Getting started with drawloom weaving

I've been thinking of drawloom weaving for several years and am finally ready to get started. I have a Glimakra Ideal and a Toika Liisa and would like to build an attachment on one (or both) of them. I think the most versatile would be a single unit - what is the correct name for that? I realize it is slower weaving than the shaft draw, but I really want to do free-form designs. However, I want to start with the weaving sword and half-heddle stick. 

So, my first question is about the ground heddles. I'm thinking of tying my own for this experiment. Should they be the same length as the heddles currently on the loom? How do I determine the length of the eye?

Second question is about resources. I have the book Damask and Opphamta and Becky Ashenden's DVD "Dress Your Swedish Drawloom" (which I love!). What other resources are recommended for learning how to set up a loom and how to design for damask?

Thank you,



Posted on Thu, 06/14/2012 - 19:42

Hi Robin,

You are welcome to come to Montana for a class.  Your learning would be much faster if you can take a class. 

To get started with the half heddle weaving, the Texsolv long eyed heddles used on the Glimakra Ideal and the Standard looms are $19/100 and the length is 14 1/2 inches with a 2 1/2 inch eye.


Posted on Thu, 06/14/2012 - 21:04

Remember with "versatility" that with the shaft draw system, you have as many units as you do shafts before repeating - with 50 you have 50 units of "free" patterning. You have 99 units at your disposal if your design is mirrored. For narrow runners and scarves, that is enough to "fill" your canvas.

When calculating for a single unit draw system, be sure to ask how many units it will hold - you might be surprised that many have max between 200 and 300. There are so many lovely variations that  work best with all over patterning and they become difficult with lashes - you need to redo the lashes every time you change your pattern.

Posted on Thu, 06/14/2012 - 21:05

Hi Joanne,

A class with you is definitely on my dream list. I would like to read more before that happens so I can understand quicker.

I'm surprised the heddles are that long, the ones that came with the Ideal are only 10 1/2 inches. Thank you for that information.

Is there a minimum length of the extension for single unit drawloom on the Ideal?


Posted on Thu, 06/14/2012 - 21:19

Yes, this is something I'm trying to wrap my head around, Sara. And it's one reason I am thinking of the possibility of having both looms with draw setups. That is a bit in the future, but it doesn't hurt to dream.

I'm hoping to start with the basics... a sword, then long-eye heddles and half-heddle stick and move up from there. Hopefully, while I am doing that, I can better determine what would work best for me.

The possibilites are really thrilling and learning it is exciting. But, I overwhelm myself sometimes and lose track of where I am.

Are there any books or videos (in English) other than Lillemor Johansson and Becky Ashenden?


Posted on Thu, 06/14/2012 - 21:56

Hi Robin,

For weaving with the half heddle sticks, you do not need to add any depth to the loom.  But when you start to plan for a drawloom, the opphamta and other weaves like it require a minimum depth of about 64 inches from the breast beam to the back beam.  Damask will require more depth, but you can get by with 76 inches.  These depths are for weaving with 10 pattern shafts.  For each extra 10 pattern shafts you would need to add about 6 inches of depth.


Posted on Thu, 06/14/2012 - 22:00

There are not many written resources, but the basics are very simple.  And after you weave something, you will have many ideas of your own for patterns.  And you can take graph paper patterns and make them work. The WeaveDesign computer program can be downloaded from the Pikes Peak weavers guild website.  The first part is an ordinary weaving program and the second part can be used for drawloom patterns.


Posted on Thu, 06/14/2012 - 22:46

Thank you, Joanne. That is exactly the information I was looking for. The space needed will help me determine which loom gets the extension. Does the same hold true for the single unit? Is that called a draw harness?


Posted on Fri, 06/15/2012 - 00:36

is called single unit.  It has the drawcords attached to each unit.  The shaft drawloom, which gives you repeat patterns is a shaft drawloom.  Today, there is no one who makes the singly unit drawloom which has the overhead beam and can have lashes for saving patterns.  You can sometimes find them used and perhaps one can be made, but I would have to ask. 

The simplest drawloom is to get the single unit drawloom.  In Swedish it is called a 'harnesk' drawloom. That is what I started with.  It needs the same loom depth as the shaft drawloom. 

If you want a combination, you cannot start with a single unit and add the shaft drawloom later. You need to have the shaft drawloom (called 'skaft' in Swedish) and you can add the single unit (harnesk) to it.  Then it is called a combination.


Posted on Fri, 06/15/2012 - 01:08

Thanks, Joanne. I wondered why I couldn't find any current information on the lash saving single unit. I was thinking that would be the best of both worlds for me, I might have to re-think.

I'm certain I understand the principles of drawloom weaving and am just trying to get the basic information so I can build a simple unit that will let me experiment. I do want to start with a single unit, at this point I don't mind slow weaving and like the idea of free form weaving.

I have been trying to determine measurements from pictures and videos, but it's difficult. You have been so helpful and I really appreciate it.

Thank you,