An Introduction to Navajo Weaving

I am going to approach my next subject, Navajo weavings, a little differently. Rather than jump into the history of Navajo weaving, I am going first talk about the weavings themselves and the equipment that was used. In part two of this blog I will talk about the actual history.

Cover of book "The Fine Art of Navajo Weaving" by Steve Gutzwiller

I would guess that anyone reading this blog already has some knowledge about Navajo weavings. Whether you've read about them, seen pictures of them or, if you're lucky, have seen the weavings in person, the term Navajo weaving will bring a very specific image to mind. You will remember the stripes and the patterns, the symmetry, the lack of fringe and the density of the fabric. You might also get an image in your head of the vertical looms which are unique to Navajo weaving. Navajo weavings share certain aspects with other weavings, but they also have distinguishing qualities that set them far apart from all other weavings.

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Intro to Tapestry Class: Weft Interlock

Today I continue my journey through the CraftArtEdu Introduction to Tapestry Class with a technique called weft interlock. It's used for making blocks of color without leaving open slits in the tapestry fabric. This was my first attempt at weft interlock, so I was a little nervous getting started -- but I think it turned out beautifully.

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Weave-Along Week Three: Weft Interlock

Time for some weft interlock.
Using some scrap yarn, divide your warps into roughly four evenly spaced sections.
Insert your four wefts going in the same direction, from left to right. Then head back to the right starting with the weft on the right. When you weave the second weft, catch it around the first weft and weave. Do this with the following two wefts. Essentially, the wefts, where they meet, loop around one another. The line between the wefts will be in between warps making this very different from warp interlock, where you wrap your weft around the same warp. With weft interlock, which is frequently used in Navajo technique, there is less building up of higher weft areas where they interlock making it a better technique for building up straight lines. The best technique is obviously slit technique where there is no build up, but then you have those pesky slits to sew up.
Next weave back from right to left. Your wefts are already caught around one another so you are just weaving back.
The next step is to weave from left to right, catching the wefts with one another until you get to the right side of the weaving.
Continue this process with the next wefts. Weave until you've built up about half an inch.
End your wefts except for the far right one. Weave that back to the left slightly and replace it with two silk wefts.

Add two silk wefts and weave for a bit. Then replace with single silk weft.

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