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The best gifts are those you make.
It’s not just something your mom told you when you gave her that macaroni necklace as a kid (I’m sure she loved it).
Giving the gift of woven art is an amazing handmade present that pretty much everyone would be lucky to receive. Perhaps I’m biased, but there’s not much like receiving something that someone put time and energy into. That being said, who has time to create large woven artwork for everyone on their list?
Instead, you can create simple DIY woven gifts that shouldn’t take too long or cost too much. That way, you can make more! These handwoven gift ideas could be great for holidays, birthdays, thank yous, or anytime!
Simple Handwoven Bookmark
This attractive little weaving is a perfect gift for someone who loves to read and enjoys the little things. You can weave this in many different designs depending on who you are giving it to. The simplest design would be simple horizontal stripes! This woven bookmark is a simple plain weft-faced weaving (tapestry).
Make sure to choose yarn that is on the thinner side. You don’t want anything too bulky between the pages of the book. You can also either iron (if you are using acrylic yarn than be careful of your heat settings) or press it to flatten it our some before gifting.
EPI – 6 Ends Per Inch
Yarn used – 8/4 Cotton rug warp and sock weight knitting yarn for weft
Size – 1 1/2″ x 5″
You can easily make different sizes for different books. This size is great for a small book.
Weaving instructions – You can weave as simple or as complicated as you want. You can easily make a very attractive woven bookmark with self-striping yarn with very little effort. If you want to get more detailed you can weave shapes or patterns (note that patterns will probably require a different EPI).
Weaving up a more balanced weave as opposed to a weft-faced weaving will also create a thinner bookmark. Experiment with different patterns and sizes!
This bookmark was woven on a simple cardboard loom to make it as fast and easy as possible. If you warp your cardboard loom like your EPI Mini-loom then you can actually weave a bookmark on each side and get the most out of your time.
You can also weave this on a frame loom or rigid heddle loom if you want! Do what works for you!
Finishing – You can finish this bookmark with simple overhand knots. You then have the option to either leave the warp as is or for a more frayed look you can un-twist the plies of your yarn. Don’t forget to tuck your tails back down your warp channels so the bookmark is flat and smooth on all sides.
Similar to those friendship bracelets you may have made as a kid – this woven bracelet is a step above and makes a great gift for anyone who appreciates wearable art.
You can create a thin band for the wrist or ankle or a thicker band to be worn like a cuff. Another option is to gift a few bracelets of different sizes to mix and match! If they all have complimentary color schemes than wearing thinner and thicker bracelets together can be a lot of fun.
EPI – 12 EPI
Size – 1/2” wide and 5“ long (6 total warp ends) or 1/4″ wide and 5″ long (4 total warp ends)
These bracelets are only 5″ long because I made them to go over my wrists and I have tiny wrists… That being said, the weaving doesn’t have to go all the way around the wearer’s wrist so if you don’t know exactly how long to make it then don’t worry!
You can make them as long as you want and as wide as you want. For a thinner bracelet – I don’t recommend any less than 4 warp ends though, for ease of weaving.
Yarn Used – 16/2 Cottolin for warp and weft. This is a GREAT yarn for this because it drapes really well and is super soft. This makes a comfortable and long weaving bracelet.
Set Up – A cardboard loom is really easy to use here as well. Wrapping the warp all the way around should give you plenty to work with for sizing the finished bracelet.
Weaving instructions – Again, just like the bookmark, you can make simple stripes look very impressive. Change up their sizes or position to create fun patterns or designs. Due to the size of the yarn and the weaving – you can get away with using a weavers knot instead of weaving in your tails for these woven bracelets. Normally I would never recommend weavers knots for a finished piece, but they end up being so small that it works out ok. Just try to make sure the small knots end up on the back of the bracelet.
Finishing – Finish these up with simple overhand knots that are flush with the edge of your weaving. I recommend anchoring your bracelet with your yarn, a book, or something heavy to make it easier to tie.
To create a movable knot you will want to start an overhand knot on one side of the bracelet, but don’t pull tight just yet. Place the other end through the loop. Then you can pull that knot tight. Place 2 more overhand knots on each end of the bracelet to keep it from coming undone. Trim off any excess. Make sure to leave enough slack in the bracelet for the receiver to get their hand through!
If making an anklet or you just don’t want to do the movable knot – then you can skip to the overhand knots at the ends of each side and the wearer can tie on the bracelet or you can add a bead button instead!
Variation Idea – Make a wider bracelet that has a button or snap on the ends. If you decide to do a button to close it then you can use split tapestry on one end for the button hole. No need to cut into your bracelet if you can plan ahead.
