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!
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!
The first time I felt like I was really beginning to understand tapestry was while practicing hatching. This technique is when more than one weft thread travels into the horizontal space of another, creating layers of interchanging weft threads.
Hatching is great for blending colors and is a good technique for beginners to help them to understand how warp and weft relate in tapestry weaving.
In the picture here, the top part of the weaving (the blue green and purple) is hatching.
To start hatching, first weave two wefts in the same shed (so in the same line) facing opposite directions. This means the loose ends of the wefts are going different ways.
If you want to start with three or more wefts on the same line, you can do that too, making sure one weft is going one way, the next the other, the next the same way as the first, etc. I will show you how to do this with just two weft threads, but the concept is the same for more than two.
After you have started your two weft threads in opposite directions, take your left weft thread and bring it over on top of the right one as far as you’d like. If you are using the shedding device, make sure you change your shed before doing this. Each time you change the direction of a weft you will need to change the shed.
The next step isn’t as simple as weaving the right weft back over. If you try to do that now, you will both cover the end of the other weft and you’ll be in the wrong shed once you cross over. See below for a visual of why this doesn’t work.
Instead, you need to weave three more passes with your right weft and one more with your left. One pass will bring your right weft to the edge of the left weft. The next will bring it to the edge of the piece.
Now, you can bring your left weft to the right and can bring your right weft over the left one!
That’s it! Now, do the same thing with the left weft thread. You can bring the wefts as far over on top of each other as you’d like to create different effects. Try it out!
Interested in learning to weave tapestry? Click here to get a free loom recommendation!
I received my Spencer Treadle just a little while ago and was eager to attach it to my personal Mirrix loom. I have the amazing 22″ Zach loom and I love it. Together my husband and I watched the video, attached the treadle and off I went into weaving land.
I put on a small sampling warp, only 3″ wide using the Navajo Wool Warp that Mirrix Looms sells set at 7 ends per inch. I really liked that sett and wool warp when I participated in the Weave A Long Eyeglass Case project, so I decided to use it again, this time for sampling.
I was eager to begin with the treadle, and I must say, first and foremost that it is definitely a game changer. I can continue to weave quickly, just by the touch of the foot pedal. No more putting down my beater, using the handle to switch sheds, it is amazing! I know with time I am going to learn to depend on it so much. We are still getting used to each other right now!
As I was working on my little face, (a new project I want to do) I found that I was having a bit of difficulty with the treadle over extending, and my heddle bars began to cave in. The bars are strong and made from stainless steel. I believe they bend a little because the shedding device rotates more with the treadle than with the handle. Elena and Claudia were ever so generous to advise me along the way! They are so full of knowledge and love for product! Claudia suggested that I might possibly want to tie a string around the bars of the shedding device in the middle to see if that prevents the bars from pulling and bending slightly. Here is a picture of what was happening to my loom: (Please share if you have had this experience, we learn from each other!)
This blog is all about sharing our weaving experiences and the lessons we learn. I found that if I backed off my treadle a bit, there wasn’t as much bending on the heddle bars. I must say, this is taking some getting used to for me, but I will find a rhythm soon. The more I weave, the more comfortable it is becoming with the treadle. I also feel that just having a 3″ warp, placed in the center of the loom, might have been a factor as well.
Tapestry weaving is all about experimenting, asking “what if I do this”, learning what setts go well with particular warps and so on. I am keeping a journal and recording all of my findings for future reference! In the meantime, my little girlie is coming along quite nicely. I have never woven a face before, so I am also learning as I go along. Perhaps adding the Spencer Treadle and trying something totally new, was a bit to chew this go round! I am learning, growing each and every day in my weaving life.
I set aside time every morning to weave, it is that important to me. Before heading off to my day job as an Optician, I find myself centered, calmer and much happier if I can spend a little time weaving before I head out the door to face the day. If I wait to weave whenever I can fit it in, then I know it will never get done for sure! There will always be something in the way, so I make my Tapestry Weaving a priority. I wonder if you have any particular weaving disciplines. If you do please share with us, we would love to hear. I’ve been working on my little face for over a week now, of course weaving with Lavendar Scones and Coffee doesn’t hurt! She is coming along quite nicely … never did I dream weaving a little person would turn out to be such a learning experience, but it sure did! I can’t wait to begin another, and another! Trying out different warp setts and fibers! Tapestry weaving is always a learning experience, it is so worth the time we put into this artform.
