The 3 Basic Weave Structures

The 3 Basic Weave Structures

There are so many different weave structures.

Like A LOT.

So I’m not going to go over EVERY weave structure, but I am going to go over the basic three that every weaver should know! These structures actually can play a big part in creating the basis for other weave structures that you will come across. These basic three weave structures are plain weave, twill, and satin.

First, though, what do I mean by weaving structure?

The weaving structure is determined by how the warp and weft interact with each other. These different structures determine a lot of different aspects of the fabric including how well it drapes, it’s strength, and the way it reflects light. Beyond these main three patterns are many others that are built off of them. Think overshot, double weave, woven pile, manipulated laces and more. 


The 3 Basic Weave Structures


While most often, you would characterize twill and satin weave as types of pattern weave structures – technically speaking plain weave is also a pattern! Just a really simple one. Not only are these three structures the basis for most weaving structures, but they are also the ones you are most likely to come across in the wild.

And of course by in the wild I mean the fabric making up your clothes and other common fabrics…


The Structure Fraction


The first thing we need to talk about though is the structure fraction. In order to understand how a fabric is woven it is often preceded by a fraction. 2/2 twill, 1/3 twill, and 7/1 satin are all examples of this. The top number of your fraction denotes how many warps your weft is floating over and the bottom number is how many it goes under.


Plain Weave


plain weave structure

This is the structure that most people think of when they think about weaving. It’s also probably the first type of weaving that you ever did – as a kid with paper or while making potholders. You know what I’m talking about.

Plain weave which is also called tabby is simply weaving your weft over one warp and under one warp. The next line of weaving will then be the opposite in order to interlace your threads and create your fabric. That’s the whole pattern. 

Due to the simplicity of this pattern, the structure is the same on the front and back of the weaving. As long as it’s not image based it will look the same regardless of the side you are viewing.

The EPI that you choose for your weaving will help to determine if the plain weave is balanced or tapestry. Balanced weave is a plain weave pattern with a higher EPI so that you see equal amounts warp and weft (aka a balanced amount.)


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!


Tapestry on the other hand is a little bit different. While there is more to tapestry than the fact that it’s plain weave – it is a big part. (make sure to click the link to read more about what makes tapestry tapestry as well as it’s history.) The short answer is that tapestry is a weft-faced plain weave fabric that has discontinuous weft. You may be used to seeing tapestry as image based wall hangings like The Unicorn Tapestries.

So how does it behave?

Plain weave will be the most stable of the 3 structures because the warp and weft have the most contact with each other out of all of the weaving structures. Plain weave is almost never preceded by a fraction, but if it was then it would be 1/1. Depending on the EPI, the gauge of your yarn, and the fiber content – plain weave has the potential to be the stiffest woven fabric. Especially if it’s tapestry.


plain weave structure

Twill Weave


twill weave structure

Twill is a weaving structure characterized by going over multiple warps and under multiple warps then shifting that pattern in the next shed. This creates a diagonal line across the surface of your weaving. Depending on the size of the weft that you use it could actually create a tactile ridge on the surface or be almost purely visual.

The most common twill pattern is a 2/2 twill that can be pictured in the diagram above. This means that your weft will go over 2 warps and under 2 warps all the way across your weaving. In the next line (shed) the pattern shifts over 1 warp and this continues with every line. The shift is what creates your diagonal pattern.

Twill is probably the second most common weave structure and one that I can ALMOST guarantee you see everyday and don’t even know it.

Denim.

Yep, denim is a twill weave structure! Go ahead, take a look at your jeans and examine their structure. Or just look at the pictures below. Sometimes with denim it’s actually easier to see the pattern if you look at the underside. This is because denim is actually a warp-faced twill where the warp is normally dyed indigo and the weft is white. Of course denim isn’t the only twill fabric, but it is definitely the most common.



Since twill contains floats (when a weft goes over more than one warp) it allows you to compress the weft more than you would on a plain weave fabric. With this denser weave, you get a durable fabric and with the floats you get a fabric that drapes better. This is what makes twill such a great choice for denim and other fabrics that need to be durable and easy to wear.

Using the twill pattern you can make many different variations. Reverse twill, chevron, and herringbone are just 3. You can create these patterns by changing the number of warps you float over and go under, changing directions, or skipping a line in the pattern.