For this variation you would want to choose a finishing method that eliminates the warp at the ends. I.E. weaving them back into the weaving itself.
DIY Woven Ornament
You can make many different types of ornaments with weaving, but a miniature wall hanging might just be the cutest option you have.
Again, you can keep this pretty simple and it will still be impressive. Due to its size, I don’t recommend trying to be too detailed. If you are looking to add something extra then using embroidery on the surface of the ornament will probably be a simpler idea.
EPI – 6 EPI
Yarn/ Materials Used – 8/4 cotton rug warp and similar sized yarn for weft. Small dowel rod or stick.
Size – 2″ x 2″ – 12 total warp ends
Weaving Instructions – You can weave as simple or complicated as you want. You could do an entire ornament with rya knots or do one color tapestry and embroider on top.
Finishing – Attach your weaving to the dowel rod or stick by taking your warp yarn coming from the top of the weaving and bringing it around. Insert the warp back into the weaving and secure it by going back up an adjacent warp channel. Use an extra piece of yarn and tie it to the ends of the stick – you could also braid it for a more finished look. This will be how you hang it.
Tuck in any tails at the back.
While not actually a woven gift idea, this ornament does use yarn and is incredibly simple. You can possibly even use left over yarn from other projects if you have enough on hand! These are great when given in groups of a few ornaments and they’re so fast that it will probably take you less time than any of the other DIY gift ideas on this list.
Materials Needed – Any yarn that you have laying around! Play with fun colors and textures. You can use different sized yarns for variation in the pom-pom or the same yarn throughout for something simple. You will also need a pom-pom tool or a fork. Don’t worry – the pom-pom tool is an easy DIY.
DIY Pom-Pom tool – Find some cardboard or chipboard. Cut a notch out of the rectangle.
Done. That’s it. Now we make pom-poms!
Instructions – Wrap your yarn around the pom-pom tool or fork a lot. Like a lot a lot. The more you wrap it, the fuller it will be. Make sure to leave a little bit of room at the inside of the notch so that you can gather your ball later.
You can use more than one color of yarn for a fun multi-colored pom-pom. Wrap each color a few times and repeat. If you are using more than one colored yarn then just make sure to start and stop the yarn at the edge of the maker and not in the middle.
Once done, take a new piece of yarn (probably the same color) and tie a knot as tight as you can around the middle of the wrapped yarn. You will be able to access this if you left space in the notch. If you didn’t then you can use a tapestry needle to assist you. Slide the entire thing off the tool and tie another knot on the other side.
If using a large enough piece around the middle you can use the remainder after knotting to hang your pom-pom from. If it’s not long enough, you can prepare another piece of yarn or braid and attach it to the knotted yarn.
Cut the looped yarn ends to separate them and create your ball. Trim and fluff as needed! The more yarn you wrapped and the the more you trim off the denser your pom-pom will be.
Woven coasters are a fun and simple project that you can weave up in little time. You can weave up simple stripes for a classic design without a lot of bulk on the back due to the changing of weft yarns. If you are looking for a more detailed design then you can paint it on with acrylic paint!
EPI – 6 EPI
Size – 4″ x 4″ – 24 total warp ends per coaster
Yarn/ Materials Used –8/4 cotton yarn in whatever color you choose. Cardboard loom or any frame loom. Fabric silkscreen ink, paintbrush and/or stencils. Iron and ironing cloth.
Instructions – Warping your frame front and back will allow you to get more coasters with just 1 warp. If you are planning to paint on your coaster then all you need is a simple weft-faced weaving of 1 color. You can change it up by adding in another color, but keep it pretty simple so that it doesn’t overwhelm the design. The less color changes you have will result in fewer tails to weave in at the end. Stencil or paint on whatever design you want! You can do this while it is still under tension or once it has been taken off the loom – personal preference. Polka dots are a cute and timeless option, but you can also use varying stripes, open circles, or any other geometric shape!
Finishing – Use an overhand knot on your warp as close to the coaster as possible. You can finish these with simple fringe (untwist plies for a fun shaggy look) or go for a cleaner look by tucking your warp ends back in the weaving. Don’t make the fringe too long or it will get messy.
Once your ink design is dry – cover your coaster with an ironing cloth and iron on the highest setting for your yarn. The silkscreen ink is heat set so this will keep it from washing out or transferring to your cup.
Other woven gift ideas:
Keychain – You can make this similar to the bookmark, but attach a keychain ring to the top!
Pot holders/ trivets – Think of this as a larger and thicker coaster! Test out your options before committing to make sure they will adequately protect you or your surface from the heat.
