Mistakes are important. I say this a lot and it’s because I really mean it. Mistakes are what help us learn and understand what the h*** is going on. Whenever you are new to ANYTHING you are bound to make more mistakes in a shorter amount of time. Since I have been teaching weaving, I have noticed that most new weaver mistakes are universal.
I made these mistakes too!
Whenever you make a mistake and learn how to fix it you will be less likely to make that mistake in the future. My weaving teacher liked to call these “teachable moments”.
That being said, you don’t have to make all the mistakes yourself. You can learn from the blunders of others.
So let’s do that:
1 – Not Checking Your Work As You Go
Weaving is a fluid motion. Over, under, over, under. It’s easy to get lost in the repetition. You start to zone out when setting up your floor loom or frame loom or you’re trying to go really fast because all you want to do is get to the good part!
Here is the thing: the weavers that take their time and pay attention to what they’re doing actually get to the weaving faster!
It can be incredibly frustrating to finish setting up your weaving only to notice that you threaded your heddles wrong or you lost your X on your simple frame loom, especially if it’s at the very beginning! If you take an extra few seconds to double check as you go, then you won’t have to undo all the work you just did.
This also applies to actually weaving your piece. It can be easy to go under or over 2 and completely lose your pattern. Unfortunately, most new weavers don’t notice this mistake until they’ve woven an inch or two past it! Try to pay attention to your pattern as you go so you don’t have to unweave and waste time.
Take a breath, stretch, and check your weaving as you go.
2 – Not Minding Your Selvedges
Selvedges are one of the hardest things for new (and experienced!) weavers to wrap their heads around. We’ve all seen or made weavings that were supposed to be rectangles, but turned into trapezoids.
Sometimes in an attempt to fix this, you might even leave TOO much weft and get lumpy looped selvedges.
Either way, there are tricks to keeping your selvedges straight (How To Weave Straighter Post Here), but one of the easiest ways to keep your selvedges straight is just by paying attention to them!
Do not ignore your selvedges!
If you notice your selvedges misbehaving, you have to un-weave and try again. No amount of pulling and trying to stretch out your weaving is going to correct it.
Trust me, I have tried.
Weaving straight selvedges takes time, the more attention you give them now – the sooner you won’t have to think about them as much.
3 – Not Making Samples
I already wrote an entire blog post about samples that you can read HERE. That being said, samples are one of those things that new weavers just seem less likely to do. To be fair, this can be both an advanced and new weaver mistake…
I get it. You want to get started!
You will not have to make a sample for every weaving you do, but whenever you want to try something new you should try it out first.
Samples save you time, materials, and money.
I have done plenty of samples that didn’t do what I thought they would. If I had started weaving right away – I would have a piece that I didn’t like but spent a lot of time on.
Another advantage to samples is if you sell or give away that piece, you will always have a little piece of it. Sometimes it can be hard to part with something we put so much of ourselves into. Having a mini version can help ease that.
4 – Not Beating Hard Enough (Or Beating Too Hard)
New weavers generally fall into 2 categories.
Overzealous or overcautious.
Just like dealing with your selvedges, it can be easy to fall into the extremes of the beating spectrum.
When weaving tapestry if you see the warp peeking through the weft you have 1 of 2 issues. Either you are not beating hard enough or your EPI is incorrect. It’s easy to figure out which of these is the case because you can simply compress your weft more. If your weft cannot compress fully, then your EPI is incorrect. Try using an EPI MINI LOOM or making a sample to avoid this mistake in the future.
When weaving a balanced or pattern weave it can also be easy to beat too hard. If you have the correct EPI your weaving will only let you compress a certain amount. Beating the weft like a tapestry will result in unneeded stress on the warp and possibly uneven compression throughout.
Consistency is key.
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It is also possible to beat harder on one side of the weaving than the other. This mostly happens if the weaving is on the larger size and your spacing is uneven.
Again, just focus on consistency!
Look at the image above. The diagram next to the frame shows what the weft is doing. The weft should be straight and compacted down evenly, but is uneven instead. This weaving should weave up as tapestry, but as you can see it wasn’t compressed the same every line and created a weaving that is partial tapestry and partial balanced weave.
5 – Not Weaving In Your Tails
Another example of doing a little bit more work now, to avoid a lot of work later is weaving in your weft tails as you go.
This new weaver mistake is common because they just want to keep weaving.
I often see new weavers letting their weft tails just hang out of the sides of their weavings with the intent to deal with them later.
This is an option.
Just not a great one.
Think of it this way. If you leave all your tails on the selvedges of your weaving, there will only be 1 place for them to go. If all your tails go in the same warp channel then that channel will start to expand.
Essentially, your selvedges will become fat.
When you weave them in it gives you more options and allows you to vary the channels you use. Dispersing your weft tails throughout different warp channels means no 1 channel will have to bear the burden.
No fat warp channels.
They also get in the way when you’re weaving and you have to maneuver around them – which is just annoying.
Check out THIS POST to learn different ways that you can weave in your weft tails as you go (tapestry or pattern weaving) and what to do with them when your weaving is finished!
But really when it comes down to it – all of these new weaver mistakes amount to 1 thing:
Overall Biggest New Weaver Mistake = Not Taking Your Time
Weaving is not a race and one of the best things about it is it’s potential to be a meditative act. If you want something that is fast then weaving may not be right for you. You have to enjoy tedious time consuming activities if you want to be a weaver, although in general I think this applies to a lot of art.
You get out what you put in.
Essentially, any of these mistakes could be avoided by taking a second to pay attention or not putting it off until later.
Now go make some different mistakes, learn something, and tell me about your biggest teachable moment in the comments!
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