June 17, 2012

From The Vault: Weaving Tutorial

Welcome!  I thought it would be fun to share tips and tricks for doing some at home weaving without the use of a formal loom.  I love weaving and there is so much you can do with it!  You can follow patterns similar to intarsia knitting, embroider designs on top of your woven fabric, switch up your approach... there's a bunch of ways to go.  This is a little tutorial on how to make your own mini loom and how to get started weaving!
Materials needed...
wooden canvas stretchers, headless nails, hammer
graph paper, pencil, ruler, scissors, clear tape, thick cardstock, paint stirrer
yarn, tapestry needle, fork
Step One:  Construct your wooden frame using the canvas stretchers.  I reinforce the joints with a staple gun to make it sturdier and so it won't budge in transit, but this is optional. 
Step Two:  On your graph paper, mark off every other intersecting point on two alternating rows for as wide as you want your weaving to be, or for however wide your wooden frame permits.  When finished, cut out your rectangle of markings and make an identical cut out with identical markings.  Stay at least two inches in from the edges of the frame on each side. 
Step Three:  Find and mark the center of one frame end.  Do the same for the opposite frame end.
Step Four:  Find the center of your graph paper markings and have it correspond with the center marking of the wooden frame on each opposite end.  Tape in place using clear tape.  
It is actually better to just tape the two ends of the graph paper rather than lengthwise all the way across.
Step Five:  You will want to hammer a nail in wherever you have marked on your graph paper.  This makes a nice even layout for when you set up your yarn.  Try to get the nails as straight as possible.
Your nails should stick up about 3/4" and shouldn't stick out on the back end (safety first!).
It is highly recommended that you do this on a strong surface.  Avoid wooden floors or tables, you definitely don't want to accidentally nail your frame to them!
Step Six:  Use a strong yarn to string your loom.  In weaving, this is called the warp.  Starting at the end of your nails, tie the yarn around the wooden frame.
Step Seven:  Start stringing the warp yarn around the nails.  You will want good tension on this yarn, so pull it taut.  You do not have to pull as tightly as you possibly can, you don't want the yarn to break.  You want there to be a nice even tension throughout the entire warp.
Be careful and make sure you don't skip a nail.  The graph paper and nails set you up for a perfectly straight warp, and the staggered nails allow for easier access.
Step Eight:  When you reach your desired width, knot the yarn around the wooden frame again.
(I am using a contrasting color to make things easier to see in this demo)
Step Nine:  Take your cardstock, which you want to be a rectangle wider than your warp and about 6 or more inches tall, and weave it into your warp at one end of the frame.  
For this demo I did a simple over, under, over, under, etc. 
Slide the cardstock all the way against the bottom of the frame, right up against the nails.
Step Ten:  Weave in your paint stirrer (or wooden ruler) the OPPOSITE way you wove in your cardstock.
Meaning, if you wove your cardstock under, over, under, over, then you will want to start your stirrer on the same side as you started the cardstock, but the weaving will go over, under, over, under, etc.
Step Eleven:  Now it is time to thread your tapestry needle!  Measure out and cut a piece of yarn that is a few or more arm lengths, then thread it.
Step Twelve:  Ta da, it's time to start weaving!  What's nice about your stirrer stick is that you can tilt up the wooden piece and it leaves you with a perfect tunnel to slide your needle and yarn through, since you wove it in earlier.  Pull your yarn through, in weaving this yarn is called the weft, and leave a 4 or 5 inch tail.
Step Thirteen:  To prevent the warp to pucker in, pull the yarn through at an arc.  To do this, pull your yarn through at an upward angle, and when you have reached the end, pull it softly down towards the bottom.  To pat it down flat with proper tension, use the side of your fork to scallop the yarn towards the bottom every inch or two.
Step Fourteen:  Now you want to use the fork to pat the yarn down.  You'll want to use this scallop technique every time.  This will keep your edges straight.
Step Fifteen:  When you have patted down your weft yarn, weave the weft yarn back into the warp.  Make sure to mind the last strands of the warp, they are easily forgotten and will alter the shape of the weave later on.  You will start to build up a nice even textile.
Step Sixteen:  When you get to the end of your weft yarn, leave a 3 or 4 inch tail and let it hang out.  Try to always stop and start weft yarn in the center, not the very side ends.
Step Seventeen:  Thread another few arm length yarn piece and start back where you left off, leaving another tail where you last left off.  Continue weaving until you have reached your desired size textile.
For this demo I decided to make my sample into a kind-of-sort-of coaster, so it is fairly small.
Step Eighteen:  When you have reached an ending point and you are ready to finish, stop weaving somewhere in the center.
Step Nineteen:  Weave the rest of the yarn on your needle back into the weave, as shown above.  Pick up around 2 inches worth of stitches along one warp row and pull the tail through.  Cut the excess yarn, it shouldn't come undone since enough of the end is safely woven through.
Step Twenty:  You'll want to weave all your tails that are left the same was as step nineteen.  I find it easier to deal with shorter tails by pulling your needle end through the stitches first, then threading the ends and pulling it through.  
This is helpful especially when the tails are a similar length or shorter than the needle.
Step Twenty-one:  When all the loose weft ends have been safely secured, it is safe to slide the warp off of the nails.  You'll want to cut the pieces that you knotted to the frame itself to allow for it to slide completely off.  
Be careful not to move the weave too much as the ends could come loose.  
Once you slide the warp off, cut the ends so they are all individual strands rather than loops.
Step Twenty-two:  To keep the ends secure, I like to double knot each strand.
Step Twenty-three:  Continue down each end making sure to knot in a straight, even line.
Step Twenty-four:  Then, you can either knot groups of the warp yarn together and trim them, as fringe.
You can also weave the ends into the textile like before in steps 19 and 20.
And there you have it.  
For mine, I wanted to show two different ways of finishing.  On the left, a knotted fringe.  On the right, the green yarn was knotted as before and then woven back into the weave using the same technique as in steps 19 and 20.

Bam, now you've got a loom and you know how to use it!  If you are brave enough to give this a try, please let me know how it goes.  I'm always up for seeing finished products as well!  I've shown the basics here, but there are so many ways to change things up a bit!  Colors, patterns, textures... the weaving world is a fun one.

Hope you enjoy.  Happy weaving!

1 comment:

  1. All of the images are broken! :c