Headband – A woven headband won’t be stretchy (unless you can find a stretchy yarn) but can be woven with a button closure to get over and around their head.
Small mounted wall-hanging – When in doubt – make art!
You don’t have to spend a lot of time on your handmade presents for them to be special. Once you deem someone weave worthy, then any of these DIY woven gifts will be great for any occasion! Are you planning to weave up some gifts?
Your Weft Tail Method Depends On You And Your Weaving
Did you know that finishing your weaving starts during the actual weaving process? Or at least it should. It’s important to weave in your weft tails as you go to make finishing easier.
First, let’s go over what “tails” even are! If you checked out my post on the 5 easy to fix weaving mistakes than you might already know. If not – check it out!
Your tails are the ends of your yarn from whenever you start a new color or run out of the previous length of yarn. A lot of weavers let them hang out the sides of their weaving with the intent to deal with them later.
You want to try to reduce the amount of tails in your weaving as much as you can because it means you will have less to do later!
Let’s look at some different scenarios.
The technique that you decide to use when dealing with your weft is largely influenced by whatever method you prefer. There are some occasions where some methods aren’t ideal – but mostly it’s up to you.
For example, the first technique that I will be discussing is probably one of the least used techniques. That being said, it’s the one that I learned first and therefore the one I use the most often.
What can I say, you usually stick with what you know.
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!
Weave 2 Weft Tails On The Same Side
This technique has the potential to build up your selvedges somewhat, but if your weft is thin enough – then this really shouldn’t be an issue. Using this method is possibly a little more secure than the overlapping method (discussed later) but really they should all be pretty stable. This is especially true if you finish them by securing them in a warp channel when the weaving is finished. (I always do!)
Now, there are 2 schools of thought when it comes to dealing with your weft ends this way. They both involve the same methods, but the difference is literally how you think about it.
So when you are dealing with your tails you will want to weave them back into the weaving as you go along. That means weaving about a half an inch of the end of your yarn on top of the previous line of weaving. You will weave the tail as the next line of the pattern and let the remainder of the tail (3-4 inches) hang out the back.
Back of weaving with weft tails on the same side
The part that trips most people up is what to do next. Since you will be continuing your weaving you will have to weave on top of the tail. Since the tail is woven in the next line of the pattern it can be confusing to know where in the pattern to start your next weft thread.
Do you start over or under?
So thought number 1 is this: You ignore the tail completely and go off of the pattern of the previous full line of weft. That would mean if you are weaving plain weave and the full line of weft ended over a warp then your next full line will start under.
Thought number 2: You follow the tail yarn. Since the tail is already the opposite of the previous full line of weft then following it will mean you have chosen the correct next line of the pattern.
Either way, it will result in the exact same thing, but it all depends on what makes the most sense to you.
It can be counter intuitive to start out with the same pattern as the tail, but once you get past it, it will weave up correctly.
If you use this technique I recommend trying to vary the sides that your weft ends on to try to keep the bulking down as much as possible.
I would say that the biggest advantage to this method is the ability to stay consistent since you are starting and stopping all your weft tails the same way for the whole weaving and staying on the same side you ended on. This keeps everything weaving more fluidly.
Front of weaving with weft tails on the same side (beaten down)
Weave Weft Tails On Opposite Sides
Much like the previous technique, you will want to weave your weft tail about a half inch or so into the next shed and let the rest hang out the back of the weaving.
Instead of starting your next weft immediately on top of this tail, you would instead start on the opposite selvedge and then weave that tail in.
The biggest advantage to this technique is that it will help to keep the weft build-up to a minimum since you are spreading it out across both sides. Also, in this case you won’t have to worry about the ignoring or following conundrum of the above technique.
Back of weaving with tails on opposite sides.
Unfortunately, if this is your technique of choice, it doesn’t quite work when weaving discontinuous weft because you will have different colors on different selvedges. This technique is really best when weaving from selvedge to selvedge.
There may also be a time when (while weaving on a floor loom) it is important to have your treadles matched up to what side the weft is coming from. This can be a useful trick if you have a hard time remembering which treadle raises which harness. In this case, a different technique would work better.
Front of weaving with tails on opposite sides (beaten down)
Overlap Weft Tails Anywhere
Probably one of the most popular options for dealing with your weft tails is the overlapping method.
In this method, you could essentially start or stop your weft yarn anywhere in the weaving. You would just make sure to overlap the 2 wefts by a few warps and let the remaining tails hang out the back.
This is easily the simplest method as it requires very little thinking or planning ahead. That being said, I recommend still trying to stay close to your selvedges because the overlapping areas tend to be hidden better when directly in the middle of the weaving.
