Friday, September 18, 2009

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. 

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