What about tweed?

Tweed is often confused with twill because they have similar sounding names. Unlike twill, tweed is a fabric made in any weave structure with a rough wool yarn whereas twill could be made with any fiber. So you could have a twill tweed, but you could also have a plain weave tweed.


twill weave structure

Satin Weave


satin weave structure

Satin is a weaving structure that is characterized by long warp floats that go under only 1 weft before continuing their pattern. That means that the structure fraction for satin will always have a 1 as the bottom number.

One of the most notable characteristics of satin is the sheen that it has! The long warp floats let the light reflect off of the fabric creating a shiny surface. This does depend some on the type of fiber that is used to create the pattern, though. A wool satin just won’t have quite the same luster as a silk satin.

This weave structure also drapes very well because there are less connections between the warp and weft. Unfortunately, this also means that it is prone to snagging. Therefore it’s not a good choice for something you need to be durable.

Just like tweed is often confused for twill, silk and satin can be mixed up quite easily. Silk is a fiber made from the cocoons of silk worms and satin is a weave structure. You can have a silk satin which would be silk woven in a satin pattern, but you can also have polyester, nylon, and wool satins. This comes with the exception that cotton is almost always woven as a sateen and not a satin.

Sateen?!?

Yep! Another similar word to confuse you, but really it’s pretty simple. Beyond the cotton fiber content of sateen, you can also distinguish the 2 by the fact satin is warp faced and sateen is weft faced. Both of these will have long floats with a simple 1 point connection.


satin weave structure

Once you know about these 3 basic weave structures you will be better equipped to understand more complex patterns and structures. Knowing what each structure is made for will help you better choose the one that you may need at any given weaving moment.


References


What Is Tapestry? Definition, Usage, and History

What Is Tapestry? Definition, Usage, and History

Do You Know Tapestry?


Tapestry is one of my favorite types of weaving! For that reason It’s actually the one that I use to demonstrate a lot of different things here on Warped Fibers as you may have noticed.

But do you really now what tapestry is?

It’s a type of weaving that is often misunderstood and even misrepresented. The word tapestry is often used as a way to describe something with a rich and vivid story. This makes sense considering what tapestry was often used for when it was first created (more on that in the history section.)

It can also be used to describe an image based wall hanging made of fabric. You know the ones. They are usually brightly colored and have mandalas and other similar imagery. These are usually lightweight balanced woven fabric – not actually tapestry. At least not by the definition.

So let’s first go over the definition because there are a few things that a weaving needs to have to actually be considered a tapestry.


Definition


what is tapestry diagram

Tapestry is a weft-faced weaving featuring discontinuous weft.


That’s it. That’s the entire definition.

Let’s break that down a little bit, though.

Weft-faced weaving is a type of weaving that features the weft and not the warp. In a finished weft-faced weaving the only place you can see the warp is at the top and bottom selvedges and even then only if you choose certain finishing techniques. This is in opposition to a balanced weave (or pattern weave) where you see both warp and weft in the finished weaving. A.k.a. a balanced amount of warp and weft. 

A tapestry is generally going to have a smaller EPI than a balanced weave in order to allow room for the weft to compress completely. Using a higher EPI is possible but would mean you would have to use a much thinner weft in order for it to beat down all the way. If you look at the diagram above you can see that the cross-section of the tapestry shows the warp completely enclosed in the weft. This creates warp channels that account for the rib like texture. One great thing you can do is manipulate these warp channels for some interesting texture and emphasis.

Discontinuous weft is when your weft yarn doesn’t go from selvedge to selvedge. Instead, your shed will have more than one yarn in it – usually different colors. This allows for the creation of imagery, patterns, or shapes.

Due to the structure of tapestry, high tension is needed for best results when you are weaving. This will help the weft to compress more easily and completely cover the warp. When weaving a balanced or pattern weaving then the warp and weft will both deflect, but tapestry warp should stay straight. If your warp tension is too loose then you will have a harder time creating your weaving.


Tapestry Doesn’t Mean Imagery


What is tapestry

My tapestry in progress featuring natural rock patterns. This piece also features some balanced woven areas.


One of the most common misconceptions is that a tapestry is a weaving with an image.

