Welcome to the TOIKA and Varpa loom group

Having had both Toika and Varpa looms and as both manufacturers are similar I thought it might be interesting to open a group.  There are many resources out there for Glimakra looms but not much in the way of TOIKA or Varpa.  Varpappu looms are not longer available in the USA unless purchased used, I am not sure if the company still exists overseas.  Toika and Varpa looms share the characteristics of being made from light birch which has a clear varnish coat,  this helps maintain the blonde look of the wood.  The wood feels more dense and is much heavier than the pine of the Glimakra.  The Toika/Varpa looms also use some metal hardware in addition to using peg construction.  The Toika/Varpa looms are more compact than the Glimakra yet provide the same generous weave widths.  That is not to say any of these traits make it more or less of a loom than the Glimakra, they are just different.

TOIKA now manufactures a computerized version of their Lisa and Eeva looms which allows computer control of 16 or 24 harness.  This computer unit can be added to an existing TOIKA loom and may be added to other Swedish style looms with some minor modification.

WEBS (yarn.com) and the owners the Elkins are most helpful if you wish to obtain more information regarding Toika looms and equipment.  The Mannings of PA also sell TOIKA.  Toika manufactures a variety of weaving equipment and supplemental accessories.  I myself own some of their shuttles and temples, the parts of these temples are interchangeable for multiple weave widths which I find usefull.  The loom I currently own is the 120cm Eeva, overhead beater, 8 shafts, 10 treadles, worm gear warp advance,  It not only is aesthetically pleasing but heavy, durable and comfortable to use.  


Posted on Wed, 02/27/2013 - 22:50

You may have solved the mystery of my first loom.  It came from Finland, looks exactly like a Toika, but isn't labeled and lacks the worm gear.  I love it dearly, but wonder if it would be possible to add the worm gear.  Does anyone know if this can be done?

Posted on Wed, 02/27/2013 - 22:58

You probably will need a new back beam in order to do that as the teeth on the original are very different from the more square teeth of the worm gear assembly.


Posted on Wed, 01/08/2014 - 00:56

I'd like to join your group.  I used to have a varpapuu 60"  12 shaft loom that i dearly loved.  I was in an auto accident and after not recovering I sold it a year later.  Recently I was looking for a similar loom and finally bought a 60" 8 shaft Toika.  I'm having difficulty getting a decent shed on the Toika.  It also doesn't seem to as easily beat evenly as the varpauu did. Can you give me pointers?  I don't see me selling this loom, but would like to see it responding better.  Thanks.

Posted on Wed, 01/08/2014 - 01:04

How wide is the project you have on the loom?  There is little difference in the set up ( I am assuming you have a Liisa?)  either way the beater should strike evenly.  Do you have pics of your set up?


Posted on Tue, 12/02/2014 - 00:11

dawn thanks for your response so long ago.  I finished weaving two rugs --only 30" wide on the Toika and haven't woven on it again.  It is a Tehri that was brought from Finland in the 60's  then sold to another weaver, so I am #3.  The shafts are connected to the jacks from the ends of the of the upper section of the shaft.  I thought that could be part of the problem as I have always seen these types of looms with the connectin cord going straight down to the shaft from the jacks.  Does that make sense to you?  Also it has been refitted with nylon heddles  I was wondering if it might need longer ones.  Just some thoughts.  I would like to get this loom working for me.  Thanks for your previous comments.


Posted on Tue, 12/02/2014 - 16:08

I have seen the shafts tied up this way, with the tie up cords going to the far ends of the shaft bars.  Normally the cords fro the jacks go straight down to the shaft bars, but this is not critical.

I have experience with looms where the lamms, both upper and lower are the same length.  Usually the shafts will sink a little when the locking pins are pulled out, as the lower lamms are not heavy enough to balance the weight of the shafts.  This does not keep you from weaving, but it will cause the treadles to rise and make the treadling less comfortable.  You can use an extra treadle and put treadle cords from the lower lamms to the treadle so that the weight of this treadle will hold the shafts up better.

The issue of heddle length is a separate issue.  The longer the heddles, the more likely that a lower lamm will hit a treadle and stop the opening of the shed.  Longer heddles may also cause the shaft bars to hit the side of the loom frame and stop the opening of the shed.  If this happens, the longer heddles do not give you a bigger shed. 

If your breast beam height is 34 or 35 inches, use 11 inch heddles.  You can even use 10 1/2 inch heddles. You need a taller breast beam height to use longer heddles.