Another thing to consider, is that if you are overlapping different colored weft yarns and you are wanting a full pick of each color – then you will definitely have to overlap at the selvedge. If you overlap in the middle, your horizontal line won’t be quite as straight.
Back of weaving with overlapped weft tails
Front of weaving with overlapped weft tails (beaten down)
Dealing with your tails with your balanced or pattern weave isn’t much different than with tapestry. The overlapping method tends to blend into a pattern better than weaving in the tails at the selvedges. In general staying at the selvedge helps to keep the eye away from any inconsistencies that the weft ends could create. Pattern weaving has a higher chance of exposing your yarn ends due to the fact that it is more open.
The overlapping method should work especially well when working with wool (although it will work for any fiber) and if you plan to wash it. As long as the wool isn’t superwash than when you wash the fabric after it is finished it will allow the 2 wool weft yarns to felt together. The felting will help the weaving be more cohesive visually and allow it to be more stable as it essentially combines the two yarns into one.
If your yarn is especially thick you can also splice it before weaving it back in. To do this you will untwist the plies of the yarn and only weaving in some of the plies. You would also start the next line of your pattern with a spliced weft – essentially creating a normal-sized weft in its place.
If you are weaving your tails in at the selvedges, just remember to follow your pattern with the tail. Doing this will help it to blend in to the rest of the weaving.
What You DON’T Want To Do
It can be really tempting to start one weft directly adjacent to the end of the previous yarn. You would think that this would eliminate your need to have double weft in your shed. While this is true, it also creates an exposed warp on the back of your weaving.
This could also be the case if you start weaving multiple colors in the same shed (discontinuous weft.) If you are weaving multiple colors than you are bound to have some tails in the middle of your weaving – there really isn’t any way to get around it. It can be especially tempting to try to avoid overlapping your weft yarns here since we’ve already discussed that you want to keep them at your selvedges. Don’t give into temptation! Overlap just a few warps – splice if you need to. I promise it will be ok!
One of the biggest reasons to avoid an exposed warp on the back of your weaving is because it will make the weaving different on the front and the back. If you want to create something that will be seen on both sides then you want to make sure you are weaving in your tails.
Not weaving in these weft tails also makes the line of weft slightly less stable. While the weaving itself isn’t going to just fall apart (Don’t worry!) You do want to make it so the weaving can be handled and weaving in your tails will do this.
The Last Tail
When you are finished weaving you have 1 last weft tail to deal with. Unlike the rest of your tails that are woven back in on top of the previous row, your last weft tail should weave under your last full line of weft. Just move up the weft yarn at your selvedge and weave back into the weaving a few warps. This will make it so that the last weft on your weaving is a full line. A full line of yarn will make it easier to finish off your warp.
Now What? Finish Them Off!
Regardless of the method you choose to weave in your weft tails, you will need to tuck them in once you’re done. This is much easier to do when the weaving is no longer under tension – so make sure you have secured your warp ends in some way so you can handle your weaving without worrying about it un-weaving.
On the back of the weaving you will locate a warp channel adjacent to the weft tail you are tucking in. You can thread your tapestry needle before inserting the tapestry needle down the channel if your tail is long enough. If it’s not long enough then you can insert the needle first and pull it through until the tail is able to go through the eye of the needle. Pull the tail all the way through and trim your tail!
Do this for all your tails and you are done! I always like to start in one corner and work my way across. It’s very satisfying to watch the back of the weaving get cleaner as you go!
There are many different methods and combinations of methods that you can use when weaving up your tapestry or patterned fabric. It really all depends on what works best for you and for your artwork.
Try out the different techniques and see if one feels better than the others! Then let me know in the comments what is your favorite way to deal with your weft tails.
Knots and yarn a lot of times go hand in hand. This can be a good thing – or a bad thing. I”m sure we’ve all had our share of unwanted knots that keep us from our weavings or other Fiber Art. If you are getting these knots because you are using yarn by itself with no shuttle or bobbin then you might want to consider making a butterfly to keep your yarn from knotting. Otherwise, there are some useful weaving knots that you will actually WANT for setting up and finishing your weaving.
The most widely used knot in weaving and probably in general is the square knot. If you only know how to do one knot – this is the one!
You can use a square knot many different ways when weaving. I use it the most often when setting up a simple frame loom to attach my warp or scaffolding to the frame. A lot of weavers also use this to attach their warp to the apron bar on the floor loom – but I prefer the half bow for that (keep reading for that one.)
The square knot is strong and simple to do. It is hard to undo if it gets tight, though, so make sure you are ok with potentially cutting it off later.
How To Make A Square Knot:
You will want 2 open ends of yarn.
