Today I am starting on a new project on my Big Sister Loom with the No Warp-Ends Kit as part of the Social Marketing Program from Mirrix Looms. I have designed a pattern from a piece of artwork from one of my favorite artists – Katerina Art (Katerina Koukiotis). I am so excited about using one of her drawings!! As I looked through her beautiful art (many of which I have) I had to find – just the right one – and boy did I!! You can go through her page and find it….or wait and I’ll SHOW you!! She is excited to see what I do with this ‘version’ of her art too!
But as I got ready to warp up the loom last night I ran into a few things that I either didn’t know how to do and/or couldn’t find a video to show me how!! I started out using the S hooks that came with my kit, but quickly got frustrated with them falling off – my pattern is 88 beads wide!! Then I found the ‘paper clip’ way and got started right off! Again, there are some things that I had to ‘tweek’ or change, but I’ll go over them all as we go along! I would love to help answer all the question I had for YOU….that way you will know how to do them when you get to this point!!
Here are the colors that I am using….notice that they are on a different tray than I usually use….I will NOT be pulling lines from the pattern for the loom. But instead I’ll be picking up the beads one row at a time directly only the 4 inch needle!!
Now, you all know that I am using the Big Sister Loom with the No Warp-Ends Kit from Mirrix Looms, but here are some things that I have discovered….first, that I have to have the pattern under the loom….this is so that with my left hand I can move across the pattern with my finger as I pick up beads with my right hand and the needle. This is important, with 88 beads wide it is VERY easy to loose your place as you move your eyes from pattern to beads/needle. I also have been marking off row by row so I don’t forget what row I am on!
You can see that I am using the paperclips, but what I found is that they are TOO skinny for the beads I am using! So, I put 1-2 paperclips in between each of the paperclips that are holding my actual warp threads. This is keeping them separated almost perfectly!! As I go farther up in the beading I will be able to remove the extras….because the ‘work’ will keep it flat on it’s own.
Here is a closer view of what the ‘extra paperclips’ look like!
Now here is one more photo….see the tape? Let me tell you what that is for….something so simple and yet…. When I put the paperclips on – as I was warping the loom – I didn’t think about how they were laying!! If you can look close (or at a paperclip at your desk) you’ll see the the ‘outside’ opening is on the back. Well, that is where my thread goes around to do the beading…guess what…it caught every time! So, I put a piece of tape around the back…just to cover the openings of the paperclip. Next time this will be a lesson I remember!!
And here is where where I will leave you…at about 35 rows and 3080 beads!!
I will catch up to you in the next post….lots more to see!!
Krafty Max for Krafty Max Originals – kraftymax.net
I have to say that when I received the Mirrix Loom – a Big Sister Loom – I was so impressed!! Not only did it come with complete instructions, but there are many videos to help you get started and make it through!! My first project was a simple one…with only 2 colors. When I designed the pattern I was hoping for something simple and fun!! And boy did I get it!! Just watch this video to see how I created the DREAM a Little DREAM Project and how I finished it. I am very proud of this creation and I have to say…I can’t wait to show you my next creations!!!
Krafty Max for Krafty Max Originals www.kraftymax.net
Our customers are the best because they are so creative and are always coming up with new ideas for the Mirrix Loom. One such customer asked if one could use the loom extenders on the Mini Mirrix. My first response inside my head was no way. And then I paused, reconsidered and found a Mini Mirrix and some threaded rod that must have come from a loom I took apart for some research. I do have a pair of regular extenders, but I wanted these to be a little shorter. They were exactly the size I wanted then to be: one foot.
So how does this work? Obviously the Mini Mirrix has no legs. Well that’s the point, you aren’t going to be standing it up. You will either lay the loom down on a table or prop its bottom in your lap and lean her against a table.
Let me show you how this looks.
Alice in Wonderland surely!
The cords that come with the Mini Mirrix are not long enough to accommodate the extenders so we have two options to get your Mini warped with extenders.
First, you can add a set of small clips. Aren’t these adorable?
Or, you can buy additional Texsolv cord to get the length you need.
When you purchase loom extenders for the Mini, you have the option to add on more cord or the mini clips at a discount.
After I wove on the Mini with extenders, I discovered they can be used on the Lani Loom as well. In this case, you will need to add an extra leg for stability unless you decide to rest the bottom of the loom in your lap and lean it against a table or clamp it to the Mirrix Loom Stand.
How many inches can you weave with this set up? My piece will be 40 inches long! The maximum weaving length on the Mini Mirrix without the extenders is 16 inches. The extenders add 24.
The math for the Lani Loom is: 24 inches of weaving length without the extenders. The extenders increase it to 48 inches.
