Why You Should Make Bad Weavings

Why You Should Make Bad Weavings

At the very beginning of your weaving adventure you will probably make weavings that are not… great. 

I definitely did. 

This is ok. 

Actually, it is more than ok, and that is the whole point of this post.

Making these “bad” weavings is one of the best ways you can learn how to be a better weaver.

That is because those “bad” weavings are not really bad.


Also, let me just define bad so that there are no misunderstandings.


“Bad” weavings are those that do not turn out the way you want them to.

This could mean any number of things, but really it is all about how you feel about the weaving, not me or anyone else. Your definition could also change over time. The images in this post of my own weavings that just do not meet my personal criteria anymore or are different than I wanted them to be.



So hear me out here.

You should make bad weavings.

FYI: You should also cook bad food and write bad stories etc. etc.

Basically, doing anything either the wrong way or just not up to par will help you to learn. Part of learning is not only knowing what you should do but also what you should not do. 

It could also be as simple as doing everything right, but just finding out that the style is not your thing or the colors just do not really do it for you. These are OK and in fact, make you a better weaver because learning makes you better.

The thing is, though, that they are not always a way to learn more about weaving, but sometimes a way to learn more about yourself. I love always adding some weaving philosophy for you.


Why you should make mistakes in your weaving


My first weaving ever. The magazine was put there to hide my wonky selvedges. You know what? I now use paper in my weavings on purpose.

Every time you make a mistake you will learn from it.

Learning from a book, website*, or video are all really great options for learning how to weave. 

*I am glad you are here!*

The thing is that I guarantee no matter how many times you read or see someone doing certain things, you will not remember all of them unless you try it yourself. Doing is the best way to learn.

Then the first time it does not work, it will actually help you to understand the mechanics of the technique that you are trying to use.

This is because it helps you to figure out how to fix it. Understanding the mechanics of something is how you really learn how to do things. Otherwise, your knowledge is only surface level. When you do this you will be less likely to make the same mistake more than once.

If you do make that mistake more than once? Well, now you know how to fix it and you will be able to do it easier.

My weaving teacher always called these “teachable moments” and that always stuck with me. When it comes down to it, a mistake is really only a mistake if you do not learn from it. 



In the image above you can see one of my very first weavings.

Yep, I made that.

The selvedges are pulling in and it was supposed to be a tapestry, but the warp is clearly visible in many spots. This is due to both the fact that my EPI was not really correct in the first place and it got even tighter as the warp pulled in. (Make sure to click to learn more about warp density.)

This weaving, though, was a crucial part of my weaving journey. It taught me about taking my time to watch my selvedges and just how much your straight selvedges can affect your EPI. It also was my first attempt at using alternative materials in my weaving. This weaving taught me so much and I show it to my students on the first day of every one of my classes for that reason.

(Check out THIS POST if you want to make plastic bag yarn.)

I can not say that I never made a weaving with pulled-in selvedges ever again – but I slowly got better and better. Learning more from each “bad” weaving that I made.

If you want to learn about how I now keep my selvedges straight make sure to check out THIS post!


The amazing thing about happy accidents


learn from bad weaving

“Ugh. I did not mean to do that.”

One accident does not make a bad weaving. In fact, an accident can actually save a weaving from being generic.

Sometimes accidents are just accidents. You notice them. You fix them. You learn from them, then you move on.

Other times a weaving accident could be better at making decisions than you are.

Let me clarify that a bit.

Weaving accidents could be as simple as using the wrong weft yarn on a pick or beating your weft differently. These things probably are not intentional, but they might add something to your weaving that it was missing.

Happy accidents are one of my favorite things about creating. Sometimes I get really interesting moments in my weavings that were honestly made by mistake. 

That mistake could be more interesting than what it was actually supposed to be.

As long as it does not mess with the integrity of the weaving you could embrace it and possibly do it on purpose in the future!


Bad weavings are a great starting point


turn bad weavings into samples

Your “bad” weaving does not have to be the end result.

There is no rule that says that just because a weaving was not supposed to be a sample it can not become one.

Part of being creative is knowing when to realize when things work and when they don’t. While the saying “cut your losses” almost applies, I would like to instead suggest “find your wins”.

Ok, so maybe don’t keep weaving if you can see it is not working and you can not fix it. So yeah, in that case cut your losses.

