What is Frame Loom Weaving?

The Oxford Frame Loom


To understand what frame loom weaving is, you must first understand a little more about the background of frame looms.

A frame loom is the most basic of all weaving looms used by weavers to create woven designs. Historically frame looms were smaller, portable looms made of wood, resembling a picture frame and originally designed to produce tapestry-style woven designs with a dense and rug-like appearance.

Today frame looms come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be laser cut to precision using acrylic, MDF and a variety of wood products, manufactured using wood and metal into different shapes and sizes, hand-crafted from luxury hardwoods with additional features or simply assembled in DIY-fashion with a wood frame and nails. 

Each of these types of looms has their advantages and drawbacks (which I’ll address in a future blog post!), but what is interesting about frame loom weaving is that it has evolved to bridge the gap between tapestry weaving and hand-weaving and their weaving styles.

Now if you're a novice weaver and don't yet know understand the difference between these two styles of weaving and the kinds of weaving looms that exist beyond frame looms, I encourage you to read my previous blog posts, 'What is Tapestry Weaving' and 'What is Hand-Weaving?'. These two blog posts are essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the different styles of weaving because they provide context and insight into how various styles of weaving can be achieved with different types of looms.

But if you're short on time, tapestry weaving is a style of weaving that uses shorter and thicker lengths of yarn (usually one type of fibre) to weave a dense, rug-like woven design where you ‘draw with yarn’ (see image below) using frame looms or floor looms. The process is slow, mainly woven by hand or with the help of a basic, mechanical loom.

Hand-weaving involves the use of long lengths of yarn of different thicknesses and qualities to produce anything from finer to chunkier textiles with a pattern repeat (see images below). The textiles are historically woven on more complex mechanical looms such as rigid heddle, table and floor looms which speed up the weaving process.

Christabel Balfour woven rug
Tapestry style rug is woven on a frame loom by Christabel Balfour


Rainbow handwoven lampshade by Cassandra Smith

The handwoven lampshade is woven on a floor loom by Cassandra Smith


Sarah Podlesny indigo weaving

Handwoven indigo textiles are woven on a table loom by Sarah Podlesny of Aviary Studio

In the last 10 years weaving has exploded in the arts and crafts sectors and contemporary artists have begun to change the way the craft is taught and practiced worldwide. With fewer opportunities to study weaving in educational institutions there are fewer trained weavers to pass on the knowledge and skill required to weave on more complex floor and table looms.

To fill this gap, trained weavers and hobbyists alike have embraced frame looms; their straightforward assembly, set up, ease of use and portability have made them an easier and more affordable option than table and floor looms. But whilst frame looms appeal for their simplicity, contemporary weavers demand flexibility from their looms to create ever more complex woven designs.

It wasn’t until recently that contemporary weavers designed frame looms with added features found historically on table and floor looms (such as the ability to weave longer and wider projects, new mechanisms for adjusting warp tension and adaptable warp setts to weave finer cloth) that made ‘frame loom weaving’ more appealing and accessible. A weaver’s style was no longer defined by the type of loom they were weaving on, but on their personal design aesthetic.

Below are examples of the work of several different artists/ loom designers who weave on frame looms and have helped to bring about the ‘frame loom weaving’ style.   

Christabel Balfour Tapestry frame loom Tammy Kanat Weaving a circular tapestryJen Duffit from Nova Mercury weaving a rainbow wall-hangingCassandra Smith weaving a scarf on a frame loom attached to a table


Christabel Balfour, a rug woven on a tapestry frame loom of her design (far left)
Tammy Kanat, circular weaving on an irregular copper circle of her design (left)
Jen Duffin of Nova Mercury, Rainbow wall-hangings woven on a rectangular frame loom (near right)
Cassandra Smith of Cassandra Sabo Designs, weaving a scarf on a loom of her design, The Oxford Frame Loom (far right)


While frame looms are still the new kid on the block, they are definitely here to stay. With all the advantages of weaving on a frame loom it’s unlikely to see them losing popularity any time soon.

If you’re interested in learning more about our own frame loom design and all the features that help you discover your weaving style by bridging the gap between tapestry and hand-weaving styles of weaving, then check out The Oxford Frame Loom on our website to learn more.

And if you’re into learning how to weave in a workshop, then be sure to check out our most popular workshop, ‘Introduction to Frame Loom Weaving’ where we share everything you need to know to weave successfully on a frame loom.

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