Monday, September 28, 2009

A Fascinating and Original Method to Weave Wide Bead Pieces on The Mirrix

This is a fascinating post I found in the Mirrix Loom email list archives.  It took me a bit to understand the method.  What you will love most are the amazing photos posted with it.  Look at the detail!  Just gorgeous.  Would love to see more work by Susan A.

I'm not sure if the technique I use with my mirrix loom is 'correct', it just evolved out of frustration with all those warp threads and heddles. I can needle weave a 12+ inch row in about 10 minutes, excluding the time to load the beads which would be the same for either technique.

1. I do a single warp, one thread for each dent - 235 in my current piece on the big sister loom. One for each bead in the design plusone extra. I also use the extra bottom coil to help line up the warp threads.

2. I put a masonite board behind the warp threads and in front of the upright posts. This gives me a firm surface braced against the loom. I then put a softer pad - one of those velveteen jewelry mats - immediately behind the warp threads. Sometimes I need to put a thin magazine between the mat and the board to get the right tension. Once that's set up, I can needle weave a wide row without needing to get my hands behind the piece.

3. I use two needles/threads to control the weft tension. I start by tying threads to each side of the warps. As I am right handed, the left hand thread is the 'beading' thread, the one I load up the row of beads onto. Once it's full, I use the thin rod from the shedding device with an eraser taped to it to pass the needle and thread behind the warp threads and in front of the board and mat.

4. The 'weaving thread' is on the right side and I use that one to pass the thread back in front of the warp threads. It's mostly a matter of pushing the warp threads back until the beads snap in front, there is an audible click. Once the weaving needle is full of beads (20-30 beads for my size 10 needles) I strum the warp threads to make sure I caught all of them, again, there is a distinctive sound when it's right. Using the two threads I can weave 20-30 beads into place before having to snap the next set of beads into place. I can also pull on both sides of the `beading thread' to position the
beads without affecting the weaving thread.

5. The row is now finished and the two threads have switched sides. Like I said, it goes fairly quickly and I'm not fighting with all those double warp threads. I figure even if you use the shedding device and weave, this technique may help with that first and last row which does need to be needle woven.

I've never seen this method described anywhere, but it works for me and might help someone else who gets dyslexic sorting through all those warp threads and heddles. I used the shedding device on narrower pieces, but once I moved to 12+ inches, my brain gave up. I posted photos of the loom with the boards in place in case that
helps. I love my loom and just purchased a wider one (oh the plans I have) with the stand, which I love. Of course I have to be contrary there too: I C-clamp a board over the tray so I can work off a wider flat surface, see photos.

PS – the blue tape is because I kept catching my threads on the bottom coil piece – I know someone will ask.

Posted by
- Susan A

Thursday, September 24, 2009

No Warps to Weave in Bracelet

The beads were attached to the top bar by threading the required number of beads, and then wrapping around that thread and the bar in between each bead so that the strung beads are attached to the top warp bar. Do this for the bottom warpar. Thread warp through a top bead, a bottom bead, top bead, etc. until you have the required number of warps. Begin weaving just above first row of beads on bottom warp bar.

This is the finished piece. In order to remove it, jst cut the thread that is wrapped around the two warp bars. Your will hve two warp ends to weave back in. Notice that you have to place the two warp bars exactly the distance you want the length of your piece to be.

Tapestry Warp

I am often asked what kind of warp one should use for tapestry. I will try to provide a fairly broad answer to this question with the beginner tapestry weaver in mind. The sett for the yarns I will be recommending can range from 4 epi to 12 epi. I am very ignorant when it comes to warp used for small format tapestry, so you are on your own there.

Warp Options:

Inexpensive cotton carpet warp

Seine Twine



When I began weaving tapestry I used Maysville cotton carpet warp. It's cheap and comes in a variety of colors. When I became more serious about weaving tapestry, I gave up the cheap product and replaced it was the other three options on the above list. It finally struck me that the integrity of my tapestry would have a direct corollary to the quality of the warp. I also realized that since tapestry is a very hands-on technique and you are constantly rubbing your hands against the warp, the nicer the warp, the nicer the experience. That being said, if you don't want to initially invest a lot in your materials, buy some Maysville cotton carpet warp. Search the web. It's available in a variety of places.

Seine Twine is the best of cotton warps. It was originally used for making fishing nets. It comes in two different weights: 12/6 (which is 2 ply) and 12/9 (which is 3 ply). I think you are better off just sticking with the 12/6 since it is so strong you really won't have much need for the three ply, thicker version. Seine Twine, like any cotton, has some elasticity. Therefore, unlike linen, minor inconsistencies in warp tension (ie., you answered the phone in the middle of warping your Mirrix Loom and messed up on the tension a little bit when you returned to warping) will not be as readily noticed.