What can you weave on the Mini Mirrix or Lani Loom with extenders? My go-to project seems to be straps for things such as purses and guitars. Long thin strips also make a great edging on weavings that you want to turn into functional items such as purses. You could also make them into reins or attach the strips to reigns. Why not turn a lovely woven strip into a dog leash or a lead rope for a horse? You will be the envy of all those dragging around plain store bought leashes and lead ropes. You could use them for tie-backs for curtains. They could also be turned into a necklace or a wrap bracelet. You could also sew strips together to make a pouch. Use them for a hatband, necktie, suspenders and, of course, a belt.
We would love to hear what you use your Mirrix woven strips (beads or fiber) for.
What’s a Bottom Spring Kit?
A Bottom Spring Kit is a kit that allows you to put a warp coil (spring) on the bottom of your Mirrix Loom, just like you have one on the top.
What does it do?
Having a spring on the bottom beam of your loom helps you to keep your warp threads organized while warping and beginning to weave.
(Image Credit: Susan Murry -left- & Jacqui Johnson -right-)
1.) You are weaving beads using the shedding device and you don’t want to deal with trying to keep those pairs of warp threads neatly divided on the bottom while putting on heddles and weaving in the first row. Can you do this without the bottom coil? Yes, you can. But especially for wider bead woven pieces using the shedding device, this handy add-on does make it easier.2.) You are weaving a wide bead piece without the shedding device. When you’re dealing with lots of warp threads very close together, having a spring to help keep them organized at the bottom of the loom can be very helpful. 3.) You are weaving a tapestry at a very fine sett. While the Bottom Spring Kit was initially developed for bead weaving, many who weave tapestry at very fine setts (18, 20, 22 dpi) like the Bottom Spring Kit to help organize their warp threads while warping. 4.) You feel more confident warping when your warp threads are well organized at both the top and bottom of the loom. A Bottom Spring Kit is great for every perfectionist! It also precludes you from having to weave in a thread at the bottom that you tie to the threaded rod to provide a stable surface to start weaving.
You will have to loosen the tension on the loom and actually remove the spring in order to do this. Once the spring is removed, you will have no problem rotating your weaving.
You can purchase a few different Bottom Spring Kit sets:
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.
It’s been a long time since I’ve woven a wide bead piece using the Mirrix shedding device. I decided it was time to try this method of bead weaving again and to write a blog post about it since we often get questions about this process. I am always telling people that the set up is more complicated, but the actual weaving of beads using a shedding device is much easier and quicker. I am happy to be reminded after weaving this piece that it really is easier!
I asked myself the following questions: Besides the more complicated setup, are there any drawbacks that would push someone to just skip the shedding device? Was the final product as nice as a product made without using the shedding device? Is it actually faster to weave beads using the shedding device when you are making a wider piece? I have all my pat answers to these questions but felt I needed to re-explore this old territory and to update my opinions. I can happily report that my experience using the shedding device to weave a wide bead piece was absolutely positive. I really can’t imagine weaving a wide bead piece without it. That might be slightly particular to me because I tend to miss sewing through beads when not using the shedding device. That can be corrected even after the piece is off the loom by sewing through the beads correctly off the loom. But that is so annoying. One of the best things about using the shedding device is that it is much more unlikely that you will make any weaving mistakes. I did notice when I took this piece off the loom that there was one place where about ten beads seemed to be floating on the back of the piece. Why? Because I weave beads in sections and that particular section did not go into the shed. Rather it went behind the warp threads. I was able to sew through those beads and correctly attach them to the warp. But on a piece this long one little mistake is not bad. Had I not used the shedding device, there would have been many, many more mistakes.
My idea for this piece was to use some drop-dead gorgeous gold plated beads and other versions of gold beads in size 10 Delicas and size 10 two cut beads. The two cut beads are slightly larger than the Delicas which I can see on this piece because I used the two cuts nearer to the top of the piece and the top of the piece is slightly wider than the bottom. Had I thought it through more thoroughly I would have more evenly spread those beads throughout the piece. To give the piece interest, I wove matte black and green beads in geometric shapes (mostly rectangles) throughout the piece. The result is very Klint like. I happen to love Klint’s work, so that I accidentally copied his style is not a surprise. I did not do it on purpose. You will not be shocked to learn I have a postcard of my favorite Klint painting pinned to my bulletin board. I think I look at it quite a lot and hence those colors are stuck in my brain.
This bead piece is actually quite free form so I didn’t have to worry about making any mistakes! I could just weave and play and look at all the lovely colors.
