All About Tapestry/Bead Cuff Bracelets

Interested in weaving beads or tapestry and not quite sure where to begin? 

Mirrix Looms’ tapestry/bead cuff bracelet kits are the perfect projects to begin weaving on your Mirrix Loom. They teach the skills you need to do more complex projects, but they’re easy and fast to make. Plus, they’re gorgeous and make great gifts.

Choose from three kits: The Original Tapestry/Bead Cuff Bracelet Kit, The Elegant Tapestry/Bead Cuff Bracelet kit and The Wedding Tapestry/Bead Cuff Bracelet Kit.

Kits can be purchased here

New Tapestry Purse Kit

I’ve rethought the old version of the tapestry purse kit that we will be using for our next weave-along.  I wanted to come up with something that would both be great for a beginner weaver but not be at all boring.  One of the most difficult things to accomplish when weaving one’s first tapestry is getting the edges to not pull in.  Even with the great tension of the Mirrix Loom, you can still botch this one when you first start out.  And it is frustrating.  Another really frustrating error for the beginning tapestry weaver is to end up with unevenly spaced warp threads.  Usually, this manifests itself by having the warps in the middle of the piece closer together than the outside warps.  It’s hard to fix after the fact.

These errors happen for a reason, but even if you know the reason, if you are not experienced at tapestry, they can still happen.  They can even happen for experienced tapestry weavers sometimes when one is not paying attention.

The scenario where this won’t happen is when you are:  1) only weaving narrow areas of weft, and 2) weaving slit tapestry so that the space between the areas of weft can take up the slack and not put so much pressure on the outside edges.

One of the most interesting techniques to learn for tapestry is the art of weaving with opposing wefts so that you can cross into another color area and be in the right shed.  You will learn all this when we do the weave-along for this project, but for now you get to see a picture.

Mirrix Tapestry Elegant or Wedding Tapestry/Cuff Bracelet weave-along

Mirrix Tapestry Elegant or Wedding Tapestry/Bead Cuff
Let’s Weave!
We are ready to weave!  So get out your specs, your warped loom, silk, gold thread, sumptuous gold beads (how we love the gold!), needle and your imagination and maybe a wee bit of patience and let’s weave.  
We will be weaving two tapestry/bead cuffs at the same time to provide you with different styles.  Here are some example photos:  In this first one  we have the simplest design represented by the Wedding Cuff (which simply means it’s white, not black, so don’t let the color confuse you).  For this simple, yet elegant, piece we’ve woven one inch sections of a combination of three gold threads (in your kit the gold thread is actually three gold threads) and one silk thread.  We then wove a line of size 10/0 24 karat gold plated Delica beads followed by an inch of weaving, followed by a row of beads until there are seven sections of woven area and six rows of Delica beads.  
The second and third examples (one is done in black silk and the other in white silk),  incorporate the same basic design as the first but throw in a couple of other techniques such as “pick and pick” and pure gold lines of thread.  
Simple Cuff
Cuff with more techniques
Another Cuff with more techniques
So choose whether you are going for simple or slightly more complex.  But even if you start with one concept, you can easily pick up the other since both styles incorporate seven one inch woven sections divided by six rows of beads.  This formula guarantees your piece will be the correct length plus the kit includes enough beads to weave six rows.  Now you could stagger the rows differently if you’d like, but remember that you are only going to get six rows of beads out of the kit.
We will begin with the simple version:
Starting that first weft thread:
Prepare your weft by combining a yard length of the three strand gold thread (you will always use the gold thread in three strands so it is thick enough) and one strand of silk. 
End the header thread by inserting it through two center warps.  Begin a strand of silk where you’ve ended the header thread as if you were continuing with the same thread.  You will begin and end all thread in this manner making sure that no thread is ever pushing through to the front of your weaving.  Remember, you do not care what the back looks like!

Weave a little shy of one inch of the gold and silk combined threads.  Do not pull in too tightly at the edges so that your piece remains a consistent width.  Don’t weave so loosely that you have large loops at the edges.

The next step is to add a row of beads.  Thread beading thread onto a needle and tie an overhand knot.

Loop the silk and gold thread through the loop of thread on your needle.

Pick up eleven needles with your needle.  Slide the beads onto the gold and silk thread.
Loop the silk and god around the side warp once (this will serve to anchor the beads, which although you cannot see are on the thread).
Weave the beads into the piece.  There will be two beads between the raised warp threads except for the last one.