Then figure out why it did not work and take note of what did work. I can almost guarantee that it was not all bad. Did the EPI work? How were the colors? The overall structure of the weaving?

Learn. From. It.

That “bad” weaving is the beginning of your next great one.

A bad weaving does not have to be a sample, but if you can get your mistakes or happy accidents over within your sample it will definitely make weaving your finished piece a more enjoyable experience. 

I have done many samples that did not work out, but I was able to learn from them. The samples shown above were supposed to be a proof of concept for a weaving. Are they bad? No, not really, but they are not what I wanted them to be.

I kept trying and trying and with each one. The funny thing is I actually got some more ideas for different weavings in the process.



No one – and I mean no one starts weaving great weavings from the very beginning. This learning curve will test you. It will let you know if you are a weaver or not.

If you can make it through the part of your weaving journey where you make “bad” weavings then you are a weaver.

That being said, a real weaver does not only make perfect, great work even when they are no longer new. If you are always making something that works then you are not pushing yourself and your weavings to be better.

Making “bad” weavings means that you are trying new things. That is never bad.


Overshot Weaving – History & Tips

Overshot Weaving – History & Tips

Overshot weaving is still one of those patterns that I see and I just can not seem to get over how cool and interesting it looks!

While it looks like it would be a very time-intensive and difficult technique to weave – it really isn’t! You just have to understand how and why it works the way it does. (We will get to that.)


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What is overshot?


In its simplest form – overshot is a weaving technique that utilizes at least 2 different types of weft yarns and floats to create a pattern. These patterns are often heavily geometric.

The name overshot possibly comes from the way the weft “shoots” over the plain weave (ground weft) to create decorative floats.

With the aid of a ground weft, overshot allows for you to repeat the same weft pattern in multiple lines without losing the integrity of the fabric. 


overshot weaving diagram

Let’s go over a few words I just mentioned to make sure they make sense.

Ground weft – plain weave pattern that is used between each row of your overshot pattern. This plain weave gives the textile structure and allows for large areas of overshot to be woven without creating an overly sleazy fabric. Without the use of a ground weft on an overshot pattern, the weaving would not hold together because there would not be enough warp and weft intersections to create a solid weaving.

(Don’t forget to check out my post on 3 basic weaving patterns!)

Floats – Created when you have your weft yarn go over more than one warp yarn at a time. They “float” over top of the warp.  I did an entire post on floats and using them in your weaving so make sure to check that out.



Overshot History


One great thing about overshot is that it often appeals to both historical and modern weavers.

For modern weavers it tends to evoke the magic of weaving at the turn of the 19th century.

Historically, overshot was often used to create coverlets (essentially fancy bedspreads) and could be found all over colonial America.

They were most popular though in southern Appalachia and continued to be so even after textile technologies advanced. When other parts of colonial America moved to jacquard weaving, the weavers of southern Appalachia continued to weave their overshot coverlets by hand.

There were two major types of coverlet patterns: geometric (overshot) and figured and fancy.

Since the overshot coverlets were most often woven at home on smaller looms they usually had a seam down the middle where two woven panels were sewn together.


overshot weaving front and back
Front and back of the same overshot cloth. Due to their weave structure they are distinct opposites.

Modern Overshot Applications


While overshot is a traditional technique, that does not mean that you can not use it in your more contemporary projects!

The thing about overshot is that no matter the application, it is pretty impressive. Perhaps that is just my opinion, but due to how complex it can look, I feel that it is pretty safe to say.

Just because it was originally used for coverlets, does not mean it can only be used for coverlets. Changing aspects of the pattern like the colors used, or the way you use your ground weft can drastically change the look and feel of your weaving.

Some different overshot applications that you may want to consider:


Discontinuous ground weft

In the image below you can see the ground weft is not the same color throughout. Instead, I wove the ground weft as discontinuous so that I could add extra pattern and design into the weavings. In this case, you may be wondering how to deal with your weft yarns when they are in the middle of the weaving and not at the selvage.

Great question!

The discontinuous weft yarns will float onto the back of the weaving until you are ready for them in their next pick. This does make your overshot weaving one sided since it will have vertical floats on the back. Keep this in mind if you want to try this technique out.

