Making Plastic Bag Yarn (Plarn!)

Making Plastic Bag Yarn (Plarn!)

Sometimes you want to weave something a little bit different. And sometimes most likely you have some plastic bags just laying around that you keep forgetting to bring with you to the store to recycle.

It happens to all of us.

So what can you do with all of these bags you have stuffed under your kitchen sink?

You can make yarn!

First, why would you want to do that?

Well, what else are you doing with them?

If you haven’t switched over to using reusable grocery bags or you have been ordering groceries more than you used to then you probably have a lot of plastic bags laying around. Since plastic bags can’t be recycled in regular recycling they are often left and forgotten. Instead of holding onto them forever and continuing to tell yourself, you will bring them back to the store one day to recycle.

You can instead use them to make something beautiful and/or useful.

Plastic bags add texture to your weaving

Weaving with plastic bags adds a new type of texture that you are not going to get when using regular yarn. Due to their shine and their loft, they create a more three-dimensional textile than some of your more conventional yarns.

Despite this specific texture, it may not be seen as plastic yarn at first glance.

This makes for a fun surprise for those that see it for the first time.

Great for when you are stuck in a weaving rut

Even if you are not interested in reusing or upcycling plastic bags, breaking outside of your yarn stash can be a fun way to try something new.

You should always allow yourself to experiment and try new things to further your artistic ideas.

You never know what is going to inspire you. Sometimes just the act of trying something new can stir your creative juices and get you ready to plan your next or next few projects.

What You Need:

plastic bag yarn materials

Plastic bags 

Plastic bags are going to come in different colors when they come from different stores. This gives you the ability to have multiple colors in your weaving without having to do anything extra or mix it with yarn if you don’t want to.

While I absolutely do not recommend going out and getting plastic bags purely for their use as weaving materials. This is a great way to use up all of those plastic bags that I know you have shoved in another plastic bag under your sink or in your laundry room.

You know it’s there. (I keep calling you out because really… I’m calling myself out!)

If you are looking for more color options or just more bags in general then ask around for someone else’s plastic bags that they are not using. 

Scissors (not fabric scissors!)

I would like to repeat that you shouldn’t be using your fabric scissors to cut your plastic bags! You don’t want to dull them and have them not in top shape when you go back to using them for what they were made for. Instead, just use any other pair of sharp scissors you have laying around.

How to make plarn!

There are 2 different ways to make your plastic yarn. The first way that we are going to go over is the strip method.

This method is not as straightforward as the other method, but it does tend to create more even yarn. If you have ever made t-shirt yarn then this is basically the same method that you use for that. (Learn how to make t-shirt yarn including using the sleeves HERE).

Plastic bag yarn strip method

In order to create your plastic bag yarn you will need to prep your bag. This means you will need to get rid of any seems or extra parts of the bag that go outside the “tube” of the bag.

Cut the bottom seam off the bag as close to the seam as possible to avoid wasting material. Do the same thing to the handles at the top. You can throw these out (or recycle them if you are able!)

plastic bag yarn strip method

Once you cut off the extra parts you will basically have a plastic tube. Fold your bag in half so that the closed sides are together. I have them offset a little so you can see it better, but this is not a necessary step.

Cut up from the bottom folded edge of the bag in 1 inch strips. Stop about an inch from the top edge. If you cut all the way up you will have cut a really skinny tube – so avoid doing that.

Once you are done you can unfold your bag and spread it out.

plastic bag yarn strip method

Cut into the first strip on either side of the bag. This will be the beginning of your plarn.

You will have two parts of your bag that have a large uncut area and you start with either one.

Cut across to each opposite slit (shown in the dotted lines below). Make your way all the way across. When you finish with the first side, turn it over and do the next.

When you get to the very end disconnect the end of your strip by cutting at a diagonal.

plastic bag yarn strip method

Plastic bag yarn spiral method

plastic bag yarn

The second method is a bit more straightforward but a little harder to control. If you want to just sit down and do this while streaming something, this is an easy thing to just do in your seat without a surface.

Start out by prepping your plastic bag the same way we did above. Cut the bottom seam and handles off and throw away or recycle.

Cut into your bag at a diagonal at one of the open ends of your tube. Cut in 1 continuous strip.

That’s it.

Since this method is a little more free form, keeping your strips a consistent width is a little harder, but not impossible.

plastic bag yarn spiral method

Making a plastic yarn ball

Once you are finished with your yarn the best way to store it is to create a yarn ball.

Start by wrapping the end of your plastic yarn around your finger tip. Slide it off and continue by wrapping around the loops that you created. Switch directions every wrap or two until you are finished! This yarn can be a bit slippery so try to hold it firmly. If you drop it mid ball then it is not a big deal, but it will unravel some.