Posted on Mon, 01/19/2015 - 15:38

Hello folks! This seems to be the place to come and share how excited I am to have found a 40 inch 4 shaft/4 treadle Finlandia with worm gear. I committed to buying it sight unseen (because the owner was loading the moving truck that day!) a few hours from home and was pleasantly surprised when I got all the parts home and together. I have a wood working friend who'll be making me additonal parts to expland the loom to 12 shafts and treadles. I'm taking Joanne's advice and having him make the lower lamms longer and using the current lamms on top. The loom was purchased from Finland in 1985 by a woman who took a class then had it shipped home (I'm assuming this is why only 4 treadles). She and her daughter wove some on it, but it's in like new condition. When she died, her daughter put it in storage and didn't want to move it with them. It came with a Swedish bobbin winder, raddle, warp sticks, 3 rug shuttles, 3 boat shuttles and a small swift. It does need more cord, even for the small number of shafts, and anchor pegs. I'm getting ready to put a 36 inch wide waffle weave warp on in varigated merino using the same weight alpaca for warp. It's been about 14 years since I have sat at a floor loom, so I'm nervous and excited all at the same time!

Posted on Mon, 01/19/2015 - 17:31

Before you change the lam length, try your new loom with the four shafts as delivered. In my experience, Finn looms have lams of equal length that, as they come from the maker, balance really well. If not, then you can experiment with different lam lengths.

Posted on Mon, 01/19/2015 - 19:27

Thank you. Good to know! I've used a Toika before and never had any trouble with the lamm lenght so I'll wait and see.

Posted on Sun, 01/25/2015 - 18:47

The lamms work just fine with 4 shafts for this little waffle weave project. Nice to be back at the loom! Looking forward to the rep weave rug, next. Hooray!

Posted on Thu, 01/29/2015 - 00:53

I know I'm being a pest, but I'm just so darned excited! I haven't woven in so long (on a floor loom, I have a beat up structo that I use for teaching kids (family) to weave, mostly samplers and some scarves) that I was a bit nervous. But the waffle weave project turned out beautifully. I am learning the loom, and excited to get started on the rep weave rug next.

Posted on Thu, 01/29/2015 - 02:39

Hi ShawnC,

I'm a Toika lover (8s/10T Liisa) and would love to hear all about your waffle weave project, what yarn, sett, pattern,etc. We've been talking waffle weave over in the January chat room for a few days.  I just finished a 5 shaft project in 22/2 Nialin from Simple Weaves. 

Posted on Thu, 01/29/2015 - 13:21

Hi Missus T,

I adapted a simple 4 shaft/4 treadle pattern from an older Handwoven that used cotton to yarns I had on hand. I used Koigu sock yarn for the warp and a similar weight alpaca for the weft. Most of the Koigu was varigated. It was sleyed at 10 ends per inch. I didn't have a lot of yarn and was anxious to weave, so it was only 30 inches wide on the loom. With draw in after being off tension, I think it will make a better fabric for a little baby jacket than a tiny blanket. I'll see if I can get a photo up. Would love to see your 5 shaft project!

Posted on Thu, 01/29/2015 - 23:51

Here are the 5 shaft waffle weave towels -- three of them stacked next to some plain weave towels made from the same fiber (22/2 Nialin).  Can't stop squeezing them, even though they match my friend's kitchen and are on their way out! 

Posted on Fri, 01/30/2015 - 00:09

Hi Sara,

I was reading up on that last night.  That might balance better on the loom than the 6T dance I was doing.  When I had that warp on the loom before weaving, I pulled out the locking pins and had shaft 1 fall 3-4 inches despite correct tie-up.  I ended up hooking up extra treadles for the ride.  For now, I'm happy that I figured out how to create a project page without my kids' help!

Posted on Fri, 01/30/2015 - 01:09

Hi Sara,

I just was reading in Simple Weaves again about turning the 5 shaft waffle weave draft; it's done for me on p. 71.  The turned, 4 shaft draft is called "unlike sided" waffle weave, distinguised from the 5 shaft "like-sided" waffle weave I just completed.  By "unlike sided" is it meant that the fabric is not reversible?  (I'm hoping for waffles on both sides).

Posted on Fri, 01/30/2015 - 01:18

That is going to be the best baby jacket ever!  Have you wet finished it yet?  I love how the wooly fiber gives definition to the waffle texture, and the variegated color is spectacular. 

