How to Choose a Mirrix Loom

(from our website http://www.mirrixlooms.com/beginnersguide.html)

loom

Which loom is right for me?

We get this question a lot at Mirrix Looms. How do you choose just one? First, ask yourself a few questions. Do you want to weave beads, tapestry, both or something else like paper or wire? Do you want to use the shedding device? How important is being able to take your loom places with you? Do you want to be able to weave large pieces or several small pieces at one time?

If you want to weave small, beaded pieces such as bracelets or necklaces and do not want to use the shedding device, the 5″ Mini Mirrix or the 8″ Lani Loom (without the shedding device) will work fine for you.

If you want to weave larger bead tapestries or want to weave more than one beaded piece at the same time, the 12″ Little Guy, the 16″ Big Sister or the 22″ Zach Loom all work great. (If you want to weave very big bead pieces the larger looms would be appropriate.)

If you are a tapestry weaver, choose any of the looms that have a shedding device and base your decision simply on how big a piece you plan to weave. If you want to simulate using a floor loom, one of the two bigger looms and the stand and treadle work great!

For the undecided weaver stick with a middle-sized loom like the 16″ Big Sister or the 22″ Zach Loom. You can use (or not use) the shedding device and can weave almost anything including beads and tapestry on those looms.

Check out our Pinterest Board “How To Choose Your First Mirrix Loom”

Download our free ebook “Mirrix Loom Basics” or “Weaving is Easy” to help you decide which loom is best for you!

 

Easy Beaded Leather Wrap Bracelet

A few months ago I bought some leather cord and was playing with wrap bracelets on my Mirrix. I was playing with the idea of using wire to string the beads and trying for really easy, fast projects. These were my results:

http://blog.mirrixlooms.com/2013/04/17/wire-suede-another-20-minute-bracelet/

http://blog.mirrixlooms.com/2013/04/16/the-20-minute-bracelet/

After that I warped my loom for a thicker wrap bracelet, but it was one of those projects that just sat on my loom. Yesterday I finally decided to re-warp and try a more traditional wrap bracelet. It was so fast and easy to do this on a Mirrix Loom! I chose some pretty 8/0 beads and crystals and tied off with a  pretty glass button and that was it! And, hey, when you can buy an even simpler wrap bracelet for $200… this is a pretty good deal!

pastelwrapbracelet

 

 

FREE Warp Coil Label Template: Label Those Springs!

When you have more than one loom and a bazillion sets of warp coils, it can be a pain to find a warp coil you want when you want it. Instead of struggling with this every time they warp, a lot of our smart customers label their warp coils so they always know which one is which. I’ve made a printable template to make labeling your own warp coils easier!

Step One: Determine what loom sizes and warp coils you have

You probably already know what size loom you have, but if you’ve forgotten, measure the top beam in inches. That number is your loom size.

To determine what size each warp coil is, place your coil on your loom and measure an inch. Count how many dents (spaces in the spring) there are in that inch. That number is the size warp coil you have. If you have more than one loom and you’ve mixed up your warp coils this can be a more difficult process. If you get a non-standard number, you may have a warp coil on the wrong loom!

measure your mirrix loom

Step Two: Pop by your local office supply store and grab some standard sticker address labels. I used an Avery template number 5160. This size is very standard, though, so it should be fine for other brands as long as they have 30 address labels.

This is the template I downloaded: Download the template here

template

Step Three: Download my template and edit it for your needs. You probably don’t have every loom and every coil, and may have a bottom spring kit so you have more than one of certain coils. Edit the template in Word and print it on your sticker labels!

Download the template here

print

Step Four: Cut each label in half and place each label on the end of the corresponding warp coil. I found folding a little end over the end of the warp coil and then folding everything in half worked best.

cut

labels

Step Five: Bask in your organizational skills.

Ask Elena: Warp Coil Woes

You may have heard the terms “warp coil” and “spring” thrown around our website. Maybe you understand the references, but maybe you don’t. This post is a little primer on warp coils (or springs, they’re the same thing) including HOW TO CHOOSE WHICH WARP COIL TO USE and HOW TO MODIFY A WARP COIL TO FIT YOUR NEEDS.