When you get to the end just tuck the end of your yarn under one of the wraps to secure it.

plastic bag yarn ball

Project ideas

Pattern weaving

plastic bag yarn weaving

Weaving patterns can be done with only one color of your plastic bag yarn or multiple colors. If you are weaving a balance weaving then your warp will show through so keep that in mind when choosing the foundation for your weaving. Plastic bags would not make a good warp yarn because they are not strong enough to hold up to the tension required.

The example above was supposed to be a tapestry (oops) that I made while I was a student and playing around with materials. If you want to learn why this is not a tapestry then you can read more about tapestry HERE.

My first ever “tapestry” that I made that was not a sample was made with plastic bags from three different stores and a linen warp. I still love to show my students this weaving as an example of how dynamic weaving can be. You really can weave with almost anything.


While I wouldn’t really recommend these plastic bag coasters for something really hot (in other words I wouldn’t use these as a trivet) the plastic bags could make for fun and simple coasters. They won’t take too much time to make but could be an interesting conversation starter.

Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!

A year in the life tapestry 

If you have ever heard of temperature blankets then this is a similar idea.

You would need a really long warp and a loom that you don’t need access to for anything else for a while or you can make this in panels to attach together at a later time.The idea behind this is to keep all of the plastic bags that you use in a year and weave with them as you get them. Most of the time in projects like these you are working just with simple stripes to mimic a timeline of the year that you are creating. 

In this case, you won’t be getting bags from a friend or neighbor to try to get different colors or more materials. Instead, you are recording your actual use over the course of a year. This could be a fun project to do if you are wanting a way to weave at least a little bit everyday. You can save your plastic bags to weave in the order you get them, but only weave one or two a day to spread it out throughout the year. Use this as a way to get into your weaving practice each day, sort of like a warp-up.

This could also be a really great project to do with kids to teach them about waste, recycling, and upcycling. A visual representation of your year in plastic bags can be an eye-opening project to reflect on at the end of the year while still creating something interesting to look at and make.

If you have a favorite non-yarn material that you like to weave with then let me know!

Weaving With Paper – Going Beyond Kid’s Crafts

Weaving With Paper – Going Beyond Kid’s Crafts

One of the first introductions that most people have to weaving is those woven paper placemats that you make in school when you are a kid. Once you get more into “serious” weaving, most of the time we leave paper behind.

But why?

Weaving is fiber art and paper is fiber, so why not weave with paper?

Paper is an amazing material to use when you are weaving because it allows you so many more possibilities outside of the normal fibers that are associated with weaving.

It is also a simple way to get some weaving in without the use of a loom. You can use it to break up your artist’s block or clear your mind between projects.

(Check out some tips for breaking your weaver’s block here)

So how do we elevate paper weaving from something you did as a kid to something you do as art?

Well, these are just some starting points for weaving with paper:

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Designing patterns

One of my favorite things to do when weaving with paper is to use patterns – especially those that include a lot of floats.

*Floats are when your weft goes over more than one warp before going under again. Learn about weaving with floats here!

Depending on the stiffness of the paper that you have chosen to weave, these floats will create depth and interest.

The stiffer the paper and the longer the floats, the more the pattern will leap off the surface of the weaving. 

Weaving with tissue paper and weaving with watercolor paper will provide you with drastically different results. 

While all weaving should be thought of as a pixelated image or pattern, this is exaggerated when it comes to paper. This is because the paper is flat and rectangular. Creating patterns for paper weaving is really simple to do with just a pencil and some graph paper!

If you need a starting point then I recommend looking at the draw-down portion of different drafts. My favorite place to look for easily translated patterns is on Pinterest. A lot of the draw-downs on the patterns found on Pinterest are not an image of the weaving but instead an illustrated diagram. Essentially, they look just like a pattern on graph paper. (similar to the drawn pattern above)

While you can follow these patterns directly, if you want to change it up at all or you want to combine multiple patterns then I highly recommend getting some graph paper. Use graph paper to plan out your paper weavings with each vertical column being a warp strip and each row being a weft strip.

An advantage to weaving patterns in paper over with yarn is that you are not limited at all by your loom or tools. A woven pattern in paper could have endless variations within the same weaving without the use of a reed, heddles, pick-up sticks, or any other tools you would normally associate with weaving.

Paper weaving ideas

Weave photographs

Photographs are a really fun and interesting variation on the idea of weaving with paper. Since they already contain an image, any cutting and weaving that you do will create something that is disjointed.

One of the best examples of this that I have seen is David Samuel Stern who takes 2 photographs that are very similar and weaves them together to create a surreal and almost ghostly image.

Some other ideas:

Combine a photograph of a person and a place that reminds you of them or is significant to your relationship. 

Combine a photograph with plain colored paper that compliments or accents the colors in the photograph.

Watercolor weaving

If you are looking for some subtle coloring or patterns then watercolor can be a really simple and effective way to create an interesting weaving.

Even just 1 shade of paint can create endless variations depending on how concentrated you make it and the way you apply it to your paper. You can also have both your warp and weft be different colors to emphasize your pattern. Play around with different colors, paint densities, or designs!