Linen. Ah Linen! I would recommend Fine Irish Linen in 8/2 Wetspun Tow Yarn. Linen has almost no elasticity. It is, in my humble opinion, almost impossible to warp most tapestry looms with it since most tapestry looms require that you tie each individual warp. Getting even tension is, well, nearly impossible. Getting even tension with linen on a Mirrix is really easy because it's a continuous warp. Just don't answer the telephone in the middle of warping. Any inconsistency will be noticed. So why use linen? It is beautiful and rich. It provides a certain body to your tapestry not possible with any other warp. You can always tell when a tapestry has been woven on a linen warp. It just has a certain richness to it. That being said, it is harder to weave on a linen warp than on a cotton or wool warp because it is not elastic. It won't move out of the way when you insert your weft. Your fingers might not be very happy after a long day of weaving on linen. But try it at least once. Maybe I should consider selling it from this site?

Wool warp is my favorite. It is quite elastic (more than cotton) but more importantly, since I mainly use wool weft, I find using a wool warp makes more sense. Apparently, the Navajos used wool warp for their rugs because when the wool warp and wool weft rub against each other it provides less wear on the rug than if the warp were cotton. Wool on wool is a good thing. I like it because I find the wool warp and weft bond together much more than cotton or linen warp and wool weft. Keep in mind that wool is covered with scales (which when felted tangle up together making it impossible to untangle) and those scales like to hug each other. So the wool weft hugs the wool warp and I believe creates a more stable tapestry. The weft will not slide down the wool warp as much as if the warp were linen or cotton. We do sell the wool weft on this site and I highly recommend it both for beginner and advanced weavers especially if you are using wool weft. Look for a future blog on what to use for weft.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pull and Pray or Tape and Tug

Aptly renamed by Jeri, who used to call it "pull and pray", the tape and tug method requires that you tape down your piece (good strong packing tape . . . not some whimpy stuff) making sure to cover all of your beads, but don't press it down so much that you also stick your warp. I didn't have that problem but imagine one could.

If you do not cut your piece off the loom, the warp threads will be continuous and hence, because there is no risk of piercing your warp with your needle, you can pul that warp all the way through cretig four finished edges.

Start pulling from the middle out, which means choose a pair of warp threads and pull it until the opposite end is snug against the beads. Then go to the other end of the weaving and pull on that thread so it's snug against the beads. Your warp is going to get longer and longer and you might want to stop after an inch or so and sew in those ends.

If you use two spools of warp when you warp your loom this method works great. If you've only used one spool of warp, the two threads that are in one dent will be going in opposite directions and will have to be pulled individually. This is not the recommended route. So if you are going to do the tape and tug method (I love that name, Jeri) please use two spools of warp.

Additional comments from Jane Overman:  I usually start in the middle of the bracelet. Put the project on the table flat and start in the middle. Go one direction and then the other. Pull one thread til it's snug against the bead. Follow it down to the other end and pull that thread thru to the opposite end. keep going til all threads are at one end or the other. If you get to a snag and it won't pull easily leave it alone and go to the next thread.  (note from Claudia:  you can then weave that thread in later)

Making Heddles

This was posted by Mary Alexander who has always been a source of wonderful and inspiring information told in her inimitable style:

Hi, Morgan, Rhonda, and others who have been talking about making heddles . . . I bought my Mirrix a number of years ago, even before Claudia made her wonderful video. At that time the instructions explained how to create a jig for making heddles.

I gave my dear hubby the exact measurements for placement of two finishing nails - these are slender with almost no nail-head, and not too long. He drove these into a handy board, then clipped the heads off with wire cutters and used a file to round over the tops of the clipped nails.

Yes, making the heddles was somewhere between maddening and boring at the time it seemed very time-consuming. Now I'm glad I have them. I kept the jig (of course!!) and have even made more heddles for another project. I used Pearl Cotton size 8 - cotton so it wouldn't stretch, and size 8 so it would be thin enough to work easily with tiny beads like Delicas(excuse me, size 11/0 cylinder beads) and size 15/0s.

A tapestry needle is a very useful tool as you make heddles. Cut the heddle string long enough to work with it easily - long enough to hold onto, wrap around one jig post, make a single overhand knot, and guide the knot back to the tying jig post. I cut pieces of thread at least doublethe length of the finished heddle. After I tied the overhand knot loosely, I stuck the tapestry needle into the center of the overhand knot. Then I used the tapestry needle to guide the overhand knot back till it was very snug against the heddle post. then I dropped the needle and pulled on each end of the heddle string separately with each hand - this tightened the knot firmly (very similar to knotting between pearls, if anyone has done

Heddles need to be the same length. After I finished making mine, I ran a strong piece of string through the loop ends, taped the ends of this"holding" string to my desk, and smoothed out the heddles with the knots pointing away from the "holding" string. any heddles that were too long or too short were clipped out of the collection. A sixteenth of an inch doesn't seem like much when you are looking at the heddles lying on a flat surface, but that much difference in heddle length will definitely preventa heddle from working properly in the shed.