WHAT IS A WARP COIL AND WHAT DOES IT DO?

A warp coil is a spring you put at the top (or bottom if you have a bottom spring kit) of your loom to organize you warp threads. When you put the spring on the loom and you measure an inch, the number of DENTS (spaces in the spring) should equal the numbers in the name of the spring. An 18 dent spring should have about 18 dents in an inch. Easy!

warp coil

warp coil

The warp coil spaces your warp threads correctly. If you’re using larger beads, you want your warp threads to be spaced further than if you were using smaller beads. The same goes for tapestry. If you’re using thicker yarn, you want your warp threads spaced out further than with a thinner yarn.

What springs come with the loom:  8, 12, 14 and 18 dents per inch.  As you can see, this pretty much covers all your needs except when using tiny beads such as 15/0s or when weaving a wide piece with size 11/0 delicas, which work better with a 16 dent coil.

For beads: Since the springs are even measurement and the beads per inch are sometimes an odd number and because you have to factor in the thickness of the thread in between the formula is not exact.  If you don’t have the correct spring, but one that is close, and you are doing a piece that is not very wide, you can use a larger spring and squish it together in the middle and put under tension. For a wider piece (three inches or larger) you really want the correct spring.

HOW TO CHOOSE WHICH WARP COIL TO USE

How do you know what warp coil to use for bead weaving:

Place the beads you plan on weaving on a needle and measure an inch. Then, count how many beads are in that inch. The number of beads minus one is the warp coil that will be used. For example, if you are using Delicas you would find 19 Delicas are in one inch, so you would use the 18 dent coil. There is some leeway in this, and depending on the beads you are using, it might not work out perfectly (numerically), just close. Using a smaller (lower number) coil is better than using a larger (higher number) coil.

How do I know what warp coil to use for tapestry?

This is something you have to experiment with as a tapestry weaver. For finer weft, you will want to use a warp coil with more dents per inch. For thicker weft, you will want to use a warp coil with fewer dents per inch or even warp every other dent. (For example, an 18 dent warp coil every other dent is equal to a 9 dent warp coil.)

The basic thing to remember is to make sure your warps threads aren’t showing and you must consider the warp set (how far apart your warp threads are, or what warp coil you are using), how thick your weft is and how thick your warp is. One way to determine your weft size is to put your weft in between your warp threads vertically when your loom is warped. If your weft threads are much thicker than the space between the two warp threads, then your weft is probably too thick and if your weft threads are much thinner than you know your weft is too thin.

DO I ALWAYS NEED A SPRING?

The answer is: in some cases you do not want a spring.  For example, when weaving a bead soup bracelet with lots of different size beads, the beads will set the spacing.  Also, when weaving a thin piece, you can usually skip the spring if you don’t have the correct size.

HOW TO MODIFY A WARP COIL TO FIT YOUR NEEDS

Sometimes you don’t have the right warp coil on hand. Maybe you’re making our Tapestry/Bead Cuff and you need a 10 dent spring and don’t have one, or maybe you have an 8″ Lani Loom without the shedding device and you want to weave Delicas (that loom comes with only a 14 dent spring). You can always buy new springs on our website, but you can also modify springs to fit your needs. Here’s how: (Note: as we mentioned earlier, this is only recommended for pieces thinner than three inches)

-Warp your loom like you would normally. When thinking about width, take into consideration that you’re going to change the spacing slightly by stretching or smushing your warp coil.

-Take out your measuring tape and measure an inch. Count how many dents (spaces in the spring) are in that inch and then stretch or smush your spring to make that amount of dents in an inch equal how many dents you need. For example, if you have a 12-dent spring, you will want to stretch it so there are only 10 dents in an inch, not 12. Keep stretching or smushing your spring to make sure there are the correct amount of dents in an inch over the entire width of the piece.

