I still have one more three-day run in my summer residency at Fibreworks Studio and Gallery in Madeira Park BC and I’m already done tapestry #2 in my current series. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me, or how much time I’d actually spend weaving during the public residency, so I’m thrilled that I was able to start and finish an entire weaving.
There are just a few more weft ends to sew in and the hanging mechanism to attach and it’s ready for a wall. I’ve estimated that during the 65 hours of residency time I was able to warp up and weave for around 45 hours of it. In the past, before I had childcare, I’d weave an hour here and there, never keeping track of how long any particular piece took, so I’m very happy to have a better idea now. Having a Spencer Power Treadle helped me chug along steadily, too. My treadle is currently being borrowed by one of my students. She spent a lot of time with me on that first stretch of seven days of my residency, and then bought herself a Mirrix. I figure I won’t be weaving again until the end of the month when I hunker down for the third and final weaving in this series at Fibreworks again, so someone may as well enjoy using the treadle in the mean time.
Often people associate tapestry weaving with just wall-hangings, but you can make a lot of different things with a tapestry. This week I made a set of tiny tapestry pillows, perfect for a tiny dog to rest his head or as a pop of accent color in any cozy room.
Ready to start your own tapestry journey? Click here to get a free loom recommendation!
It can be tough to find a Mirrix Loom on sale, but if you join American Tapestry Alliance you’ll get a code for 10% off any size Mirrix Loom good for three months after you join AND you get to benefit from being a part of a wonderful organization dedicated to the art of tapestry weaving.
American Tapestry Alliance offers inspiration, networking, education, discounts and more. Interested? Click here to learn more about membership!
You’ve seeing these adorable woven wall-hangings on Instagram and Pinterest and you’re ready to take the plung e to learn how to make your own woven art. Maybe you take a class on a basic frame loom or you make your own loom from a picture frame and follow some instructions you find online. Now, you’re ready to take this craft to the next level. What’s first? A high-quality loom! You’ve heard of Mirrix Looms, but they’re tapestry looms… is tapestry the type of weaving you’re interested in? What exactly IS tapestry?
Imagine a woven scarf or a blanket. It might be one color, stripes or a pattern, but usually it doesn’t depict an image or a varying design. Tapestry, however, does. A tapestry might represent a realistic image, a complex design or even an abstract picture.
Generally tapestry has discontinuous wefts. This mean the weft (again, these are the threads that go across the loom) do not go from selvedge (edge) to selvedge (edge).
So is the type of weaving you want to do tapestry? If it is weft-faced and pictorial, it probably falls somewhere on the tapestry spectrum. What does this mean?
1.) You can use, and benefit from, a dedicated tapestry loom like a Mirrix. Great tension, a shedding device and accessory options are just a few reasons why. Check out this blog post for a few more reasons.
2.) You can weave using tapestry techniques. Stripes and fringe are fun, but there are so many more amazing tapestry techniques. Pick and Pick is a great example. Learn how to create these fun vertical stripes here.
Want to learn more about weaving? Click here to get a FREE weaving consultation!
Last week I did the first 7 days of a summer residency in the yurts of Fibreworks Studio & Gallery in beautiful Madeira Park on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. It was the hottest week of the year so I experimented with weaving both inside the yurts where I’ve got a fan, and outside in the shade. The two spaces were about the same comfortable tempurture so I opted to stay inside on most days since I had the best of both worlds with a skylight above me and the kind of shade that I didn’t have to chase all day. I did end up spending plenty of time outside for a natural dye adventure which had me dyeing and overdyeing a single skein of yarn to achieve the perfect yellow, over two days. I ended up dyeing with osage and then overdyeing with fustic to achieve the dark yellow-orange seen in the photos below.
Summer is here and we’re looking forward to sunshine, longer days and weaving in the sunshine on those longer days. To help keep our wonderful community inspired this July and August, today we are launching Mirrix’s very first Summer Weaving Challenge.
Every Monday through the end of August members of the challenge group will get an email with a new weaving-related (we are going to focus on bead and tapestry/weft-faced weaving, but all weavers are welcome to join) challenge. Challenges will be about the weaving process rather than the product and can be completed at any time through the end of August.
Here are some challenge examples:
–Give someone a weaving lesson. This could be a young person, a family
member, a friend, a stranger… anyone! Even if you’re a beginner, there’s always someone who can learn from you.
–Take your loom out of the house. Go weave in a coffee shop, on the beach, in a park… somewhere where you’ve never taken your loom before.
–Weave something totally out of your comfort zone. This challenge gives you permission to make mistakes, to do something crazy or silly and wildly creative.
Everyone who completes 7 of the 9 challenges will get a personalized Mirrix Summer Challenge completion certificate emailed to them at the end of the challenge. There will also be awards!
This challenge has ended
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.
Doing this brings your pink thread behind the yellow one so you can’t see it on the selvedge.
Now, you weave your upper weft from right to left. Make sure your lower weft is not showing on the selvedge warp.
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.
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.
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!
This will be my last blog post as part of the Social Marketing team for Mirrix Looms and I must say it certainly was a fast year! What a joy it was to represent an amazing company so full of passion for weaving and design! Thank you Claudia and Elena for giving so much of your life’s effort to make Mirrix such a strong and successful company!
