This is a very specific blog post but one I wanted to write because I have heard some incorrect information being shared regarding this. The question: Can you advance your weaving with a Bottom Spring Kit on your loom?
Before I go into this, let me answer two questions:
What does it mean to “advance your weaving”?
When you warp a Mirrix Loom using our standard method with the warping bar, you can weave a piece longer than the length of your loom. How? By advancing your weaving. Once you’ve woven as far as you can (or as far as you want) on the front of your loom, loosen your tension and slowly move your warping bar up the back of your loom. This will begin to move your piece to the back of the loom, allowing you more room to weave on the front! Check out this video to see how to do this.
What is a Bottom Spring Kit?
A Bottom Spring Kit is a Mirrix Loom accessory that can be added to any Mirrix. It allows you to put a warp coil/spring on the bottom beam of your loom just like the one on the top. You can learn more about this accessory and why you might want one here.
And now, to answer that first question: YES you can! Using the Bottom Spring Kit does NOT prevent you from advancing your bead or fiber weaving.
The Bottom Spring Kit is useful for warping your loom and for beginning to weave. Once you’ve gotten to the point where you’re ready to advance your weaving, having the spring there isn’t doing anything. Your sett is determined by your TOP spring, not your bottom one. So when you are ready to advance your weaving, you simply remove the spring and advance your piece over the Bottom Spring Kit (the kit won’t damage your warp.)
I warped up a sample piece to show you how it works. Note that you wouldn’t need to advance a piece until it is a lot further along than this one!
First, loosen your tension.
Remove the spring from behind the warp.
Now you can advance your weaving by pulling the warping bar up the back of the loom. Easy!
Spread the word that you CAN advance a weaving on a Mirrix with a Bottom Spring Kit! Want your own Bottom Spring Kit? You can find the Bottom Spring Kit with four warp coils here!
What’s a Bottom Spring Kit?
A Bottom Spring Kit is a kit that allows you to put a warp coil (spring) on the bottom of your Mirrix Loom, just like you have one on the top.
What does it do?
Having a spring on the bottom beam of your loom helps you to keep your warp threads organized while warping and beginning to weave.
(Image Credit: Susan Murry -left- & Jacqui Johnson -right-)
1.) You are weaving beads using the shedding device and you don’t want to deal with trying to keep those pairs of warp threads neatly divided on the bottom while putting on heddles and weaving in the first row. Can you do this without the bottom coil? Yes, you can. But especially for wider bead woven pieces using the shedding device, this handy add-on does make it easier.2.) You are weaving a wide bead piece without the shedding device. When you’re dealing with lots of warp threads very close together, having a spring to help keep them organized at the bottom of the loom can be very helpful. 3.) You are weaving a tapestry at a very fine sett. While the Bottom Spring Kit was initially developed for bead weaving, many who weave tapestry at very fine setts (18, 20, 22 dpi) like the Bottom Spring Kit to help organize their warp threads while warping. 4.) You feel more confident warping when your warp threads are well organized at both the top and bottom of the loom. A Bottom Spring Kit is great for every perfectionist! It also precludes you from having to weave in a thread at the bottom that you tie to the threaded rod to provide a stable surface to start weaving.
You will have to loosen the tension on the loom and actually remove the spring in order to do this. Once the spring is removed, you will have no problem rotating your weaving.
You can purchase a few different Bottom Spring Kit sets:
I have never been gifted a loom. I am sure there are a lot of reasons contributing to that, not the least of them (during the last twenty years) being the fact that giving me a loom would be like bringing coals to New Castle, as my Dad would say.
That being said, I am going to transport my mind back to when I was 29 and just embarking on my tapestry weaving journey. Which loom would I have wanted? At the time I was using a rigid heddle loom that did not at all serve me well because they are designed to weave cloth, not weft-faced weavings. The reason for this is the tension is different for the two sets of warps. The one that is raised and lowered is more slack than the one that does not move. Tapestry weaving not only requires a lot of tension, it requires even tension on both sets of warp.