Posted on Fri, 01/30/2015 - 03:20

Thank you! I do love the variegated yarns. Haven't wet finished yet. This was just off the loom. I'll wet finish tomorrow in between winding the new warp. I had to find a pattern I could use 2 treadles with for the new project while my friend makes all of the extra pieces! There are only 4 treadles now, so I didn't use the suggested tabby headings for the waffle weave. After reading comments about it I'm just as glad I couldn't.

Posted on Fri, 01/30/2015 - 13:56

It has been a long time since I warped a wider warp of fine threads, but I have to say, it's very tedious on the warping board! Is a warping reel worth the (considerable) investment?

Posted on Fri, 01/30/2015 - 14:41

Hi ShawnC,

When I took my first weaving class we used warping reels for warp making.  I have never used a board for warping.  When I set up my studio at home, I resolved to eat rice and beans if necessary to get a warping reel.  I have a 3m Toika reel which has moveable peg bars to make two crosses.  Ordered it from WEBS with Barbara Elkin's help. Love it.  The reel does all of the moving, not my middle-aged shoulder!  I'm still learning to optimize warp positioning on the reel (trying not to get too steep of an angle on the warp track so that the threads will be the same length).  This is a professional tool so skill in using it will come with practice and study.  (Osterkamp's Winding a Warp book was useful, as was Lundell's Big Book of Weaving). The reel takes a lot of space and is not easily collapsible; this is the downside. The upside is happy weaver! If you search warping reel on this website you'll find other weavers with more knowledge weighing in on this, I'm sure!  I actually like making a warp, which is good since it is, after all, half the project!

Posted on Fri, 01/30/2015 - 15:27

Thanks! I usually don't mind, but admit I haven't made a warp of over 2700 ends of 16/2 in quite a while (or maybe ever!). It seems as if the pegs on my warping board are so short-or maybe that's my memory ;-) I think I have Osterkamp's book and will have to dig it out, and just ordered the Big Book of Weaving from Sara.

I don't have a lot of space in the 'loom room', but I do have a balcony over the kitchen that is near by that will eventually hold the table loom and could potentially house the reel. I have been looking at the Toika reel. Hmmm. The only down side I see is that it will cost more than I paid for my sweet loom! But maybe that's not a down side, since I saved so much on the loom I can afford (ish) to invest in the reel.

One more question. I have an old Structo 4 shaft that I've been using mostly to teach children about weaving (and a friend as well), but it only has 50 heddles a shaft. Adding a nice number might be a considerable investment. Would you invest in a better loom, or put money into the one you already have (money is not unlimited, but I do have a small amount I can designate for weaving).


Posted on Fri, 01/30/2015 - 23:35

I just noticed an ad for a used Glimakra reel on this website.  There are probably other used reels out there every now and then, so you could keep your gimlet eye peeled for one.  Can't comment on Structo loom upgrade vs. new loom, but if you put this post out for the general group, you'd get a lot more input!  Try the January daily weaverliness column, or wait for the fresh February one to start on Sunday!

Posted on Fri, 01/30/2015 - 23:47

Thanks! I did check on that one. I think if I have to spend that much I might as well buy a new one from Toika/Webs ;-) I'll take your advice and post for a larger audience on the table loom. I am thrilled with my floor loom/Varpa and hope to add a drawloom attachment at some point, when I can move it to a large space.

But for the occassional smaller piece and for teaching about weave structure I think the table loom is nice. Oh boy. I did order some of the wonderful naturally colored cottons from Lunatic Fringe and got my books from Sara. So excited. Loving them. Sara-your drawloom book is wonderful. Love the close ups and detailed explanations. It will make adding the drawloom attachment (someday) that much easier.

Posted on Sun, 02/01/2015 - 00:22

Just think: your warping reel wended its way all the way from Finland and into your heart!  You're "saving" it from a cold, dark box.  Enjoy!

Posted on Sun, 02/01/2015 - 00:42

Ha ha. Yes, and it can keep the Finnish loom company ;-) I hope it doesn't take up too much floor space or I might be taking over another room ;-)


Posted on Sat, 02/07/2015 - 19:01

Hi folks! I may have an opportunity to get a Berga Savonia loom. It's lovely, counterbalance, and looks very much like an older Toika (Eeva) or Varpa loom. Is it a Finnish loom? Anyone have any experience with it? I love my Finlandia, and have no trouble when working at the front of the loom, but if I need to get in the back for some reason, it's not as easy as it would be on this loom (and is a consideration due to health issues).


Thanks for any help you can offer.

