Warping for Tapestry

Warping for tapestry is pretty straight forward and tends to be easier than warping for bead weaving only because the warp is often thicker. Before you watch the following video (near the bottom of this post), please take a moment to look at our warping .pdf for warping for tapestry with the shedding device. If you would rather needle-weave and do not want to use the shedding device for tapestry weaving, simply do not put the shedding device on. The rest of the warping procedure is the same. That said, using the shedding device for tapestry is suggested as it makes weaving much faster and easier.

What is tapestry?
Tapestry is a type of fiber weaving. It is weft-faced (ie: the warp does not show at all), the wefts are generally discontinuous (they do not go from selvedge (edge) to selvedge (edge) and it is generally pictorial (like painting a picture with fiber).

Learn more at the website of the American Tapestry Alliance.

“Fire Flowers” Tapestry by Mirrix President Claudia Chase

What do you need before you start weaving tapestry?
-A dedicated tapestry loom with a shedding device (Mirrix for our purposes)

Heddles (you can buy these or make your own)
You do not need heddles if you are not using a shedding device.

Warp can come in a variety of different fibers including cotton, linen or wool. Your warp is going to be under extreme tension and therefore has to be very strong. You should not be able to easily break it just using your hands.

A tapestry beater
Tapestry beaters are available in wood, metal or a combination of the two. We sell a wooden version; one is weighted and one is not. You can also use a fork if you do not have a tapestry beater. 

The most important quality in a tapestry yarn (which is the weft) is beauty. It doesn’t have to be warm or soft or any o the qualities that you like in a sweater. It just has to be beautiful and available in whatever colors you want. If you were to spin your own tapestry yarn you would use the fleece from a sheep with long, lustrous locks. You would not use the fiber from something like a Marino Sheep which has short fuzzy fleece. Short fuzzy fleece is warm, but it does not make for pretty tapestry yarn. For our kits we use Brown Sheep Yarn because it comes in a large variety of gorgeous colors and is a singles yarn. The final product also withstands wear very well.

What other accessories can I use when weaving tapestry?
The Mirrix Treadle
To make tapestry weaving even faster on a Mirrix Loom, you can add the treadle which allows you to change the shed with your feet, making the process faster.

The Mirrix Stand
Although the stand is not necessary to use with the treadle, combined the stand and treadle can turn your Mirrix Loom into a tapestry floor loom. And, of course, the Mirrix Stand can just be used with a loom and no treadle. 

A Bottom Spring Kit 
A bottom spring kit is most useful for small-scale tapestry. It functions to organize your warp on the bottom beam while you’re warping. 

What is a good project for beginners?
The Tapestry/Bead Cuff Bracelet is the perfect beginner’s project because you can use very simple techniques or more complicated techniques, you can or don’t have to incorporate beads and it’s small enough that you can finish it in a relatively short period of time. This project teaches you many of the skills you need to weave tapestry, but on a smaller and easier scale. You still have time to buy the kit and weave this piece with us as the weave-along continues!

Video on how to warp for tapestry on a Mirrix Loom:

You can see the video directly on YouTube here: 

Other Tips & Tricks:
Using The Bottom Spring Kit:
The bottom spring kit is an add-on accessory that attaches to the bottom bar of your loom. This warp coil helps organize your warps at the bottom of the loom, just as your warps are organized at the top. It is great for wide bead weavings as well as small-scale tapestry. If you are using the bottom spring kit, warping is exactly the same except you place your warps in the bottom spring exactly how you do so on the top springs. Following are some pictures of looms with bottom spring kits to give you an idea of how the kit looks on a warped loom.

Dealing with Loose Selvedge Threads: 

If you have loose selvedge threads (meaning the warp threads on the sides of your piece are looser than the rest) it may be because when tying off your warp you did not tie a tight enough knot. If you have a hard time tying a tight knot when you’re finished warping, it is helpful to loosen your tension slightly before you tie it. When your warp is under a lot of tension it can be very difficult to tie a knot and have that selvedge thread have the same tension as the rest of your warp.