Now I am being transported back a bunch of years pretending there were websites to order from then. I stumble upon the Mirrix site. Lie! I’ve been obsessively visiting the Mirrix site for months, drooling over the selection of looms. I’ve been hemming and hawing and turning my brain into a pretzel trying to figure out which Mirrix Loom is MY Mirrix loom. I know I will only be given one. And I also know that I am allowed some accessories and maybe even a kit. I will err on the side of making my list long. My gift-giver can pair down if he/she wants!
I really am torn. I now have the choice between the Big Sister (16 inch loom) and the Zach (22 inch loom). I am drawn to the Big Sister because she looks really portable. She also looks like something I can do in bed, sitting at a table, maybe even prop her up on my lap. The Zach Loom is definitely a table loom. The advantage though is that I can make a much larger piece on the Zach. I know eventually I will have a second loom. I need to weigh out which is more important for me right now: the size of the piece I can weave versus portability.
I realize that I am home sitting at a table more than out and about with a loom. And I do tend to weave pieces that are wider than 13 inches (the maximum width for the Big Sister Loom). I tend to go for a long weaving, like 15 inches wide by 35 inches tall. That cannot be accomplished with the Big Sister Loom but it can easily be accomplished with the Zach Loom. And the difference in price is minimal ($30). Okay, it’s the Zach Loom.
What else do I need with the Zach?
Heddles. At least one roll, but two would be nice since I weave at seven ends per inch (every other dent in the 14 dent coil) and a piece 15 inches wide would require 120 warps.
I own a very nice beater, so I don’t need that.
I like wool warp, so a cone of that would be nice.
The yarn packages (like this FARO Starter Package) look very pretty, but I have a ton of yarn already, so I will skip that.
I don’t own the Kirsten Glasbrook book. I have seen a copy of it and it’s got great illustrations and very easy to follow instructions. I kind of would like that in my library. One cannot have too many tapestry books!
I usually don’t like kits because I am not one to follow directions, but I have been eyeing the Tapestry/Bead Cuff Bracelet Kit. Seems like there is a lot of room to take it in my own direction. I like the hand-painted silk, which I do not have in my stash. I can see wanting to make a lot of these!
Another thing is very tempting. I have always wanted to try braiding and this kit is on sale: the Kumihimo round disk kit with silk or the square disk kit with silk. They both have everything I need to get started making braids including that great silk.
One more thing that I would love to put on my list, but might need to wait for another gift-giving moment. Okay, it’s the Spencer Treadle. Should I ask for it too?
Which loom is in your future? Do you need help choosing? Click here to get a totally free loom recommendation from a Mirrix expert!
When you get your Mirrix Loom and open the classic brown box, it can feel a little overwhelming if you haven’t used a Mirrix before. What IS all this stuff? Where do I start?
Don’t worry! We have you covered!
Now, depending on which loom you purchased, your loom might come with a variety of things. Below is an image of a loom labeled loom with what your loom might come with. There might be more (looms with the shedding device come with four warp coils, Craftsy looms come with heddles) or less, but this should give you a basic idea of what all the parts are called.
Top Beam: The top beam of every Mirrix Loom is made of aluminum and has rounded edges.
Bottom Beam: The bottom beam of every Mirrix Loom is made of aluminum and has rounded edges. Looms size 28″ and larger have double bottom beams for strength.
Copper Side Bar: Each loom has copper side bars.
Threaded Rod: Threaded rod that fits into the copper side bars allows you to adjust the height of your loom and tighten the tension.
Wing-Nut: Wing-nuts are used to adjust the tension on your warp and the height of your loom.
Warp Coil Tray: This tray (which is not on the Mini Mirrix or Sam Loom) holds your springs/warp coils in place at the top of the loom.
Wooden Clip: Wooden clips (not on the Mini Mirrix or Sam Looms) have two functions: To hold your warping bar when warping and to (optionally) hold the shedding device.
Fold-Out Leg: These legs fold-out to allow your loom to stand steadily on any flat surface. The Mini Mirrix does not have legs, the Lani Loom has one and the rest have two.
Shedding Device: This device raises warp threads to make weaving tapestry or beads faster and easier. It comes standard on all looms 16″ and larger, but does not have to be used. You can learn more about it here.
Shedding Device Handle: This handle operates the shedding device. It can be replaced by an electric treadle if you are weaving tapestry.
Warp Coil: Warp coils (also called springs) space your warp threads. Choose different warp coils depending on the size or thickness of the beads or warp and weft you are using.
