June 10, 2023

Introducing Ignite’s Floor Loom


by Megan Benson

The newest addition to Ignite is 5,000 years old–introducing Ignite’s floor loom! Well, the technology behind weaving cloth has been around that long. If you’ve been to Ignite recently, you may have noticed our newest piece of equipment. Our new friend is an 8 shaft Ashford jack loom with a 40” width. This means that there are 8 different pedals that can lift 8 different sets of yarns. We can make projects up to 38 inches wide.

Introducing Ignite’s Floor Loom

Did you know the technology behind our loom has been around since about 2500 BCE?  You can’t really improve on greatness. Aside from the mechanization of weaving machines during the 18th century, extraordinarily little has changed from the earliest draw looms (where you DRAW the fiber toward you) to the looms we use today. The invention of the Jacquard loom attachment in 1804, mechanized intricated patterning and allowed for the creation of brocade and damask fabrics with much more speed and on a much larger scale. If you’d like to learn more about Jacquard looms, the inspiration for early computers, click here, and to see one in action, click here.

But who uses looms these days? Well… Hello, I’m Megan and I’m a weaver. I started weaving nearly ten years ago on a loom that I inherited. I fell in love at once with the creative possibilities of woven patterning and quickly developed as a fiber artist. I use looms mainly to create wall-hangings, but many people today continue to create functional items like blankets, placemats and even clothing. You may remember me as the Maker-in-Residence here at Ignite last Fall. My experience teaching and experimenting at Ignite Studio last year was so inspiring, I finagled my way into a permanent position in the studio. I’m so excited to continue working with Ignite patrons and helping others explore the loom and various weaving techniques.


How to Get Started

The loom is now out on the floor and ready for you to experiment with! If you’d like to try weaving, please let a staff member know, and we can direct you to the instructional information and the best way to get started.  We do not offer instructional classes on the loom right now, but if you are interested in learning more, please let us know! We want to develop the curriculum to serve you.

Don’t be intimidated! Weaving is quite simple – it’s the set-up of the loom that is complicated and time consuming. The weaving itself involves sitting, pressing pedals with your feet and moving the yarn around with your hands. Even little ones can get involved!

The loom is dressed (set up) with a warp (the up and down yarns) and ready to weave upon. You will use a boat shuttle to apply the weft (the side-to-side yarns) in differing pattern options.

Once you understand the basics, you can explore four different pattern styles and grow as a weaver. We currently have instructions posted for Tabby/Plain Weave, Basket Weave, Twill and Alternating Twill as pictured below. The rhythmic and repetitive motions involved in weaving are incredibly soothing. I encourage everyone to give it a try!

Tabby/Plain Weave

Basket Weave

Twill Weave

Alternating Twill Weave

Loom Naming Contest

To properly welcome the new loom to the Ignite Studio, we are holding a loom-naming contest. You can find a submission box next to the loom, along the back wall of the studio. Stop in to Ignite and share your ideas with us!