Step 1: Twist yarn 1 around and under yarn 2.
Step 2: Bring yarn back over yarn 2 and up.
Step 3: Bring yarn 2 over yarn 1.
Step 4: Yarn 2 goes around and under yarn 1 (through the loop that was created.)
Step 5: Pull tight!
The overhand knot is often used as a method to secure the fringe on the end of a scarf or rug. Besides the square knot, this is probably the other most used knot on this list that you might use in other scenarios outside of weaving. While this one is very simple and well known – I figured it is still worth mentioning.
An overhand knot is useful in a lot of different scenarios – it’s also how I tie the end of my grey thread when I am attaching it to a weaving and how I tie up my warp bundles at the back of my floor loom. This knot also works well as a simple knot to secure fringe on a scarf or rug.
How To Make an Overhand Knot:
This can be done with any number of yarns.
Step 1: Create a loop with the end of your yarn(s) with the open end on top.
Step 2: Bring the open end of the yarn(s) around to the back and through the loop.
Step 3: Pull tight.
The lark’s head knot isn’t really a knot as much as a way to fasten yarn to something. It is notable as a common way to attach your yarn to a dowel rod when starting up a new macrame wall hanging. Two common ways that it can be used in weaving is for 4 selvedge weaving and on your frame loom.
When you set up a loom for 4 selvedge weaving – the lark’s head knot is used around the bar to attach it to the frame.
On a floor loom this same knot is often used to attach the apron strings to the apron rod. It can also be used to attach the treadles to the lamms of certain floor looms.
You can do the same thing around any object and in the step-by-step I have done it around a tree branch.
How To Make A Lark’s Head Knot:
You will want 1 piece of yarn and something to attach it to.
Step 1: Fold your piece of yarn in half and lay it underneath your dowel rod, stick, or whatever you are attaching it too with the loop end up.
Step 2: Bring the open end of the yarn up, around, and through the loop above the stick.
Step 3: Pull the yarn all the way through the loop and position where you want it.
Step 4: Pull tight!
The weaver’s knot is often used as a way to tie your new warp onto your existing warp. This is a GREAT thing to do because it can cut down on your loom set up time. If you are not a fan of the warping process and you already have some leftover warp/ loom waste still on your loom you can save yourself some time.
This is also a knot that you can use to attach 2 weft yarns together instead of dealing with tails. That is not my preferred method, as a knot can be hard to hide – but it may be an option for you to try out. If you are using it for this technique then you will want to snip off the extra tails and trust the knot to do it’s job and hold it together.
How To Make A Weaver’s Knot:
You will need 2 pieces of yarn.
Step 1: Yarn 1 should be straight and yarn 2 should be looped over at the end. Pull yarn 1 through the loop of yarn 2.
Step 2: Wrap yarn 1 under the longer part of yarn 2 at the base of the loop. It should go over the shorter part.
Step 3: Bring yarn 1 through the loop of yarn 2.
Step 4: Adjust yarn as necessary.
Step 5: Pull tight!
Just like the lark’s head knot, the half bow is used in both the 4 selvedge and floor loom process. On a 4 selvedge weaving, you can use the half bow on the other end of the yarn that is using the lark’s head around the rod. The half bow will instead be around the frame.
On a floor loom, using a half bow is my favorite way to attach my warp to the apron rod.
This “knot” is ideal for this because it is both really strong and easy to undo. Unlike the square knot that is hard to untie – the half bow comes off the rod easily. It is also stronger than a full bow because the size of the yarn around the loop is smaller and therefore holds tighter.
How To Make a Half Bow:
You will need at least 1 piece of yarn and something to attach it too. In this case I am using a frame and 1 piece of yarn that has been folded to have 2 ends. Your yarn will most likely be attached to a rod at the other end whether on a floor loom or warping 4 selvedge.
Step 1: Lay the yarn over your frame or rod with both ends together.
Step 2: Next, bring your 2 ends around the frame and split them so there is one on each side.
Step 3: Bring 1 end over and around the other end (like the first step of the square knot.)
Step 4: Pull tight!
Essentially, the second part of the half bow is just tying a bow (like you tie your shoes) and pulling out one of the loops. This is how I tie my shoes 🙂
Step 5: Create a loop with 1 end of the yarn.
Step 6: Wrap the other end of the yarn over and around the loop.
Step 7: Next, pull that same end through the other loop you created when you wrapped it around (this should now look like a bow.)
Step 8: Continue to pull that second end all the way through and tighten!
Knowing these weaving knots will help you out in a lot of different scenarios – both in and out of the studio!
Do you have a favorite weaving knot? One that I didn’t mention that you use all the time?