This misconception is completely understandable. While a lot of tapestries do have imagery and imagery is made with discontinuous weft that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to portray an image.

Take for example basically all of my weavings! I weave tapestry most of the time, but I almost never weave imagery. Instead, I use the same techniques to weave natural patterns. You can also just weave shapes or play around with different textures. As long as the warp is completely covered by the weft and there is some discontinuous weft – you have a tapestry!

In fact, one of the most well known tapestry weavers doesn’t weave imagery. Sheila Hicks is well known for her small tapestries that were created as a sort of sketch book as she traveled. These weavings were mostly weft-faced and featured discontinuous weft, but none of them portray any sort of picture. Instead, most of her weavings featured blocks and strips of color.

If you can get your hands on it – I highly recommend her book Weaving As Metaphor that has images of everyone of her small sketchbook tapestries and essays. Just a warning, it is no longer in print, so it may not be cheap. That being said even the book itself is beautiful and is printed on handmade paper. Worth it.


History


Tapestry details - Vatican

Details from 2 of the tapestries in the Gallery of Tapestries at the Vatican, Italy.


The history of tapestry is quite fascinating and starts with the fact that in 4000 BCE the first domestication of sheep with the correct type of wool for yarn began. Previous to this, the only materials they had to make yarn and therefore to weave with were cellulose-based (hemp and linen) and didn’t take dye very well. The weavings created with cellulose yarns at the time were simpler for this reason.

Wool changed everything.

Wool took dye better. This was the beginning because it allowed for weft-faced patterns using different colored yarns. Suddenly people had an easy way to weave up shapes and they ran with it.

Tapestries were used for everything from clothing to wall coverings. It became incredibly popular as a way to line walls of drafty castles and homes due to it’s thickness and ability to tell stories (often biblical.) One of the aspects of tapestry that made it so popular is that because they could be rolled up and they were portable – unlike similar paintings of the time. You could take your narrative artwork with you for very little effort and it would keep your home from getting drafty. It was a win-win.



How They Were Woven


Traditionally, they were often woven sideways and then turned upright when displayed. You can see in the pictures above that the warp is actually going left to right. The vertical lines that you can see are actually weft hatching and not warp. They were and are still usually woven on an upright loom that allows the weaver to be able to see the entire design at all times. (More about looms later)

The image based tapestries (basically all traditional tapestries) were woven with a cartoon placed behind the weaving. The cartoon is a drawing of the image that the weaver follows to create the design. Sometimes they were woven from the back and in this case a mirror was used to reflect the cartoon so that the finished weaving wasn’t backwards. Today, many weavers still use a cartoon behind their tapestries, but some also draw directly on the warp. Word of caution: if you’re going to draw directly on your warp – make sure you are using an ink that won’t transfer. Absolutely do not use sharpie!

It was also common that they were designed by a master artist and woven by a group of weavers all working on them at the same time. This included artists like the painter Raphael who was commissioned to design 12 tapestries for the Sistine Chapel at the same time that Michelangelo was painting the ceiling.


historic tapestries - Vatican

Gallery of Tapestries – Vatican, Italy


What Isn’t Tapestry?


That might seem like a weird question, but since tapestry is so often misrepresented it’s important to talk about at least one very prominent example of a non-tapestry that is called a tapestry.

The Bayeaux Tapestry (pronounced Bi-yo) is actually an embroidery! A very impressive embroidery, but an embroidery nonetheless. It is a 224 foot long narrative embroidery depicting the conquering of England by the Duke of Normandy in 1066. It is made with the use of wool thread on a linen fabric. Unlike a real tapestry, it portrays it’s story through the use of different embroidery stitches to create the imagery on the surface of the fabric instead of woven into it.

So why is it called a tapestry?

Unfortunately, that’s a great question with no real answer. 

My guess? It’s because it is a textile with imagery that was used to tell a story back in a time when fabric was a great way to do it. It’s creation was for the same reason as many other tapestries (real ones) of the same era – to have a physical representation of a story and be able to transport it easily. For this reason, I can understand why they share a name.

If you’re interested in weaving with embroidery then make sure to check my embroidery stitches for weaving post!


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 Type of Loom?