-Then, while holding the spring at the amount of dents you want it (remember, just in the place where you have your weaving), tighten your tension. This should secure your spring at the correct dents per inch.

warp coils

Or…

What happens if I am all ready to weave a wide piece with 11/0 delicas and I don’t have the 16 dent spring and I want to weave it this very second?  You can sacrifice your 18 dent spring.  Do the math:  For a 16 inch loom, the spring spans 13 inches and a tad.  You would need to remove 2 times 13 dents from your 18 dent spring.  26 dents.  Count 26 dents and cut at about 24 so you can create a new loop.  Or just put the 18 dent spring on the loom and stretch it so that there are 16 dents per inch.  Cut a few coils  past that to allow for a new loop at the end.

WHERE TO BUY MORE SPRINGS

Buy more springs: http://www.mirrixlooms.com/store/warpcoils.html

WHAT THE HECK IS THAT BOTTOM SPRING KIT AND DO I NEED IT?

The answer is not that simple. But there is an answer, never-the-less.

First let me answer the question:  why don’t all the looms just come with a bottom spring attachment?  The reason it doesn’t is about half of Mirrix users do not want one or use one and it would get in their way.  For example, tapestry weavers who weave at the wider setts (the number of ends per inch) usually don’t use it.  However, we find that weavers who weave small format tapestry love the bottom spring kit because it helps get all those pesky threads all neatly lined up and in order.  For those folks we created the bottom spring kit with two 20 and 22 dent springs, one for the top and one for the bottom.  Usually these folks are warping with material that is about as thin as beading thread so you can see where organization on the bottom of the loom could be very helpful.  We have relied heavily on the opinion of Kathe Todd-Hooker who is the Queen of small format weaving and loves the bottom spring kit.  In fact, we made the 20/22 dent spring package to make her happy.

Now for the bead answer to this question.  If you are weaving thinner bracelets or necklaces it’s really easy to organize your warp threads at the bottom of the loom.  And since the first row of beads sets the bottom sett, once you’ve got that row in, a bottom spring has no use.  However, when weaving wider pieces and especially wider pieces using the shedding device where there are pairs of threads between beads that have to remain paired correctly, that bottoms spring kit certainly helps to keep those pairs paired correctly and the threads not crossing at the bottom.  So in the case of wider bead pieces (more than four inches) it will test your patience less if you do have the bottom spring kit.

We offer the bottom spring kit with all the springs that come with the loom as well as the one mentioned above with two 20/22 dent springs.  We al so offer the bottom spring kit with two 16 dent springs.  This is designed for those weaving wide beaded tapestries with Delica beads since the 16 dent spring for some reason works better than the 18 dent spring in this situation.

You can buy just the bottom spring kit (it’s a tray that holds the springs) and pick just the springs you want.  For example, even though the looms (except for the MiniMirrix and Lani without shedding device) come with size 8, 12, 14 and 18 dent springs, you might only be weaving size 11/0 seed beads which require the 14 dent spring.  There is no need to buy the whole set.  Just buy the bottom spring kit and that particular spring.  You can always buy others later.  But then there are those of you who might be weaving a whole range of beads or might do so and it is cheaper to buy the whole package.

In any case, before you jump in and buy a bottom spring kit, carefully think about what your weaving future might hold!

BEAD WEAVING WARP COIL CHEAT SHEET:

Delicas:

8/0- 9 per inch. Use the 8 dent spring

10/0- 14 per inch.  Use 12 dent spring

11/0- 19 per inch.  Use 18 dent spring except when doing very wide pieces, when you can use the 16 dent spring.

15/0- 25 per inch.  Use the 22 dent coil just in order to space the beads.  That is the largest coil we can make.

Seed Beads:

15/0- 24 per inch.  Use 22 dent spring.

11/0- 14 to 15 per inch (size vary slightly depending on finish and manufacturer).  Use 14 dent spring.

8/0-12 per inch.  Use 10 or 12 dent spring depending on what size warp you are using.  For example, when using the bead cord, because it is thicker, you will use the 10 dent spring. But if just weaving straight beads using beading thread as warp, you would use the 12 dent spring.

6/0-8 per inch.  Use the 6 dent spring.