Posted on Sat, 02/07/2015 - 20:55

Berga was a Swedish yarn company and they sold these looms, which were made in Finland.  So, yes, it would be like the Finnish loom you have.

Berga went out of business in the late 1980s.


Posted on Sat, 02/07/2015 - 21:52

Thank you, Joanne! It seems to be very well made. Do you have an opinion of the loom? It has holes pre-drilled for conversion to countermarche if desired.

Posted on Sun, 02/08/2015 - 03:15

Back in the day (70's and 80's) there was the Berga, The Varpa Karelia, the Lilqvist Lilba - they were all about the same costruction, standard counterbalance or countermarche loom, all well built and all very nice looms. The hanging beater will be a bit different than your Finlandia giving you considerable variety in your weaving.  Before about 1985, most looms of this type were offered as counterbalance standard with the opportunity to have the countermarche pieces (for about $400 more). My old Lilqvist was ordered as countermarche, but still came with counterbalance pulleys and horses. This was because the old countermarche tieup pre-Texsolv was more difficult than most weavers wanted to deal with.

You might wish to give the loom a chance to show how nice counterbalance looms can be. They are easy to tie up and take modifications like damask pulleys and other addons quite well.


Posted on Sun, 02/08/2015 - 11:56

Thank you, Sara! OK. This is great information. I've never used a counter-balance loom-only jack looms (my first little Schacht loom) and countermarche. Reading the Big Book of Weaving has really sparked my interest in giving this a try. I think (if I haven't missed it) if I get it, I will leave it set up as is. It has 8 shafts and treadles. I may have my friend make more treadles and order some long-eyed heddles and damask pulleys at some point (and elastic) to try weaving with a sword. I aslo just watched the video, Dress Your Swedish Drawloom. So much fun. I'll have to figure out where I can fit this loom, as it's a bit wider/bigger than my Finlandia. Getting back into weaving is fun!


Posted on Sun, 02/08/2015 - 17:31

One last question. What would you consider a fair price for this loom, 45 in weaving width, 8 shafts with bench? I don't expect to get it for a steal like my Finlandia, but have seen such variation on the Berga Savonia that I'm curious. I wish I was on the west coast as i saw one listed (60 inch) with extras including a home made drawloom extension for 50 shaft system for only 500 dollars! I would almost drive out there for that one if it was still available.

Posted on Sun, 02/08/2015 - 22:40

Found out that the Seattle area Berga (60 in, 10 shaft countermarche, will bench, reeds and drawloom) is still available! Now to figure out how much it would cost to get it here. The other loom (45 in, 8 shaft counterbalance with bench) is 1200, but only 3 hours away. I would love to get the big one. I've used one of those freight calculators and think (if the seller would be willing to pack it) it might end up being the same price, but a lot more loom for the money. Does anyone have any experience with shipping a large loom?

Posted on Mon, 02/09/2015 - 01:27

Do consider how large 60in really is. While you can always weave narrower, it can feel odd to have just a foot or so in the center of such a wide loom. Also for drawloom weaving, most weavers don't go much over 40 inch weaving width. The work from Ethel Stein was all between 32 and 35 inches mounted, meaning that her standard warping width is aroung 40". The one near you might be more comfy to work on. Extensions aren't that difficult to put together.

Posted on Mon, 02/09/2015 - 12:47

Thanks, Sara. I appreciate this so much. She is NOT interested in working on that end to have it shipped. I would have to pick it up. Not really a possibility these days. A few years ago I would have managed it easily. So, I think I will probably decide to get the smaller (funny, 45 isn't that small) counterbalance loom. Still need to figure out, if I get it, where I will put it ;-) I'm not yet ready to give up the Finlandia, and would enjoy having 2 different projects going at once.

Posted on Mon, 02/09/2015 - 22:22

It's a red letter day! Got my new Toika reel delivered and put together and purchased the 45 in Berga-Savonia-now to pick it up. Yes! The first reel was damaged in transit. This one, thankfully, was not. Thanks for all of the help with decisions folks. I do appreciate it. Now I cannot afford anything more for quite a while.

Posted on Sun, 02/15/2015 - 16:34

Hi lovely helpful folks. I got the Berga home and am very happy with this loom. Quite sturdy and I love the adjustable bench. Got the frame up last night and was sorting and messing around this morning and have a question about shaft width. Usually (and this is the case with my Finlandia) the shafts are not much wider than the weaving width (say, 41 inches for 40 inch weaving width) and fit inside the castle frame as they hang down.