Claudia gave me an excellent tip about using home-made heddles: as you put each heddle on the shedding device, put the heddle knots at the back, where the heddle goes around the small rod of the shedding device. if the knots wind up along the sides or at the front close to the bead/yarn work, the heddle knots can catch on each other and make it more difficult for the shedding device to move all the heddles and warps from one position to the other.

Using two different colors of warp threads will make this "stuck heddle" problem easier to spot. Another home-made tool I created is a "heddle checker." I cut a piece of manilla folder or mat board longer than my weaving and about the width of a ruler. This is better than a regular ruler because it's opaque. Anything that's long and flat, or long and round (like a dowel) will do.

Every so often, when I change sheds I slip the "ruler" into the V between the sheds - any "stuck"heddles are immediately obvious. I look at the heddles to figure our the cause of the problem. My two most frequent problems -
* Heddle knot in the wrong place, and catching on other warp threads?
slide the knot to the back of the shedding device again.
* Heddle knot has become too loose or too tight, causing one warp thread to stay in the wrong position?? GAAAH - once I cheerfully clipped and removed an ornery heddle because I thought I could easily replaceit. BAAAD decision; it took me forever to find the correct warp thread, and even *more* time to get the new heddle in the right sequence as I knotted it onto the shedding device rod amongst all the other heddles.
* Instead, leave the misbehaving heddle in place. try to tighten / loosen the knot using the trusty tapestry needle and perhaps a second needle, then re-tie the overhand knot while the misbehaving heddle is still
happily looped around its proper warp thread.
* If the heddle must be replaced, release the shedding device; move the misbehaving heddle upwards a little so you can follow the thread path easily; then put a long length of new heddle string in the same thread path. when you are certain you've got the right thread path around both the warp thread AND the shedding device rod, then clip the old heddle and tie the new one.

Note from Claudia:  After spending quite a while talking to customer who had not purchased heddles and needed to make some really quickly (with no hammer or nails or wood) I came to the conclusion that she could cut  piece of cardboard to create a gig around which to wrap the threads to make heddles.  The width of the cardboard would need to be 3 1/8 inches.  Or any material would do.  A thin piece of wood, a piece of heavy plastic.  The point is simply to create something you ca wrap the string around to get a uniform circle.  Claudia

The Bottom Spring Kit and Do You Need It?

The bottom spring kit is not included with every loom because there are people who simply will not want a spring at the bottom of their loom.  There are others who will want it sometimes (and when they don't want to use it, it won't get in the way as long as there is no spring in it).  And there are those who will want to use it all the time.

What does it do?  It has the same function on the bottom of the loom as on the top of the loom.  It allows you to put a warp coil on the bottom of the loom to separate the warp threads.  But once you've woven that first row of either beads or tapestry the coil on the bottom of the loom no longer has a function.

So why would you want it?  The most common reason for wanting that coil on the bottom is:  you are weaving a fairly wide bead piece using the shedding device (three or four or more inches, depending on your tolerance!) and you don't want to deal with trying to keep those warp threads neatly divided on the bottom while installing the shedding device.  Can you do this without the bottom coil?  Yes, you absolutely can.  Would I recommend the bottoms spring kit for those who are attempting wide pieces?  I probably would.

For tapestry weavers weaving in fine setts, this bottom spring kit might make the process easier.  I personally never use the bottom spring when weaving tapestry and only use it when weaving a wider bead piece.

Can you rotate the weaving to advance it with the spring on the bottom?  You will have to loosen the tension on the loom and actually remove the spring in order to do this.  Once the spring is removed, you will have no problem rotating your weaving.

Do extra coils come with the bottom spring kit?  No, you have to order those coils in addition.  Carefully consider what coils you will actually be using.  You don't need to buy all the coils to match the ones that come with the loom because chances are you will not be using all of them.

Warp Coils Made Simple

Before you set up your Mirrix Loom, you will need to install a warp coil either just on the top or, if you are using the bottom spring kit, the identical coil on the bottom as well.

The larger looms come with four warp coils (the smaller two looms come with just one 14 dent coil).

So how do you tell those coils apart?  Simple:  The shortest coil is the 8 dent coil.  The next coil is the 12 dent coil, the third longest coil is the 14 dent coil and the longest coil is the 18 dent coil.

So how do you know what coil to use.  Again, this is easy to determine.  We do include a chart of recommended coil size as it relates to beads.  For tapestry, you need to determine how many warps you want to have per inch.  Choose a corresponding coil.

Back to bead weaving:  Put one linear inch of the beads you will be using on a needle.  Count how many beads there on in that inch.  Give or take a dent or so, that will be the recommended coil for you to use.  For example, there are 18 size 11/0 Delicas in a linear inch, hence you would use the 18 dent coil for Delicas.  You could, however, get away with using the 16 dent coil.