As mentioned above, a lot of tapestry weavers weave on upright looms – also called high warp looms. They are called high warp not because of their high tension, but because their warp is vertical to the floor. That being said, you can weave tapestry on any loom that allows you to have high warp tension. The higher the tension, the easier it is for the weft to flow over the warp and compress.

Low warp looms like floor looms aren’t always ideal because they can’t always live up to the tension needed. This is the same for rigid heddle looms. Rigid heddle looms are better for balanced and pattern woven fabrics. If you are looking for a low warp loom to weave tapestry on then countermarche and counterbalance looms tend to be best. Jack style looms can still work, but the smaller portable looms are probably best for balanced weaving.


So what do I weave tapestry on?


Most often my simple frame loom or my Harrisville floor loom ( a jack loom!) I know, I know. I just said that jack looms don’t usually make the best tapestry looms. Well, that’s true, but the Harrisville does a decent job and sometimes you work with what you have! If you are looking for something portable then there are a lot of other great frame loom options that you can use as well!

If you’re interested in learning how to weave tapestry then you can check out my classes page for my current online tapestry classes that you can take from ANYWHERE! You will learn how to weave many different techniques including building shapes, color blending, eccentric weft, creating imagery, textures, and more!


-Nicole

References



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Hemstitch – Decorative & Practical Finishing Technique

Hemstitch – Decorative & Practical Finishing Technique

All About Hemstitch!


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

Weaving With More Than 1 Color


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!


-Nicole



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Gifts For Weavers and Fiber Artists

Gifts For Weavers and Fiber Artists

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


I wrote a post about what you as a weaver can make to give as gifts. Check it out HERE

But what about you? You deserve gifts too! Sometimes the people in our lives may not know or understand what your weaving and fiber art obsession entails. That’s ok – it’s not their fault.

If you have someone asking you what you want and you’re at a loss – then show them this list for some tools, materials, and fun accessories that you may not buy for yourself but you would love to have!

Or here’s a list of fun things you might just want to buy for yourself anyway!


treat yo self to gifts for weavers

All of these gifts for weavers and fiber artists would be great for holidays, birthdays, or really any occasion!

Wednesday is an occasion, right?

Full disclosure – I haven’t tried ALL of these items. That’s because some of them are on my OWN wish list. The links provided are for items I already own and like or items that I want to try out myself!


Weaving and Fiber Art Tools


You may be looking for standard weaving tools for your studio, and you can check out some of my favorite from my supplies page, but if you’re looking for something that goes above and beyond then check out some of these options!


Image: The Woolery

Galina Hand-painted Turkish Drop Spindle

These Turkish drop spindles are beautiful and come in many different hand-painted designs from bees to sheep and more. One of the great things about a Turkish spindle is that the finished yarn will wrap around the cross of the whirl and create it’s own ball. The whirl comes apart and the ball just slides right off!

McFarland Spectrum Boat Shuttle

This is a beautiful multi-colored shuttle to add to your collection. It comes in 4 colors to choose from – or you could get all 4!

Boat shuttles are amazing for when you are weaving a lot of continuous weft and are looking for something to glide smoothly across your warp. You can read more about shuttles HERE and HERE.

Image: The Woolery

Image: The Woolery

Sheep Embroidery Scissors

These super cute embroidery scissors are great for the fiber enthusiast (especially those that love wool!) They come in black or silver. If sheep aren’t your thing than check out the plenty of other fun embroidery scissors that can be found at the Woolery or really anywhere else that sells yarn!

Did you know that the original embroidery scissors were actually decorated with storks because they were also used by midwives in the 19th century? They kept their embroidery and birthing kit in the same place because there was a lot of waiting around! The tradition of the decorated embroidery scissors took off from there. 1

Exotic Wood Tapestry Bobbin

Polished tapestry bobbins – some with a smooth metal tip. These bobbins won’t catch on your fuzzier yarns like unfinished bobbins might and should be comfortable to hold while going across your warp. The beautiful wood will look great hanging from the front of your tapestry loom.

Image: The Woolery
Image: The Woolery

Schacht Fringe Twister

Save some time when making your next scarf! Adding a fringe twister to your studio makes finishing off your scarf ends simple and fun. You can use this instead of manually twisting your fringe by hand.

If you’re looking for a scarf pattern to use this with then I have a free download for you!