Straight selvedges are one of the hardest things to accomplish as a new weaver. In fact, “How do you weave straight selvedges?” is probably one of the questions that I get most from my students.
Selvedges that pull in are on the top of the list of the most common mistakes that new weavers make. I talked about 4 of the other most common mistakes a few weeks ago. If you missed it, you can check it out HERE!
For those new to weaving, selvedges (sometimes spelled selvages) are the edges of your weaving that often pull in during the weaving process.
Unfortunately, no matter how hard you pull, if the sides of your weaving start to pull in – you can’t fix it without this way.
Trust me, I’ve tried…
There are a few different reasons why your selvedges may be pulling in to create the classic trapezoid shape that weavers try to avoid.
First, if you are lost in the process (which is a great feeling!) then it becomes really easy to get caught up in the movement and rhythm of weaving and lose track of keeping those sides straight. If you get distracted by the world or even your own thoughts then your weaving will reflect it.
Another reason why your warp may start to warp is simply because you aren’t giving it enough slack. Unlike warp, you don’t want your weft to be as tight as it can be.
Sometimes uneven selvedges can really add to the weaving, but don’t forget the golden rule of art “Learn the rules first, so you can break them later”.
So how do you create nice smooth selvedges?
It all depends, but let’s go over some scenarios.
Scenario 1: Tapestry
You’ve heard of happy little trees, well we’re going to make happy little hills.
Whatever you want to call them is fine.
Due to the structure of a tapestry a.k.a. a weft-faced weaving, it is really important to use extra weft in each row. The weft has to flow around the warps instead of just moving them in order to get the classic weft-faced weaving that is tapestry.
Think of the weft as creating a tunnel and the warp is going through that tunnel. I also call these warp channels and they’re important for finishing your tapestry.
The amount of hills is relative to both the width of the weaving and your own weaving style.
Everyone weaves differently.
The only right amount of hills is the one that gets you what you want. A.K.A. Straight selvedges.
Try out some different sizes and see what works best for you. Just be careful not to make mountains instead, too much extra weft is a different and totally avoidable issue.
Scenario 2: Pattern or Balanced Weave
Unlike tapestry, a pattern or balanced weave doesn’t need a lot of extra weft because it’s not covering the warp completely. The weft will actually deflect the warp slightly.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t need any extra weft, though.
Unlike tapestry, we’re not weaving hills or bubbles.
Instead, I recommend placing your warp at a 45 degree angle before beating it down. No need to take out the protractor – just eyeball it.
Again, you don’t want to have too much weft – so experiment a little and find that Goldilocks amount.
On that note:
Too much weft can cause your weaving to be lumpy with loops of yarn on either the front or back.
Also, it can be tempting to try to fix your selvedges that are pulling in by overcompensating with your weft- but this just causes them to be even more uneven. You want to avoid creating loops on your selvedges as much as you want to avoid pulling in your warp.
Whether you are weaving tapestry of balanced weave, one of the best things you can do to create straighter selvedges is to place your weft at the edge of your weaving.
You can do this 2 ways.
1. Pinch it.
In this method you are pretty much just holding the warp in place while you compress the weft. Doing this makes it so the extra slack needed from the weft comes from the needle end and not the previous line of weaving.
2. Weave The First Inch.
What I normally do is weave and compress the first inch of each line before continuing with my hills or angled weft. Doing this keeps your selvedges right where you want them! It’s also easier to work with your weft in small increments at a time. Place your weft and then keep going.
With that being said, you don’t have to choose. You can take all of these tricks and combine them to give your weaving it’s best shot.
No matter what you do, one of the best things you can do is to pay attention to your weaving and not ignore your selvedges.
If your warp does start to warp – then un-weave it and start again. You’ll be happy you fixed it, even if it took a little time. Then try to remember the tricks above to keep it from happening again.
I know that trying to obtain straight selvedges can sometimes feel a little impossible – especially at the beginning. Like most things though, you WILL get better with time. If straight selvedges are what you are after then consistency and a little practice will get you there!
What’s your favorite way to keep your selvedges from pulling in? Let me know!
Welcome once again to Earth Month! Actually, today is officially Earth Day! Happy Earth Day! Let’s make something!
Every week in April we have been discussing how to have a more sustainable studio practice for you and for the planet. It’s time to take that sustainable ambition and put it to use.
One great option for a sustainable weft solution is using fabric! You can weave with any fabric you can cut or rip into strips. Most people have some old t-shirts laying around that they probably wouldn’t donate due to holes or stains. Or do you have an old t-shirt that doesn’t fit anymore that you have a sentimental attachment to? T-shirts can make a fun stretchy weft that is great for many different projects.