Watercolor paper is also a really great material to use for your more dimensional paper weavings due to how stiff it is. If you do not plan to paint on your weaving then you could also use card stock or bristol paper (smooth) if you are wanting paper that will “pop up” from the background.

You can see this dimensionality in the image below.

Weave with your journals/ books

At Any Given Moment, Nicole Bunting, 2020

One of the ways that I usually weave with paper is to weave up journal excerpts. While I usually do this by journaling directly onto paper (usually watercolor paper) you could also take pages directly out of a journal if you have one. The image above is a paper weaving that I did with journaling on watercolor paper that was stained with tea!

Another idea is to upcycle an old book – maybe one that is otherwise unusable – and weave up some of the pages. This could lend itself really well to then drawing, painting, or even printing on top of these pages. 

You can check out more images of At Any Given Moment and my other artwork HERE.

Tips for weaving using paper

Materials needed

Paper – Tissue paper, photographs, watercolor paper, card stock, really ANY paper you want!

Artist’s tape or painter’s tape

X-Acto knife or paper cutter

self-healing cutting mat

Cork-backed ruler

Archival glue or thread

Cutting your paper strips for weaving

While you can cut your paper strips with a cork-backed ruler and x-acto knife (I have definitely done this before) if you want a faster and simpler way then I highly recommend getting a paper/ photograph cutter. I have used it for more than just cutting strips of paper for weaving, but it excels at this. It makes prepping your paper for weaving incredibly easy.

Using a cutter like this helps to eliminate the possibility of your ruler moving while you are cutting your strips. This could lead to uneven strips. If you are working off of a photograph or paper that would be hard to replace, it is better to make sure the cuts are good the first time!

This is slightly a newer version of the one that I have. I prefer this kind because the rotary blade makes a smooth and easy cut for thicker paper.

Get It On Amazon

Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!

Choose your warp and weft

Since paper is a free-standing weaving material there really is not a definite warp and weft. That being said, laying out either your horizontal or vertical strips first can make the weaving process a lot easier.

You will want a flat surface that you won’t need access to before your weaving is finished. That is because the best thing to do is to lay out either your “warp” or “weft” strips and tape them down at the very edge to whatever your surface is. This will keep them from moving too much and un-weaving your project as you go. You will want to use either an artist’s tape or painter’s tape that can easily be removed from the paper when you are all done without ruining it.

Even if you are using one of those 2 types of tape you should first gently rub the sticky side across some fabric so it is only sticky enough to hold the paper down. This will help ensure a clean removal.

Once you are finished with your weaving you will need to secure it so it does not come undone. You can dab a little bit of archival glue* where the warp and weft strips meet at the edges for a seamless edge or sew them together for a more decorative edge.

*archival glue is highly recommended if you choose to go this route. The glue is PH-neutral and won’t yellow the paper over time.

Paper does not have to just be for school projects! Let me know if you try out some paper weaving projects! Leave a comment below or tag @cole.bun on Instagram!

Darning and Weaving – Mending Your Fabric

Darning and Weaving – Mending Your Fabric

A downside to fabric is that it wears down!

Depending on the type of fabric and the amount of use this could happen at any number of times throughout the life of the fabric. I am sure you have a sock or two that has gained some holes over the years.

We’re going to be working on socks today because they are one of the most often darned garments, but really this technique should work for pretty much anything. Whether you knitted the socks yourself or purchased them it is a good idea to fix your socks instead of throwing them away. This is better for the environment and for your wallet. 

You could also reuse them for something else (I made a pin cushion out of an old sock that you can see HERE)

There are multiple ways to darn your worn clothing, we wlll be focusing on the most common one that involves weaving a patch onto your fabric. 

This page may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through these links then I will receive a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Please read our DISCLAIMER for more info. Thanks for the support!

What is darning

Darning is the process of mending fabric with worn areas of holes using a needle and thread. 

It was at one time an essential skill that girls learned while growing up as there was constantly a need to repair fabric instead of buying new. They would practice with darning samplers much like the embroidery samplers most of us are familiar with. These samplers date back to around the 1700s.

Darning tools

darning materials

Some of the best darning tools that you can find are vintage. At the very least, they tend to be the most beautiful (yes beautiful!) options that you can choose from. You can also find great handmade options that are most often made from beautiful and exotic woods. If you’re looking for vintage or handmade darning tools then I recommend checking out ETSY as they have some amazing and beautiful options.

That being said, you can find new ones at most places that sell sewing supplies or online on Amazon.


This is the shape that is the most commonly used when darning fabric. You can get these either as a standalone egg or with a handle. They both work the same, but the ones with a handle can also be used to darn the fingers of your gloves or other smaller areas of fabric. 


Mushroom darners are also a traditional shape to use. They offer a wider top surface than some of the eggs and also feature a stem for smaller areas. I will be using a mushroom in the tutorial below that I got off of Amazon. I repainted it a little because I thought it could be cuter, but that isn’t a necessary step…

This mushroom also came with embroidery floss that you can use for darning, but I wouldn’t really recommend it since it isn’t as durable as using yarn like that originally used in the fabric.