So it got me to thinking … what would I like my final blog post to be about? The word Connection kept coming to mind and how could I relate that to living my life as a Tapestry Weaver? Weaving is all about connected threads; fibers crossing over one other, creating a texture or a single design. Isn’t that what our lives are truly about as well?
My personal philosophy on Weaving is this … I relate the Warp to my foundation in life, whatever it is that grounds me (my spiritual walk, family, love, friendships). You hopefully know what that understanding is for you as well. I relate the Weft to all the scrumptious opportunities that come our way, the people we meet along life’s journey, those that cross our paths each and every day, relationships we hold dear, the experiences we walk through on a daily basis. These things make us who we are today, simply creating the woven Cloth of our Lives. Some things are brighter and more exciting than others, some experiences are subdued and quiet .. all the while creating and adding to the fabric of our own life. It is certainly different for each and every one of us!
So for me, Living the Woven Life is staying connected with all that brings me peace and serenity. Every time I sit at my looms to create, I feel a sense of calmness take over. In fact, how I wish I had more time to receive that gift weaving brings to me. Tapestry Weaving is all about slowing ourselves down, enjoying the process, listening within, designing work that comes from observing the world around us, feeling the magical rhythm that happens while weaving, and asking the creative “what if” questions. I know of no other art form that gives such a sense of peace and contentment. I think that is why you and I are drawn to this amazing art form that has been handed down from generation to generation.
We are Tapestry Weavers, always looking for something new to inspire our next creative work. The designs never shut off in my head, how about yours? With the use of Social Media, (if used properly) it can be a gift, a way of connecting all of us … sharing what we love most, what we have created and perhaps what we hope to design in the future.
I began as a Tapestry Weaver over thirty years ago, when it was much simpler. I strayed away to pursue harness weaving, all the while still living a “Woven Life”. How lucky for me that I returned solely to Tapestry Weaving a few years ago and all that I knew and had learned came right back to me! You see, I had finally found my “weaving home” and I am striving each and every day to live the Woven Life. I am learning as much as I can, reading about Tapestry History and learning from so many amazing current day Tapestry Artists. There is a wealth of knowledge for us to grasp from these Tapestry leaders. I am grateful for their willingness to share their techniques so openly with all of us.
Claudia and Elena, here at Mirrix, are doing a wonderful job to inspire new and seasoned weavers. They are constantly coming up with new techniques, products and weave along projects along the way. Follow them closely, they have much to share! There are wonderful teachers out there, teaching online and in a workshop experience. I am a devoted student of Rebecca Mezoff and I have learned so much from her. I have used my Mirrix Loom for each of her Tapestry courses I have taken. Consider joining ATA (American Tapestry Alliance). I am proud to be a member and serving an organization that nourishes my Tapestry experience. Connect with local weavers if you can, join a guild, find like minded fiber artists like yourself. Surround yourself with weaving! Each and every experience will lead you one step closer to truly living your own Woven Life! Absorb as much knowledge and experience as you can!
I encourage you to breathe it all in, weave as much as you can and share your knowledge and love for this art form with others. Step lightly, observe all that is around you … keep notebooks, sketchbooks and design notes. You never know what might show up in a Tapestry of yours one day! The next time you sit down to your loom, take a deep breath in, don’t rush the process and enjoy every minute you get to sit with your weaving. Be happy to be there, Be present, Learn from it, be inspired by it. If you believe you are truly working on building your own special weaving life … I ask you … What will it say about you? What do others see, what do you want it to reflect? Find time just for you and your weaving. Get to know each other again, inspire and teach each other. I promise you won’t regret living this Woven Life of ours.
I leave you with this thought … One of my favorite Tapestry Weavers of all time is the late Sylvia Heyden. A weaver who truly lived the Woven Life, every moment of every day. I have watched her beautiful video over and over again, each time learning something new. She states that “We cannot learn this process quickly, for it takes a lifetime.” Her words have stuck with me ever since. Her works were beautiful, Her spirit true, Her words so eloquently spoke how I feel about being a Tapestry Weaver. There simply isn’t enough time to accomplish all that I want to!
It’s been pure joy being here, thanks Mirrix for letting me have a woven voice! The pleasure has been all mine! Can’t wait to see who wins my woven pouch at the end of this month! What a fun experience it has all been!
Sometimes you have the urge to do something crazy and fun and break all the rules. That’s what this project was all about. I won’t call this piece a tapestry because it isn’t. It’s a weaving. A weird, colorful, fluffy weaving. After we dyed the yarn for this piece (more on that here), we got to warping the loom. Here’s Claudia warping so I could take pictures:
Here’s the loom all warped and on a stand. I don’t own my own Sitting/Standing Loom Stand so I haven’t used one very often, but weaving this piece with the stand made me want one.
And then, I began to weave. I used plain weave and soumak and Claudia spun some of the roving we were using to weave in between rows to give the piece a little more stability.
I wove this whole piece in a few days, mostly at night, sometimes with a glass of rosé.
Off the loom!
We finished it with ribbon sewed on the edges and then put a dowl through the ribbon on the top (which is actually the side) of the piece.
Here it is up on the wall!
Ready to start weaving your own wall-hangings? Click here to download our free Weaving is Easy Ebook to learn more!
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