There are 14 11/0 seed beads in a linear inch (okay, so I didn't make up the numbers and have no idea why there are not 11 11/0 seed beads in a linear inch).  You would use the 14 dent coil to weave those beads.

You can buy coils in the following sizes:  8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20 and22.  Those higher numbers are for 15/0 seed beads and those of you who like to weave really fine tapestry.

Before you order all the coils, keep in mind that one coil can be used for several different setts.  For example, the 8 dent coil can be warped at every other dent to become a 4 dent coil.  10 becomes 5.  12 becomes 4, 6 or 12.  14 divides into 7 (my favorite dent for tapestry) and 18 divides into 9 or 6.  I believe that the coils we include with the shedding device looms cover most of what you will need for bead weaving or tapestry.

This is a reprint of the exact instructions that come with the Mirrix Loom

Setting Up Your Mirrix Loom


Preparing your loom for weaving consists of two steps:

Warping:  Wrapping strong yarn or beading thread vertically around the loom and equally spaced across its width by using the spring located near the top of the loom.

Installing the shedding device and setting it up for operation:  The shedding device is standard on the 22, 32 and 38 inch looms and optional for the 12 and 16 inch looms.  It is not necessary for the kind of bead work where you sew back through your beads to attach them to the warp.  It is necessary for tapestry weaving and for the kind of bead weaving (unique to the Mirrix Loom) which requires you actually weave your beads rather than sew them onto the warp.  The shedding device raises every other warp thread creating what is known in weaving lingo as the “shed” (the space between the two sets of threads) in which you can weave either your weft (in tapestry) or your strung beads.

Warping Instructions

If you are warping your loom for tapestry or for bead work without the shedding device, you will be placing one warp in each dent (the space in the spring).  If you are warping your loom for bead work using the shedding device, you will be placing two warps in a dent.

Adjust the height of your loom.  The wing nuts on the threaded steel bars on each side of your loom allow you to adjust the height of your loom and the tension of the warp.  Because the warp wraps continuously around the loom, you will be able to weave a tapestry or bead piece as long as one and a half times the height at which you loom is extended.  When adjusting to make your loom smaller, leave at least two inches of the threaded bar exposed in order to allow for necessary tension adjustment.  When adjusting to make your loom larger, make sure the copper tube covers at least four inches of the threaded bar on the 12 & 16 inch looms and six inches of the threaded bar on the 22, 32 & 38 inch looms in order to guarantee stability of the copper side bars when the loom is fully extended and to allow for tension adjustment.

Attach warping bar.  Clip a black plastic clip onto each of the copper metal side bars facing toward the back of your loom about equal distance from the loom’s top and bottom beams.  The ends of the warping bar fit in the small indentations drilled in the insides of each clip that are just behind the large front set of holes.  In order for the warping bar to stay in the clips, you must press them in slightly so that they are no longer parallel.  The warping bar is not too short and it will stay in place!  You will only be placing the aluminum bar at this point.  The shedding device will be installed after you warp your loom.

Choose and install the correct warp coil (the spring at the top of your loom).  Determine how many ends per inch (epi) you would like your warp to be.  To figure out which coil is which, place a coil on the loom and measure one inch.  Count the number of dents in that inch.  That is your coil size.   The total range of warp coils available is:  8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22 dents per inch and can be purchased additionally.  The following chart will help you decide what coil to use for bead weaving.  Remember to be gentle when removing the warp coil, which is hooked at either end to the two brass acorn nuts at the top of your loom.  Don’t grasp the  coil in the middle, because it can distort it.  The steel rod that is inserted in your coil will be used after you warp your loom to keep the warps from escaping the coil once the loom is set up.  It also helps hold the coil in the tray when you advance your weaving.

Bead Type/Size
1st Choice
2nd Choice

Delica:  Small
18 every dent
20 every dent
Delica:  Large
16 every other dent
8 every dent
Seed Beads:      15/0
20 every dent
22 every dent
14 every dent
12 every dent
18 every other dent
8 every dent
14 every other dent
12 every other dent
Cubes 4mm:
14 every other dent
12 every other dent
Triangles:         10/0
12 every dent
14 every dent
18 every other dent
8 every dent
12 every other dent
14 every dent

Suggestion:  Place a couple of thick books underneath the legs of the loom in order to raise it up so that you will have clearance for the warp ball or cone as you pass the warp around the loom.  For the 8, 12 and 16 inch loom you can instead use a C-clamp to attach one leg to a table with the rest of the loom extending off the table. 