Learn to weave discontinuous weft HERE!


overshot weaving discontinuous tabby

Variegated overshot weft

Also seen in the image above, the overshot yarn that I used was not all one color! This is a really simple way to get extra dimension and interest in your overshot if that is something you are looking for.

Since the yarn does the color changing for you, you do not have to do any extra work.

Overshot only in certain areas

Overshot is already a combination of weave structures. Plain weave for your ground weft and weft floats for the overshot.

This makes it simple to be able to only weave overshot in certain parts of your weaving. If you want to do this then you can continue to weave your plain weave across the entire width of your weaving, but only weave overshot in specific areas. This creates a overshot section that functions similar to inlay.


Overshot Weaving Tips


overshot weaving front and back

Use thick and thin weft for a better pattern


Since the overshot pattern is strongly influenced by the weft yarns that are used it is important to choose the right yarns. Your weaving will be set up to the specification needed for a balanced plain weave. Make sure you understand EPI in order to get the right warp sett for your overshot weaving.

The ground weft used is almost always the same yarn as your warp. This allows the overshot weft to really be able to shine without contrasting warp and weft plain weave yarns.

Your overshot weft should be much thicker than your ground weft. Unlike your ground weft, the thickness of your yarn is not determined by the EPI, but instead on how much of a presence you want it to have in your weaving. 

In order to get the full effect of the overshot, it must be thick enough that when you are weaving your pattern it covers up the ground weft between each pass. If it is not thick enough to do this, it will still be overshot, but the full effect will not be seen.

Keep in mind the behavior of your yarns and how they will behave once washed. Some yarns will bloom and become fuller after a wash and some will not. Yarns that bloom will fill in your ground weft gaps and create a nicer pattern.


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!


Use a floating selvedge


One issue with overshot is that it can be hard to keep your selvedges looking neat.

A simple tip for this is to have an extra warp thread at each selvedge that does not slot into a heddle.

This warp thread is called a floating selvedge.

What this warp thread does is serve as an all-purpose selvedge that does not correspond with your pattern. Instead, you would make sure to go around this warp thread every time to make sure that you are able to weave fully to the selvedge. Without this, your overshot weft will float awkwardly on the back of your weaving whenever the pattern does not take it to the edge.


If you want to weave overshot then I highly recommend purchasing The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon.


Get It On Amazon


I have mentioned this book multiple times because it really is such a great resource for any weaver looking to weave patterns of all types. It contains 23 pages of different overshot patterns (among so many other patterns) that you can set up on your floor or table loom.


Can you weave overshot on any type of loom?


overshot weaving on a frame loom

(Technically) Yes!

Like a lot of different types of weaving, it is possible to do it on almost any type of loom that you have. The difference being that it might take you a little bit longer or require a bit more effort than if you did it on a traditional floor loom. 

Weaving overshot on a frame loom or rigid heddle loom will require the use of string heddles and pick-up sticks that you have to manually use to create a shed. 


Resources


https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/object-groups/national-woven-coverlet-collection/history-and-construction

http://www.coverletmuseum.org/museum.htm

https://comfortclothweaving.com/history-overshot-weaving/

https://handwovenmagazine.com/weaving-history-early-american-coverlets/


4 Simple & Creative Ways To Weave With Fabric

4 Simple & Creative Ways To Weave With Fabric

Normally when you are weaving your plan is to create fabric. 

But, have you ever thought about weaving with fabric?

I have talked a bit about fabric weaving before in two different posts. First, check out how to make t-shirt yarn, and then check out these rag rug ideas.

Those two posts are only just the beginning of how to weave with fabric, so I want to go over some more options!

There is something kind of special about weaving with fabric because you have a lot of control over your yarn. Since you are creating your own material to weave with you can choose the size of your yarn and even use fabric that has meaning to you, images that further the context of your weaving, or text.

Maybe you just have a lot of fabric scraps and you are trying to not be wasteful. That is great too!

Lets put it to use.


This page 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!



Fabric as warp


fabric warp

Warp must be strong, resilient, and should not stretch too much. (Learn more about choosing warp yarns HERE)

Fabric probably is not one of the first things that come to mind when you think about warp or yarn in general, but it can be a great way to incorporate some new materials into your work.

Unfortunately, fabric warp does not work for every type of loom. So when could you use fabric as warp? 

Frame looms and specifically simple frame looms are a great option for this!