There are a few different ways to prep a t-shirt to become the weft for your next weaving, but the best option is to find the way that results in the longest strips.
How do you cut a t-shirt into one long strip and turn it into t-shirt yarn?
Glad you’re here.
Let’s take a look.
What You Need
An old t-shirt
Time To Cut!
The first thing you want to do is lay out your shirt so it’s nice and flat. With your fabric scissors cut along the bottom of the t-shirt to remove the hem.
Add it to your scrap pile.
Next, cut along the sleeves and straight across the chest.
Set those aside. We’ll deal with them in a minute.
Fold your t-shirt in half so that the sides of the t-shirt are almost touching. You want the edge of the top layer to be about an inch from the edge of the bottom layer. The 1 inch that isn’t overlapped by the top will stay uncut for now. That inch is what will help you to make sure you have one continuous strip.
Turn the t-shirt so that the folded edge is facing you.
In 1 inch strips – cut vertically up to the edge of the first layer.
Do this all the way across.
Create One Long Strip
You should now have a t-shirt that sort of looks like a rib cage. The 1 inch that you didn’t cut before is like the sternum.
On one side of the fabric cut into the t-shirt at an angle until it meets up with a cut slit. This will free up the end of your t-shirt yarn.
Lay the t-shirt flat like shown above so that the “sternum” is exposed. Since you freed the beginning of your long strip, you can now cut diagonally from slit to slit which will keep the fabric as one long strip. If you cut the slits directly across from each other they would just make a bunch of individual loops.
Not what we are going for.
Keep checking to make sure you don’t cut individual loops as you make your way all the way across the t-shirt. This will create the majority of your t-shirt yarn.
For The Sleeves
While the sleeves don’t give you the longest yarn to work with, we’re not wasting ANYTHING!
In that case, lay the sleeve out so it is flat and the widest part is facing you. Cut up the sleeve in 1 inch strips stopping short about an inch from the top. Since the top of the sleeve will be angled, your slits will be progressively shorter (or longer depending on which end you start with) as you make your way across.
Free the beginning of your strip by cutting down from the slit from the top on the front of the sleeve. Work your way across the sleeve alternating cutting from the top and bottom layers.
Do the same thing for the second sleeve.
For The Chest
First, cut out the collar of the shirt and discard it to your scrap pile. Fold the upper part of the chest in half so that the sides touch. Aim for cutting 1 inch strips starting at the folded edge towards the open edge – stopping about an inch from the top.
When you are almost to the collar you can unfold the t-shirt and lay it flat so that the front and back are separated.
Starting at one side of the fabric, cut the strips – alternating sides to create one continuous strip. Go all the way across and up to the collar freeing one shoulder. Continue cutting strips up the other shoulder stopping short about an inch from the edge each time. When you hit the shoulder seam – cut all the way across.
Do the same thing for the back.
Your left over shoulder that didn’t make it into the long strip can be cut into it’s own little strip of t-shirt yarn by cutting across and stopping short about an inch – alternating sides.
Seeing a pattern?
That should be the entire t-shirt! Round out any of your yarn that has sharp square edges. This doesn’t have to be perfect because it should mostly be covered up in the next step, but it’s important trim off all the excess.
You should now have a large pile of flat t-shirt yarn!
You’re not done yet though.
Starting at one end of your fabric strips – pull tight on the yarn in increments of about a few inches. (Image after next section.)
Pulling on the strips turns them into the rounded yarn that you might be used to seeing. Do this for all of the strips.
The last step is to make your new yarn a little more manageable.
Let’s have a ball
Or make one.
The best way to store your newly created fabric yarn is to turn it into a ball.
Start with one end of your yarn. Fold over the end about an inch 2 or 3 times or tie it into a loose knot. Next, wrap the fabric around the folds or knot a few times. Then switch directions and wrap the yarn around another few times.
Keep doing this while switching directions after every few wraps.
The larger the ball becomes, the more you can vary the wrap positions. Keep moving around the ball until you are done! You can add all of the separate parts of the t-shirt into the same ball or make multiple smaller balls.
Up to you!
When you are all done, just tuck your end into the ball to keep it in place until you are ready to use it.
Using fabric to create yarn for weaving is just one way you can create art with materials you probably already have on hand!
If you have some jersey fabric just laying around, you can take what you just learned and make the most out of your fabric yardage as well.
Similar to how we started out cutting the chest part of our t-shirt above, fold the fabric in half and cut up from the folded side stopping short about an inch. Unfold the fabric and alternate cutting each side of the fabric to make one long strip!
More yarn for weaving!