Decide how wide your tapestry or bead piece will be.  Center that measurement on the warping bar.  Find the left beginning point for your weaving on the warping bar and tie the end of the warp at that point.  (Note:  if you are weaving two bead pieces at the same time you can put two sets of warp on by balancing the pieces to the left and right of the center of the loom.)  Bring the warp up the back of the loom and around the top beam, laying it into the coil, and down the front of the loom, around the bottom beam and up back to the warping bar.  Do a U-turn around the front of the warping bar thereby reversing direction and heading back down to the bottom beam.  Take the warp up the front of the loom to the top beam and through the spring,  around the top beam and back down the back of the loom, around the bottom beam and up the front of the loom, laying it into the next dent in the spring.  Bring the warp down to the warping bar, make a U-turn around the warping bar and head back up to the top beam of your loom and through the warp coil and then head down the front of the loom to the bottom beam.  Continue this pattern until you have achieved your desired width, trying you best to keep an even, consistent tension on the warp as your wrap it.  Tie the end of your warp to the warping bar.  It doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve come up from the bottom beam or down from the top beam.  You can determine the number of warps you have wrapped by counting the number of times you warp has gone through the warp coil.

Circulate the warping bar to the back of the loom.  Remove the black clips and loosen the tension wing nuts on both sides of the loom.  Rotate the warping bar down, around the bottom beam of the loom, and up the back of the loom until it is situated about one inch above the bottom beam.

Adjust the warp tension.  Adjust the wing nuts evenly on either side of the loom so that the top beam rises and tension is placed on the warp.  When you feel the warp is tense enough for your liking, stop adjusting.  We’ve included a wrench that can be used to turn the wing nuts more easily or to provide that extra tension required for tapestry weaving.

Installing and Setting up the Shedding Device

The shedding device is used to lift every other warp thread so that you can insert your tapestry weft or your strung beads.  In order for it to function, it needs to be attached to the warp threads.  Heddles, which are circles of string made from any kind of fairly thin, strong, inelastic material, attach the shedding device to the warp threads.  When the shedding device is rotated, a shed is created.  A shed is the word that describes the space between the raised and stationary warps.

Clamp the shedding device onto the two copper side bars.  Place one black clip on the copper side bar of the loom with the wing nut facing out.  Insert the shedding device into the large hole in the clip.  Place the second clip on the other end of the shedding device and clamp onto the copper side bar of the loom.  The position of the shedding device is always adjustable by loosening the clips’ wing nuts and sliding it up or down, so don’t worry about exactly where you put it now.  Midway between the top and the bottom of the copper side bar is a good starting place.  Make sure the hole for the handle is on the side that is comfortable for you,  but wait until you’ve put on the heddles before putting on the handle.  You can make your own heddless or use the pre-made Mirrix heddles which come on a roll of one hundred.  They look like one long string when removed from the roll.  You will notice a series of big and small holes.  Cut in the middle of the small holes to separate the heddles.

Making and Installing Heddles:

You will need to make as many individual heddles as there will be warps in your weaving.  These heddles (as well as the Mirrix heddles you can buy) will be reusable.  The thinner and stronger the string you use the better.  For bead weavers, cotton quilting thread works great.  For tapestry weavers, cotton crochet thread, linen warp, single-ply cotton warp works well.

Nail two finishing nails into a piece of wood three and one-eight inches apart.  You will use this little tool to tie your warps.  Cut ten inch lengths of your heddle material, one for each heddle you will make,  Tie them around the nails, using an overhand knot to secure the ends.  In order to get that knot to sit right next to the nail, slip a needle into the knot before it is pulled tight and push the knot toward the nail.  Then tighten it.  Trim off the ends of the heddles to within a quarter of an inch of the knot.

Installing Heddles for Tapestry Weaving:

Loosen the screw in the brass hook through which the top thin metal bar is inserted and slide it out over the black plastic clips so that the end of the bar is an inch or so past where the warp begins.  Tighten the screw in the hook to keep the bar stable.

Hook one of the heddles over the thin metal bar.  Wrap the heddle around the first warp and then hook it back over the metal bar.  You are folding the heddle in two.  Keep wrapping the heddles around every other warp and around the metal bar, pushing the metal bar along the copper tube as needed remembering to loosen and tighten the screw in the hook.  When you are finished putting the  heddles on, slide the thin metal bar into the farthest brass hook and then tighten the screw in the other brass hook.

Rotate the shedding device toward the loom until the top bar is not the bottom bar.

The bottom bar is now your top bar.  Repeat instructions for attaching your heddles to the warps that do not yet have heddles attached to them.

Installing Heddles for Bead Weaving:

Loosen the screws in the brass hooks for both the top and bottom thin metal bars.  Slide out both of these bars so that their ends are an inch or so past where the warp begins.

Hook one of the heddles over the top thin  metal bar and then wrap it around one of the warps in the first dent of the spring, reattaching it to the thin metal bar.  Some people find that a crochet hook helps to pull the warp forward.
Repeat the above step for the bottom metal bar, attaching the heddle to the second warp in the first dent of the spring.

Repeat the above two steps for all subsequent warps being careful to not wrap the top and bottom heddles around the same warps.

Operation of the Shedding Device

Place the handle in the hole drilled near one end of the shedding device.  The handle should be facing  toward you.

Engage the shedding device by hooking the handle behind the copper bar.  Make sure every other warp is raised.  If this is not the case, find the problem heddle and remove all the heddles back to that point.