Since they only require short lengths of warp yarn they allow you to tie individual strips to your loom at the correct EPI. Keep in mind that depending on if you are weaving a balanced weaving or a weft-faced weaving the fabric warp may not be very noticeable. On a weft-faced weaving the fabric will only really be seen as an interesting fringe. (Not that that is a bad thing!)

Using fabric strips as warp is really only possible on a frame loom since it will be much thicker than the yarn you would normally use. If you were to try to use fabric on a floor loom or rigid heddle loom you would probably have a hard time getting it through the heddles or the reed. Fabric yarn also does not usually come on a cone like your typical warp yarns do. This would make it hard to get the length that would be worth it for an advancing warp.


Fabric as weft


weave with fabric
-lithic – Nicole Bunting – 2019

If you are looking for a really simple way to incorporate some fabric into your weaving it can be as easy as cutting it into strips!

Fabric strips are very simple to add into your weaving and depending on the size of the strip can compress down or stay bulky. One of the most well known examples of weaving with fabric strips is rag rugs like those linked earlier in this post.

You can use these strips together with a fabric warp for an entirely fabric weaving or a mixture of fabric and yarn. If you are weaving weft-faced than stiffer and thicker fabrics will compress less, whereas thinner or sleazier fabrics will compress more. Play around with different types of fabrics to create areas of interest and texture.

When in doubt about how a fabric will act in your weaving – follow the Warped Fibers tried and true method: create a sample!


Spinning fabric weft



It can take some extra time, but if you want to use fabric as your warp and you want it to have a more yarn-like appearance then you can actually spin fabric into yarn!

This requires the use of a drop spindle for best results.


Get It On Amazon


In order to create spun fabric yarn you will need to utilize water to reshape the yarn and tension to keep it spun. 

First you will cut your fabric into strips about 1/2 inch to 1 inch wide and wet them down.

Attach your fabric to a leader yarn* on your drop spindle with a simple square knot. *Your leader yarn is just scrap yarn that you tie to the shaft of your spindle. This leader will come up and over your whorl (the round part), into the notch on the side, and hooked on your hook.

Start twisting your fabric until you get to the end of your strip. If it starts to get too long then unhook your spun yarn and wrap it around the base of the shaft.

At the end of your strip open up the end a little bit and insert your next wet fabric strip folded in half. Fold over the new strip and keep spinning.

Continue this until you reach your desired length or you run out of fabric!

You can use either a niddy-noddy or just weight your yarn as it dries to allow the yarn to keep its new spun shape.

Use this spun fabric just like any other yarn!


Fabric warp & weft (sort of like paper weaving)


weave with fabric warp and weft
Daily Mantra – Nicole Bunting – 2014

You do not have to use a loom to weave with fabric!

If you have ever woven with paper then you can weave with fabric in much the same way. 

The easiest thing to do is to cut your fabric strips for your warp or weft and lay them out flat. Either weigh them down with something heavy, attach them to something at one end, or use artists tape to keep it in place.

I like to use a giant art clipboard to house my fabric weaving because it makes it portable and easy to handle. If the fabric is longer than the clipboard then you can simply roll up the already woven fabric at one side similar to your fabric beam on a floor loom.

This will make it so you can easily manipulate the strips up and down to weave your other fabric in. 

Do not forget to stitch your fabric weaving at the selvedges to make sure it does not come undone.


Get It On Amazon


Add fabric to the surface of your weaving


weave with fabric - couching

If you are not into the idea of weaving with fabric, but you have some fabric you want to use you can also attach it to the finished weaving.

One of the best ways to do this is to use embroidery techniques like those found in THIS post. 

This can be a really fun way to incorporate special fabrics into your work and/ or showcase specific images or patterns in your fabric. You can either cut the fabric out to be square or shaped depending on what you are wanting for the finished piece. Another option is to couch it onto your weaving in strips like shown above.

You could design your entire weaving around a specific fabric that you like and showcase it. 

Woven fabric can be either the star of the show or an interesting material that works with all the others. If you are looking for fabric ideas to incorporate you can consider some of these:

  • Fabric scraps from important outfits or events: Wedding dress? First day of school outfits? Baby blanket scraps?
  • Write out your thoughts or ideas on fabric strips
  • Salvaged images from your favorite old t-shirts or t-shirts from those you love

Fabric is special and as a weaver I know that you know that! It can bring to mind really important parts of our lives. So instead of just making fabric – next time also try making with fabric. Then let me know how it goes in the comments below!