Woolery Yarn Ball Holder

If you’re like me then your yarn balls and cones are always rolling across your floor when using your warping board. This yarn holder rotates along with the cone in order to help keep it in place. Keeping your yarn in place makes it so it doesn’t pick up dust and fur from your studio floor!

Not that you have dust or dog fur on your floor.

Yeah, me either…

Image: The Woolery
Image: The Woolery

Purl & Loop Minute Weaver Set

This little frame loom set is fantastic for someone who wants to be extra portable with their weaving or wants a really quick way to to a small weaving a day. These could also work well for samples or as a type of EPI mini-loom to help determine the correct warp sett for their next weaving! The three different mini-looms have 4, 8, and 10 EPI spacing.


Yarn Is Always A Good Gift


yarn gifts for weavers

You can check out my supply page for some of my favorite everyday yarns that you can use to fill your studio. That being said, you can also check out some different places to find hand-dyed and/or hand spun yarns. These will be great for adding visual interest to your work as weft, but test out the handspun yarn before trying to use them as warp since they aren’t commercially made.

Etsy

Probably one of the best places to buy specialty yarns online because there are so many independent shops you can choose from. Plus you get to support the creation of small batch and unique yarns. With so many options to choose from there is sure to be one that meets your (or your gift recipient’s) needs. Search for specific yarn materials, types of yarn, or just browse! The yarn in the picture above is hand-dyed organic cotton from Sheep and Shawl in Rocky Mountain and Hydrangea!

Online Yarn Stores

If you are looking for something specific and need a very reliable commercial yarn then larger online yarn stores are a great option. Just because they’re larger, though, doesn’t mean they should be overlooked for great yarns. I did an entire post on some of my favorite and some well known online yarn stores where you can purchase yarn and other weaving tools. (Just click on the link in the heading to hop to that post)

You could always ask for a gift certificate and then buy whatever you want!



Subscription/Membership


membership gifts for weavers

This is probably one of my favorite gifts for weavers and fiber artists because it is the one that keeps on giving. Memberships and magazine subscriptions are ongoing throughout the year and also additional benefits. Most of these organizations offer different membership tiers depending on the level/length of commitment.

American Tapestry Alliance (ATA)

Get access to a lot of different tapestry resources as well as member only information. The ATA has their own Facebook group where you can talk and learn about tapestry. With a membership you also receive reduced fees and exclusive access to ATA exhibits

American Craft Council (ACC)

One benefit of membership is you get a ticket to one of their shows included! ACC shows are amazing to attend and include hundreds of handmade goods from craft artists around the country. You also get a subscription to the ACC magazine which comes bi-monthly. The American Craft Council focuses on all craft, but they are a fantastic resource for fiber artists.

Handweaver’s Guild of America (HGA)

Get discounted fees to enter HGA exhibits, 4 issues of Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot magazine, the ability to apply for grants and more! Depending on your level of membership you can also be included in their professional directory.

Surface Design Association (SDA)

SDA is perfect for fiber artists as they explore all aspects of the textile world. SDA showcases fiber work that spans from textile creation to surface treatments. They also offer different options for your magazine subscription including digital only for if you don’t need more paper laying around.


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!


Classes As Gifts


weaving classes gift for weavers

Visual Arts Center of Richmond Gift Certificate

If you want to take a class with me either online or via ZOOM then you can either sign right up or get a gift certificate! Their gift certificates are actually hand printed in the letter press studio at the art center. You can also give the gift of any one of the other amazing classes offered by other artists – both fiber art related and much more.

Any Local Art Center Or Online

The gift of a class (no matter if I’m teaching it or not!) is a fantastic gift that you can appreciate for a long time. Learn something new that you’ve always been interested in! Look up a class or facility that fits exactly what you are looking for!


Books


book gifts for weavers

Handweaver’s Pattern Directory

A book of weaving drafts for 4 shaft looms. This is a great book for weavers looking to expand their pattern weaving because it contains everything from simple twills, to overshot, to hand-manipulated lace. It comes in a regular hardback and spiral bound. I personally like the spiral bound because it stays open where I want it to!

Learning To Weave

One of the first books I ever bought when I started weaving. This book is great as it explains the entire weaving process plus gives you ideas for projects. It is easy to understand and a great addition to any weaver’s library.