You can get the mushroom I am using HERE.


Similar to both the egg and the mushroom, but the ball is … a ball. You can either purchase smooth wood balls that you can use or just use any round object you have laying around.

Makeshift tools

When looking for a tool to use for your darning you want to make sure that it’s smooth and preferably at least partially round. While I have used a tennis ball to darn my socks before it’s not quite ideal because of the fuzziness of the ball. It’s too easy to pierce the fuzz with your needle while you’re darning.

Instead you could use a baseball or any other smooth ball of a similar size. You can also consider a bottle, jar, or any other round object.


darning mushroom and yarn

Darning needles are similar to tapestry needles. Blunt tips on your needle are essential because you don’t want to pierce the fabric you are trying to mend. You will also want a large eye for the yarn and a bent tip is a nice addition but not necessary.

You can use any tapestry needle you have on hand that works well with the yarn size you are using. While generally, I like larger tapestry needles, a smaller needle is usually a better option for darning. This will limit the effects of the needle going through the fabric that is still intact.

If you are weaving a more densely woven fabric like denim then you will need to use a needle with a sharp point to go through the fabric. In a case like this, your tapestry needle just won’t do. 

You can learn more about tapestry needles HERE.


Depending on whether you want your yarn to blend in or stand out will help you determine the yarn you choose. 

Choosing the material of your yarn that is similar to the material of your fabric can be a good idea so that it washes and wears the same. Wool yarn for wool socks, etc.

The size of the yarn can also play an important role. Using a yarn that has a larger diameter than that originally used can make the mended area a little bulky. If you are worried about it needing repair again in the future this may not be a bad thing, but you might not like the look or feel of the thicker yarn. When in doubt, I would go with a little bit of thicker yarn since that area obviously sees a lot of wear. You don’t want to have to darn the same fabric over and over again!

For this mend I am using Harrisville Shetland Wool. The advantage to wool over other yarn options is that wool will felt over time with washing. This will make for a more solid patch.


These are pretty self explanatory. You will need scissors to cut your yarn! Any fabric scissors or yarn snips will do.

THESE are my favorites because they are sharp and snips make things just a little bit faster than scissors.

How to darn

darning and weaving mending sock

Insert your darning egg, mushroom, ball, or whatever you are using into your sock or behind the fabric being mended. While not necessary, you can use a rubber band or tie a string around the base of your tool. This will help keep it in place if it is moving around a lot as well as keeping it taught. 

Keeping your fabric taught is important because you want to make sure it isn’t bunched up beneath your new darned fabric you have created. 

Tie an overhand knot at the end of your yarn and bring it through the inside of your sock. This will keep the knot from being visible. Make sure to start your yarn in the fabric that is still good (back from the hole or worn area) to keep it more stable.

The first step is to create the warp with your yarn. Just like any other weaving, this is the foundation of your darned patch. 

darning and weaving foundation

When warping your patch you do not want to just go up and down. Instead, between your “warp” you will want the yarn to travel perpendicular at the top and bottom of the area to be mended. This will make sure you have spacing between your warps and make it easier to weave up. You can see this in the image above paying special attention to the diagram in red.

While you can just pierce the fabric and travel back to the opposite side of the hole, this will make it so the warp is closer together at the top and bottom. It will be harder to see which warp to choose and possibly make you skip warps as you go. 

darning and weaving mending sock

Once you have traveled across the entire hole and passed it about a warp or two, you will then need to fill in the weft. 

It’s important to always go back into the sock with each pass to make sure it stays connected to the fabric. If you don’t go back into the fabric you will have created a pocket instead of a patch!

When darning you will be using a plain weave pattern (over one and under one.) This is the most stable and simplest option for your darning. Learn more about plain weave (and the two other basic weave structures HERE.)

When you are finished make sure to go back into the fabric and then turn it inside out so you have access to the underside. Secure the yarn with a knot and you are done!


darning and weaving mended sock

When darning you are completely in control! Due to the fact that you are working on top of fabric and not on a loom you have the option to make your darned area any shape or size you want.

You can darn your patch to be perfectly square or make it match the shape of the hole you are covering up. You can even make an entirely new shape that doesn’t correspond to either.

Weave a heart, triangle, or even a paw print onto your fabric to really make it unique. Any shape you want!

Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!

Creative darning

Traditionally darning was made to blend into the fabric being mended. People were not trying to advertise that their clothing was not new.

Nowadays, though, visible and creative darning has become more popular as zero waste and low waste have become less radical and more common. So if you are making the effort to save your fabrics, why not make them even more interesting by adding some flair?

Darning can be done so that it is virtually indistinguishable from the fabric that you are mending. Unless you are mending a woven fabric, it will be pretty easy to tell the difference between the darned portion and the original. Keeping with the same color, though, will help to blend it in regardless of the method used to make the fabric.