What Weaving Can Teach You – Life Lessons

What Weaving Can Teach You – Life Lessons

Most of you are probably here because you want to learn to weave, but have you ever thought about what weaving can teach you? 

Weaving requires not only learning the techniques, but also appreciating it for what it is. It is so much more than just how to interact your warp and weft.

There are things that you can do to bypass some of these things, but for the most part, they are a part of weaving no matter what.

And to be honest, you will learn these whether you like it or not.

That makes them sound bad. They are not bad – I promise! In fact, the things that weaving can teach you can be used in other parts of your art practice and your life.

I like to call these #weavinglifelessons.

Weaving is an adventure that starts with a spark of interest and never really ends. Along the way, you may start to realize that as you learn how to weave, you learn so much more.

This would not be the first time I have mentioned #weavinglifelessons. It is amazing how this art practice can teach you so much about yourself.

You didn’t know that weaving would change your life, did you?



Patience


linen yarn weaving life lessons

If you have been weaving for any amount of time (or you read what I wish I knew before I started weaving post) then you know that weaving is pretty… slow.

It is not a “I have this idea and I want to get it out as quickly as possible” artform.

It also is not a source of instant gratification.

So what I’m trying to say is:


weaving takes time

Especially if you are weaving detailed tapestry, then your entire weaving will probably take longer than you think it will. 

Here is the thing though, it will be worth it.

All that time it takes you to weave up each shape, image, or pattern – once it comes together – it will be worth it.

You just have to have a little bit of patience to get that far. If there is anything that can teach you patience is a technique with such a big payout. 

If I am being honest – I am a generally impatient person. Weaving helps me to really appreciate the process, though. Since you can literally see it growing with each row of weft that is added, this definitely helps.

Here is a bonus tip: step back from your weaving on occasion. This is related to patience but takes it a step further. Sometimes it can be hard to see just how much progress you have made when you are so close. It takes stepping back and seeing the entire weaving from a different perspective to understand and appreciate your progress.

Do this in life too. Sometimes we are too close to something to understand how it is coming together. Step back to see the bigger picture.


Decision making / Problem solving


wool yarn what weaving can teach you

If you have read through my Weaving Shapes e-book (click the image below for more info) then you know that one of the biggest parts of weaving shapes (or weaving in general) is making decisions.

I strongly believe that you can weave one thing one day, and the same thing another day and have it turn out differently. 

Actually, try that out! That is a fun project idea.

Since we are all affected by our lives and our surroundings. Different days produce different results.



When you are weaving something you have to decide how to make it work on a grid. Depending on what you are weaving, this could be simple or hard. You have to problem-solve in order to make the smoothest curves and most precise shapes that you can.

Each day you may weave a little different, though. One day you may beat a little harder which makes you add an extra weft or two. This will change your weaving. While you can try your best to weave the same everyday – we are all human. These little shifts in our day-to-day weaving are a part of what it means to weave by hand. It is what really makes it stand a part from that which is woven by machine.

Each time that you place a weft you are making a decision.

Learning how to weave and the problem solving that it involves can be translated to your life. Sometimes you just have to make the decision to move forward and if it does not work out? No worries, fix it and try again.

If you sit and ponder about how to weave what you want to weave for too long, you will never actually get anywhere.


Forgiveness (yourself)


linen yarn weaving lessons

Sometimes things do not turn out exactly as you want. You did not weave enough wefts, it does not quite match your image, or anything in between. 

This is fine.

Weaving is an easy medium to fix. That is one of the reasons I like it so much. It is not like ceramics where if you drop it it will break or if you do not knead it well enough it will have bubbles and explode (can you tell I have not had the best experience with pottery…?)

If something does not work out then you will either have to un-weave it or live with it.

It helps to forgive yourself and not worry too much about the extra time spent (patience) or the change in your plans. Perhaps this situation taught you something, or maybe it just means that you get to spend some extra time weaving. Either way, no matter how careful you are, at some point you will have to fix something.

Even when you become an “expert” you will make mistakes. You will probably just make different mistakes.

So do not fret. It happens to all of us.

You learn to not spend too much time getting worried that it did not work out. Instead – you fix it, learn from it, and keep going. 

