The Newbie's Guide to Pick and Pick

I remember learning the tapestry technique Pick and Pick. I was trying to follow instructions in a book and found myself constantly making mistakes. The middle of the piece would look great, but my selvedges were riddled with errors. My "aha" moment came when I stopped for a moment and considered how lines in tapestry work and how that creates the Pick and Pick pattern.

The key to understanding Pick and Pick is the same key to understanding how tapestry weaving works at a very basic level. In tapestry, your warp threads are always covered. When you weave one pass through your weft, you have successfully covered HALF of your warp threads because you are weaving over and under warp threads as you go across. When you weave a pass going back the other way, you cover the other half of those warp threads. Therefore, two passes with your weft makes a complete line. 


With Pick and Pick you weave one weft in one direction in one color and then another weft in that same direction in another color to make a line instead of weaving in one direction and then back in the other direction. 

The picture below shows a pink weft thread woven left to right and a green weft thread woven left to right covering opposite warp threads to make one complete line across. This is the first step to Pick and Pick. 


When I isolate those two threads you can see how, combined, these two wefts cover ALL the warp threads across. Because the wefts are different colors, that complete line of covered warp is actually pink and then green and then pink and then green. 


For now we are going to forget the confusing part of Pick and Pick, which is dealing with the selvedges (edges). Below you can see I continued weaving my Pick and Pick in the middle of the piece just to show you how it works and how understanding that two passes makes a line is important to understanding this technique. After I wove the first two wefts from left to right, I wove two more from right to left (first pink and then green). Then I wove two more (again, pink and then green) back from left to right. You can see that when I do that you start to see clearly the results of Pick and Pick. Half my warp threads are covered in pink and half are covered in green. To get this effect, all I do is weave one weft tread from left to right and then another one on top of it (covering the other half of the warp threads) in the same direction. Then I do the same thing going the other way. Easy!


The hard part, however, is making sure this pattern works on the selveges of your piece. Because sometimes your selvedge warp thread is covered by one color and sometimes it is covered in another color (how this happens depends on in what shed you started the technique and wheather you have an even or odd number of warp threads) you have to finagle a bit to make sure the edges look correct. 

There are two options to make sure your selvedges are done correctly with Pick and Pick.

Here's the first:

Your lower weft thread is on top of the selvedge thread and your upper weft thread is on the bottom of the selvedge thread. In this case you need to wrap the bottom thread twice around the selvedge thread, ending under the first two warp threads. This builds up that edge and keeps your lower thread showing on the selvedge thread and the upper thread NOT showing on the selvedge.


See how the pattern is correct after I did that? from left to right it is pink, green, pink, green, etc. 


Then I just wove my top weft behind the first selvedge thread and continue. 


You can see the pink and green pattern starting to clearly emerge.


Now you may wonder why we had to wrap that first pink weft twice. The reason is because you wouldn't have enough weft to cover the slevedge thread if you didn't wrap twice. The picture below shows what happens if I just wrap once. 


Now, because the piece I am working on has an ODD number of warp threads, covering my selvedges for Pick and Pick will be the SAME on both sides. Here's a pick of me doing the double wrap on the left side. 



There's that beautiful Pick and Pick pattern emerging.


So now I am going to show you how to cover your selvedge threads when your bottom weft is under the selvedge thread and your top weft is on the top. This means your top weft will be the color that covers that selvedge thread (in my case, yellow).


This part always seemed a little tricky to me but it's actually pretty neat. You bring your bottom weft thread over the top one and then behind the selvedge warp thread. Then, you pull a bit.

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Doing this brings your pink thread behind the yellow one so you can't see it on the selvedge. 

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Now, you weave your upper weft from right to left. Make sure your lower weft is not showing on the selvedge warp.

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The image below shows the same thing on the other side of the piece. As I mentioned above, if you have an odd number of warps you will use the same selvedge warp covering technique on each side. If you have an even number, you will use one of these techniques on one side and one on the other. 

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At this point, it is important to let your dog or cat check your progress.


Weave the top weft the same way you did on the other side and continue doing this. You can see both of my rows of Pick and Pick below.

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I hope this helped clear up the mystery behind Pick and Pick for you!

Did this post pique your curiosity about tapestry? Check out one of our Just The Essentials Tapestry Starter Package. It comes with a loom, warp, heddles, a tapestry beater and a great book for beginners. Purchasing the package will save you $15!

Topics: Pick and Pick, Tapestry Weaving, tapestry techniques, weaving techniques

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