So here is my little “Ruthie” … from the time I warped the loom to the finished piece it took me about two weeks of steady weaving time. By the way, I totally adjusted to my foot power with my Spencer Treadle … we just had to take some time to adjust to each other! My woven girlie is not perfect in any way, but that is what I love about her! (None of us are right?) I think I will start a collections of these small weavings and my Mirrix is perfect for it.
I simply love my Mirrix Loom, I can’t stress that fact enough! Recently I received the Spencer Treadle attachment for my Zach loom. I must admit, it stayed in the box for a few weeks after it arrived and I was so anxious to take the time to attach it to my loom. Life just got in the way! Work was crazy and then I had vacation with my family in the Outer Banks. The first night we were home from vacation my hubby and I put it onto my loom … it was such an easy process!
There is now a new video created by another Mirrix Loom fan, Janna Marie Vallee and her new video on attaching the Spencer treadle is amazing! If you missed it, you can find it here. She takes you easily through the installment process and before you know it your Spencer Treadle is ready for weaving! It makes the weaving process move quickly and easily! I consider it an enhancement to my weaving life!
I am a knitter, spinner and weaver. I have learned from all of the fiber arts I work with, the importance of sampling. Sure it takes extra time and effort, but the end result is so worth it! I love working in small sizes, especially on my Mirrix! I love creating samples with different warp sizes, weft yarns and learning new techniques. I have learned with Tapestry weaving that there is so much to learn and I have a long way to go. I ask myself “Will I ever get there?” I find that with each sample I weave, something new clicks. I understand how fibers react with each other, what yarns work with particular setts, what techniques I like and certainly which ones are difficult for me. It is all about the process of slowing down and learning when sampling. There is so much knowledge that we can receive, if only we will slow down and let the process speak to us. I can’t stress this enough!
I read so much about Tapestry weaving, follow my favorite Tapestry Artists and I am so inspired by their works. I want to jump right in and just start weaving, but for me I do realize that with each and every sample I create, I am learning, I am growing and I am strengthening my confidence in this complex art technique. I am sure that if given the chance to interview “famous” tapestry artists, each would say they sample before creating their major works of art. The effort is worth the time taken to do so!
Right now, I just put on just a 3″ warp (my favorite little size for sampling). I am using the Navajo rug warp (available at Mirrix) … I love it! I am using a sett of 7 epi. I used it in my Mirrix Weave Along Eyeglass case and it was so fun to use. I have put on a warp and plan to just play around with some yarns, techniques and this small little face I have been wanting to create! I want to get use to weaving with my Spencer Treadle, I know I am going to love it.
Anything worth doing, is worth doing it right. We have heard that a million times before and it is so true. Tapestry weaving is a gentle art. It is filled with quiet moments, what if moments and how about this moments. Isn’t it worth it to take it a step further and sample your weaving vision first. There is so much you can learn and I love my basket in the studio filled with handwoven pieces. I get joy just looking at them, holding them and referring back to them. I’m not even sure I can weave a small face, I am intrigued by it and want to see if I can do it. Sampling allows me the freedom to try!
So before you set out to weave your next big project, think about it first. Plan it out, decide what sett you will use, what warp fiber would be best, what colors you will use. Try creating a color swatch with your fiber choices. You will never regret the planning time. Just think of the journal pages you will fill with your thoughts and ideas and planning … it is worth it’s weight in fiber gold!!! My favorite studio time is going back and reading my weaving records, looking at my woven samples and notes; it helps me to realize just how far I have come in my weaving life.
When you are a beginner at anything, it can be a struggle to decide how much of an investment you want to make in that pastime. I remember when I first starting doing yoga I was hesitant to spend $60 on a nice mat. What if I only used it once? Was a $15 mat just as good? Should I just rent one at my studio instead? I’m sure most fledgling tapestry weavers have this same problem. Should a beginner invest in a Mirrix? Won’t those wooden frame looms work just fine?
The answer is different for everyone. Some people decide to get an inexpensive loom to test the waters and then upgrade later on. Others want to start with the best from the beginning. Either way, you probably want to upgrade to a professional-quality loom once you know that tapestry weaving is for you (and we’re pretty sure it is)!
