Beading Tools: Why I Love My Mirrix Loom and Basic Loom Beading Questions Answered

Feb 12, 2014

Of all my favorite beading tools, I think I love my Mirrix beading and tapestry loom for how easily I can combine my favorite fibers and threads with beads for unique, artistic beading projects. It's not every beading tool that sets my creativity on fire like my beading loom -- it brings back memories of my mother's enormous floor loom from when I was a kid, watching her create intricate fiber tapestries with soft, colorful yarns.

Learning the basic weaving techniques for working on a loom is easy to do, and if you've ever thought about expanding your crafting skills to include beading on a loom, I can highly recommend the Mirrix looms as a great place to get started!

If you're interested in learning more about weaving beads on a loom, I've answered a few basic questions about getting started with a beading loom.

1. Why weave beads on a loom? Weaving beads on a loom gives you the same look as when you use square stitch, but the actual weaving goes much faster. Using a loom for weaving beads also makes it easier to adjust the tension in the beadwork, something that many beginners find difficult when working in square stitch.

2. What type of thread is best for bead-weaving on a loom? Thread choice is always personal, depending on what kind of bead loom you're using and what kind of beading project you're creating. Claudia and Elena of Mirrix Looms prefer the C-Lon beading thread because it's strong, comes in a wide range of colors, and holds up without fraying. I prefer to use my favorite Nymo D on a cone or spool (not a bobbin) for many of the same reasons. If you're creating a piece like an evening bag or something else that needs to hold its shape, you may want to experiment with using Fireline or WildFire beading threads.

3. What's the difference between warp threads and weft threads? Your warp threads are the threads that you string going up and down on your loom. These are the threads that will nestle between your beads when you begin weaving. The weft threads are what you thread into your needle when you string your beads for weaving. Weft threads get tucked into the beadwork as you go along. The warp threads are what you will finish off after you've finished your beading project and have cut your piece off of your loom.

4. How tight should the tension be on my loom? When setting up your loom, you want your warp threads to have an even tension -- not too loose, not too tight. The more you weave beads with a loom, the better you'll be able to judge the tension of the warp threads.

5. What other beading tools should I have to start weaving beads on a loom? Other essential beading tools to have handy would include a good, sharp scissor or thread cutter; a tapestry needle or your favorite beading needle; a pair of chain nose pliers or a thread puller for gently helping your needle through a tight spot; a ruler or tape measure; your favorite bead board, mat, or ceramic dish to hold your beads; and good magnification, if you need it or if you're working with smaller beads.

6. How many warp threads do I need for my pattern? Because you'll have one warp thread on either side of each bead in your pattern, you'll need one warp thread for each bead in each row of your pattern, plus one extra warp thread on the outside. So if you're making a piece of beadwork that is 15 beads across, you'll need 16 warp threads on your loom.

7. How do I finish off my warp threads? There are many ways to finish off your warp threads, and this is just one place where you can get very creative with your loomed beadwork! There are a couple of things you can do to finish off your warp threads:

  • When you first start weaving your piece of beadwork, work a "header" and "footer", using just plain beading thread for an inch or so at the beginning and ends of your loom beading. After you remove your piece from the loom, tie your warp ends into this piece of thread weaving, and either glue it against the back of your piece or cover it with a small scrap of faux leather (like Ultrasuede) and finish the edges with a beaded whip stitch.
  • Use your warp threads to make fringe on one or both ends of your piece.
  • Weave your warp ends right into your finished loomwork.
  • Or...

Why not experiment with a no-warp technique for your next piece of beadwork? Mirrix Looms now has a no-warps bead-weaving kit that you can use to create a sweet button bracelet while learning how to create a piece of beadwork with no warps to weave in! This fun beaded bracelet kit includes all of the Japanese cylinder beads you need to create a loomed bracelet, plus a pewter button for the closure, a tapestry needle, and a complete set of bars, hooks, and cord for setting up a no-warps beading loom. All you need to supply is your favorite beading thread and a pair of scissors! Get your No Warp-Ends Checkerboard Bracelet beading kit and see just how quick and easy it can be when you want to do bead-weaving with a loom!

Do you love to weave beads on a loom? Do you have any tips or techniques to share with us? Leave a comment and tell us your best loom beading hints here on the Beading Daily blog!

Bead Happy,

 

Jennifer

P.S. If you don't have a Mirrix beading and tapestry loom yet, you can find two of Mirrix's most popular beading looms in the Beading Daily Shop, too! And for great loom beading tutorials and techniques, make sure you spend some time at the Mirrix Looms website.


Featured Product

No Warp-Ends Checkerboard Bracelet Package

Availability: In Stock
Price: $69.00


Make a beautiful beaded checkerboard bracelet with Delica beads using a Mirrix Loom with the No Warp-Ends Kit. This kit allows you to weave a piece without having to weave the warp ends back in. This method makes weaving beaded pieces even faster and easier with the same stunning results as you get with any project on a Mirrix Loom.