Warping Bar: This bar is what your warp gets tied to when warping. It also helps you to ‘advance’ your weaving to the back of the loom for more weaving room. This bar is not used for the “easy warp” method of warping.
Allen Wrench: This wrench loosens and tightens the bars on the shedding device.
Flat Wrench: The flat wrench is helpful for tightening and loosening the wing-nuts.
Want to learn more about Mirrix Looms? Click here to download our free “Weaving is Easy” Ebook
One of the great things about a portable loom is that you can travel with it; whether that simply means down the street to your weaving group, or on a plane to an exotic destination.
I’m taking a loom or two with me on a trip in a couple weeks, and I thought I’d delve a little deeper into how best to travel with a Mirrix!
Like anything you want to protect while traveling, I recommend taking the time to sufficiently pad your loom, especially if it will be in a suitcase. I like to use items of clothing to wrap around the beams and, most importantly, the wooden clips.
The carry-on question is one we still don’t have a definitive answer to. Flying post-911, we’ve always been a little concerned about trying to take a loom onto a plane in carry-on baggage. Because of this, we haven’t tried. Others have, however, and have been successful. We recommend contacting your airline and asking before taking a loom in your carry-on baggage.
We have not heard of anyone having an issue traveling with a loom in checked luggage, however, so you should be safe there!
Since suitcases are not uniform in size, I recommend checking our comparison charts to compare the size of each loom (check the width and lowest loom height numbers) to the size of your suitcase. In my experience, a 16″ Big Sister Loom fits into most checked-baggage suitcases. You will start to run into space issues with any larger loom.
That said, a 22″ Zach Loom without warp on it ( 22″ x 17.5″) should fit into many “large” suitcases. A typical “large” suitcase is somewhere around 27″ – 30″ long and 18″ – 21″ wide, at least according to the suitcase categories of some online retailers.
Traveling With a Warped Loom:
I’ve always been pleasantly surprised at how well looms with pieces on them seem to hold up in travel. Perhaps I’ve just been lucky, but there has only been one on-loom piece I’ve ever traveled with that has been destroyed, and that was a beaded bracelet using a No Warp-Ends Kit. Generally, I don’t recommend traveling with a piece on the loom using a No Warp-Ends Kit, because the bars can tilt and your piece could slip off. Trust me!
If you are transporting a piece with the shedding device, remove the device from the wooden clips, face the clips inward if possible and then move the shedding device down on the loom and pack it so it can’t move around much. Doing this will prevent the clips from breaking and give you a little more space.
Taking Your Loom Apart:
If you are traveling with an unwarped loom, you’ll save some space by separating the top and bottom pieces of the loom. You can take apart your loom, for example by removing the clips, but don’t recommend doing much more than that.
Loom Bags and More:
Admittedly, when traveling locally with my looms, I tend to throw the looms in a tote back and call it a day. It certainly isn’t the best solution, but it works fine. Many customers have found pre-made bags that work great for them, and some have even sewed their own. Check out this blog post from last March for a beautiful example.
What You Had To Say:
We asked for loom traveling experiences, tips and tricks from our customers. Here are a few answers. Feel free to add more in the comments section of this post!
Tapestry Teacher Rebecca Mezoff (check out her online tapestry classes here) said, “The 16 inch is the biggest size that will fit warped into any “reasonably” sized suitcase for checking on the airplane! And it takes up the whole thing (you can fit a lot of socks and yarn around it though). It fits really well unwarped in two pieces. I have never had trouble with TSA checking my Mirrix looms. And I always travel with them (usually one 16 and one 12–the 12 fits much better warped into a suitcase).”
Marg Yarma, of BeadFX mentioned some great travel bags they sell. She said, “BeadFX sells a travel bag specially made for us for beaders and crafters. This will easily hold up to a 12″ loom with lots of zippered pockets to hold thread, yarns, beads, needles, patterns and all the other tools. Long handles so that that bag can be comfortably shoulder carried. Available in 4 colours. Handmade quality by Yazzii International,” You can find them here.
Teri Moris said, “I use an “ArtBin” carry all to load my Mini Mirrix and all supplies. It is perfect for protection of the loom as well as threads and beads.” You can learn more on ArtBin’s website here.
