The Speedweve – Lancashire’s Smallest Loom Directions for Use

I recently bid on a Speedweve on an auction website. This being Lancashire’s Smallest Loom, I got very excited when I won the bid. It is a nifty devise to speed up all your darning tasks. I was lucky to get one with the original instruction leaflet, but a quick search on the internet showed that many people have one lingering in the sewing box left by Gran without one, so here’s a picture heavy post on how to use the speedweve:

Tools required: Speedweve, two rubber bands, darning needle, thread (I used embroidery floss from said sewing box), a snipping implement, a HOLE.

Here’s a close-up of the darning plate and the actual loom. Mine came with two: a coarse one for wool yarn and a fine one for linen and silk. The darning plate has a groove.

Place the hole over the darning plate and fix with the first rubber band.

Then fix the loom in place with the second rubber band.

Now set up the warp yarn: fasten the yarn at the bottom of the hole, wind yarn onto the hook above and fasten with a stitch at the bottom. Repeat until the hole is covered. How many hooks you use depends on the size of the hole.

To weave, hold the point of the needle and run the eye of the needle BETWEEN the two rows of yarn, close to the hooks. By going eye first, you won’t catch the needle on the warp yarn.

Reverse the warp yarns by sliding your finger along the top of the hooks.

Don’t forget to fasten the weft thread at the side with a stitch!

When you put the needle through the warp yarn, push it down before pulling the weft yarn through. This ensures an even weave.

Once you are as close to the hooks as you can get, disengage the loom—this can be a bit fiddly. You are left with a row of loops.

Sew down the loops, et voila, a darned tea towel!

I also tidied up the back and sewed down the edge of the hole.

As you can see, this tea towel is in herringbone weave, so my next adventure will be a hand darn, but in pattern… Wish me luck!

Added 25 April 2019: please note that I’m not able to advise on where you can buy a Speedweve and I will delete any comments asking about it. I was lucky enough to find one on an on-line auction site, so all I can say is: keep an eye out and fingers crossed you get lucky!

In addition, I have had to make the decision to delete any comments linking to speedweves for sale, as they expire as soon as the item is sold.

56 Replies to “The Speedweve – Lancashire’s Smallest Loom Directions for Use”

  1. Thank you so much for this! I did indeed find one in my Nanna’s sewing box and had no clue what it was for! I look forward to darning with delight 🙂

  2. Tom, thank-you so much for your clear instructions. Just as you say, I had found one (together with the attachment for silk) in an elderly relative’s sewing box and couldn’t see how to use this Lancashire object. Pauline (from Lancashire)

  3. I’ve found it not at all fiddly to remove the darn from the hooks – push off the loom’s rubber band at the back, then carefully pull the loom up from its groove and tip forward – the loops just slip straight off! I love my Speedweve…

    1. Since writing this blog post I have found it much easier to release the loom. I think at the time it was a combination of the thread and too long loops wot did it. I love my loom, too!

    1. I’m not sure. I have seen a similar design from the late Victorian era. The darning disk was made from metal and printed. It even came with a spring instead of having to use rubber bands. Unfortunately it cost more than I was willing to pay.

  4. Hi. This gadget looks great. Have been looking for something similar for mending hand knitted socks. My grandad is 85 and has been telling me about a farming gadget that was standard issue when he did his national service. Do u know when these particular farmers were made? I wonder if i was what he used. Will have to show him your article when I next see him.
    Thanks for sharing your pics.

  5. I bought one at a rummage (jumble) sale here in Toronto, and just love it. Your instructions are excellent!

  6. Thanks so much for this, I inherited my Mum’s sewing stuff and found the speedweve but couldn’t remember seeing her use it. I had no idea how so decided to try Internet but didn’t hold out much hope as I could see it was very old. But, bless you, I hit the Jackpot right away. So am now going to use it for lots of mending jobs. Thanks again, really appreciate being able to bring to life again something that was my Mum’s. from sweetpea.

  7. Pingback: Mending
  8. Thank you so much Tom. I did indeed find one of these little contraptions in my mother’s sewing paraphernalia and remembered she used it to darn socks. I couldn’t for the life of me remember or work out how to use it. So you’ve solved my mystery.😃 Your instructions are wonderful.

  9. Having just come across this post, now I know what the strange wooden thing in my inherited button box is. Sadly I don’t have the rest of the kit but you have solved that puzzle for me, thank you!

  10. Thanks to your post I immediately went to eBay (offered was a Speed Weve in England – too much $$$), then etsy – and SCORED! I got the American version, which is a Dritz Automatic Darner. I don’t think Dritz made a fine loom, based on my research at the University of Google. I’ve had such fun with it over the weekend, thank you, Tom, for bringing this to our collective attention!

  11. Such a great resume about this gadget, many thanks.
    Picked one up for 25p simply because it intrigued me and google sent me to your blog post : )
    Putting a link to your explanation on my own blog post today,
    hope you wont mind, its better by far for folks to read and see your explanation than me ramble about it!

      1. There’s two in tomorrow’s auction at Frome along with other sewing stuff.

  12. Recently, my 93 year old Mum was clearing out some stuff and amongst a lot of sewing stuff was one of these looms. She couldn’t remember how to use it (probably when I’m 93 I won’t either), so thank you for your instructions.
    Kind regards

  13. My grandfather was the co. Inventor of the Speedweve which was sold in Department stores and Exhibitions throughout the UK.

    The family name is Chesstok and they came as refugees from BELARUS 🇧🇾

    The Speedweve was sold during the 1940’s and 1950’s.

    The family is based in Manchester.

    1. I have my late Mother’s “Model 2” in the original Chesstok cardboard container box with the original Instruction Sheet, date stamped as “New Zealand Pat. No. 99585 June 1948”, for silk, wool or linen. Mum was born in 1924 and passed away in May 2018, aged 93. I always remembered her having it. – David in NZ. (If there is a way to forward a pdf scan of the original Instruction Sheet for site posting, I would be happy to supply a copy, for those users interested in completing their sets.)

  14. Thankyou so much for the very clear instructions on how to use this lovely little gadget. I remember watching my mum mend many pairs of socks when I was a kid and I’m 70 years old now, my mum passed away 5 years ago, she was 98 years old, she use to let me push the slider each time she formed another row, at the time I was fascinated, but I really couldn’t remember how she connected the gadget to the garment to mend the hole.
    I would have liked to have shown you a picture of my gadget, but unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be an icon for me to add a photograph.

  15. Today I saw two shops making new versions of this type of darner. One can be found on Etsy by searching “Speedweve”; the other is called “Lemon Loom”. I have not tried either, just thought it was interesting. I like the old ones that come with options for fine or coarse gauge.

  16. I follow your inspiring mending skills on Instagram. I’ve also started, first discreetly, but now visibly, mending tea towels.

    Now I find a 10 year old post of an item I just saw in an online ad. Is it that mini loom really good and practical? Do you still use it?

  17. I have a vintage cotton sheet that I love and it has a big hole on it that I would like to repair. Would it tool be helpful? I am not much of a darner and I don’t want to do a botchy job of it. Is is tool only to be used with thick fabrics/wools? Thanks so much

  18. Thanks for leaving so many great photos of every step that’s really inspired me to give weaving a go 🥰

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