Weaving Mohair Scarves On A Home-Made Scarf Loom
Written by Gil
Looms. They're complicated and expensive, aren't they ? And take up lots of room ?
Mohair ? Bah ! So 1980s. Batwing jumpers in lurid colours. No thanks !
So what can I do with the mohair yarn I have ?
You can weave a simple mohair scarf like this :
or this :
using a homemade scarf loom that comes apart for easy storage.
I have a Spears tabletop loom, and wanted to weave a mohair scarf in a colour that wasn't pastel. So I tried using the Spears, and only succeeded in jamming it up with fuzz.
At a craft exhibition, I saw a simple scarf loom being demonstrated, and thought it might be the answer. So I borrowed it, and wove my first mohair scarf - the purple one above.
Here's the scarf loom in bits. It comes apart so it's easy to store when you're not using it.
Making A Simple Scarf Loom
To make it as shown, you need :
Two 5’ lengths of 2x2cm wood - needs to be reasonable quality without knots in, because of all the nails you need to hammer in. Knotty wood will split.
Plus about another 12-18” of the same size wood to do the three x two = 6 holders where the dowels fit
12 screws to fix the dowel holders to the main struts, two to each holder
A pack of very smooth round nails - for this length of loom, you will need about 250 nails : 120 on each side, at 1cm / half-inch intervals, and with the nails on one side being offset by 0.5cm from those on the other side.
Dowelling - this loom has 3 lengths of 14” dowel, probably about 1/4” diameter. The dowels fit into holes drilled into the holders, and are slightly pared/filed at each end to fit tightly. You could have different sets of dowels of different lengths, which would give you a choice of scarf widths.
When warping and weaving, I sit the loom on the coffee table. After a while, there’s enough yarn on it to stand it on its end against a wall and it not come apart - whenever I need a coffee table without mohair all over it !
Using the Loom
Woven fabric has threads going in two directions : the ones that form the framework into which the others are woven are called the Warp. The threads you weave in are called the Weft.
Step 1 : Warping-up
Tie a ‘weavers knot’ in a top corner nail (I use a clove hitch, which works too),
and start warping up, and just carry on down as long as you want the scarf to be.
Warp up the loom by winding the yarn across and round each nail, from side to side.
Decide how long you want it, and stop warping there, and tie off the yarn onto a nail with a knot.
In this blue example, I have changed yarn colour during the warp, which will give you horizontal stripes / shading. To do this, tie off the first colour onto a nail, leaving an end to sew in, and tie on the next colour to the same nail, also leaving an end long enough to sew in at the end.
Make sure you warp the loom up with enough tension on the warp threads, otherwise the side loops will lift off the nails as you weave. A small crochet hook is useful for putting them back into position over the nails should they come adrift, and it’s easier to fix / less bother than a dropped knit stitch.
When you come to the other end of the loom, tie off the warp thread with another knot.
Step 2 : Weaving
Now you can start to weave, using a loom needle (see picture) - it's big, flat, plastic, has a slot for the wool to go through, and is slightly upturned at the front end.
The first woven thread goes under the warp thread at one end, and over the next; under and over; under and over; from one end of the loom to the other.
The next thread on that side goes over and under; over and under; all the way to the end.
The third is the same as the first (under and over)
The fourth is the same as the second (over and under)
Repeat this from each side, until the loom is full.
I pre-cut yarn of the length of the scarf plus about 8-12” for ends/tassels/to be on the safe side. Or do two at once with double the length, and cut when I reach the far end - this gives you a chunkier, textured weave / end result.
Weaving yarn cut to length and draped over the sofa:
Allowing about 4-6" extra length at each end for the tassels / fringes means you can always trim to length / exactness after you finish. Better too long than too short !
Weave with the plastic needle through the weft threads. Start filling up the loom, working from the sides into the centre.
Use a wide-toothed comb (an afro comb is good for this) to move the weft threads out towards the sides, gradually, along the length of the loom. Coax them together, but don't jam them too tightly.
Fill the loom evenly from each side : one or two to the left, the next one or two to the right. This is to keep the tension even across the warp.
Working from the sides inwards, you can add lengthwise stripes if you like, and the scarf will be symmetrically coloured as long as you remember to add a thread of the new colour to each side. Though that’s just me being over-fond of order and regularity ! You could have any width or colour of stripe, in any order.
You could also make a scarf that was colour A at one side, and colour B at the other, with a centre area where they shade into each other and perhaps create the illusion of colour C.
I find it quite fiddly to get the first threads right out to the edges by the nails, but you need to, otherwise your scarf will have loopy bits on the sides.
If you find you've gone wrong on the under and over/over and under, don't bother to unweave, unless it's just a short length wrongly placed and you can pull it out easily. Just work out what it should be, and continue that to the end. Each thread is such a small piece of the final scarf that it really doesn't show in the end.
Keep on weaving until the loom is full.
Tying the end tassels
(Optional, if you want tassels)
Starting at one side, take the outer three weft threads (under/over/under; or over/under/over), and knot them together with a reef knot, as a 2 and a 1 [under+over threads, knotted with a single under thread; or over+under threads, knotted with single over thread]. Continue in this manner till you reach the other side of the scarf.
Then knot the tassels at the other end in the same way.
All the ends will be different lengths at this stage. Trim them to the length you require.
Then untie your weavers knot (or whatever knot you've used) at one end. The scarf should relax on the loom, enough for you to ease the warp threads over and off the nails. Untie any other knots you've used during warping : the one at the far end, and any others where you have changed colour. Ease the rest of the scarf off the loom, and give it a shake.
Now weave in any ends resulting from changing warp colour (anything hanging down that's not going to be a tassel), using a wool needle.
It is not necessary to full the scarf by soaking in hot soapy water.
The purple scarf in this article was fulled, in the hope it would hold the fibres together better. I think this is unnecessary, as mohair sticks to itself anyway. Your scarf is not going to unravel !
If you want to brush up the pile, I suggest you do it outdoors, with a soft brush, and wear a dust mask, as the yarn will shed fibres that you don't want to inhale.
The blue scarf was not brushed.