Position the shedding device at a height with which you feel comfortable.  The handle can hook around the copper side bar, but it can also hook behind the top beam of the loom or even around the plastic cap above the top beam.  The rubber coating on the handle will make it stay in place no matter where you hook it and will also prevent it from scratching the copper and aluminum.

To Begin Weaving

For Tapestry Weave two passes of warp material.  Measure two pieces of yarn each approximately one and a half times the width of the loom.  Engage the shedding device.  Weave in the first piece leaving an equal amount of yarn left over on each side.  Engage the shedding device in the opposite direction.  Weave in the second piece.  Tie the ends of both of these yarns securely around the threaded side poles of the loom, pulling tightly so that an even straight surface is created for weaving just above the top of the front of the bottom beam.  Adjust the warps so that are evenly spaced.  You are ready to begin weaving.

For bead weaving:  do not use the shedding device to weave in these first two rows.  Instead, thread a large eye needle with strong string.  Needle weave up and over the warp pairs, treating each pair of warp as one.  Weave under the odd pairs of warps for the first row.  Weave under the even pairs of warps for the second row.  These two rows of strings will divide your pairs of warps making it easy to weave in your first row of beads.

For both tapestry and bead weaving:  In order to advance your weaving to expose more warp, you will first need to cut the two spacing wefts that were tied to the side poles of your loom and remove them.  Loosen the warp by  turning the wing nuts clockwise.  When there is a fair amount of slack in the warp, gently pull the warping bar up exposing as much warp as you need at the front of the loom to continue weaving.  Make sure that your weaving is straight and even.  Tighten the wing nuts until the warps are once again under tension.

Tips for Bead Weavers Using the Shedding Device:

·      Always needle weave in your first and last row treating pairs of warps in each dent as single warps.  To do this, place your shedding device in the neutral position and place your strung beads behind and between the pairs of warps.  Sew back through the beads on front of the warp.  If you do not do this when you remove your piece from the loom it will fall apart since it’s the crossing of the warps that keeps your beads in place.

·      Once you’ve inserted the thread with your beads on it into the shed (the space between the raised and lowered warps) hold the thread between your left and right hands an inch or so above the V created where the two sets of warps meet.  Jiggle the thread until the beads are caught between each of the raised warps.  Once they are in place, slide the thread and beads down into the V.  The beads will be caught there. 
·      Start with a fairly thin piece to get used to the process before attacking something wide and potentially overwhelming.

·      A slightly baggy tension will prevent a clean shed.  Adjust the tension until you have a clean and open shed in both directions. 

·      It takes several rows of weaving with the shedding device before the heddles and warps all find their proper place and stop sticking together.  Don’t get frustrated.   By about row five or six, weaving will get very easy.

·      After you’ve changed the shed, strum the back of your hand across the warps making sure that the warps or heddles are not stuck together, preventing the shed from being clean with all up warps up and down warps down.

·      Make sure you change the shed before weaving each new row.  In order to determine whether or not you’ve changed the shed, lift up on the last row of beads you’ve woven.  If the she has been changed you will not be able to lift them.

Finishing for Bead Weaving:

·      “Pull and pray” or “tape and tug” method of finishing your piece is possible both with or without using the shedding device.  If you don’t use the shedding device, be sure not to catch your warp threads with the thread that holds your beads.  When using the shedding device, use the thinnest warp possible.  A thick warp will not want to pull through the beads.

You also have to warp your loom with two spools of warp at the same time. This method requires that you carefully pull the warp which snakes through your piece so that you are left with four finished selvedges. Tape down your piece (good strong packing tape . .. not some wimpy stuff) making sure to cover all of your beads, but don't press it down so much that you also stick your warp. Start pulling from the middle out, which means choose a pair of warp threads and pull it until the opposite end is snug against the beads. Then go to the other end of the weaving and pull on that thread so it's snug against the beads. Your warp is going to get longer and longer and you might want to stop after an inch or so and sew in those ends.

·      You can also tie off the pairs of warp threads and fold them behind your piece.  You can then sew on some nice edging material, such as hem binding to hide the knots.

·      My favorite method is to weave in a header and footer after you’ve woven your piece.  I use a tapestry needle to do this.  The material for the header and footer can be the same thread you’ve used for warp or a fine silk or rayon.  To do this weave under and over the pairs of warps both at the beginning of your piece and at the end.  Make the header or footer wide enough so that you can fold it twice, hiding the knots underneath it.  Carefully sew this with blind stitches so that you have a very neat, attractive fiber border on the back of your piece.  This works great for purses, bracelets and wall hangings. 

·      Other methods of finishing such as sewing back in all your warp threads are also acceptable although very time-consuming.

