Or: So you want to join the Weaving Tribe
Like Hansel, weaving is so hot right now (*holds breath and hopes you laugh at my lame Zoolander reference*). And why not? It’s easy to learn, and once you get the hang of it, the possibilities are endless. You also get to play with all sorts of gorgeous yarns, which can only be a good thing. In short, weaving is ace.
I’ve heard Maryanne Moodie describe the current movement of weavers as a ‘tribe’, which I think is a nice way to put it. There are weavers sharing and inspiring one another all over the internet (just search the hashtags #weaversofinstagram or #weaverfever to soak up all the woven loveliness) and workshops popping up to allow weavers to connect in real life. So now I want to do my bit to help induct some more people into the Weaving Tribe.
A word of warning, weaving can be addictive. It’s relaxing and meditative, super creative and it’s also I great way to use up those weird bits of yarn you’ve acquired for other craft projects. Go weaving! If you’ve been thinking of trying it but you’re not quite sure where to start, I’ve put together a list of hints and tip that I’ve picked up along my weaving journey, and tutorials to that can help you as you get started.
The list also includes links to looms and tools, and is a bit skewed toward Australian recourses (as I’m Australian based and like to support my local peeps. Also international shipping costs are no fun), but given that weaving is so on trend, I highly encourage you to do a bit of your own research, and find looms and tools that are local to you, as there’s a lot out there right now! These tips are also geared towards frame/lap loom weaving, to create things such as wall hangings and the like.
Things to keep in mind:
This list is based on things I learned when I started weaving, but as you’ll discover when you start to look at a few different tutorials, every weaver has their own way of doing things. I hope I’ve saved you a bit of time by doing some of the research for you, but as you look around and do your own bits of research, you’ll pick up different hints and tricks and find your own favourite way of doing things, so don’t stress if you find different people suggest different techniques here and there.
A weaver’s most important tool! The type of loom I use is called a frame loom or lap loom. You can make your own pretty easily and cheaply by using a picture frame or a few pieces of wood and some small nails (there are a few links to DIY looms in the tutorials below), but if you’re looking to make an investment, there are a couple things I recommend keeping in mind.
Frame looms come in all sorts of sizes. It might seem tempting when you’re starting out to get a really small loom to see how you like it (there are some little cuties around, about the size of a CD or DVD case), but I personally find working on a mini loom to be restrictive and a bit fiddly, so I would recommend starting with a slightly larger loom as you’ll have a little more freedom. You can always just warp up part of your loom if you want to try out a few smaller pieces to start with, but this will give you the flexibility to start making larger pieces as soon as you’re weaving like a pro. The other thing to take note of is how spaced out the teeth or pegs on your loom are. I suggest going for a loom that has more teeth, closer together, rather than fewer, spaced out teeth. A pro tip I picked up from Maryanne Moodie is that when you’re learning, you can always warp up using every second tooth, so you don’t have too much warp to deal with, and then when you want to get really creative you can warp up every tooth, because the closer together your warp threads are, the more detailed shapes you can create. But you can always ‘double warp’ your loom, so don’t stress too much 🙂
- I picked up my loom (seen in the picture above) in Maryanne Moodie‘s beginner weavers class. She currently has a couple listed on her Etsy store (click here). It’s the perfect size for working on your lap, and as you can see, it’s quite toothy!
- My loom is also very similar to the Lost Pond Looms ‘peeper’ loom (click here), which is lovely and portable. Lost Pond Looms have a whole heap of sizes too, so when you turn pro, you can yourself one their Kingfisher looms! (Just kidding, it’s frighteningly enormous 😐 )
- The Unusual Pear (click here) has a range of different sized, light weight bamboo looms, and they’re Australian based too.
- The Melbourne based peeps at Loom and Spindle stock a range of lovely handmade looms. Click here to see their goodies.
- Loom Loom Shake has some lovely Tasmanian Oak looms (ooooh, fancy!), that you can find by clicking here.
There are range of tools you can use to make weaving a little quirky and easier. You definitely don’t have to buy all of these when you’re starting out, and in most cases there are cheaper (if not free) alternatives that you probably already have at home.
I think it’s essential to have a couple of good tapestry needles (also called yarn needles or darning needles). You can pick these up pretty easily at Spotlight or other craft shops, and I’ve also included some more funky options below.
Other optional tools:
Shuttles – you can wind your shuttle up with yarn and weave away without having to drag and pull and get tangled up in a huge length of yarn. As someone who frequently manages to tie knots in whatever yarn I’m working with, these are a god send!
Weaving comb – thus allows you to pack your weft down firmly as you weave, but you can also use your fingers, or even a fork from your kitchen.
Shed stick – these are a bit amazing, but something you can probably do without as you’re learning. A shed stick is threaded through the warp to create an opening (or shed) to easily pass the weft through in one direction. As a free alternative, can always just use a good old ruler instead.
- Loom and Spindle have some adorable perspex tools in a range of different sizes (and colours. Such pretty colours). I’m a particular fan of their different sized needles, and you can also pick up shuttles, combs and shed sticks by clicking here.
- Maryanne Moodie has a range of wooden tools, including shuttles and combs available via her Etsy store (click here). I use these too, and find the shuttles to be particularly sturdy and nice to handle.
- The Unusual Pear has some lovely bamboo needles and weaving combs available (click here).
So, now that you have your loom, and tools, what the heck do you do with them?!
- There is a really ace 5 part YouTube tutorial with Anna Wrigley that is a great place to start. She takes you through the whole process of creating a tapestry, from warping up, to creating shapes, and finishing off, and also shows you how to build a cheap, easy loom. Click here to watch the first part.
- Also take a look at Weaving Class: The Basics on A Beautiful Mess (click here). This is a good little tutorial that also includes some ideas for making your own loom.
- Kate from The Weaving Loom has a whole bunch of tutorials. She gets into some more advanced and fancy stitches too, but I think the top three to know when you’re starting out are basic weave (otherwise known as ‘tabby’), rya knots and soumak weave.
- There are some awesome resources on Loom and Spindle’s blog. There’s a free ebook download about how to warp a frame loom (click here), and I would also recommend having a look at the tutorial for plain weave, as it gives some tips on one of the most frustrating problems you can encounter when you start weaving – your tapestry pulling in at the sides. Ergh. Click here for that one.
- This cute tutorial (click here) from Honestly WTF shows you how to warp up a picture or canvas frame as a makeshift loom, and cover basic weave, rya knots and soumak.
So, those are my top tips, tricks and resources for new weavers! I’d love to know if these have been useful, and if you’re still wondering whether or not weaving is for you, say ‘hi’ in the comments and I’ll do my best to convince to join ‘the tribe’. If you have any tips of your own for new weavers, be sure to tell us in the comments, and I might even add them in another post! 🙂