A bargain purchase…
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to win a vintage Spears weaving loom on eBay for less than £10. It is a smart little 1950’s Spears Weaving Loom no 3.
Now, you may be thinking ‘isn’t that a kid’s toy?’ Well, yes Spears are known for making toys and kid’s stuff – but this is a REAL loom. It is what is called a ‘fixed heddle’ loom, which means you can lift alternate warp threads (the threads that are put along the loom before you start weaving) by just lifting up the ‘heddle’, a grid like part in the middle. This is MUCH faster than if you had to weave in and out of every thread.
I will do a tutorial on setting up this little loom, and basic weaving in the future – it is lovely and easy to use, and makes ‘real’ fabric which is wide enough, and long enough to make nice things from . These elderly looms still have plenty of life in them – and are SUCH a cheap way to get into weaving!
Which size loom is the loom for you?
I highly recommend that anyone who fancies trying weaving attempt to win one of these Spears weaving looms.
The No 3 is a decent size and can be used to weave fabric ip to about 8.5″ in width and up to 8 foot in length. This is the loom discussed in this review.
The No 4 is bigger, but quite a lot more expensive, and can weave up to 16 inches wide and “any reasonable length”.
The No 5 is more expensive still as it let’s you do very fine weaving. I have only seen a few of these go up for auction and they do command high prices.
The most commonly available is the No 2 size. This is very cheap to buy, but do bear in mind that it is quite narrow. It can weave up to 5 ft in length. I would personally recommend trying to get a No 3 instead if you can as you would then have more scope for future projects.
There is also a No 1 Spears weaving loom and this is a similar size to the No 3 but does not have a rigid heddle, it uses a simple stick to lift the threads. It also can only make pieces that are as long as the loom. It is a much simpler and more limited loom than the others.
The loom is made of sturdy wood and varnished. The heddle is wooden, with wire between, making little loops. The warp threads, and finished work, wind on to grooved beams, which are held in place with cotter pins. It is nice and sturdy – mine looks good as new, despite being 60 years old!
It includes 3 simple wooden shuttles and a G-clamp to hold it securely on to a table. Originally it included some yarn too, mine just had a little left.
Mine also had the original uncut patterns and instruction book, with information on making 18 interesting (if a little dated) patterns.
The above picture on shows my loom in action! The grey yarn came with the loom.
Below is a picture of the little bag that I made using the cloth I was weaving in the previous picture. I use it to store the 3d glasses for my television – old technology meets new!
The Ideal Book for your Spears Weaving Loom
If you have a Spears weaving loom or a simple loom like it and would like to know more about how to set it up and use it, I recommend “Hands on Rigid Heddle Weaving” by Betty Linn Davenport. This is the book I have for reference.
I have written an illustrated review of this book here – Hands On Rigid Heddle Weaving by Betty Linn Davenport – a review
Here are links to the book on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. If you buy from these links I will get a small commission for sending custom their way – it will not cost you any extra!
9 thoughts on “Spears Weaving Loom no 3 – my not-so-new not-so-toy”
I was wondering if this was worth buying or not. Thanks for your review.
hi, ive found a spears number 4 in the charity shop for a bargain £2!!! but i have no idea how to use it, i cant find find any tutorials and im itchin to get started. the instructions are from 1957and are a little vague could you please help?
Ooh, you did very well, that is a bargain!
You can get books on rigid heddle looms, which would work just fine with your Spears No 4. I personally own this book, and would recommend it. It is nice and clear, has lots of ideas for things to do with your loom. Rigid Heddle Weaving There are links to it on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk at the end of the blog post.
Or try looking on YouTube for demos of setting up a rigid heddle loom. They really are super easy (hey, even I can do it!).
I have a 1950’s size for. What gauge yarn do you use?
I just purchased a number 4 Spear’s loom, and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to use the heddle. I’ve woven before, but the looms had places for the heddle to sit when either up or down. How do I work the heddle without any ‘place holders”?
There are 2 heddle holders on the size 4
Hi, there should be two metal channel type things attached to the top of the side pieces at one end. The loom should be assembled with one each side at the same end of the loom and they swivel so you can turn them sidewise and slit the heddle to them.
Is the # 3 for sale, and how wide does it weave, please
They are from the 1950s so can only be bought second hand from places like eBay. It can weave up to about 8.5″ wide.