Spinninglizzy's Weblog

Falling down the slippery fibre slope

Howell Tablet Loom

I recently came across a Howell tablet loom that had never been used.  The interesting thing is, another weaver on Ravelry was given an older model at about the same time.  I haven’t figured out how to use this loom the most efficiently yet, but we’re comparing notes, prompting this post.

The Howell tablet loom is just over 31″ long at its most extended, and 11.5″ at its widest.  In the picture below, my warp is obscuring the extension wood piece between the two ends; this wood beam has four holes drilled through along its length so you can choose how far apart to set the two ends.  Being only four holes, these are for setting the distance that you want the ends apart; they won’t help for warp take-up. 


Turning the loom over, you can see rivets set into the holes to hold the screws. The picture below shows the screw bolting the wood from the bottom up.  The loom actually came with the screw put in from the topside down.  I wanted to be able to take apart the loom faster, so I changed the direction, and purchased a wingnut and washer (and an extra rubber washer beneath the metal one, to protect the wood), to hold it from the top. 


The warp is cotton rug warp; the pattern I’m using is a 3-colour double-faced one from Guntram’s Tabletweaving Page.  It took me a few hours to figure out the details on how to weave double face, as I couldn’t understand the weaving and turning descriptions from several books.  The answer came from reading Peter Collingwood’s book on tabletweaving, an extremely comprehensive resource, and a worthwhile addition to any weaving library.  Guntram’s site is amazing, and he even wrote a (free!) application, GTT, for designing patterns. 


Perhaps it’s the colours I chose (pink instead of red), and the fact that I didn’t want to beat until my hands hurt, but my weaving doesn’t resemble the pattern much.  (My weaving is rotated 90-degrees from the pattern sample above.)  I already beat and packed the weft down hard; if I had to put any more energy into doing this, it would no longer be enjoyable.


ETA: I have an update to this post here:

I purchased this loom without having seen it in person, even though I could find no information about it, all because the few Howell tools I already had (including the beater seen in these pictures) are so beautiful, and I like the little man log burned into the wood.


It seems odd to me that this loom should have only one dowel, but that’s the way it came originally.  I’m enjoying solving the mystery of what the parts were designed for and how they were meant to be used.  After puzzling about it, it seems to me that it would make most sense used to use the dowel to beam the warp threads.  The simple winding mechanism holds tension very well.  I originally beamed on the warp (close to four yards) without warp separators,  (as shown below), but what a mess it was!


By the time I decided to try re-winding the warp with separators, I couldn’t get the warp wound on evenly.


I added a comb (plastic hair comb) to act as a warp separator; it helps the tablets turn more easily.


There are holes drilled into the base, on both sides of the slot where the adjustable wood beam would slide (see the arrows in the pictures below).  Two additional holes are similarly drilled into the other side of the wood base.  The holes have been fitted with metal threaded nuts/inserts, to accept a screw or bolt.  The screws used to bolt the wood base ends to the long beam fit into these holes on the the sides of the bases.



 I have no idea why these holes were put in.  After using a comb to help with separating the threads, I could see that a larger, permanent warp separator would be very useful, and perhaps the holes could be used to bolt it into place.  Why did Howell go through the trouble of inserting nuts into the holes?

I would love the mysteries of this loom solved!
  1.  What is the best way to dress this loom (especially with long warps), and maximise the tension on the warp?
  2.  Is there a better way to tie the cloth band onto the front beam?
  3.  Why is only one dowel included, and how is it meant to be used?
  4.  The two base end pieces wobble slightly on the wood beam, even when tightly screwed on.  It’s not the huge detriment to this type of weaving that it would be to others.  Is there any way to overcome this, or is it just something to ignore?
  5.  What are the mystery holes on the base meant for, and why put them on both sides of each base?
  6.  I’ve heard rumour of video put out by Howell on tablet weaving… anyone have one they’d like to sell to me?

If anyone knows anything about using this loom, any information and comments are both encouraged and appreciated!


20 May 2009 - Posted by | Weaving | , , ,


  1. I can’t say much, since my only tablet weaving experiment was the doorknob and backstrap kind; very fun, I’d like to try again with equipment. You can actually see the pattern pretty well in the last picture on the cloth beam.

    Comment by trapunto | 20 May 2009 | Reply

  2. i have one also that i actually bought from howell – it came with missing pieces and no instructions – i found how to use it after i got it but will have to do some serious searching to find them – would you be interested in selling the one you have – we work with disabled adults and children and are always looking for looms – we do use the one i have – however an extra would be perfect – please let me know – peace/ragna

    Comment by ragna vidar | 23 May 2009 | Reply

  3. I don’t know anything about tablet looms (I have a huge floor loom). But those holes look similar to the ones on my Heavy Duty Ball Winder from Nancy’s Knit Knacks (a beautiful, USA precision-made product). Each hole receives a 5/16″ L-bolt with a clamp.

    Comment by Rhonda from Baddeck | 2 June 2009 | Reply

    • Thanks for the input, Rhonda. Actually, I’ve since learned that those holes are so you can turn the two upright pieces 90-degrees to that base, and bolt them into those holes. If you check the 5th photo from the bottom, you can partially see the middle hole on the upright sides — that’s meant to take an L-bolt with clamp that you speak of.

      Comment by SpinningLizzy | 2 June 2009 | Reply

  4. Hi Elizabeth – I have a knock-off of a Howell card weaving loom. I’m having some issues getting the tension right. Do you have any tips?

    Comment by Holly | 3 January 2011 | Reply

    • Hi Holly, Happy New Year! It’s been a while since I’ve played with that loom, for the very same reason you mention. Some of my warps were looser than others, and I had to resort to hanging weights on them from the back end. An unwieldy solution. The problem I had is with beaming on the warp. I don’t know that one can get away with wrapping too much warp around the warp beam. It also helped somewhat to add washers under some of the wing screws.

      Comment by SpinningLizzy | 3 January 2011 | Reply

  5. i sent a comment a couple of years ago and nothing has changed – did get a video on how to use this thing but cannot find it – when i do i will put it in another comment – think it was done by candace crockett – the video was very good but it was shown with his loom that was finished off very nicely and had a different shape and also was complete – the one i received had missing pieces – i had to sand it as it was unfinished and sis not work as the one on the video which looked great – i wrote to him several times asking for a complete one and one that looked like the one in the video – there was either no response or a rude reply – i gave up and here it sits – may pull it out one day and make another attempt now that you reminded me – good luck – peace -ragna

    Comment by ragna vidar | 3 January 2011 | Reply

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