is beveled or ridged, try flipping it over.  The backside is usually flat and may be a more cooperative surface.




Making the loom


1. Using your ruler and pencil, make tick marks along two opposite edges of the frame to indicate where you will place your nails.  I used ½ inch marks on the grown up version of the loom and 1 inch marks on the kid-friendly version.  Spacing your marks out more makes the weaving easier for small hands.  You can also go smaller than ½ inch, which will allow for a tighter weaving.



2.  Hammer in your nails at the marks.  If you start at the end nearest your hammering hand, you’ll have more room to hold the nail with your other hand.  To keep your nails at the same height, try using a piece of scrap wood tucked under the heads.



Kid Job:  Kids love hammering!  If they’re not old enough to do it all themselves, try getting each nail started with one or two hits, and then let them do the rest.  Perfectly even and level nails are not required for this project!



Once both lines of nails are complete, you made a loom – yay! – and now you’re ready to weave.


Starting your weaving


Let’s start with some weaving terminology.  There are two sets of yarn in weaving.  The first set is called the “warp yarn.”  This is the yarn that is first wrapped onto the loom and forms the scaffolding for the weaving.  The second set is called the “weft yarns.”  These are the yarns that you will weave through the warp yarns.  The heddle is the device that you use to pull the weft yarns through the weaving.  The loom comb is a device for tightening each line of weft yarns.  A wide tooth comb for hair makes a great loom comb.


1. First, warp the loom. Tie the end of the yarn into the loom at one corner.  Thread the yarn across the loom around the first nail, then back across the loom around the next nail and then back across the loom again.  Continue until the whole loom is warped.  You can skip nails to adjust the size or tightness of your weaving.  (I skipped the last few nails because I ran out of yarn – perfection is not required!)  Tie the end of the yarn to the loom.


Kid Job:  Warping the loom is a great job for the kiddos.  It practices fine motor skills, and if you make a mistake, you can just back up and try again.



2. Then, make a heddle.  Use scissors or an Exacto knife to cut two grooves into the end of a piece of mat board or large wooden craft stick.  I used a dog bone-shaped piece of matboard that I found at ACR.  The size was perfect for small hands – grown ups might prefer something a little less wide. Wrap your weft yarns around the heddle lengthwise.


3. Then, weave your weft yarns.  Tie the end of your first weft yarn at the corner of the loom.  Use the heddle to weave over and under each warp yarn, repeating until you get all the way across the loom.  Then weave, over and under, back across the warp yarns in the other direction, being sure to alternate the over and under stitches.  Use your comb to tighten lines, if needed.  This basic over and under weave is called a plain weave, but don’t be afraid to experiment with more advanced techniques on your DIY loom.



4. Switch to a different weft yarn at any point.  Try different colors, textures and thicknesses of yarn.  You might even want to experiment by weaving in sparkly bits, leaves, tiny things or anything else you’d like to try.  Kids especially love this.


5. To finish, tie the last weft yarn to the last warp yarn and tie off any loose pieces where you changed weft yarns.  Remove the weaving from the loom by gently lifting the warp yarns off each nail.  Knot off the warp yarns in any design you like.

6. Admire your work and plan your next project!  You can use this loom again and again.


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