If you are wanting to highlight the mended portion then you can do so in a few different ways beyond just changing the shape.

The simplest way is to simply use a different color! Find a color that is complementary and/or brighter than the original color(s). This will make it stand out.

You can also play with your coloring and create stripes, plaids, or other simple patterns. This is especially exciting if the original fabric is a solid color.

Have fun with your darning and weaving adventures!


How To Use A Warping Board

How To Use A Warping Board

Measuring out your warp for your loom is an important weaving skill that all weavers should know how to do. It’s one of the first steps for setting up your weaving on your loom. When it comes to measuring your warp for your floor, table, or even your rigid heddle loom* there are 2 main options to choose from – a warping board or a warping mill.

*Rigid heddle looms are often direct warped, but using a warping board or mill is still a great skill to learn in case you don’t want to direct warp.

Today we’re talking about the warping board.

This page may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through these links then I will receive a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Please read our DISCLAIMER for more info. Thanks for the support!

Why would you choose a warping board over a warping mill?

  • Available Space
  • Available Funds

Warping boards will take up less space then warping mills because they are flatter and can be hung on a wall. A warping mill needs room to freely rotate – although it can usually be collapsed some when not in use. Warping board are also usually easy to take apart and therefore easier to travel with if you need to.

Boards tend to be less expensive than mills because they have no moving parts. In fact, they’re essentially glorified frames with pegs in them. That being said, the pegs are spaced out in such a way that you should be able to measure your warp in yards and half yards if you follow the right path.

First things first: How much warp do you need?

If you are planning your weaving then you will figure out how many warp ends (individual warps) you need and how long those warps will be. This is the first step when it comes to using your warping board.

If you need help figuring this out then make sure to check out my planning your weaving post. You can also get my Weaving Process & Planning Guide where I walk you through that (and more!) plus you get the exclusive project planning worksheet. Just click the image below.

Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!

Create a leader yarn

warping board leader yarn

Choose some yarn that is a different color than your warp. I like to use inexpensive acrylic yarn in a bright color so there will be no doubts that it’s not my usual warp and it’s easy to follow.

Measure out one strand of yarn that is the length of your desired warp plus a little extra (just a few inches.) That little extra yarn will allow you to tie your leader yarn to your warping board and still maintain the length you need.

You can (and should!) hang onto this yarn to reuse in the future. Even if your future warp is shorter than your current one, you can mark the new length on your leader yarn and tie it around the correct peg at that point. It is ok to have some extra that isn’t being used. It’s better than creating a whole new length of yarn if you don’t have to!

Find your warp path

Not your war path.

Your warp path may be different every time you measure your warp depending on your warping board and the length of your yarn. You can follow the side of your frame, zig-zag across it, or do anything in between!

Find the path that makes the most sense to you and one that allows you to create a good rhythm. You will have to follow this path with your warp yarn hundreds of times so don’t make it too hard on yourself and it’s a bonus if it can even be a little fun! Put on some music and get into your warping rhythm.

When you apply your leader yarn to your warp path you will want to build in the beginning of your x so that you can account for that extra yarn and it’s easier to follow when you start warping. As you can see in the image above – the leader yarn does not go straight across the top of the pegs. Instead it bends around and under peg 3.

More on that …

The importance of the x

The x in your weaving is something that you want to stay mindful of when measuring your warp and setting up your loom. Creating this cross keeps your individual warps separated and avoids tangled yarn and messy situations. While losing your x is not the end of the world, it is definitely still something you want to avoid if you can help it. 300 tangled warp ends aren’t anyone’s friend.

Trust me.

Using your warping board

keep your cross on warping board

Attach your yarn straight from the cone/ tube/ or skein by tying it to your first peg.

Follow your lead yarn so that it goes over peg 2 and under peg 3.

Continue over the rest of your pegs and wrap around the last peg at the end of your leader yarn.

Follow the lead yarn back to the beginning but this time you will do the opposite of what you did originally.

Go over peg 3 and under peg 2.

Continue by going around peg 1 and starting over.

Do this as many times as you have warp ends!

You can count your warp as you go or just count every so often – it’s up to you. I do recommend stopping every once in a while to count out your warp ends and bundle them every 25-50 warps with a looped piece of yarn and an overhand knot. I always count more than once, just in case. This will make it so at the end you don’t have to count and recount hundreds of warp ends. (shown in first image under warp ties below- top row)

tie off warp on warping board

Once you are finished – cut your warp yarn with some to spare and use that end to tie your warp bundle together at the last peg. To do this you will loop your cut end around the top bundle and then bring it back through the loop you created. (shown above)

Do this twice.

Warp ties

warping board ties

You can use any yarn that you have that is a different color from your warp (I talk about using recycled yarn for this exact reason in THIS post!) I like to call warp ties “security blankets” because they help to make sure all your hard work counting out and creating your warp bundle doesn’t end up in a big pile of knots! The warp ties in the images above are made with bright blue yarn.