In the meantime, you can check out my post on the 5 most common new weaver mistakes.


Taking your time saves time


mercerized cotton yarn learn from weaving

Slow and steady wins the race.

Measure twice, cut once.

We have all heard these before, but weaving can really make them make sense.

It can be so tempting and so easy to speed forward and try to get to “the good stuff” aka the weaving, but that is not always almost never the best policy.

Sometimes you may not even be doing it on purpose as a means to get to the finish line and instead you are just getting lost in the process. This is incredibly easy to do, and arguably the ability to get lost in the process is one of the best things about weaving. Who doesn’t want to get lost in their artwork?

With all that, though, paying just a little more attention to your process will save you a lot of time in the long run. Taking your time to set up means you do not have to undo any mistakes. Not only does this save you time, but it can also save you some sanity.

Trust me, it is incredibly annoying to finish warping your loom only to notice you made a mistake at the very beginning! If you took a second to double check your work then you would not have to waste time undoing and redoing the whole thing.

While I firmly believe that making mistakes is how you learn best, avoiding mistakes and knowing how to avoid mistakes also helps you learn.

Speeding through the process is not only not a good idea because you are bound to make mistakes, but because you are bound to miss the things about weaving that make it so amazing.

Take the time to really enjoy the process, because if you do not enjoy the process then what is the point?


Do you have a favorite thing that weaving has taught you? Let me know in the comments below!


-Nicole

Like the yarn in the photos?


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Choosing The Right Mix Of Looms For Your Goals

Choosing The Right Mix Of Looms For Your Goals

Having more than one loom is not a necessity to be a weaver.

The only thing you need to be a weaver is a desire to weave and access to a loom and other materials.

If you are lucky enough to have your own studio, then you might be wondering which type of loom you should get and whether or not you should get more than one. Choosing a loom (or looms!) doesn’t have to be complicated and really just depends on what you want to weave and where you want to weave it.

So first: Why would you want more than one loom?

You might not.

But having more looms gives you some options to weave more and keep your weaving momentum. You can create a weaving loom collection that compliments your weaving goals.

So before we get into having more than one loom, let’s first go over looms in general.


Quick loom type comparison


choosing the right mix of weaving looms

I will not be going over every type of each loom. There are just too many! Instead, I will be talking generally about floor looms, frame looms, and rigid heddle looms.

*And a quick note that when I talk about floor looms, the same things usually go for table looms. They work very similarly – I just use floor looms and not table looms.

For a more in-depth comparison between floor looms and rigid heddle looms go HERE.

For information on the different types of frame looms go HERE.

This post is not meant to be a versus post. Instead, it is about making your looms work together and getting the most out of your tools.


Floor looms


choosing a loom floor loom

There are many different types of floor looms, but they all basically do the same thing. They utilize their mechanics to make longer and more complicated weavings. 

One of the biggest features of floor looms is their ability to have advancing warps. This means that you can create longer projects. If you are looking to create yardage* then this is an option that you will want in your studio because their warp capacity, as well as the finished weaving capacity, is much larger than your other options.

*Yardage is woven fabric that is meant to be sewn and used to create textiles like clothing or curtains.

Due to the loom’s ability to raise your warp in different patterns – more complex weavings become simpler to do. You are not required to pick each individual warp to create your own shed. All you are required to do is remember which treadle to step on and in what order.

If you are looking to create a complex pattern weaving then a floor loom is your best option.



When you are looking to weave tapestry you can usually use a floor loom with no issues. Keep in mind that some floor looms are not ideal for tapestry, but most should be able to hold a tight enough tension. High warp looms (those with warp that is perpendicular to the floor) are great for tapestry, but low warp looms (warp parallel to the floor) are a bit controversial for tapestry. As long as it can hold a tight enough tension, though, you should not have any issues.

You can learn more about warp tension HERE.

Another distinguishing feature of floor looms is that their beater is rigid. This means that unlike rigid heddle looms, the beater only moves backward and forward. This makes the weaving process a little more streamlined. This may not be an issue for you at all, but if you want a beater that beats evenly every time with little effort – floor looms are a great choice.


Rigid heddle looms


choosing a loom rigid heddle loom

Like floor looms, rigid heddle looms can weave longer weavings. Generally, they are not as wide, though, so they are not usually used for yardage. This is also because they hold less warp than a floor loom. Don’t worry, their advancing warp still makes them great for longer weavings like scarves or multiple sets of towels. 