When I tied up the shaft holders and put the top shaft sticks in on the Berga, they are quite a bit wider than the weaving width of 45 inches and do not clear the uprights, but must hang in front (or behind but not even close to workable). I've never seen such a thing and wonder 1) is this typical for a counter-balance, or 2) did the seller give me the wrong shaft sticks, 3) on these looms is this the way they hang?

I will go back to fiddling with the loom now.

Posted on Sun, 02/15/2015 - 15:24

Perhaps I should joined this group as I have Bergå Savonia loom, made by Varpapuu, Finland? Weaving width is 120 cm.

When I bought it, many years ago,(second hand) it came as counterbalance, (horses and pulleyes), with 8 shafts and treadles, but I only wove on 4 shafts. Last summer I bought countermarch (thingy) from Glimåkra and extra shafts and treadles to be able to weave on 10 shafts - I am still on 4 shafts - but soon, I will take on the task on weaving with more shafts.

I like my loom, but it is BIG, and takes up a lot of space, which I do not really have, but I manage.

Posted on Sun, 02/15/2015 - 15:45

Hi Greta! Are the shaft bars so wide on your loom? Congrats on the additions. I may decide to do this at some point (convert to countermarche) but want to challenge myself (thanks for the suggestion, Sara) to use the counterbalance system. I've never woven on one. It's a lovely loom, well made, beautiful.

I contacted the seller. She had used it only once since she moved from Sweden in 2003 and with 4 shafts had no problems with hanging up. She also thought the shaft bars were quite wide. it's 115cm (about 45 in weaving width) but the shaft bars are 49. I could chop off an inch on either side of the bottom bars (since they have a hole drilled in the center for the lamm), and 2 inches from the top bars, and redrill holes. I may just do this as I don't want to be frustrated after beginning to weave.

Posted on Sun, 02/15/2015 - 16:11

Yes, my shaft bars are 126 cm long, (as weaving width 120 cm). I do not have any trouble of having the shafts so long. The only time I finding it as a trouble, is when I am moving the shafts, from back of the loom to the front, before tie-ing the warp to the front beam.


When I place the warp on the loom, I roll up the shaft bars, with the heddles on, and tie it together, when placing the warp on the back beam, and then the warp ends lies(?) from the back, through the loom and over the front beam, and then I roll the warp on the back beam (I am sorry, not using the right words). Then I move the shafts to the back, and insert the warp-ends into the heddles, while sitting in the middle of my loom, then I thread the reed. Then I move all this to the right place, before tie-ing the warp to the front beam, and then I need to remember the long shafts.


I have only woven one project on countermarch, so I am used the the counterbalance system.

Posted on Sun, 02/15/2015 - 16:24

Shaft bars are longer than the weaving width so that you can weave the full width of the loom without heddles falling off.  So, put a warp on the loom, just like Greta described and start weaving.  I am sure you will find that the loom will work just fine.

Some American weavers will put longer heddles on Swedish looms.  Then you might have a problem.  But if your heddles are 10 to 11 inches long, there should be no problem.


Posted on Sun, 02/15/2015 - 16:35

I understand exactly what you mean, Greta! It's basically what I do when warping back to front. With the Varpapuu Finlandia, the shafts aren't so wide so that they move freely inside the loom frame. Thank you. Hmm. I guess before I go chopping things up I will give it a go as is. I'll start with 4 shafts though, I think, to get the hang of the loom and the system.

In addition to all of the other things I like about the loom, you can hang the lamms from either side (so if you have a preference of a space issue). It includes two bars for lamms, so easy to add more if using countermarche. The top of the loom is also predrilled for adding countermarche, and even the bar that holds the pulleys is predrilled to accept locking pins and jack pins. I'm thinking that one only needs to add another like this to the top of the loom to form the frame for the jacks?. Quite nice.

Posted on Sun, 02/15/2015 - 16:32

Yes, you can attach the lamms to either side.  That is one of the nice things about these looms.  You can easily make changes, not only from counterbalance to countermarch, but in other ways.  I had a loom that I wanted to have near a wall on the right side.  This is the side where the ratchet wheels are.  So, I just took the warp and cloth beams out and turned them around, putting the wheels on the left side.  The only other thing that I had to do was to attach the pawl on that side.   These looms are so very flexible. 


Posted on Sun, 02/15/2015 - 16:39

Thanks, Joanne. Yes, versatile and so easy to add things as needed/desired. Well, I'm going back to the loom, then. and think I'll try a nice overshot pattern for the test run. Thanks, also, Greta!