The most important space for your warp ties is around your x. You will essentially be wrapping your security blanket yarn around this cross twice to make it really secure. Then a simple overhand knot will keep it in place. (see third picture above top row)

You will also want warp ties:

  • On each side of your x. Make a loop around the bundle and use an overhand knot. This will help you out if you accidentally lose your x later on.
  • Around every foot or so of warp. This one will be done sort of like a figure 8. I usually divide up my warp into 3 smaller bundles and go around those. (see middle picture above – top row) Follow the red arrows!

Once you are done with all your warp ties you can carefully pull your warp off your board and transfer it to your loom! If you are planning to warp your loom right away then you can move it straight over. If you are planning to warp your loom later or you need to transfer it then I recommend chaining it to move it easier.

To chain your warp bundle

chain your warp

If you crochet then think of this the same way you start a project, but with your arm instead of a hook. Stick your arm through your x loop and reach down to your bundle.

Pull up some of the bundle through your loop creating another loop.

Continue until the end.

This will create a shorter bundle that is easier to transfer and less likely to get tangled.

Things to keep in mind

If you have a lot of warp ends then I recommend measuring out your warp bundle in stages. Once you are setting up your loom you can’t stop mid sleighing of your reed for each bundle (when warping front to back.) When you break up your warp into multiple bundles it allows you to take a break if you need to. Get up and stretch or grab a sip or water.

I recommend this once your warp ends get to be over 200. Then just break it up into bundles of 100 or whatever amount seems manageable for you.

fix knots on a warping board

If you come across any knots in your warp yarn while using your warping board then you will want to keep those out of your finished weaving. Cut your warp yarn at the knot and go back to either your 1st or last peg (whichever is closer) and tie the warp to the peg just like when you first started (see above.) Start again from this same peg and keep going. You may lose a little bit of yarn this way depending on where your knot was, but it’s better than having a knot in your weaving!

This is also how you would keep going if you finish up a cone of yarn and need to start another. Knots at the end of your bundles around your pegs will not affect your weaving at all because they are a part of your loom waste. Knots in the middle of your warp will be visible in your finished weaving.

You can avoid them.

Stabilizing your warp cone or tube while measuring your warp will help you have a more fluid motion with your board. It will also keep your yarn cleaner since it’s not rolling all around your floor. You can use a cone holder like this one that will rotate and keep it coming off the cone smoother. Or this stationary one that holds up to 4 cones at a time.

Or you can just put your warp yarn in a box on the floor and let it roll around in there. Not quite as elegant and a little finicky, but it works.

Warp a little faster

warping board - warp faster

Using two hands while you are warping can actually make it go faster. Follow your leading hand with your other hand in order to help you smoothly get around your pegs. The more you use your warping board the faster you will get and the easier it will be to get in the flow.

Put on some music and enjoy the movement of the warp across the board. It can be almost as meditative as the weaving itself.

Hemstitch – Decorative & Practical Finishing Technique

Hemstitch – Decorative & Practical Finishing Technique

Depending on who you talk to, finishing their weaving is probably tied with setting up their loom for their least favorite part of the weaving process. Don’t stop reading though! Knowing how to correctly finish your weaving is important to not only the look, but also the longevity of your finished piece. 

You may even enjoy finishing because it’s when things start to really seem… finished.

Hemstitch is probably one of the most common ways to finish up your balanced or pattern weaving when it’s time to take it off the loom. 

What is hemstitch?

Hemstitch is a finishing technique that secures your warp in place so that when you take it off the loom and it is no longer under tension the weft doesn’t slide around and un-weave. It is created by either using leftover weft yarn in the same color as the weaving or a brand new yarn that you attach. Depending on the option you choose you can give this stitch a different look. Either blend it in or make it BOLD.

While you can use the same finishing methods on tapestry and balanced weave – methods like hemstitch are done most often on functional work like towels, scarves, and table runners. This is because it is a visual technique that bleeds onto the front of your weaving. This may not lend itself well to your tapestry, especially if your tapestry is image based. For the purpose of this post, I will be showing you how to do hemstitch on a tapestry because I already had one! (Work smarter, not harder!) Also, it is very easy to see when on the surface of a tapestry. When it comes down to it, though, hemstitch on balanced weave and on tapestry are done the exact same way.

So you can use it for tapestry if you want.

You do you.

Most weavers use only hemstitch to finish their weavings. On it’s own – if done correctly – it should keep your weft in place without the addition of anything else.

Paranoia usually makes me use it as a step in the finishing process. I like to make sure things are really secure. I also like the look of a knotted fringe on my scarves and other functional work so I use them together. One great thing about hemstitch is that you can easily combine it with other finishing techniques like knots and macrame if that’s your thing.