A note about the second warping bar kit: 

The second warping bar has two functions: If you are using the Mirrix loom for the sewing method of weaving beads, the warping bar eliminates the back section of warp. This is great when you are doing a wide piece because you don't have to stick your hand in between that second layer of warp. For thin pieces (fewer than four inches or five inches) this would not be an issue anyway. The second function is when you are using the shedding device. It allows you to put on a much shorter warp so that when you have to pull all those warp threads through they are not going to be as long.

A note about the bottom spring kit:  If you have attached the extra spring kit to your loom, you will need to place the warping bar on the back of your loom while warping.  The reason for this is the bottom spring will not allow you to rotate the warping bar to the back.


Don’t be afraid of set backs and failures.  From those experiences emerge our greatest creations. 

Start small.  Learn the Mirrix Loom before you create an enormous piece. 

If you are having difficulty setting up your loom please call Claudia at:  603-547-6278.  She can talk you through any Mirrix-related problem. 

Introduction to the Mirrix Loom

The Mirrix Bead Loom Experience

You’ve heard the name Mirrix before or maybe you’ve just encountered it for the first time on this Web site and you are wondering, first of all, why should I use that much of my bead money to buy a loom?  Or you’ve always used non-weaving techniques (peyote, brick stitch, stringing, etc.) to produce your bead art and you’re wondering why you should even think about weaving beads.  Maybe your first and last loom (that you spent $10 for) taught you that bead weaving didn’t produce the high quality work you have been able to achieve through other methods.  I know mine did.  Just trying to warp that loom and get all those little strings under even tension was enough to persuade me that bead weaving was not my cup of tea.  In fact, I gave up beads all together and turned to tapestry (which lead, ultimately to the invention of the Mirrix Loom because I wasn’t happy with the available tapestry weaving equipment).  In the last year I have rediscovered beads and the absolute joy of weaving them on the Mirrix Loom.  I will use this space to answer some of your questions and concerns and to address some of the many ways that the Mirrix Loom can be used for bead weaving.

You’ve heard the name Delicas before.  Are you aware that Delicas were designed for bead weaving?  Since the best beads to use for weaving should be consistent in size and shape and have a nice large hole, Delicas, which are all these things, are clearly the superior bead for weaving.  They also come in about a zillion colors, yet another strong advantage for using them.  Yes, they cost more than other beads, but the results that you will get with Delicas fully justify the extra money you pay for them.  With the perfect bead loom and the perfect bead for weaving you are well on your way to creating a stunning work of art.

The Mirrix loom has many distinct advantages over other bead looms.

·      It is made of metal:  hollow square aluminum, copper tubing and threaded steel rods.  This provides strength and a guarantee that your Mirrix Loom will never warp or disintegrate over time.  With a little copper polish your Mirrix Loom will always look and act brand new. 

·      It sits in a vertical position and therefore eliminates those pesky neck aches you get when bending over a horizontal loom.  It also allows for better viewing of your work in progress.

·      It provides incredible tension and strength.  All those little strings (referred to as warp) will be under the same amount of tension during the course of weaving your piece no matter how wide or long it is.  When you cut your piece off the loom, if you have used consistently sized beads, your weaving will be flat and even.  It will not buckle, a common complaint about bead woven pieces.  You can also use wire as your warp on a Mirrix Loom because of its strength and because wire will not mar your loom’s surface.

·      It comes with three springs for different size beads.  Any of our eight springs can be substituted for the three that normally come with the loom.  The springs are just that:  springs.  The spaces in the spring divide your warp.  To determine what size spring you need, calculate how many beads you will have in a linear inch.  The larger Delicas (11/)) seem to work best with the size 14 spring, for example.

·      It can be used for bead weaving, tapestry, a combination of the two, or wire weaving (using wire as your warp instead of a material made of fiber such as nymo).

Traditional bead weaving is just one of many ways of using your Mirrix Loom.  The smallest Mirrix Loom (The LaniLoom) can be used only in this way because it lacks the shedding device, an option which I will address later on.  All the other Mirrix Looms can be used both in the traditional manner of bead weaving and using a method that is more like tapestry weaving.  Let me address some of the advantages of the Mirrix Loom when employing the traditional method of bead weaving:

·      Setting up the Mirrix loom for traditional bead weaving is fast and simple once you get the hang of it.  At first warping the Mirrix loom might seem a little daunting just because it will be new to most of you.  With a little patience (and maybe some phone counseling with me) you will no longer dread the usually dreadful act of warping your bead loom. 

·      Because the warp is put on the loom in a semi-continuous manner, there will be a layer of warp about one and a half inches behind the layer of warp you are working on.  For wider pieces, this can cause difficulty.  Getting your hand in between those two sets of warp to hold your beads in place while sewing through them with your needle might not be feasible when a piece is more than four or five inches wide.  This is where the second warping bar comes into play.  It eliminates that back layer of warp so that your hand is unencumbered and you can weave, if you dare, a piece 29 and ½ inches wide (maximum weaving width on the 32 inch loom).  Or, we now have the add-on bottom beam, which makes the distance between the front and back warps significant enough to get your hand behind those warps for traditional bead weaving.

