According to Navajo legend, the Dine or the People, as the Navajo call themselves, were led to their home in the Southwest from a world beneath the earth by supernatural spirits or Holy People. Spider Man, one of the Navajo Holy People, taught the Navajos how to make a loom from sunshine, lightning, and rain.
Navajo weaving is performed on a vertical floor loom. Although beginners usually prefer a smaller loom, most weavers eventually favor a larger loom, which will accommodate both small and large weavings. The loom should be larger than the weaving, allowing a foot clearance in length and width, six inches per side and one foot at the top. The length of the weaving can exceed the height of the loom.
The Navajo loom consists of two uprights and two crosspieces of log-size wood 6” to 8” in diameter, usually cut from small pine trees. The lower crosspiece, serving as the base, must be the heaviest wood, since it supports the balance of the frame. Today many looms are constructed of 2 x 4’s for the uprights, the supporting crosspieces, and the legs; and two 1” dowels, which can be used as upper and lower beams. Originally Navajo weavers anchored their frame to their Hogan, or found a pair of trees outside which naturally grew the proper distance apart, and used them as uprights. For a free-standing loom, legs of wood must be constructed at right angles to the uprights to serve as support. It is essential that the entire structure be solid.
Loom construction dimensions 34″ x 46″
4 – 2″ x 4″ x 34″ for the crosspieces
2 – 2″ x 4″ x 42″ for the uprights or verticals
2 – 2″ x 4″ x 30″ for the legs
2 – 1″ dowels 36″ long for the beams
4 – flat corner irons 3 1/2″ x 5/8″
16 – 3/4″ flat head wood screws for above
4 – machine bolts 5/16″ x 3 1/2″ and nuts, to attach upright frame to base
8 – washers for above
1/4 lb – #10 nails
1 pair – 54″ leather boot laces to bind the top beam to the uprights
(Leather is most aesthetically pleasing. However, rope, wire or pipe straps may be used.)
2 – 3/4″ two-hole pipe straps to attach lower beam to legs, and necessary screws