Another note: if you are only using it as a part of your process and not your sole finishing technique then you have the option of taking out the hemstitch after it has served its purpose! Once you add in your other technique of choice just carefully cut out the hemstitch and you should be good to go. If this is the route you want to take then you should choose a different colored yarn. This will make it easier to differentiate from your weaving and cut off.

When should you use hemstitch?

If you are worried about your weft moving after taking off the tension then hemstitch is a great option. It is very secure and simple to do. You have to like the look of it though, because even if you use the same color as your weft it will be visible on the surface of your weaving. So basically, use it if you like it!

One of the other great things about this technique is that is is great for transporting weavings. When you won’t be finishing up the weaving right away, but it still needs to be taken off the loom then you can use the hemstitch to keep everything in place until you are ready to finish it fully. You can confidently move and travel with your unfinished weaving like this!

When would you not want to use hemstitch?

If you are short on time and plan to finish up your selvedges right away then you can get away with simple ties on your warp. Ties are not a great option if you won’t be finishing right away because they are not the most secure, but can work for something quick and dirty. When using these simple ties I recommend only cutting a few warps at a time as it comes off the loom. This will keep the rest of the weaving under tension until it’s ready to be secured.

Another time that hemstitch might not be a great finishing option is when you want the cleanest edge possible. In this case, you might want to consider some other options like Half-Damascus, the Philippine edge, or a simple selvedge fold. These options are often used on tapestries and create a cleaner and/or decorative edge.

hemstitch options on tapestry

How to hemstitch

Hemstitch is easiest when your weaving is still under tension. Due to this, you will need to know how you want to finish your weaving when you are still planning your weaving. This is because when you are first starting your weaving you will want to do your hemstitch after weaving only your first few inches. While you can wait and do this after it is off the loom, it will be harder this way. Hemstitch is easiest when your weaving is still under tension.

This means you have to think about your finishing when you are just starting!

You will want yarn that is at least 3 times the width of your weaving to make sure you have enough without having to stop. This may be overkill, but it’s better to have extra than not enough. If you are using yarn that isn’t already attached (the remainder of your weft) then you will have to leave a tail on the back of the weaving to tuck in later.

hemstitch tutorial

First, come up through the back of the weaving at least 2 wefts down to make sure it will be secure. Go down more if you want a more dramatic look.

  1. Take your hemstitch yarn and float it vertically on the surface of the weaving just to the side of the warp you plan to wrap around. Make sure you don’t pierce your weft yarn and instead go between your weft rows.
  2. Go under at least two warps and around those same two warps so that your yarn ends on the back of the weaving.
  3. Come back up through the back of the weaving a few warps over and down.
  4. Repeat all the way across!
  5. When you get to the end – wrap your yarn around your last two warps and instead of coming back up – tuck your yarn down a warp channel. Cut any excess on the back (just like your yarn tail from the beginning.)

The number of warps that you bundle together depends on your EPI and your desired look. If you go around too many warps, though, it loses some of it’s effectiveness in the long term. I wouldn’t go around more than 4 warp yarns at a time unless your have a very dense warp sett. If you plan to take your hemstitch out later then going around more warps should be fine as long as it’s not getting handled a lot.

hemstitch tutorial

Variations – Fun Ways To Add Emphasis

  • Use a different color for the hemstitch that is either contrasting or complimentary. Think bold colors against neutrals or black against white.
  • You can change up how many weft yarns you capture in your hemstitch. Try doing different patterns like 1 long, 1 short, repeat or vary it in a graduated pattern to create triangles!

Complementary Finishing Options

The simplest method to finish off your warp ends is to use overhand knots that sit flush with your weaving. This is often used for scarves or anything that requires a fringe made from your warp. When using knots by themselves and not with a hemstitch, you can use the same method as the simple ties I talked about above. Cut only a few warps at a time to keep the weaving under tension. When using them with the hemstitch – just follow the knot instructions!

Other decorative options for your fringe are macrame or braids. Macrame would be best done with hemstitch as a precursor so that it keeps everything in place.

Do you have a favorite finishing method? Let me know in the comments!

Discontinuous Weft – Meet and Separate Technique

Discontinuous Weft – Meet and Separate Technique

Discontinuous weft is a big feature of most tapestries. Actually, it’s one of the defining features!

Essentially, it’s when you have more than one weft in the same shed (weaving on the same line) and is the cornerstone of imagery. This is because it allows you to have multiple colors next to each other which can be used to make shapes, but it is also used for hatching or color blending. Unlike most pattern weaving which features selvedge to selvedge weft, tapestry weft may not continue across the width of the weaving.

Get it?

One of the best tips for weaving discontinuous weft is Meet and Separate. I have also called it Heads to Heads and Tails to Tails.

Whatever you want to call it, in its simplest form – you have 2 wefts that are either weaving towards or away from each other and never in the same direction. (That’s the key!)

