Outdoor Art: Using Peg Looms to Weave

23 September 2011 · 1 comment

in Art & Music Outdoors

I am into wool in a big way at the moment. My mum has recently off-loaded all her unwanted fleeces onto me. I’m busy experimenting and having fun whilst doing so. She introduced me to peg looms which have “Kid-friendly-must-do” written all over them.

Peg looms come in different sizes. Below is my 24-peg loom. I’ve got a 12-peg one too. Basically it’s a wooden block with dowling stuck into it. This one has the pegs set quite far apart so it can deal with bulky material such as tufts of wool, long grass or strips of plastic.

The warp is the thread used to set up the loom and as the basis for weaving material into it. I used Hebridean wool from the Flying Flock! Because I was using the whole loom, it took almost a whole ball of wool. It needs to be strong wool, or string or other yarn that won’t easily break. It’s also fine with children just to use 3 pegs, for a very quick project that can make a scarf or mini wall hanging.

Next, I took out the washed Hebridean fleece from one of the compression bags. Storing wool in compression bags is best otherwise they take up far too much room under one’s loft bed.

Many people tear off strips of fleece and weave them into the peg loom. I gave this a go, but found it easier to card the wool roughly first. (See the carders behind the peg loom in the photo below).

It’s really quick work and very simple. Wool is woven in and out of the pegs, When you come to near the top of the pegs, you take them out, one at a time, pull the warp thread through a little and put the peg back in its hole. The Hand Weaving Company have a video clip and more advice. Here’s a close up look at what goes on…

Even with washed wool, I found the work to be messy. Bits of grass and gunk are still in the fleece and these get scattered. Tufts of wool fall off. At the very least it’s a shed job. If you are using super-posh mega-clean wool, then I’m sure it would work just fine in your living room or classroom if you don’t mind a lot of hoovering. Bear in mind that all tufts of wool can be added to a compost bin, if you have one.

Many years ago, when I worked in an outdoor centre in Canada, we had a loom set up. Every class made a simple rag rug during their week-long visit. In the children’s free time they could go to the loom and do as much or as little work on the rug as they wished. I think a similar set-up would work well in a class or nursery. Then the rug can be used in class or be raffled as a fund raiser. Below my owls, Humphrey and Fluffykins, are modelling the final product.

For a simple and environmentally-friendly textile project, this is a winner. You can use any washed fleece. If you want a humorously serious book on the different sheep breeds to show children, I’d recommend Beautiful Sheep.

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