Basic library for beginner on floor loom

I know that there is a similar thread to this one on the Weaving forum but I thought it wouldn't hurt to bring this up again here. I have a start on a decent library for rigid heddle looms but as I start to move into floor looms I am wondering which books more experienced weavers whould reccommend to a newbie. I am looking for basics that will cover soup to nuts - parts of a loom, winding a warp, warping the loom, reading a draft - everything on a level that a beginner can grasp but that will also come in handy as I progress and learn more. I am guessing that I will get some ideas on what to add to my library through the classes I plan on taking but I'd welcome suggestions for here as well.

Thanks - Tina


Posted on Wed, 12/28/2011 - 00:39

Hi endorph:

I belive that the best way to get on the fastest l earning curve is to take a class from an educational institution such as a community college.  I took a course from Janice Sullivan who is an educator and a professional weaver and I learned an incredible amount in a very short time.  I went in with the premise that I needed to take the basics to make sure everything was covered.  One of the fallacies of teaching ones self or of taking courses in specific topics is that you don't know  wha tyou don't know.  I know it sounds silly but unless you are in either a directed class or an apprenticeship you don't get all your basics. there were a lot of things I know but just watching Janice weave showed technique I was unaware of.  If you have the o pportunity I would strongly recommend taking that type of a class I certainly don't regret the time or the expense: it was well worth it! Also the classroom had a textile library and I selected some tomes I went out and bought for myself: some I would nto have discovered since they are out of print.



Posted on Wed, 12/28/2011 - 01:11

thanks for the comments. I am taking classes this spring to learn the basics - however I want to start building a reference library to supplement what I am going to be learning in class. And while my instructors will be available for specific questions, I think it important to have a reference library (I am a research librarian by profession so. . .)- I often learn better when searching out solutions on my own and then running ideas past more experienced teachers. I already have a decent reference collection for rigid heddle as well as textile history in general but am looking for suggestions for a basic weaving library for floor looms.


Posted on Wed, 12/28/2011 - 01:18

Mary Black, New Key to Weaving, Shirley Held, Weaving, Joanne Hall's book, Laila Lundell's Big Book of Weaving for general texts.  Once you find your weaving 'groove' you may want to pick up some books that are more specialty oriented - books on colour and weave effects, rag rugs, weave structures and so on.

And of course classes are always great if you can manage them.



Posted on Wed, 12/28/2011 - 04:30

Ditto on the Shirley Held, Weaving: A Handbook For Fiber Craftsmen. By the way, are you a member of a Guild? My guild and many others have excellent library resources so you can explore some titles before committing to the expense. Also, you may find some out of print gems that you can start hunting for.

Posted on Wed, 12/28/2011 - 12:53

member of a guild. I have looked at the local guild but have not been able to get much inforamtion on them other than they are about all fiber crafts and seem to be very focused on knitting. Their website is nearly a year out of date! But I am still trying. . .  I am also looking to see what guilds might be available within a reasonable distance from me. Luckily the place I am taking lessons has a few books which I can borrow and assess as to whether I want to buy them or not. Thanks for the title suggestions so far.


Posted on Wed, 01/25/2012 - 16:14

I too need books.  I am a declared book-a-holic.  I have "The Handweaver's Pattern Directory", but it assumes I know what I am doing.  I was looking at the "Best of Handwoven...." books.  particulary the runners and placemats as those seem to be projects that are simple.  Has anyone used these books?  are they easy to follow?  I have taken some workshops and there seems to be no guild around the Charlotte NC area.

Posted on Sun, 01/29/2012 - 03:43

I've downloaded a couple of the Handwoven pattern ebooks.  One on placemats and one on towels.  The two I have are just patterns and don't give any instruction on how to actually weave the projects other than the threading, tie up, and treadling. 

In addition to the books already mentioned, I like "The Joy of Handweaving" by Osma Gallinger Tod.  The is an older Dover reprint and fairly inexpensive.  I had the hardest time figuring out what "treadle as drawn in" (or "tromp as writ") meant and it was the explanation in this book that finally made sense to me. 

Another fun book is "Foot-Power Loom Weaving" by Edward Worst.  This was first published in 1918, but still has a lot of useful information.  And if you are wood worker (or know one) the book has several plans for different weaving tools.  A friend of mine made me a raddle for my loom using the plan in the book.  The book is in the public domain and you can get an online copy from Google Books or other sites.