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Comments

smr200484 wrote
on Feb 12, 2014 8:50 AM

When I do loom work, I mak key chains. This gets to be a long a time consuming process of tucking the thread into the peice. I normally take my work off the loom and start weaving the thread ends into the peice, I do this by taking (the outside thread) and going over the top of the first bead and tucking into the second bead. I do this down the peice for about 6 beads or so then I make a pass back to the star. I reroute the thread in a figure 8 pattern in one line of beads 2 or 3 times to ensure that the thread will stay in place and the peice will last for a while. I know doing this figure 8 so many times might be over kill, but it works and the peice dose last longer and it a bit stronger. I have experamented with bees wax and found out this helps the integraty of the thread and helps keeping the thread from fraying so fast (if the eds do come out of the work).

on Feb 12, 2014 9:01 AM

I started out beading on a loom.  It was my fathers old "Boy Scout" loom from his childhood.  Since it has carved out marks to hold the threat, wife, etc. it makes the process go much easier.  I have thought of making a larger loom to do purses in the Victorian style, but have never gotten around to it.  I might have to try that soon!

on Feb 12, 2014 9:27 AM

I've found the most important aspect of loom beading is choosing the correct beads for the dent (spaces per inch where the warp threads sit). Btw, that's best explained as 'count the dents in the loom you have per inch, choose the beads by one size down from the number of dents - 12 dents per inch? Use 11/0 or 10/0 for best results. And so on. All sales info should include this information, so should DIY instructions.

Can't tell you how frustrating it is for my beading students who were excited about loom beading, buy a loom and then find they don't have satisfactory results because the starter kit they bought comes with the wrong size beads for the dent - which btw is VERY rarely mentioned as the most important factor in loom beading!

I learned this the hard way, it took me hours of 'Net research to figure out after my first loom turned out to be the biggest disappointment of my beading life - most beginner loom beaders won't be that determined. They have frustrating results then walk away from loom beading altogether.

They sign up for my course to learn how to create beaded jewellery and bags (I teach in the UK) and we get to talking about looms - groans and disdain follow until I show them 'the trick'. It shouldn't be a 'trick' at all, it should be the first thing mentioned about loom beading.

Oh dear. Sorry for the rant!

Once that's sorted my students are mad for loom beading (as am I).

on Feb 12, 2014 2:47 PM

I still have one of those "Boy Scout" or "Indian Beading" looms. It lasted until my daughter bought me a large copper tube loom that I like very much. I make decorations for my Native American flutes, transferring  the finished project to a prepared piece of leather and then attached to the flute.

Sunnie; Thank you for bringing up something that I found out by the "It just doesn't seem to fit" technique. I concluded that the on going project will not be very much smaller or larger than the remaining warp if you adjust the bead size.

The biggest frustration is finding designs. There is software to plan your own work but when you are starting out, you want those "quick fix" projects. Then you can move on. It would be great to have a monthly section in "Beading Daily" devoted to loom work. Ah, but to dream.

beadbiddy wrote
on Feb 12, 2014 7:14 PM

By now you will have heard several times, I'm sure, about the typos in your Beading Daily ad for the Mirrix looms: it's a "shedding" device, not -- heaven forbid -- a "shredding" device! The "shedding" device is a gizmo for setting up heddles on your table or lap loom, similar to the much larger devices on floor looms. (But your blog does not discuss this type of weaving with heddles, so newbies to loom use will be confused or alarmed by the mention of a "shredding" device.)

Having to weave in warp ends kept me from doing loomwork for years. Then I realized that it was perfectly possible to use a loom with continuous warp and no ends to weave in. In fact, you don't even really need a loom -- you just need something the right size to serve as a frame. Even a bent coat hanger can do the trick -- I made myself a lightweight little loom frame out of bent brass tubing, which I like because I can easily flip it over to work from both sides. But the Mirrix approach allows for easy adjustability of the desired length of your workpiece.

on Feb 15, 2014 1:47 PM

@Capt Redbeard - I ran into the same thing re patterns. I solved it when I realised many if not all cross-stitch charts easily translate to loom beading patterns - I'm working on a strawberries lampshade right now.

Every stitch in the cross-stitch stitch count is a warp (and don't forget the doubled outer warps+1 extra warp); every where the chart indicates a blank space or backstitch I've inserted a bead. When inserting a bead for a backstitch you'll need to add to the stitch/warp count.

Works a treat and helped me learn to chart my own patterns. Those bead software programmes are fab but ouchie-pricey for a beginner!

on Feb 18, 2014 12:12 AM

I totally love my Mirrix bead loom!  I must admit that I got totally flustered with the shedding/heddles, although I thought I followed the directions perfectly.  The idea that Mirrix has a way now to apply the no-warp ends idea to my loomwork is exciting.  I will look into that further, as it is unclear to me whether or not the kit is just for the one bracelet, or also teaches the solution forever more. ??????? Anyone know?

Also, those of you looking for loom patterns ... Margie Deeb has a wonderful book called Out on a Loom, with great loom directions and patterns.  A quick web search for "bead loom patterns" should pull up some fun options, too.

Linda from Northern California