I wish I had timed myself when weaving this piece. I can tell you that it did not take as long as I thought it would. Because I was not following a fixed pattern there were fewer opportunities to make design mistakes. A couple of times I was not happy with the placement of the matte accent beads and had to remove a row and adjust my bead choices. But since the design concept was so simple, this clearly was not a frequent issue.
Before I dive into my process I do want to mention that if you have never used the shedding device for bead weaving before that you not start with a wide piece. Why? Well, set up is more complicated than when not using the shedding device because you put on twice as many warp threads (two in each dent) and you have to put the heddles on. While not at all difficult, if you make a mistake the loom will not be able to function properly or at all. If you are a newbie at this kind of set up and you make a mistake on a wide piece, the repair process can be a bit difficult. Therefore, I suggest starting with a very thin piece just to see what can go wrong and how the process works. You will thank me for this. The temptation to jump right in and make a billboard-sized piece is very alluring, but first make a one-inch wide piece so you can see how best to get the heddles on correctly, etc.
Let me show you the steps I took to weave and finish this piece now. I used a twelve dent warp coil on the top and the bottom. There is a Bottom Spring Kit on the bottom beam of this loom which allows me to put a spring there as well. Putting a coil on the bottom of the loom makes setting up the loom for bead weaving using the shedding device much easier. Since you have to isolate pairs of warp threads (there are two warp threads, not one, in each dent of your warp coil) the bottom spring is extremely helpful to keep everything organized and to sew in that first pesky row. If you don’t have the Bottom Spring Kit, you will need to weave two passes of warp thread isolating the warp pairs. In other words, weave under and over the pairs of warp theads in one direction. Wrap around the side beam and weave the thread back going over the pairs you went under and under the pairs you went over. Once you’ve sewn in the first row of beads, you can cut off that thread. After the first row, the bottom coil is also not necessary and can be removed at any time. I tend to remove it when I advance my weaving.
Need some help warping your loom? Go here for an excellent pdf on setting up the Mirrix Loom using the shedding device.
For your first row you need to sew in the beads in the same manner you sew in the beads for the alternative way to weave beads, which actually is not even weaving. It’s really sewing. Let me explain this to those of you who have never woven beads before. The most common way to “weave” beads is to string up some beads, stick them behind and in between the warp threads and sew through the tops of the beads to attach them to the warp. This is why I say it’s not actually weaving. But when you use the shedding device to weave beads you are actually weaving. You are raising half the threads so that you can weave the beads in between the raised and lowered threads. This space is called the shed. That is why we call the loom part that creates that shed the shedding device.
In order to sew in this first row this is to string up all the beads you will need for that row and with the shedding device in the neutral position, place the beads behind and in between the pairs of warp threads. Then push the beads to the top of the warp and sew through so that they are attached to the warp thread. You will have to sew this row in sections. Just be very careful that you are sewing above the warp thread so the bead actually gets attached to the warp. Yes, you have to sew in the first row. If you don’t you will not have a starting place. You need that first row in order to open the shed for the next row.
From now on and until your final row you will be using the shedding device to weave your beads.
There are two things I do not do when weaving beads using the shedding device: 1) I don’t string up all the beads for the entire row all at once; 2) As a result, I obviously don’t weave the whole row all at once. Since I was kind of winging the design in this piece, I also found that stringing up sections of beads allowed me to better gauge what I was doing. What I mean by this is: if you string up an entire row there is a better chance you will make a mistake. But if you string up small sections and then weave them, it’s much easier to get things right. At least for me it is.
String up a section of beads.
Engage the shedding device. Stick your needle in the shed and arrange the beads behind and in between the top layer of warp threads. The needle does not have to emerge next to the last bead. It can go past it. Push the beads down so they get caught in the V created where the two layers of warp threads meet.
String up some more beads. Re-enter the needle into the shed. Arrange the beads and tug on the thread so it goes all the way through the beads. Keep stringing and weaving until you’ve finished the row.
The images below show how you pull the non-working end of your thread so that you can grab the thread on both sides and tease the beads into place.
It is really as easy as it looks.
I make a habit of changing the shed as soon as I finish weaving a row. The way to determine whether or not you have changed there shed is to try to move the beads up. If they can’t move very far because of the crossed threads on top of them, you have changed the shed. If the beads easily move up, you have not changed the shed. But let’s say you are a space shot and start weaving a row without having changed the shed you will immediately see that you have not done so because the first bead will be flopping around because the weft thread (the thread your beads are on) will not wrap around the outside warp. It might be a good lesson to purposely start weaving a row without changing the shedding device to see how this looks so you can easily identify this mistake later.
This video below shows the weaving process.
Want your own Mirrix with a shedding device? Click here to start shopping!
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!