Push the beads into place with your fingers and pull tightly enough n the thread so that it is completely buried in the beads.  Neatness counts!

 Make two loops around the end warp thread both to anchor the beads but also to fill up the space on the side of the beads.

Continue weaving the gold and silk thread until you reach close to an inch.

Continue in this manner until you’ve reached seven white almost one inch long sections divided by six rows of beads.
Now let’s move onto the more complicated Cuff.  This one is woven in black silk but can also be woven in white silk.

Cut a length of silk about a yard long.

Stick the end of the header thread between two warps in the center of the weaving and begin the silk where the header thread ends.  Not a great picture, but I can’t go back and take another one now.

Weave the silk thread for about six passes.  This is not set in stone.

Now you get to add the gold!  End the silk thread in the middle of the weaving and start the three stranded gold where the silk thread ended.

Weave some of that gorgeous gold.

Add the black thread back in but this time at the edge because you are not ending the gold thread.  I know this is not a clear picture.  It looked fine on the camera!  What I’ve done is wrap the black thread around the side warp so that it doesn’t stick out the side.  Take the end under the side warp and then wrap it to the right over the warp sticking it in between the two side warps.  Then weave it to meet the end of the gold.

Wrap the gold around the end warp twice.  Then weave it back to the right.

Weave the black thread to the right.  You are doing pick and pick, which is essentially a way to make vertical stripes.  It’s a blast once you get the hang of it.

Weave the gold back.  It will naturally go around the black thread making a neat edge.

Weave the black thread.  See the design emerge!

Do the same trick with the gold thread, wrapping around the edge thread twice before you weave it.

Weave just gold for a bit and then end it and add the silk thread.

Weave just the silk thread for a bit.

End the gold thread and start the silk thread.

Weave a few rows of the silk thread.

Add the gold thread while NOT ending the black thread.  See the way you wrap the thread around the end warp backwards so that the end sticks out behind the weaving.

Weave the gold thread for two passes.  This will not be pick and pick.  Rather it is called wavy lines.  You will weave two passes of each color instead of one.

Weave the silk thread for two passes.

Weave the gold thread for two passes.

Weave the gold thread for two passes.

Then the black.  Congratulations!  You’ve woven an inch and are ready to add beads.

Thread bead thread in to a needle and tie an overhand knot.

Loop the silk thread that is being woven on the loom around the bead thread attached to the needle.

Pick up eleven gorgeous 24 karat plated size 10/0 delicas and slide onto your silk thread.

Warp that silk thread around the edge warp before weaving your beads.

Then weave those sweet beads!  Still gives me chills to see how beautiful that looks.

Push the beads down and pull on the silk thread so that it is even with the edge warp thread.  Good job.  Keep smiling.

Wrap silk thread around edge thread before you weave it back.

Weave the silk thread .

Weave some more silk thread.  How ever much you want.

Add some silk thread to the black thread and weave them together for a bit.

Now we are going to turn it back into pick and pick. Wrap the silk thread around the outside warp and weave it back once.

Now weave just the gold thread.

One pass of silk thread.

Now you’ve got those wonderful vertical stripes again!

Combine the silk and gold thread and weave with that for a bit.

Look how sweet that looks!

Weave on!!!  This is my loom at this point.  I will be weaving the rest of the piece this week.  How about you?


Tapestry for WEBS

WEBS is going to be the latest dealer for Mirrix Looms.  We are thrilled to have our looms in their store and available through their web site.  They asked me to pick out some colors of their Berkshire Valley Yarns and weave a sample tapestry on a 22 inch loom.  I used their Linen Valley yarns 8/2 for warp. Using linen warp on the Mirrix Loom is a pleasure because the tension is so even and strong.  It’s difficult to warp looms with linen when you have to tie on the threads.  A continuous warp makes warping with linen so much easier.

This is where I am at.  I have an inch or two to go before weaving the final linen hem.  And then off it goes to WEBS in North Hampton, MA to go on display.  We hope you have a chance to visit this wonderful store.  It’s huge and filled with all sorts of wonderful stuff . . . and now the Mirrix Loom and warp and weft yarn to make your Mirrix sing.

Weave-Along: Week Three, Tapestry Techniques

This week we’re going to show you some basic tapestry techniques that can (but don’t have to) be incorporated into your cuffs.