Here are ten reasons why a Mirrix is a big upgrade from a basic wooden frame loom:
Tapestry weaving needs very tight, even tension. This is difficult to get on a basic frame loom. On a Mirrix, you will have perfect tension every time and you can adjust it as you go.
2.) The Mirrix Shedding Device
The Mirrix shedding device makes weaving faster and easier. Instead of weaving each weft over and under the warp threads, the shedding device lifts half of your warp threads so you can easily bring your weft through. Click here to learn more about the Mirrix shedding device.
Check out the video below to compare weaving with and without a shedding device.
There are times for all of us when we feel like we need something new and invigorating in our lives. If you’ve answered the question, “What’s new?” with a variation of, “I finally pulled out my fridge and cleaned behind it,” than you may be at that place.
Perhaps you want to spend some time volunteering or you want to finally take those tennis lessons you’ve been thinking about, but maybe a new crafty hobby is just what you need to add to your repertoire.
How about tapestry weaving?
Here are ten reasons why tapestry is the perfect pastime for anyone who loves to create.
1.) Tapestry is relaxing. You know how sometimes you’re doing something and you’re so into it that everything else disappears. You forget that you really should be doing the dishes, or that you haven’t filed your taxes yet or that you have a meeting tomorrow that you’ve been nervous about for two weeks. Tapestry can put you in that place. And that place can be pretty amazing. We are not recommending not filing your taxes, but a little tapestry break on either end certainly can help calm your body and mind.
2.) Tapestry is tactile. One of the great joys of fiber art is the materials and tapestry is no exception. After you’ve woven tapestry for a while you will find that you are “seeing with your hands.” Often you don’t even need to look closely at what you are doing because your hands have learned the “tapestry dance.” The feeling of touching fiber is pretty amazing and watching it grown into a piece of art is nothing less than amazing.
3.) Tapestry takes time, but you can start or stop quickly. Like many of you, I am constantly being torn in a million directions. It’s hard for me to find a solid chunk of time to dedicate to anything. While tapestry is a slow art, it’s one that you can start and stop quickly. If you only have time to weave one row, that’s totally fine. The materials for tapestry don’t dry up like paint and they can be easily poured into a basket and kept near your loom. And it’s easy to start where you left off.
4.) Tapestry is unique. If you’ve ever tried weaving in public, you know tapestry is a unique art form. You will see knitting needles and crochet hooks and sketch books in public, but when is the last time you saw a tapestry loom in public? Be the first of your friends to pick up this amazing craft and maybe in the future the answer to the question: When is the last time you saw a person weaving tapestry in public? will be: All the time!
5.) Tapestry can be very portable (on a small loom). Mirrix Looms were created by a professional tapestry weaver looking for a quality loom that she could take to her kids’ soccer games and gymnastics meets and on airplanes. A Mirrix is perfect for anyone on the go!
6.) Tapestry involves the use of color in unique ways. Tapestry gives you the opportunity to play with color in new ways. It’s not like painting. It’s not like colored pencils. It’s not like markers or pen and ink or even any other fiber art like quilting or knitting. Tapestry allows you to blend and dance with colors in an entirely different manner. The results can be surprising or intended but they are always unique to the rules of tapestry.
7.) Tapestry makes you think. From figuring out your sett to determining how much warp and weft you need, tapestry works your mind as much as your creative spirit. Therefore, tapestry is a great learning tool for kids because it incorporates all sorts of holistic learning.
8.) Tapestry is good for all ages. Even kids can weave! Tapestry is an art form perfect for anyone, at any age. Learn with your kids, teach your parents and explore with your friends! It’s an art form you can start learning when you are five or 80.
9.) Tapestry has a large range of design possibilities. When you weave tapestry you can explore different aspects of design arrangements from abstract to geometrical and pictoral. You are not stuck with just one thing. The warp threads on the loom are your canvas and you can play until your heart’s content. Tapestry, like painting, is not just one thing or the other. It is every design idea there is rendered into this simple yet complex form. Tapestry is something you never stop learning.