Terry Hanson linked to a great video by Noreen Crone-Findlay about how to use Furoshiki wrapping to carry your loom. You can find it here.
No loom to travel with yet? Click here to get a free loom recommendation, and find out which loom is destined to be yours!
I wanted to make a simple, quick beaded bracelet. I haven’t woven beads in a while because lately I’ve been kind of obsessed with hand-painted silk bracelets and small tapestries. But the beads started calling.
Sometimes I just really crave simple: simple materials, simple design, but great colors. So I wanted this bracelet to be just that.
I decided I wanted to use the same clasp I’ve been using for the hand-painted silk bracelets. I figured out that I needed to use either 11/0 Delica or 15/0 beads in order for the bracelet to fit correctly into the clasp (obviously, smaller beads would work but that’s my limit!).
If you purchased a Mirrix Loom in the spring of 2015 or later, you may have slightly different wooden clips on your loom than the ones we show in our instructions and promotional material.
Following is all you need to know about the new clips!
First, the new clips have wing-nuts to hold the brass disks to the clip instead of screws. This means you will not need a screwdriver when putting on your shedding device.
I am away from my studio/office for a while. A much needed break to both have a bit of a vacation as well as to get the kind of work done Elena and I have a hard time accomplishing on FaceTime (ie., making a whole new slew of ebooks and, of course, doing our tapestry/bead cuff weave-along). We also have the great fortune of having good friends who live in Hawaii (Elena is in Seattle) so it was only a hop, skip and a jump to get to them. My first time; Elena’s second. Heavenly friends and paradise. Who could ask for more.
But the point of this post is to talk about hand-painted silk. I am analyzing the colors of Hawaii, of course, because they are amazing. And when I do return to NH (I am now in Seattle) I will paint many, many kilos of silk.
That picture of my hand painted silk yarn you see above . . . well, it was taken in the sand at a beach in Hawaii. Oh my gosh, the colors are exactly replicated in that photo. I always thought that taking photos in direct sunlight would wash out the image. But in this case it just made it so real. Want to see some more?
Mostly my looms travel in reusable shopping bags. It isn’t pretty, but I don’t have even one nice bag (besides some large travel bags, which aren’t terribly practical) that fits a loom bigger than my Mini. A few months ago I brought a few looms to a local store that was interested in selling them. I parked several blocks away and had three haphazardly packed shopping bags full of looms and other supplies. When I arrived I couldn’t find a thing in the jumble I had created at the bottom of the bags.
The topic of loom bags is something we’ve talked about endlessly at Mirrix. We’ve contacted bag manufacturers, talked to customers who have made their own bags and have looked into finding pre-made (Made in America) bags that would fit our needs. While there are many options out there, we haven’t gotten it together to even find the perfect bags for our own looms (as you can see from the picture above).
A couple weeks ago Claudia taught a weaving class in Groton, MA. We talked after the class and she couldn’t stop talking about what a wonderful class it was (see her blog post on it here). She also couldn’t stop talking about a bag one of the students had made for her loom.
This student was Bunny Pepin, author of the blog “La Sewista“. I’d seen her blog and her gorgeous bag, but Claudia says it’s even more amazing in person. “It even has a place for the shedding device” she shrieked over the phone.
The ultimate loom bag by Bunny Pepin
You can read through Bunny’s blog posts about her bag here:
I know, I know, now you’re looking at the canvas bag your loom has been traveling in and thinking, “Do I need to learn to sew?” Fear not, friends, for in the near future Bunny is going to start selling her bags! The details aren’t worked out yet, but it looks like she will have a range from a basic bag to one with all the bells and whistles. We’ll keep you informed when we know more!
Thank you to Bunny for sharing your work!
I can’t seem to stop weaving silk (which, by the way, is on sale until that big day with a heart involved). But lately the finishing is as much fun as the weaving. I’ve showed you this one before, but this time Elena took the photographs and put them in a neat little package. I love it. And of course I need to pause here to remind you that I will be teaching this sort of thing at NOA Gallery on March 14th and 15th in Groton, MA. http://blog.mirrixlooms.com/noagallery/ We have a few more spots, so don’t hesitate to sign up.