(Just a note… when this is posted, Elena will have gotten married yesterday so please be patient with us if you write to us and we don’t respond today.)

Selvages: The four sides of your piece.
Warp interlock: When the two ends of weft meet at a warp thread and wrap around that thread before changing direction. 

If you’re interested in better explanations of tapestry techniques or want to learn tapestry, we suggest you purchase a book. Kathe Todd-Hooker’s book, “Tapestry 101″ and “Tapestry Weaving” by Kirsten Glasbrook are both great books for beginners with lots of detail and easy-to-follow instructions.

Tapestry techniques we’re trying today: Pick and Pick, Wavy Lines, Hatching.

A short explanation of pick and pick and wavy lines:
Both of these techniques require that you alternate the weaving of two different color threads. In pick and pick, you alternate them one after another. In other words, thread one, thread two, thread one, thread two, etc.. Wavy line technique requires that you weave thread one twice, thread two twice, thread one twice, thread two twice. Pick and pick produces vertical stripes, wavy lines produces the effect of wavy lines. These two have in common the necessity to deal with the selvages in a slightly unusual manner. You will have to manage these two threads in a way that will guarantee the selvage thread has enough weft around it. In the first case, depending on the position of your threads you will have to wrap one of your weft threads around the selvage thread in order to guarantee complete coverage.

In the second case, the top thread will pull the second thread and by doing so the top thread will cover the selvage thread twice. These techniques take some time to master but are well worth the effort. If you’re feeling intimidated, it is by no means necessary to use these techniques in your cuff but we do suggest you try the hatching technique (described last) at the very least.

Pick and Pick: 

In our example, we’ve used magenta and a golden yellow to begin our pick and pick. We alternate the colors thereby creating vertical stripes. In other words, weave the yellow thread once, and then the magenta thread once (making sure to change sheds every time you weave a new thread) then the yellow, then the magenta, etc… Follow the pictures for a visual of what we did:

First line of yellow

Second line of magenta (refer to earlier in this post to learn how to deal with your edges). Remember to change your shed every time you bring a thread across. 

Notice the beautiful vertical stripes emerging 
To continue with this design, but to add something extra, we stopped the magenta in the middle of the piece and started a purple thread at that place, thereby replacing the magenta with the purple. This allows us to continue the design but with a different color scheme. You could theoretically keep replacing threads as they run out with new ones for the entire bracelet and allow that to be your design. One way to approach this would be continue with the yellow thread and only replace the other ones. That would give you the most interesting effect. This kit may not include enough of any one shade of one color to do that, but we wanted to give you an idea of future design possibilities. We switched to using green after the purple thread as an example of this.
Changing the color to purple
Wavy Lines:

Wavy lines are very similar to pick and pick but instead of making one pass with a color, you make two passes creating what looks like wavy lines. 
Here, we started with two passes weaving with green, then two with yellow, then two with green, etc… 

Follow the pictures to see what we did:
The first pass through with green


This technique also involves two threads but the left thread will stay on the left and the right thread will stay on the right. In a full scale tapestry this is a great way to blend two colors together to create shading. This technique also involves warp interlock because when the two ends meet at a warp thread they each wrap around it before changing direction.

The way hatching works:  The two threads will come meet each other at any place within the tapestry you would like.  The threads must be woven toward each other.  They will then wrap around a common warp thread and head away from each other in the next shed.  These two colors will dovetail into each other.  A lot of other techniques can spring from this one including adding additional colors.  For now and for such a small piece we suggest you keep it simple and just use two colors.

The yellow and blue thread heading toward each other.
Wrap the two threads around the common warp, change sheds and head in opposite directions.
A clear visual of the threads wrapping around a common warp.
See how the dovetailing is beginning to reveal itself!
You can see how useful this technique can be!
Remember that these techniques can take some time to master. Play around! Have fun!
Elena & Claudia

Welcome to The Mirrix Tapestry and Bead Looms Weave-Along!

Welcome to the first official day of the Mirrix Tapestry and Bead Looms Weave-Along. If you are a participant, we look forward to getting to know you and your work! If you are just observing, enjoy! We hope everyone will learn a lot from this experience.

