Intro to Tapestry Class: Weft Interlock

Today I continue my journey through the CraftArtEdu Introduction to Tapestry Class with a technique called weft interlock. It’s used for making blocks of color without leaving open slits in the tapestry fabric. This was my first attempt at weft interlock, so I was a little nervous getting started — but I think it turned out beautifully.

The first step is to mark the spaces between warps where your color blocks will begin and end. These markers are crucial for helping you decide where to begin and end weft yarns of adjacent colors. I followed Claudia’s approach and used pieces of black yarn as markers. In our sampler, the color blocks are all of equal size, and so the markers are equally spaced.

craftartedu_3a

Next, a separate length of weft needs to be woven in for each color. This means a total of five lengths of yarn.  I used three in green and two in dark yellow. Importantly, they’re all woven in the same direction.

craftartedu_3b

Because the color blocks will be relatively small, the lengths of these weft yarns are all short enough that you don’t need to use butterflies or bobbins.

What’s also different here from when we made wavy lines is that our weft yarns are all woven for short distances across, rather than traveling all the way from one side of the tapestry to the other. This means that you need to use your fingers to select the warps that you want to weave through, before sliding in the yarn. In the next photo, I’ve selected the warps under which I’ll be weaving a green yarn.

(A quick note for anyone else taking the class: You may be selecting either four or five warps, depending on where you are and which shed you’re in when you begin. I think I started in a different shed than Claudia starts with in the class.)

craftartedu_3h

I actually found this very first row of wefts to be the most challenging. Because you’re leaving the end of each yarn on the front side of the loom, you occasionally end up with two side by side warps that both look bare. One of them will not really be bare, because it will be covered when you weave back in the opposite direction. However, I really had to slow down and check each warp to make sure I was creating a pattern of hill, valley, hill, valley, etc., all the way across (a hill is a weft over a warp, and a valley is a weft under a warp).

After weaving that first row of all five weft yarns, it’s time to change sheds and then go back and weave each weft in the opposite direction. To begin the “interlock,” you wrap each weft around the end of the previous weft in the row.

Here’s what my weaving looked like with the second row complete.

craftartedu_3d

When you weave back in the other direction again, the interlocks between wefts are complete.

craftartedu_3e

In this next photo, I’ve completed four rows of weft interlock. I pulled a couple of the weft ends out of the way so you can better see what the interlock join looks like between colors.

craftartedu_3f

Finally, here’s what my completed blocks of color look like.

craftartedu_3g

I love the look of this technique because the borders where the colors come together form vertical lines of tiny zig zags. They have a very Navajo look and appear so much more “woven” than when you make lines with slits (which also often need sewing up).

Next up in the Introduction to Tapestry Techniques class, we’ll try some vertical lines using pick and pick.

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at http://www.beadjewelry.net.

Weave-Along Week Three: Weft Interlock


Time for some weft interlock.
Using some scrap yarn, divide your warps into roughly four evenly spaced sections.
Insert your four wefts going in the same direction, from left to right.  Then head back to the right starting with the weft on the right.  When you weave the second weft, catch it around the first weft and weave.  Do this with the following two wefts.  Essentially, the wefts, where they meet, loop around one another.  The line between the wefts will be in between warps making this very different from warp interlock, where you wrap your weft around the same warp.  With weft interlock, which is frequently used in Navajo technique, there is less building up of higher weft areas where they interlock making it a better technique for building up straight lines.  The best technique is obviously slit technique where there is no build up, but then you have those pesky slits to sew up.
Next weave back from right to left.  Your wefts are already caught around one another so you are just weaving back.
The next step is to weave from left to right, catching the wefts with one another until you get to the right side of the weaving.
Continue this process with the next wefts.   Weave until you’ve built up about half an inch.
End your wefts except for the far right one.  Weave that back to the left slightly and replace it with two silk wefts.

Add two silk wefts and weave for a bit.  Then replace with single silk weft.

Add a row of beads.

Weave a the silk weft.

For a bit!

Add another color of single silk weft.  Weave for another bit and then add another row of beads.

Continue with some single silk weft.

Add some railroad yarn to the silk weft.

Weave a bunch of it.

Add some single silk weft.  The double it up.

Weave some doubled silk weft.

Change it up a bit by replacing one silk weft with a new color.  Play!

Play with some of these techniques (maybe try those fun squares again) until you’ve woven another four inches!