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.
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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!
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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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.
When you download a free ebook from our website, you are often asked something like, “What question do you have about weaving?” Among the questions I read every day there is nearly always at least one person who asks something along the lines of, “Where can I find more time to weave?”
Recently I started trying to find some real answers to this question. I did some research and came up with a few ideas that might help you get a little more time in front of your loom!
Make Art a Priority
This one is pretty obvious, but it’s also tough to do. Among all the obligations of modern life, it can feel impossible to carve out time to weave. That said, making time to do the things you love is important in a holistic sense. Be conscious about allowing yourself moments to be creative and you’ll start to find that you are prioritizing time at your loom more and more.
Document How You Spend Your Time
Most of us go about our days rushing from one thing to the next. Try jotting down everything you do for a few days and see if there is any time that would be better spent at your loom. I tried this and realized that I often have a chunk of time before or after dinner where I watch the news. Why not watch the news while I weave? Or skip the television time entirely? Another time I could carve out is right before bed. Usually, I read, but I could easily tote my Little Guy Loom into bed with me instead!
I usually weave in the living room, but it’s really the worst place to channel creative energy when anyone else is around. If possible, find a distraction-free (or, realistically, let’s say low-distraction) place to weave. That means leave your phone in another room, put your kids in front their looms (your kids have looms, right?) and give the dog a bone to chew on.
Make a Resolution
One of the great things about weaving is you can leave off and pick up weaving in an instant. Even if you only have fifteen minutes a day to weave, commit to sitting down every day for that period of time. Pretty soon you’ll have formed a habit, and we all know a weaving habit is a good one to have!
Don’t spend enough time weaving because you don’t have a loom (or a good enough loom)? Click here to get a free loom recommendation from one of our experts!
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!
Heddles attach your shedding device (which raises and lowers warp threads) to your warp. We sell pre-made Texsolv heddles, but you can also make your own. You can learn more about heddles and the Mirrix shedding device here.
The concept of putting on heddles is fairly straightforward, but there are a lot of chances to make mistakes when putting them on. It is important to pay attention to what you are doing and keep checking to make sure you aren’t making mistakes, as one mistake can make it so your shedding device does not work properly.
Heddles go on every-other warp thread on the top of your shedding device and then the shedding device is flipped over and heddles are put on the warp threads that do not have heddles (again, going on every other heddle.)
Below we’ve gone over some common mistakes people make when putting on heddles.
This is probably the most common mistake made by beginners, but one that is easy to prevent. Make sure you do not skip a warp thread that needs a heddle and then go back and put a heddle on out of order. This will cause your heddles to cross.
Heddle on Two Warp Threads
This is an easy one to do if you aren’t paying close attention. It is a good idea to go back and check periodically when you are putting heddles on to make sure you haven’t accidentally put one heddle around two warp threads. If you do, it will get your heddle placement out of order. For example, if you were supposed to put heddles on warps 1, 3, 5, etc. and you put them on 1, 3 and 4, you will put the next one on warp 6, the even warps, which will be the same as what the other side is doing. It’s very easy to make this mistake, so look carefully at each heddle/warp thread before you move on to the next.
Heddle on the Wrong Warp Thread
Sometimes when putting on heddles, you accidentally skip one and continue putting your heddles on incorrect warp threads. This will cause you to have two heddles (top and bottom) on the same warp thread (just like putting one heddle on two warp threads will do.) You may also simply miss putting a heddle on a warp thread, but continue putting your heddles on correctly. Either way, you will need to go back and fix the mistake.
We see this a lot when people are having trouble getting their shedding device to work. You’ve made sure your heddles are put on correctly, but why are you having trouble getting a good shed? The answer is usually that the heddles are tangled or crossing one another. They need to be facing all in the same direction and not rubbing up against each other. When they are tangled, they can prevent you from getting a good shed.
This is how heddles should look when they are organized. See how all the tails are on the side of the bar facing you? That is where they should be!
The lesson here is simple: Be careful. Don’t try to watch television or have a conversation when you’re putting on your heddles. Concentrate, and check often that you’re doing everything right. If you do that, you won’t have any problems and won’t have to go back and troubleshoot!