Posted on Sun, 01/29/2012 - 14:40

Hi Tina,

I read your list of things you want in a book and your comment that it should be on a level that a beginner can grasp.  That describes my new book, Learning to Warp your Loom.  I put together my teaching handouts from 40 years experience teaching weaving and it is written for beginners, with all the necessary information.  It is concise, but without a lot of extra pages to wade through.


Posted on Sun, 01/29/2012 - 19:27

I have your book on my wish list and will probably be picking it up soon - I have read the Mary Black Book and amd almost through the Held book - glad I had taken a class before reading s I am understanding more than I thought I would. have a couple more modern works too that I have look through but haven't read yet. nd Joanne, I found out that you are teaching a workshop at the end of February for my teachers! That is very cool.


Posted on Sun, 01/29/2012 - 22:12

Yes, I will be teaching two workshops in Texas and I am looking forward to that.  One is on overshot and pattern weaves at the Old Oaks Ranch in Wimberley and the other workshop will be in Waco, in a production studio where classes are taught. 


Posted on Sun, 01/29/2012 - 23:12

I will be keeping threads like these in the back of my mind as well. I already have some books on the wish list at Amazon. ;D I do have an old book on floor looms that does teach you a lot of stuff. I just have not studied it much yet, just skimmed through it. I snagged it off the internet archives.

Posted on Sun, 01/29/2012 - 23:14

I am taking classes in Waco. The folks at Homestead Heritage are great and very patient with their students. I am looking forward to more classes with them in the very near future.


Posted on Mon, 01/30/2012 - 00:52

On the subject of books.  My copy of "Weaving.... by Shirley Held" was begining to fall apart.  I took it to Staples.  They drilled the holes and put a spiral binding on it.  It cost less then $5.00.  This is great for any book that is loosing its spine. 

Jen - thanks for your note on the ebooks.

Joanne - your book sounds like one I need. 

Posted on Mon, 01/30/2012 - 00:53

On the subject of books.  My copy of "Weaving.... by Shirley Held" was begining to fall apart.  I took it to Staples.  They drilled the holes and put a spiral binding on it.  It cost less then $5.00.  This is great for any book that is loosing its spine. 

Jen - thanks for your note on the ebooks.

Joanne - your book sounds like one I need. 

Posted on Sat, 03/03/2012 - 12:02

I'm in the same situation - after a few years of RH weaving (and buying the books for it) I have access to a four shaft treadle loom and working on the library for that.

I'm surprised not to see Deborah Chandler's "Learning to Weave" in the list - it's the book that finally managed to teach me how to read drafts (two teachers had tried in vain...) And I'm finding Sharon Alderman's "Mastering Weave Structures" extremely interesting and helpful (as well as motivating to save money for a loom with more shafts - the book is useful from 4 to 16).

On the other hand, I was rather disappointed by the Big Book of Weaving (2008 British Edition, revised, with Elisabeth Windesjö as co-author): It's "learning by project" and the technical information is distributed in the most chaotic way I've seen in a long time. For example, how to do a rya knot is explained quite a few pages after the projects using them. The good thing is that the cross-references - and there's plenty of them - are correct as far as I've checked. There's no reasons given for why things are to be done that way (or when another way might be just as good), and the book supposes illimited means regarding reeds and shafts. The projects are ordered by difficulty - the first one is a tabby weave with 720 warp ends for a weaving width of 72 cm - but 6 shafts are needed very early on. Normally I would send it back, except there's a few pieces of information I haven't found anywhere else (such as a detailed description of how to use a warping mill) and there's a surprising amount of projects I'd actually like to do (or at least get inspired by).

(In case anybody wonders about my cheek to so criticize a "classic" of weaving literature: I am a beginning weaver, but a technical writer by training. The presentation of information in a logical and understandable manner used to be my profession.)

Now, if all the points I criticize above do not apply to an earlier edition of the Big Book of Weaving, would one of the owners of that one please chime in here?

Happy Weaving, Klara

Posted on Sat, 03/03/2012 - 13:34

Just a side note for some of the books that have been around for a few years. I was lucky enough to get some books through inter-library loan through my public library for research. It would be a great way to take a " look see" before purchasing for anyone wanting to build a library.