This is a basic outline of this weave-along:

Week One: July 24th (starting set-up on the 23rd)- July 30th
Loom set-up, Warping, weaving header

Week Two: July 31st- August 6th
Beginning weaving, adding beads

Week Three: August 7th- August 13th
Tapestry techniques

Week Four: August 14th- August 20th
Finishing weaving, cutting off the loom, preparing to put on cuff

Week Five: August 21st- August 27th
Finishing the cuff. finishing with beads

Week Six: August 28th- September 3rd
Catch-up for those who are behind.

This week we will set up our looms, warp and weave a header. For those of us who have warped before, this won’t take very long at all. For beginners, take your time and read all the directions and you will be fine. 

Loom set-up: Please refer to yesterday’s blog post

Warping: For the tapestry/bead cuff you will warp your loom for tapestry rather than bead weaving (this means one warp in each dent instead of two). 

Please refer to our online warping instructions for detailed directions on warping your loom. (CLICK HERE

You can also refer to the instructions that came with your tapestry/bead cuff bracelet kit if you have one. 

You will need to warp fifteen dents across for this project.

Following are pictures and brief explanations of how to warp for this project (if you have never warped before you will still want to refer to the warping instructions) using my loom as an example. 

First, place the warping bar between the two clips (turn the clips backwards and push them in slightly to hold the warping bar while warping. (Note: I have a bottom spring kit on this loom, although one is not necessary for this project. A bottom spring kit is used to organize your warps and is especially useful when weaving wide bead pieces or small-scale tapestry pieces. They can be purchased on our website:

Loom with warping bar between the two clips.

My loom, just as I finished putting the warp on. 
The top of the loom, fifteen warps across. 

Because this is a relatively thin project, I warped my piece on one side of the loom. When I was done warping, I tied a piece of cord (any string can be used) on the other side of the loom to the warping bar to keep it balanced. Alternatively, you can warp another piece on the other side to weave later. 

Loom with warp on it. The cord on the right side helps balance the warping bar (which has been pulled down lower on the loom).
Looking down at the warping bar towards the bottom of the loom.
Next, I placed my shedding device in the clips (turning them around so they stick forward) and began putting heddles on.

Beginning to put heddles on. They attach the warp threads to the shedding device, allowing you to change sheds when you change the position of the shedding device handle. 
After putting heddles on every other warp, I rotated the warping bar and began to put heddles on the warps that did not already have heddles on them.

The shedding device, rotated and ready for more heddles on the other side. 
The loom, warped and with heddles on both sides of the shedding device. I’m almost done!
Close-up of the heddles on the loom.

The loom, ready to be woven on with the shedding device handle attached.

Weave a header:

A header is woven before you start your piece to provide a strong base that will eventually be folded over during the finishing process. I used the C-Lon cord that I warped the loom with to weave this header. It should be about 1/2 inch of weaving. 

C-Lon cord to be used for my header.

Once the shedding device was put on the loom, all I had to do was engage the shedding device (the shedding device raises half the warps) and place my weft between those warps. (When you are doing this, make sure your weft ends face the back of the piece, this can be accomplished either by wrapping your end around so it faces back or by starting your weft in the middle of the piece.) Then, I changed the shed by moving the shedding device into the other position (and therefore raising the other half of the warps) and wove through again.

My header, woven.
All set to weave the cuff!!!

That’s it, warped and ready! Next week we will begin weaving the actual cuff and learning how to add beads! 

Please, post pictures this week of your loom warped and ask questions on this blog (as a comment),

Happy warping!

Tapestry weaving looms and why you want a Mirrix

Tapestry Weaving on the Mirrix:

If you’ve ever tried to weave tapestry on a loom not intended for weaving tapestry, you understand how frustrating it is to not have the kind of tension necessary to weave a tapestry that will not look like something you imagine might have emerged from weaving day at summer camp.  Tapestry is a demanding medium full of must have requirements.  If you give her what she wants, she is as lovely as can be.  But if you deny her the simple requirement of a dedicated and worthy tapestry loom, she can be quite the adversary.  Forget even selvedges unless you are some kind of magician.  Forget evenly spaced warps.  And if you have an inferior shedding mechanism or none at all, forget your sanity.  It’s bound to march off to the wistful world or potholder looms while slashing the warps on your inadequate loom with a sharp and deadly scissor.

Good tapestry looms are necessary for weaving tapestry.  Period.  Four harness jack looms don’t work.  Rigid heddle looms don’t work.  Flimsy portable wooden tapestry looms don’t work.  Little home-made frames work for about two rows and then you might as well just stop because it goes downhill after that and you won’t be hanging that thing on anyone’s wall.