One of their (arguably) best features is that they are very simple and efficient to warp. If you are wanting to weave something long, but you don’t want the set-up to take a long time – then these are a great option.

Since they are so easily warped, rigid heddle looms also make great sample looms. If you want to create a long sample (like the one for plain weave patterns) then it is simpler on a rigid heddle loom as opposed to a floor loom.

Just like floor looms, rigid heddle looms also have the ability to create a shed. The shed makes weaving faster because you do not have to weave over and under manually.

Smaller than floor looms, rigid heddle looms also have the ability to be portable. Some are more portable than others (see my review on the Schacht Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom), but for the most part, most could be taken with you while traveling or to a workshop.


Frame looms


choosing a loom frame looms

With the many different types of frame looms they can all be better at different things. Generally speaking, frame looms are the best for weaving on the go. They are the most compact loom option and most of the time can fit in a bag or luggage. 

Since they are the smallest option, they are also perfect for weaving smaller projects. (Makes sense.)

A big feature of frame looms is they have much less warp waste. If you were to weave something small on a floor loom then you will be using more yarn than you need to. This makes them a really good choice for samples or just trying out new techniques. It also takes less work to get them set up so you do not waste time warping a loom for something that may not even work!

With frame looms usually having fewer moving parts, they are generally better suited for simpler weavings. Any complex patterns that you want to weave will need to be picked by hand. This does not make these patterns impossible – just more work.

Tapestry is a great option for frame looms since you are able to get really good tension on them. Also, since tapestry is only plain weave, the frame looms tendency towards simpler weaving structures is not an issue here.



Figure out what you want to weave


The most important thing to do when determining what loom or looms you need in your studio is knowing what you want to weave. As discussed above, each loom has its own areas where they excel.

So what should you do?

Sit down and write out what you want to make.

If you are only looking to create small tapestries, there is no need to purchase a rigid heddle loom, but a frame loom would be perfect. You could then consider a floor loom as well in the future to create larger tapestries.

Wanting to only weave scarves? Then a frame loom does not necessarily make sense. (Unless you want to make samples.) A rigid heddle loom would be perfect and a floor loom would help you make multiple scarves with the same warp.

Read more about getting more weavings out of your warp HERE.

You can also consider a checklist like the one I made below.


choosing a loom checklist

Keep your budget in mind


Budget might be one of the most important things to think about when purchasing one loom or more. Frame looms are mostly inexpensive and can probably be added to your studio for not much of an investment. So if you are thinking of adding a second loom, they might be your best option. Especially if you go for something as budget-friendly as a simple frame loom. 

Learn more about simple frame looms HERE.

If you have a specific budget, but you really want to weave yardage or complicated pieces then you might be best off saving up for your floor loom. If those things are not what you are hoping to make, you may consider a rigid heddle loom for longer weavings and a frame loom for small weavings, samples, and weaving on the go.


Utilizing more than one loom at a time


If you have the ability, having more than one loom is a great option for your studio. This way you can be weaving different things at the same time!

This is a great option if you tend to get bored of projects easily (especially those that take awhile.) If you have more looms then you can take a break from one project to work on another.

You could also try some things out on your second loom to see if it works instead of on your main project. This is a great choice if you are unsure if something is going to work out. Try it out on a sample and if it does not work? It’s ok because you do not have to un-weave it – just try something else.

Honestly, with how inexpensive simple frame looms are (you can just upcycle a picture frame) they make the perfect first, second, or third loom for your studio.

Just use your checklist for choosing a loom from there!

What is your preferred mix of looms? Let me know!


-Nicole

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How To Break Your Weaver’s Block

How To Break Your Weaver’s Block

We all love to weave, but sometimes it can be hard to weave.

Sometimes we want to want to weave, but it’s just not coming to you.

We have all been there.

I am assuming that since you are here that you love to weave. If that is the case, it may be hard for you to not feel inspired to weave.

I totally get it. 

Breaking your weaver’s block can be a lot easier said than done and being stuck isn’t fun for anyone. Not everything is going to work for everyone and one thing may work one time, but not another. So I have compiled some of the things that I have done in the past to help me break through my own blocks.