Posted on Sat, 03/03/2012 - 16:16

 (first I should say I haven't seen the new edition - but I was lead to believe it was primarily the projects that were changed)

My edition (1976) starts with a "project" (placemats in tabby) - then pages 14 to 66 explains everything, from winding on a mill, via pre-sleying, warping (incl how to move the shed to the back of the reed), threading, sleying, tieing on (incl types of knots), tieing the horses, the treadles (with and without lamms), making and winding quills, weaving (a header + rags - incl how to start new weft), managing lease sticks while weaving up to (including) cutting off.

Obviously the first project is different now, but anyway: for a complete beginner, I find these pages (which have several illustrations per page) excellent.

Next comes 6 pages wich explain the relationship between to different parts of a draft, the relationship between the draft and the loom.

Then there are "projects", until page 204, where the 150 pages of "theory" begins. (In quotes, because it also includes how to put together a loom, troubleshooting and a lot more.)

It is one of the few books to explain how to put together/take apart a loom.

In my book there are some 18 projects before 10 shafts are needed (on page 131 - 4 projects). All in all, there are some 10 (maybe 12) projects that require more than 4 shafts.

I have no problem agreeing with Klara that (even my old ed.) could have been organized differently - but it makes me sad if the excellent beginning is taken out... it really took the beginner from two cones of yarn to the completed project, step by step.

Maybe I should get the new ed so I could compare...

Posted on Sat, 03/03/2012 - 17:52

edition of the "Big Book of Weaving" and yes the organization of the book is a bit odd but I found it perfectly easy to follow. Of course as a historian I am more drawn to a narrative style as opposed to technical writing which I find to be too clinical at times but each to his own. Maybe it is the Swedish side of me that is drawn to this book! :) The first 57 pages of the book take you from how a loom works, wiriting project notes through the basics of getting a warp on your loom and getting the first project ready for weaving. Then there are some projects. Pages 80 - 93 take you through finished adn fabric care and then gets into the technicalities of choosing amterials, sett, reed choice etc ending with how to colcualte the amount of materials needed for a project. Then pgs 94 to 183 are more projects. Then the last 100 or so pages go through putting together a loom and other techniques you need to consider while weaving. Even though it is geared toward CM/CB loom and i have a jack loom, I just sort of skimmed through the specific loom information and concentrated on those things that can apply to any loom especially the warping techniques, etc.


Posted on Sun, 03/04/2012 - 15:09

Rachel Brown's "The Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing Book".  It's out of print, but copies can be found.  It's really clear and has great drawings.

Posted on Sun, 03/04/2012 - 22:38

There is an older book on finishing your weave, but out of print and may possibly be gotton on I looked it up on the Canadian site and a used copy is very expensive, like $150. It will stay right there as far as I'm concerned. :)

Posted on Mon, 03/05/2012 - 12:02

Kerstin, from what you write it doesn't look as if they had taken out the excellent beginning. The detailed descriptions and drawings of what to do and how are still there - I just object to them coming under the header of a project that I consider madness for an absolute beginner (especially one working on her own)... Tomorrow I'll go to a "guild" meeting and will ask my more experienced weaving friends what they think of it.

Bye, Klara

Posted on Mon, 03/05/2012 - 13:17

You don't mention what area you reside in but I am hoping you can find a true "weaving" guild close to you. While I have found many helpful instructions here, the most helpful was in finding a local guild. I moved forward quickly once I found a guild full of weavers willing to share their knowledge and experience. While I have much to learn, I know where to find local help. :)

Posted on Mon, 03/05/2012 - 13:58

very lucky in having a community of weavers close by and willing to teach! In fact I am taking a weeklong workshop at the end of the month, but I also enjoy learning on my on and building upon the basics I amd getting in class. And it is nice to have the fount of weavo knowledge to draw upon!



Posted on Mon, 03/05/2012 - 16:43

Madelyn van der Hoogt's Warping your Loom and Weaving Well are good for beginners or those returning to weaving like me. Study groups from your local weaver's guild provide support and inspiration. And there is nothing like doing it, making a mess of it and learning from your mistakes. I do the latter Really well...making a mess of it that is. But I am learning.