So what are the exacting requirement of a good or even great portable tapestry loom? (The same requirements apply mostly to a floor loom but since you won’t be hauling a floor loom around the house or to your next workshop which is necessary to be called a portable loom, we will leave them off this list.  Okay, here comes the list.)  We are talking portable looms here.

1) Provides great tension.  No compromise on this.  Shall I say that one more time?  Okay, you get it.

2) Provides some kind of shedding device that is easily operated and keeps the shed open without you having to do a series of cartwheels first.  Having to stick a stick (say that ten times fast) into the open shed to keep it in place isn’t so much fun. 

3) Stands sturdily in place either on a table, in your lap or on some kind of stand.

4) Can provide the kind of length you need relative to the width you know you’ve got.  

5)  The option of a variety of reeds for various warp setts because not everyone wants to weave at six ends per inch.  

6) The ability to add a foot treadle is a huge plus.  And it’s rare, so if you are looking for that stop your search because you’ve just found it.

7) A guaranteed life time of use.  Yeah, that’s important.  Who wants to waste money on a piece of beautiful (that’s the last requirement) equipment that falls apart before you’ve abandoned it for other tapestry weaving lands?

8) Beautiful.  Indeed it should be beautiful.  Afterall, tapestry takes more time to weave than most of us are willing to sleep in a day, so if you’ve got to look at that loom for hours on end you sure want it to be beautiful.  Remember that little saying of ours:  Because the loom you weave on should be a work of art?  We are sticking to it.

Other things to consider:

What size loom do I want and what can I get?  Having a nice range of sizes is very helpful because some of us like to crawl into bed with our looms and others like to make a big spectacle of their creative moment with something huge and grand like the Zeus loom (okay, it’s not that huge, but as far as portable tapestry looms go, it’s pretty darn big as was the dog we named it for).  Some people love a size so in between the two that they can even tell you exactly how many inches wide they require or would like.  We might not have the exact size loom for everybody, but we come close.  And no one is saying we won’t special order one for you if you just can’t live without a 23 and a half inch wide loom!  We’ve done it before.  That’s how the Zeus loom came into existence.

What do I want to get with this loom?  You need to make or buy heddles.  Easy to make and not so cheap to buy.  But it’s your dime. 

Are you weaving sewing thread at 22 ends per inch (a halo comes with that request)?  If so, you might want to spring for that bottom spring kit.  It helps keep all those thinner than thin threads orderly while you remind yourself why you have agreed to such a task.  And speaking of springs, you need to know which warp sett you want.  The tapestry looms all come with four different springs (8, 12, 14 and 18 dents per inch) which allows for quite a variety of weaving setts.  We have filler springs (10 and 16) if you just have to march to your own drummer.  And we’ve got those two tail end springs for those of you who can’t bare to weave with anything thicker than sewing thread and itty bitty spun silk threads.  

Now you can decide which size is best for you!

Tapestry Pendents

On Thursday my husband won a drawing at Cole Gallery in Edmonds, WA and got this beautiful tree charm (pictured) by Jennifer Phillips. The necklace got me thinking about small-scale art and, in particular, small scale tapestry. It is something I have not done much experimentation with but it seems to be very in vogue lately (Especially with fantastic tapestry artists such as Kathe Todd-Hooker weaving small scale tapestries). 
It gave me an idea… woven pendents. Teeny tiny mini tapestries finished with beads and strung on silver or cord or leather. I talked to Claudia about this and she’s already started experimenting. The possibilities are endless and it would be a great project for beginners and experts alike. 
What do you think? 

Tapestry Purse done!

I spent the beginning part of this morning sewing together the tapestry purse.  I actually enjoy this part of the process.  I especially like sewing on the beads.

Let me show you the pictures and describe the steps.

This picture of the finished purse was taken on my bedside table before I wandered back to my studio to take the real pictures.
I sewed silk to the back of the weaving before I sewed the weaving into a purse.

I tucked the ends of the braid into the two corners of the purse before sewing up the sides of the purse.

Then I sewed the braid onto the purse with beads on each side of the braid. I then beaded around the flap of the purse.  This disguises all ugly seams.  And since most of my seams are ugly, beads are definitely my best friend.

This is the back of the finished purse.