Intro to Tapestry Class: Slit Tapestry Technique

My journey through the CraftArtEdu Introduction to Tapestry Class continues. You might recall from my weft interlock post that I mentioned a different color-block technique that results in open slits in the tapestry. That technique is called slit tapestry, and it’s the topic of my post today.

We’re making five color blocks with straight, vertical boundaries which are the slits. You start by using short pieces of yarn to mark the edges of the color blocks. Next, you weave-in a warp yarn for each color block. My yarns were all between about three feet and five feet long, although the five footers tend to be a little too long for my bobbins. (You can see the type of bobbin I’m using in this post.)

When I wove  the initial rows, I initially left the short ends of each weft sticking out the front of the tapestry.

craftartedu_5a

I then needed to push those short ends to the back of the tapestry. When you do this, keep on eye on your pattern of hills and valleys to make sure you cover the warps that need covering.

craftartedu_5b

From this point on, you just need to weave each color back and forth to build up the blocks. It’s a simple technique, but you need to watch your tension at each turn to make sure the slits that you’re creating aren’t too tight, which makes a hole in your tapestry, or too loose, which creates excess bulk.

After the first few rows, I recommend going back and making sure that your blocks are going to be the correct size. You can do this by counting the number of warps covered by a given color; that number needs to match the number of warps that you originally counted between markers. (Those markers useful, but I still found myself making one block too short and the next one too long at first.)

Because the wefts don’t interact with each other in slit tapestry, you can build up blocks of color one at a time. I chose that approach because it was faster than weaving single rows of colors all the way across, especially because I can change sheds very quickly with my treadle. Here are my first two completed blocks.

craftartedu_5c

Notice that the vertical line between colors is straight and doesn’t have the slight zig-zag look of weft interlock.

For this sampler, we need a total of 16 half passes of each color. If you lose your place, you can pull that weft up and space out the rows so that you can count them, as shown below with the purple weft.

craftartedu_5d

And here are all five blocks of split tapestry complete.

craftartedu_5e

The final step for this section of the sampler was to cap off the color blocks with a pass of black warp. I used the same length of warp that I used for the last color block on the far right. However, if you’re in the same shed that I was in at this point, you can’t just weave the black across, because you’ll be in the wrong shed. To get around this, I gently crossed the weft behind the warps to the selvedge before weaving back (across the tops of the color blocks) in the opposite direction. This method is called looping behind, and you can learn more about it in Kathe Todd-Hooker’s book Line in Tapestry.

craftartedu_5f

craftartedu_5g

Finally, here’s what the completed section looks like.

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The borders between the color blocks are actual slits that you can pass your finger through, kind of like button holes. When you use them for larger areas, it’s a good idea to go back and stitch them closed. For these small blocks, they should be fine as-is because they won’t pull open.

The sampler is starting to get really vibrant, isn’t it?

That’s all for this post. Next time I’ll try the technique called hatching, combined with pick and pick and something called warp interlock. It sounds complicated, but the effect will be well worth it. See you then!

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at http://www.beadjewelry.net.

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