That way, we can all keep weaving.


This page 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!


Re-find your inspiration


weaver's block - color inspiration

More than likely there was something or someone that inspired you to start weaving in the first place. Perhaps it was a specific weaving that you saw, a specific weaver, or a style or weaving. The first thing that you can do is to go back to this and see if it can re-light that fire that it started at the beginning. 

Some really great options are to look at fiber art magazines or books. A lot of fiber art books contain how-to information, but you can also find many that talk about weaving in general and historical weavers. Sometimes just reminding yourself about what is really possible with weaving can be enough to jump-start you into your next project.

One of my favorite books for finding inspiration is Beyond Craft: The Art Fabric by Mildred Constantine. It is a HUGE book with tons of photos and information about different weavers and their amazing work. It is a great book to keep in your studio library.

Similarly, if you were inspired by nature then get back into nature! Visit somewhere new or learn more about the area that you are inspired by. Research can be a great way to go deeper into your own inspiration and can help you to take it further. It is one of my favorite ways to find inspiration.


weaver's block - find inspiration

Another idea that you can explore is weaving with colors you don’t normally use (in general or together.) Let your new color scheme inspire you to create something completely new! Perhaps your weaving just needs to be spiced up with some new yarn to get you out of your rut.

(Learn about weaving with color HERE)

Beyond new colors, you can also consider the types of yarns you don’t normally use. Do you like wool? Maybe try cotton! Want to stick with protein fibers? Alpaca is incredibly soft and versatile. There are so many different types of fibers that you can play with and they lend themselves really well to different types of weavings.

If these things don’t work, then you can always try to find new inspiration. Browse through Instagram, read through a weaving website (like this one!), or do some writing to get your thoughts out. 

Inspiration can be one of those weird things that sometimes hits you when you least expect it, so just keep your mind open!



Do a weaving challenge


weaver's block - weaving challenge

One of my favorite things to do when I am having a hard time weaving is to do a weaving challenge!

A weaving challenge is any set of rules that you can assign to yourself to get you back on the loom. It can be as simple as challenging yourself to weave a few lines per day for thirty days on one weaving. You make the rules. When you are done you will have a finished weaving that chronicles your month. If this sparks something then you can do one for every month to have a visual representation of your year.

You could also make one small weaving a day so that at the end of a month you have either thirty small weavings or one weaving made of thirty parts. I have always found that doing daily challenges works my mind and reminds myself that weaving is a part of my daily life. They say that doing something every day for thirty days makes it a habit!

Other ideas:

  • try out a new technique each day – different patterns or lace (learn about hand-manipulated lace HERE)
  • use an EPI you don’t normally use or try out weft floats


Take a break


weaver's block - try something new

Wait, so am I actually telling you to stop weaving? Yeah, if that is what you need to do and sometimes you do.

Maybe that is weird coming from a weaving website, but no matter how much you love to do something – sometimes you need a break. Then you can come back to it fresh.

Your break can either be completely free of anything artistic or trying out a non-woven medium. I recommend trying a different medium first, though, so that you are still flexing your creative muscles.

One of the best things you can do for your block is to not force it. Just because you want to weave does not mean your brain is in the right space for it. Not scientific – just an observation!

Taking a break could mean trying a different type of art or cleaning your entire house. Either way, doing this is a great way to clear your mind and make room for weaving again.

When you try some different types of art then it can break your creativity free after it has been locked up in your mind. Depending on what you end up making, you might even be able to incorporate it into your weaving practice!

– Trying out some knitting? Add it to your weaving.

– Embroidery? Embroider on your weaving! (check out embroidery for your weaving HERE)

– Watercolor? Cut it up and weave it! (check out weaving with paper HERE)

Whatever you do, you might even find that is the inspiration you needed all along. You could also create a weaving inspired by your watercolor painting or try to create the same image in tapestry that you did with embroidery.

Don’t want to stray too far from weaving? Try out a different type of weaving. If you are usually a tapestry weaver – try weaving up some balanced weave or patterns. Create a scarf or a patterned wall hanging. Really just do anything outside your norm.

When it comes down to it, a lot of times breaking your artist’s block just means trying new things and sometimes coming out of your comfort zone. Most of the time you will actually come out the other side of your weaver’s block more inspired and ready to create than ever.

So embrace the block – then break it.


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