Inventive Weaving On A Little Loom

A really well made book about rigid heddle weaving. Full of color and full of information about getting started using your rigid heddle loom.

Women’s Work – The First 20,000 Years

A historical account of textiles from our earliest known records. Well written and easy to read. If you are at all interested in textile history than this is a must read.


Fun Textile Related Gifts


Sometimes you just want something else! These small gifts for weavers and fiber artists are not necessarily necessary… but that doesn’t mean they’re not fun.


Fiber Art Pins

These small pins are so cute and great for adding to your bag to show off your love of Fiber Art! The Woolery has many options including but not limited to this bear and squirrel as well as yarn skeins and shuttles.

Images: The Woolery
Image: The Woolery

Yarn Cutter Pendant

If you’re like me you are always misplacing your fabric scissors or yarn snips. This isn’t the safest habit to have… This yarn cutter pendant keeps the tool on your person so that you can’t accidentally sit or step on it. It’s also interesting to look at so if you forget to take it off you won’t have to worry about heading out!

Alpaca Mug

Ever since I got into textile and started to learn about their rich history I have had a fascination with alpacas. This seems to be a common theme (this and sheep) among weavers and fiber artists.

Also, technically the mug description says its a llama not an alpaca, but it’s still super cute and close enough for me!


Don’t Forget Wrapping!


While not completely necessary, a unique wrapping job for your well thought out present is a great addition that the receiver would really appreciate.

One option that I really like is wrapping your gift in fabric! You can use store bought fabric (find something that will appeal to them – like star wars or puppies!) Another option for the fabric is to design your own for that personal touch!

To design your own fabric you can use stamps and fabric ink on solid colored fabric. Then just tie it up with a ribbon or yarn! I’ve always had good luck using Speedball fabric screen printing ink. It works well for any purpose – not just screen printing. In fact, I’ve used it for stamping and painted it on with a brush. Just make sure to follow the instructions on the container. You will want to heat treat the fabric to make sure the design is permanent.


If you’re still not sure what to give the weaver and fiber artist in your life – there is always the gift card! Grab a gift card from their favorite LYS (local yarn store), favorite online yarn store ( I LOVE the Woolery!), or Etsy! Because really, a fiber artist in a yarn store is like a kid in a candy store – except probably more extreme.

There is bound to be something on this list that the weaving and fiber art enthusiast in your life would love to have (even if that person is you!) What’s on your weaving wish list?


Resources


https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_1422579

Embroidery Stitches For Weaving

Embroidery Stitches For Weaving

Learn How To Combine Embroidery and Weaving


Sometimes everything that you want to do with your weaving isn’t possible with weaving itself. Sometimes it is possible, but it could be a lot easier! Using embroidery with your weaving is a great way to add something extra to the surface of your weaving that can create both texture and interest.

Outline, define, and enhance. 

Let’s first start out with some embroidery info! I recently did a blog post on the difference between weaving, knitting, and crochet. These three fiber arts are ways to create a textile – essentially creating a surface. Embroidery is different because it is meant to be used on a surface.

Embroidery does not make fabric, but it adorns it. That doesn’t mean that it is purely decoration. In fact it has a rich history and can be used in many different ways as an Art form in itself. Embroidery works so well with weaving because it allows you to easily add to your weaving outside of the regular weaving grid.


Embroidery techniques you can use on your weaving:

Couching to add extra non-yarn materials

Couching to add large yarn

French knots for dots

Chain stitch, stem stitch, or back stitch for outlines

Straight stitch for details

Satin stitch to fill in small areas or add emphasis


Couching


One of my favorite things to do with couching is to use it to to add non-yarn materials to your weaving. This works for organic material of basically any shape or size! If you are couching something and the yarn you use stands out a lot then you can wrap the couched yarn with a matching weft yarn. This will help it to blend in a little and make it look more intentional. You can see that I did this in the picture below.

Ok, so the sticks in this picture aren’t actually aren’t couched onto the weaving… but instead embedded in the weaving itself. That being said, the weft wrapping works exactly the same!



Couching works really well when you want to add some larger yarn to your weaving as well. This is a great method to create beautiful smooth lines that are otherwise hard to create with the pixelated weaving format. You can outline woven shapes, or just create brand new 3 dimensional areas on your weaving surface.