·      Traditional bead weaving is really very simple.  Your imagination is all you need to create a stunning work of art.  Some people use the Mirrix loom to weave split bead necklaces or other pieces that do not fit into the rectangular format.  There are numerous good books that speak about these techniques.  The Mirrix loom is a great tool to do any and all beading weaving techniques on.

Weaving using a shedding device is the other kind of weaving that can be accomplished with the Mirrix loom.  This method has rarely been used because only one other loom (which is now out of production)  has enabled it.  That being said, I must note that many or most of the beaded bags woven during the 30s were actually woven on traditional weaving looms.  Further explanation of what this technique is follows:

To understand this kind of bead weaving you must first think like a weaver of cloth.  Get out of your head, for a moment, all your pre-conceptions of bead weaving.  The technique you think of as bead weaving is not really weaving at all.  It consists of placing your strung beads behind and in between the warp (the threads that are attached to your loom) and then sewing through the beads on the top of this layer of warp (this is where the Delica’s big holes really come in handy).  The act of weaving is defined as going under and over warp threads with weft (the equivalent of the string on which you have strung your beads).  This second technique of weaving beads employs exactly that method.

“So how do you do that?  Sounds impossible!”

The Mirrix looms ranging in size from 12” to 32” wide have a “shedding device” that lifts every other thread when it is rotated.  The shedding device is attached to the warp threads with “heddles” which are circles of string that can be attached after the warp is put on your loom.  Imagine a V where the two sets of warps separate and meet.  The beads are placed in this V.  When the “shed,” defined as the space created between the raised and lowered warps, is changed, lifting the alternate set of warps, the beads are locked in place.

There are many advantages to this technique of bead weaving:

·      You do not risk not sewing through a bead because you do not sew through the beads.

·      You can use larger needles (easier to thread and more stable to use) because you only have to string the beads and not sew through them again.

·      Your weaving time is speeded up because you only have to place your beads and not sew back through them.

·      The resulting fabric is denser, more like the fabric you get from peyote or brick stitch (but about twenty times faster to make!).

·      You can use some more advanced tapestry-like techniques (which I will get into later).

·      If you do not cut your piece of the loom, the warp threads will be continuous and hence, because there is no risk of piercing your warp with your needle, you can pull that warp all the way through creating four finished edges. 

If you’ve imagined this scenario in stunning detail you might have come up with one big, pressing question:  If you raise one set of warps won’t that mean there will be a warp, a bead, a space, and then a warp instead of a warp, a bead, a warp, etc.?  You are correct.  Therefore, when setting up the Mirrix loom for this kind of bead weaving you must put two warps where normally there is one.  The raised set of warps will then resemble the warp for the traditional kind of bead weaving and you will be placing a bead between each raised warp, making the fabric sturdy and weaving easy. 

But don’t the warps show, especially if there are two of them between each bead?  No, they don’t.  The fabric is in fact tighter and less warp shows than in the traditional kind of bead weaving.

What about this idea of using tapestry weaving techniques?  I have discovered that weaving long strings of beads using the shedding device is difficult.  You are placing the beads not only between the warps but also in the shed, the space between the two layers of warps.  Your hands cannot get into that space to hold and adjust the beads before changing the shed.  So what is the solution to stringing and battling four hundred beads (that will also want to sag in the middle, really messing you up)?  Tapestry technique requires that you weave only short distances with your weft, maybe at most three inches.  This same thing can be applied to bead weaving.  Rather than have just one string of beads that you are weaving in, you can use several, one for every few linear inches of weaving.  You weave in one string of three inch beads and then the next and the next.  These short strings of beads are easy to deal with and will fall gracefully into the V without any problem.  Weaving a piece 29 ½ inches wide is indeed possible and not even difficult.

Now what if you used a bead spinner device to pre-string hundreds of beads on those individual wefts instead of picking up each bead one by one!  Suddenly the idea of creating a large masterpiece seems possible.  Even doing this for a small masterpiece makes sense.  Other advantages to pre-stringing your beads are:  1) you can easily fill in solid color areas, 2) you can randomly string beads for a pointillism effect, 3) you can reposition where each string of wefts begins and ends so that color areas can be blended together emulating some traditional shading tapestry techniques.   Actually, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Have you ever thought about combining tapestry and bead weaving?  Can you see where that would now be possible?  Is your head now spinning with ideas? 

In thinking about bead weaving as an art form that goes beyond jewelry and amulet purses and other smaller objects, one must address the issues of weight, warp material, hanging possibilities.  Those beads weigh an awful lot and a lot of those beads weigh a ton, so in thinking about your large bead piece you need to address what kind of warp will be best suited for your work and how will this piece hang while being suitably supported?

I have been dreaming up answers to these questions, which will be posted as I make discoveries. Your solutions are always welcome as well.