What Happened if One Shed Isn’t Working:

If you have put your shedding device on the loom and it seems one shed is better than the other (meaning, when you make one shed it seems to work well and when you make the other shed it doesn’t seem to work as well) you probably have a crossed heddle. Check to make sure all your heddles were put on correctly and that no heddle is catching on anything.

What to do if you can’t get enough tension on your loom just using your hands to turn the wing nuts: 
The flat wrench that was included with your loom is designed to fit around that wing nut and give you the leverage you need to get the maximum tension possible on the Mirrix Loom.

More on Finishing a Tapestry:
Click Here

No warps bracelet now available in blue/green

Just finished the blue/green version of the no warps bracelet. Watch for its imminent arrival on our website (today or tomorrow) in this spot:  http://www.mirrixlooms.com/nowarpstoweaveinbraceletkit.html.  And even more exciting, we are going to sell a kit that includes both the golden and the blue/green bracelet.  So the options will be the golden bracelet and the blue/green bracelet kit, both of which provide enough material to make two bracelets or a combination kit which will allow you to make one bracelet of each color.

 And remember, we will be teaching this class at Bead Fest in Philly:   http://www.beadfest.com/beadfest/phl_instructors.cfm  This will be a three hour class on Friday August 19th from six until nine p.m.  We will also be teaching the bead cuff bracelet that day starting at eight a.m. until four p.m.  It’s going to be a long day but fun.

And now for the cats.  You haven’t seen them in a while.

Maia in a basket!

Chloe saying “I want to get fed . . . again!”

And Chloe again in my office looking fuzzy and adorable as usual.

Weaving a city of gold

Happy New Year to all of you.

Except for the absence of snow (I ski, well not this year) things have been going pretty well thus far.  My resolution was to weave every day as much as possible.  I had focused so much on making things to sell in galleries that I lost sight of making things that inspire me.  One fun thing about last year was coming up with new designs to weave on the Mirrix.  I will continue to do that as much as I can this year.  But I also want to weave pieces that have been living inside my head and need to get out.  I started the below piece just before New Year’s day.

It’s woven on the McKinley Loom.  This is the first time I’ve actually woven on this loom.  I thought my first piece on it would be a table runner.  In fact, I warped it to weave a table runner and after about an inch of weaving I took my scissors to it.  I just was not in the mood to weave a table runner.

The next day I put on a linen warp.  Linen works great on the Mirrix because it requires perfectly even tension.  Putting a linen warp on a loom where you have to tie every thread pair is very difficult.   I explored my yarn stash and came up with:  a ball of natural hemp yarn, a ball of thistle yarn, some rafia, a bunch un-dyed silk yarn as well as dyed silk.  I also discovered some lovely fine wool in earth colors.  And then I found my pot of gold.  This is where I stick all the gold scraps left over from various projects.  Who can throw away gold!  I stuffed it into the shed and let some of it spill into the front.  I will take more pictures of this as the piece progresses.

The theme of the piece is:  city of gold.  The “city” is made from the hand-dyed silk yarn.  The gold is all the rest.  I guess I am almost imaging a city springing up in a desert.  Whatever is stuck in my head seems to be happening in the piece.  I hope I can keep it going in the right direction.  There is nothing more exciting than heading in the right direction.  But it’s awful when things go south and you’ve got to get those scissors out!

I also plan to put a warp on a smaller loom and weave a similar piece.  Something thin and long.  It’s in my head.  And it will be good to be able to go back and forth between the two especially if I get stuck.

No warps loom woven earrings

Little rectangles woven on the Mirrix Loom using the no warps kit http://www.mirrixlooms.com/nowarpendskit.html become simple, elegant earrings.  Just takes on our of your time including warping and finishing.  Setting up for the next pair take only a few minutes.

I made mine out of rhodium and 24 karat gold plated beads in a rectangle inside a rectangle design.

I am thinking maybe a longer, thinner piece (or maybe two combined) would make great earrings.

But these little guys would make nice components for a bracelet or necklace.  I would be a lot more creative with color and combine pieces that were very different.

My stash is a little low.  I might have to go bead shopping.  What a shame!

Hope your New Years has started well and that all creativity is flowing.