How to couch


couching - embroidery stitch for weaving

Couching is probably one of the easiest embroidery techniques I’ll be going over because the yarn or thread you are using is not meant to be a part of the piece. Instead it’s only goal is to keep something else (yarn or other materials) in place. Due to this, you can afford to be a little less precise.

Start out with your couching yarn on your tapestry needle and a knot tied to the end so it doesn’t come back through the weaving surface. The yarn will come through the back of the weaving. Place your object or large yarn on the weaving surface and bring the couching yarn around it and go back through the weaving. Make sure that when you are going through your weaving that you are going between wefts and not through them. You don’t want to pierce the yarn!

Continue across the object in equal increments and when you get to the end finish your couching yarn like a weft tail.

If you want to wrap your couching yarn for some emphasis you can come through the back of the weaving just like when you started and bring it around the yarn until it is completely covered. The wrapping yarn can travel to the next couching yarn on the back.



French Knots


French knots are a great way to make small 3-dimensional dots on your weaving. They can be used to simply add small areas of texture or just individual dots around your weaving. These simple knots are also a good stand-in for small bunched flowers. The size of the yarn that you use can make a big difference on the knots themselves.

Thicker yarn will produce more prominent knots – but make sure the yarn isn’t too large that it displaces the weft it goes through.


How to do a french knot


french knot - embroidery stitch for weaving

Start from the back of the weaving with a regular overhand knot to keep it from coming through. Wrap your embroidery thread or yarn around your needle 1 to 3 times depending on how big you want the french knot to be. While wrapping the yarn around the needle keep it tight the whole time. This will help to make sure the knot doesn’t just become a bunch of messy loops.

Next, insert your needle back through your weaving directly next to the knot and pull all the way through. You can travel on the back of the weaving for the next french knot and finish just like a weft tail.


Outlining Stitches


Using chain stitch, stem stitch, or any other of the simple embroidery stitches on the surface of your weaving can be a great way to add some texture and outlining to certain areas. Which ones of these embroidery stitches you use depends on the style that you want for your weaving.

The chain stitch is a great 3-dimensional braid-like line that you can use with smaller yarns to make them fuller.

Stem stitch looks like a twisted piece of yarn that makes an interesting outline that is straighter than your chain stitch.


How to do a chain stitch


chain stitch - embroidery stitch for weaving

The chain stitch comes from the back of the weaving and back around adjacent to where it came out leaving a small loop. You will then come back through the loop and continue the process for the entire stitch.

Your chain stitch doesn’t only for outlines. You can also use it to fill in spaces! Use small chain stitches next to each other to create a textured raised surface on your weaving.


How to do a stem stitch


stem stitch - embroidery stitch for weaving

A stem stitch is constantly coming back on itself. Start by coming up through the back of the weaving and going back down through it in a straight line (at the end of the previous stitch.) When you come up next you will come up in the middle of the straight line instead of at the end. Continue for the entirety of the stitch. With this one, you will have to be careful going around curves, so keep in mind that you will probably have to create smaller stitches to avoid gaps.

Interested in the back stitch? It’s the the opposite of the stem stitch. Actually, if you look at the back of your stem stitch – it IS a back stitch. Instead of coming up through the middle of your stitch you will always come up at the end of your stitches.


More Embroidery Stitch Options


Straight stitch – Actually the easiest stitch that you could ever use. A straight stitch is when you come up through the back of your surface and back down in a line. That’s it. This creates a really simple line that could be used to create stripes or lines. These lines could be as long or as short as you want. The longer the line, though, the looser it will be. You could add a bunch of short lines in an area in different directions to create shading or a fun pattern.

Satin stitch – A stitch used to fill in areas with color created by placing straight stitches adjacent to each other in very close proximity. Due to their closeness, you shouldn’t be able to see the surface of the weaving between each stitch. Could be used to add a 3-dimensional effect to tapestry shapes. You can either fill in with the satin stitch by coming up across the weaving and coming up adjacent to the previous stitch – which will make the front and the back look the same or bringing up the thread adjacent to the previous thread each time.


Honestly, you could add almost any of the many embroidery stitches to your weaving surface to add dimension, texture, and emphasis! These are only a few of the simplest options that you can use. Try out some of these techniques and let me know what you like!

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