No matter how good you are, there will be some “unusable” scraps that result from this process. Don’t throw away those scrap pieces! Remember the post on recycling your yarn? These fabric scraps can be used as a filling for your next three-dimension project.
We live in a world of initialisms. Think BTW, UFO, and DIY. You may or may not use those everyday, but there is one you will use constantly in your weaving world : EPI.
EPI stands for Ends Per Inch and refers to how many individual warps you need for every inch of your weaving to achieve the desired type of weaving you want. It can also be called your warp sett or your warp spacing.
Interested in weaving initialisms? Don’t forget to check out the PPI post HERE!
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Why is it important?
EPI is arguably one of the most important things you need to figure out before starting a weaving.
The wrong warp sett will set you up for the wrong kind of weaving. For the most part, a smaller EPI will set you up for a tapestry or a weft-faced weaving (if you missed it: check out WEAVING TERMS). This is because it allows for more space between each warp and therefore the weft is more easily compressed.
A larger EPI means there is less space between each warp. This creates a tighter weave that doesn’t allow the weft to completely compress. As a result, you will see both warp and weft.
Of course this all can change depending on the size of both your warp and weft. To weave a thicker weft into a weft-faced weaving (tapestry) you will need a smaller EPI then you would need if you wanted to do the same weaving with a thinner weft.
Your warp density matters.
Think Of Your Weaving In Pixels
When you are planning your weaving, specifically an image based tapestry, it’s important to remember that your weaving image will need to be “converted” into pixel-like shapes. That’s because you’re essentially weaving on a grid. Think of it like making an image in any paint program on your computer or zooming into a photograph until the edges of objects are jagged.
Your EPI affects just how many pixels you have to work with. A larger EPI with small weft yarns will allow for a more detailed and less pixelated image.
Well, where does that leave you?
Obviously you should just know the exact warp sett, right?
Don’t worry, no one expects you to.
Although, there is a general rule for tapestry that you will be able to follow successfully a good chunk of time. 6 EPI works incredibly well for standard 8/4 warp and a similar-sized weft. What about those other times though? What if you are using an alternative weft? Or you are wanting a more detailed weaving than the 6 EPI can provide?
Enter the EPI mini-loom.
EPI Mini-Loom – Small but Mighty
Making a mini loom to measure your EPI is a quick way to figure out what sett you need without wasting too much time or materials.
First, cut your board into a 4 inch square. This will give you 2 inches of weaving space to sample your EPI. In my example below I have used mat board.
Tip: When cutting through a thick material like mat board – make a lot of long shallow cuts instead of trying to cut through all at once. You will save your wrist and create a cleaner line.
On the top and bottom of the square mark each inch with a pen or pencil and cut a notch at the first mark on the top and the last on the bottom.
Start your warp at the top notch and leave about an inch on the back of the mini-loom. Next, wrap your prospective warp around the loom so that it corresponds to the EPI you want to try out. If you’re trying out 6 EPI then you would make sure there are 6 warp ends in each 1 inch area.
Do this for at least 2 full inches so you get an accurate sample. You could probably get away with doing just 1 inch, but honestly 2 inches doesn’t take that much longer and will give you a better sample. Also, it is important to make sure the warps are evenly spaced, otherwise your EPI will be incorrect! Do this to the best of your ability. It doesn’t have to be perfect – but it should be close.
In this example I have spaced the warp out to 6 EPI which means that I have 12 total warp ends (6 ends per inch x 2 inches.)
Your last warp will end at the bottom notch. You can cut it off at the back at about an inch as shown.
Now you can weave with your prospective weft!
Is it working?
Awesome! Move onto the actual weaving!
If not, re-warp with a new sett and try again.
Repeat as necessary.
Below is a comparison of 6 EPI and 12 EPI. The warp yarn is the same, but the weave structure is different. In this case, 6 EPI creates a weft-faced weave and 12 EPI creates a balanced weave.
Now that it is already set up you can try out different wefts on the same sample. What happens if you used a thicker weft? Or a weft with a lot of texture? You won’t know unless you try it!
To take your sample off the loom all you have to do is cut the warps on the back. You can finish them off by tying simple knots or any other finishing techniques you want. Hold onto your samples to took back on the next time you want to use that yarn and EPI or recycle your yarn for something else and just take some notes!
This mini-loom is great because you can keep it in a binder, bag, sketchbook, or pretty much anywhere and it won’t take up any room. Hang onto this and use it whenever you are trying out some new yarn or a new project!
Or you could guess what EPI you should use.
You know, if you like to live dangerously.
What’s your favorite way to figure out your EPI? Have you tried out your mini-loom yet?