10.) Tapestry can be dealt with on many levels, from simple to complex. Tapestry gives you the chance to grow at your own pace. You can weave very simple tapestries or complex ones. You can start slow and advance to super difficult techniques or you can start slow and stay there. You can be a fabulous tapestry weaver using only a handful of techniques. You can use your own beautiful handspun and or pieces of straw you found in the barn. Although there are some pretty strict tapestry rules, once you know what they are you can break them or alter them a bit. Your warp threads (the ones on the loom) are your canvas. After that, it’s your story you get to tell.
Interested in learning to weave tapestry? Click here to get a free loom recommendation!
If you’ve ever tried to weave tapestry you know that tension is very important. You want your tension to be two things:
On looms without a tensioning system, getting tight and even tension can be difficult because you need to achieve both even and tight tension as you warp.
On a Mirrix, getting tight tension is very easy. Once you’ve warped, you can make your tension as tight as you want by simply tightening your wing-nuts after.
Getting even tension is also pretty simple on a Mirrix because you don’t have to worry about keeping your tension tight as you warp.
Here are three things to remember to help you get even tension:
1.) Don’t try to warp with tight tension. Because you can tighten your tension later, there’s no need to try to warp with tight tension. As you warp, just concentrate on keeping the tension even. You don’t want the warp to be baggy, but you don’t need it tight.
2.) Don’t drop you warp! The easiest way to keep your tension even is to not drop or let go of your warp thread as you warp. Don’t get up to go to the bathroom or to take the dog out in the middle of warping.
3.) Adjust your tension after warping if necessary. This doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes you warp your loom and realize your left warps are tighter than your right warps or there are some looser warps in the middle of the piece. If this happens, it might mean you didn’t follow tip number two. But don’t worry, it can be fixed! Once you’ve finished warping, you can adjust the evenness of your tension by pulling on individual warp threads to even out the slack.
Still dealing with a tapestry loom that makes it difficult to get even tension? Click here to get a free loom recommendation!
In June we asked our community to submit ideas of what they would weave on their Mirrix Loom if they were given some hand-painted silk. We then choose three people to get free silk with which they could try out their ideas. Here is the final project from one of the winners, Kaleigh Everding.
Here was her idea: “I have been contemplating what to start for my next project and I am very interested in working with geometric designs. Everything I have worked on for the past 4 years has been very fluid and curved, so I want to give a try at something new! I have come across some aerial maps of the eastern Iowa countryside where I call home right now. I would use the maps as a guide to create a geometric design and use the silk to blend and define different areas of the final cartoon. In two months, my husband and I will be moving to Utah, so it would be great to weave something that can remind us of where we grew up and met.”
When I read Kaleigh’s description I had a picture in my head of what the mid-west looks like from an airplane; blocks of brown and green and fields and houses and barns and swimming pools. The final project is truly a wonderful representation of that image. Her use of color and technique (has there ever been a better use for pick and pick?) is spot-on. I could stare at this for ages (actually, I have been…)
Her pieces was 21″ x 13.5″ and the silk was used to mark homesteads on the “map”.
Here is the final project.
In June we asked our community to submit ideas of what they would weave on their Mirrix Loom if they were given some hand-painted silk. We then choose three people to get free silk with which they could try out their ideas. Here is the final project from one of the winners, Felicitas Sloves!
Here was her idea: “With the hand painted silk yarn, I would weave a tapestry using found materials. With the silk yarn being the primary yarn in the project, it will be interwoven with objects such as small pieces of mica, agate slices, bits of fused glass and whimsical items such as pieces of vinyl records and their labels, thin strips of cardboard packaging from beer cartons and cereal boxes, t-shirt strips and dried stalks/leaves from my garden. I know this sounds like one hot mess, but my goal would be a finished tapestry that would be a textural landscape woven with hand dyed silk and incorporated with found materials.”
While we weren’t sure what the final piece would look like, we looked forward to what Felicita would pull out of her bag of sundry tricks. She did NOT disappoint! The final weaving was a seamless combination of materials. From concept to execution, Felicita went on a fascinating journey which really spoke to her theme of “A Garden of Elvis.” We would love to see more of her fantastical creations! So slow down and really carefully examine every detail in her tapestry. She breaks a lot those strict tapestry rules and yet she does it with such skill and thoughtfulness that it completely works. I guess that’s what we loved best about this piece: it was imagined, it was very much off the beaten path and it totally worked!