Ask Elena: Which Loom for Weaving on The Go?

askelena

I am constantly waiting for my kids at their endless basketball, soccer, you-name-it-practices and games.  Sure, when the kids are actually doing something, I am riveted.  But that takes up only ten percent of my time at most.  I took up both knitting and crochet to help pass the time but I’ve grown bored with both and everyone I know now has enough scarves and hats to get through the next twenty years.  I saw your loom group on Ravlery and I was fascinated.  I’ve always had an idea that I would someday weave but I was put off by those huge looms.  The smaller rigid heddle looms now marketed to knitters will only serve to further alienate my friends and family who are, as I mentioned, drowning in neckwear.  The idea of creating artwork on a loom seems very appealing.  So, finally, to my question:  What size loom would be most suited for a person stuck in a lawn chair or balancing on bleacher seats? I like the mini, but I am thinking I might also want to weave thread.  

signed,
Sore Butt in San Diego

Dear Sore Butt in San Diego-

It’s funny you mention this, because the Mirrix Loom was actually invented for just this reason. Mirrix President Claudia Chase wanted a high-quality, yet portable loom to take to take to her kids’ (my brother and my) games and practices. Not only is a Mirrix Loom great for on-the-go weaving, but it’s a great conversation starter on the sidelines of the basketball court or soccer field.

The 5″ Mini Mirrix is a great portable loom that can fit in most purses. It would be perfect to take to any game. While it is meant to be a bead loom and does not come with a shedding device, it is possible to weave fiber on it. That said, if you’re aiming to make pieces just a little bit bigger or are interested in getting into tapestry, the 8″Lani and the and 12″ Little Guy looms are both very portable and come with or without the shedding device. You can compare the sizes of each of our looms here.

5 inch Mini Mirrix

5″ Mini Mirrix

Generally, tapestry is a better medium for portability, but you can certainly make beads work too. Just remember a good bead tray!

Weaving is a great gametime pasttime, but I will warn you, as the daughter of a weaver, your kids may get sick of beads in their cleats and fiber stuck to their shin guards. But hey, it’s worth that price to pay for some serious sideline entertainment!

Elena

Ask Elena: How do you use different sized beads in the same piece?

askelena

Hello Elena,

I’m been reading and studying and am getting ready to order my first Mirrix Loom.

I’ve been using a simple bead loom (that I made) years ago – and I want to advance to something more functional.

I have been using mostly seed beads and want to start incorporating Tila/different sized beads and I am a little confused over

how the warp is set up for this. I read on the Mirrix website

“One of our Affinity bracelets uses Tila beads and size 8/0 seed beads. The Tila beads take up twice the width of the seed beads, so we set the warp twice as far apart where the Tilas will be placed…”

I just don’t understand what that means….and I apologize if I am being dense, but I would like to be able to use different sized beads….

Right now I am deciding on which loom to purchase – but this questions has been bugging me….lol.   I hope to hear back from you..

Carla

Carla-

The Mirrix Loom normally has a spring at the top, chosen depending on the size of beads you are using. When we use several different sized beads, we either do not use a warp coil (spring) (so the beads space themselves), or make sure to space the warp threads in the spring to accommodate the largest size bead/stone/crystal we’ll be using.

It’s mostly a game of math. You have to calculate how many smaller beads equal a larger bead while designing your piece. For example, three 8/0 beads might be the same width as a crystal. Once you figure this out, you can build your piece based on this. For example, in this piece (below) the warp is set far enough apart to accommodate the larger crystals and three of the smaller beads fit in that same space. When you are weaving the beads you simply put three of the beads between the warp threads and sew through normally. This is possible on a Mirrix because the tension is so good.

beaded bracelet

Elena

Ask Elena: Which kit to save warp?

askelena

I have the Big Sister loom and would like to make some bracelets however, when warped I see a lot of  warp that goes wasted.  Since I can’t get smaller loom right now which would you recommend I get the” No Warps kit “or the” Extra Warp kit” so that I don’t end up with so much leftover warp?

Thank you,

Vanita

Vanita-

Thanks for your question! Both the Extra Warping Bar Kit and the No Warp-Ends Kit allow you to warp in an alternative way and will save you warp, but ultimately they have different functions. Remember, too, that with continuous warp you can weave more than one bracelet on one warp. Just “advance” your weaving and make sure to leave some space between the bracelets for finishing.