Why it works:

Meet and separate is used to make sure that your weft can continue with the intended pattern (in the case of tapestry – plain weave) without overlapping. This allows you to carry one weft over the other weft in the next shed without having the weft go over and under the same warps. Since the wefts are always weaving in different directions, there is never a time when they overlap in the same shed!

How to do it:

2 wefts

The simplest version of meet and separate is when you have only 2 different wefts. More than likely they will be in different colors, but there could be a time and a place to have them be the same color and the theory still applies. 

It’s important to always do a full sequence with your yarn in order for this to work. This means your yarn must always meet and separate in order for them to move. If you try to only have them meet then the pattern will be lost.

When these 2 wefts meet you can use a variety of different techniques to choose how they interact. Interlocking, dovetail, and split tapestry will all work, it just depends on what you want to accomplish with your weaving.

Dovetail: This technique creates a jagged interaction.

Interlocked: A fuzzy interaction.

Split: Clean lines. (This is my favorite and the one I’ll be using for the post)

discontinuous weft - 2 colors

Meet and separate with 2 wefts means that you will start each yarn at the selvedge of your weaving. Weave them each across to their stopping point – which is determined by your pattern or cartoon – so that they both meet. Weave each yarn back in the opposite direction (separate) completing your full pass!

Depending on the weft interaction you choose you do have the option to weave up one color at a time and then the other (split) or you will have to weave them line by line if they are interacting (join or dovetail.)

discontinuous weft - right

As you can see above, if you start moving your weft yarns so that they aren’t weaving up straight blocks of color then you will be able to see if you did the technique correctly! Once one warp (in this case grey) weaves over the other (blue) you can see that it continues to weave the plain weave pattern correctly.

In the image below, the meet and separate technique wasn’t used. The blue and grey yarns are weaving in the same direction. Once the blue yarn attempts to weave over the grey yarn the pattern is lost! They start to weave up with both yarns going over and under the same warps.

discontinuous weft - wrong

More than 2 wefts

This theory works for any number of wefts, but tends to feel more convoluted as you add more to the mix. When there are at least 3 yarns in the same shed then you will have 2 of them meeting and 2 of them separating at the same time. Sometimes it can help to draw or look at a diagram to understand the movement that they have to take in order to keep the pattern. You can look at the diagram below, but if you have say – 7 colors in the same shed, I recommend drawing it out with some arrows.

One of the biggest obstacles I see my students have with this theory is where do they all start?!? It may seem obvious in theory, but confusing in practice, that once there are more than 2 wefts they can’t all begin on a selvedge. With 3 wefts, 2 of them will have to start in the middle of the weaving.

discontinuous weft diagram

Depending on what you are weaving, you might weave line by line or color by color. If you are weaving line by line then I recommend starting at your selvedge yarn always and work your way across. This will ensure that you don’t lose your pattern by skipping around. Trying to start with a middle weft makes things too complicated. Make it easy on yourself!

If you decide to weave a color at a time, which you might choose to do if you are weaving shapes, then just make sure to pay attention to what direction your yarn starts in. Write it down if you have to! It can be hard to remember if you need to meet or separate when you weave this way since you are only focusing on one color at at time.

discontinuous weft - 3 colors

Different sized yarn

Most of the time if you are weaving traditional tapestry you will be weaving with the same size weft yarn throughout. But That doesn’t mean you have to! Weaving with different size weft yarns can add a lot of interesting texture and emphasis to your tapestry, but you will need more of the thinner yarn in the same amount of space.

It’s ok to have an unequal amount of your different yarns! As long as it still works with your EPI.

So don’t let that deter you from experimenting with fun yarn! A 2 to 1 ratio or more is fine and will still work as long as you stick with the theory.

Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!

What To Do If You Accidentally Wove In The Same Direction

First of all, don’t worry!

We all make mistakes and especially when you start weaving many colors it can be hard to keep track of who should be meeting and who should be separating.

You’ll notice if a mistake was made if when you carry your yarn over it starts weaving in the same shed as the adjacent yarn. So what do you do?

Well, you have 2 options.

  1. Make It Right
  2. Make It Work

If you haven’t woven that much and it’s easy to undo then technically the correct way to fix your weaving is to make it right. Un-weave the portion that is incorrect and do it the right way. This might take more time, but it’s a learning experience!

If you have woven a lot and don’t want to undo your progress then you can always just make it work. This requires a little bit of thought to do correctly, but essentially you can add a supplemental weft on top of the incorrect yarn. This is represented by the pink yarn in the image below so it’s easier to see, but you will use the same color as the weft you are using. This supplemental weft will only be in 1 shed and not a full sequence. You would then restart your weft yarn on top of the supplemental weft.

What does this do?

It changes your shed! By adding an extra weft yarn and restarting your regular yarn, you are able to fake it. Keep in mind that this will mean you have 2 extra tails to tuck in when you are finished, but that could take less time than starting over.

discontinuous weft - supplemental weft

Meet and Separate is one of the foundations of tapestry weaving. Once you get the hang of it, you will barely even have to think about it!

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