The Extra Warping Bar Kit was designed for two reasons. First, to eliminate warp waste by eliminating warp on the back of the loom and second to give you more room to bring your hands behind your warp. You can see a video of how to warp the Extra Warping Bar Kit here. If your goal is simply to save warp, this is the kit I’d recommend.

extra warping bar kit

Extra Warping Bar Kit: The red line is where the warp is with the kit on. You can see how this extra bar saved warp on the back of the loom and allows more room for your hands behind the warp.

No Warp-Ends Kit was made to eliminate having to finish warp ends on beaded pieces. It also saves warp, as you warp your piece exactly the size that you want your piece to be. Instead of having threads left at the ends of a beaded piece, with this kit you just have little loops that don’t need any more finishing. The No Warp-Ends Kit now comes with S-hooks instead of the paper clips that are shown in this picture. You can read a little more about how to use this kit here. It is great for people making beaded pieces who don’t want to have to finish off their ends, the saving of warp is just an extra bonus!

No Warp-Ends Kit

The No Warp-Ends Kit where the piece is warped on the front of the loom to exactly the length of the piece. This means less finishing for bead pieces!

Hope that clarifies the differences between the two kits some!

Elena

Ask Elena: What do I need to get started?

askelena

Hi Elena.

I have been eyeing your looms for a while. I like the 12″ loom with the shedding device. I would mostly be making bracelets, maybe belts, small purses also. What else would I need to get me started. I have beads and some fibers. What other accessories would be helpful.  

Thanks Lissa

Lissa-

One of the great things about Mirrix Looms is that you can pretty much get started with just the loom, your materials and some basic supplies like a good pair of scissors! The one thing you do need besides a loom if you are using the shedding device is heddles. Heddles connect your shedding device to your warp thread and we do sell them on our website, but they can also be made at home! We have instructions here. 

If you do want some extra goodies with your loom, here are a few of our most popular accessories:

Loom Extenders:
If you are interested in making belts, you’ll want some loom extenders. The 12″ Little Guy Loom can make a piece about 24″ long without them, and with them they add two whole feet of weaving length! They can be removed, too, for when you aren’t making long pieces.

loomextenders

The Bottom Spring Kit (with springs):
The Mirrix bottom spring kit helps to organize warps at the bottom of a loom, just like the warp coil (spring) at the top. It is useful for wide bead pieces and small-scale tapestry.

bottomspringkits

The Extra Warping Bar Kit:
The Extra Warping Bar Kit adds a second warping bar to the back of the loom, eliminating warp waste for shorter pieces. Because it also eliminates having a layer of warp on both the front and back of the loom, it allows you to better position your hand for weaving wider pieces with the traditional method of bead weaving. You can learn how to warp with this kit here. 

extra warping bar kit

The No Warp-Ends Kit:
The No Warp-Ends Kit allows you to weave beaded pieces without having to finish off the ends. You can see a video about how to warp with this kit here.

nowarpendskit

Hope that helps you decide what accessories you might be interested in! Thanks for your question!

-Elena

Do you have a question for Elena? Email elena@mirrixlooms.com and you might just be featured here!

Ask Elena

Do you have a question about Mirrix Looms? Wondering how to choose a warp coil? Not sure what a bottom spring kit is? Puzzled by the warping bar?

We’ve got your answers… just ASK ELENA.

askelena

Email elena@mirrixlooms.com with your question in the traditional “ask someone” form and we’ll choose our favorites to put up on the blog. (But don’t worry, we’ll answer them all!)

Sample Question:

Dear Elena-

I have never warped a loom before and I am wondering what kind of instruction you have online for a beginner. 

Sincerely, Warpless in Washington

Sample Answer:

Dear Warpless in Washington-

Never fear! We have great .pdf warping instructions available online. Just choose the “type” of warping you need to do (for tapestry, for bead weaving, with the shedding device, without…) and go to that .pdf for written instructions with lots of pictures! You can see them here. 

Elena