Weaving Color Theory – How Color Affects Your Weaving

Weaving Color Theory – How Color Affects Your Weaving

Color theory in weaving is initially pretty similar to color theory in any other art form. That being said, you may not have learned it if you didn’t go to an art school.

No worries!

There really is a lot to color theory so I want to go over some of the most important aspects that can affect your weaving.

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!

What is color theory?

weaving color theory on the loom

While it isn’t made specifically for weavers, I always refer to my Understanding Color textbook from school (that link is the newer edition.) This book includes some of the science behind why we see colors the way we do and where these color theories initially came from. You can skip those, though, if you are only interested in the colors themselves.

Another book you could look into that is more weaving oriented is Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom by Syne Mitchell. While this is a book on weaving with a rigid heddle loom, it does have a separate chapter on color theory that is good to look at and reference.

Primary, secondary, and intermediate

Primary colors are the three colors that all other colors can be made from. You might remember this from elementary school. All colors stem from the many possible combinations of red, blue, and yellow.

Secondary colors make up the other three main colors. They are made by combining any two of the primary colors together. These colors are orange (red and yellow), violet (blue and red), and green (yellow and blue). 

Intermediate colors happen when you start combining a secondary and primary color. Red-orange, yellow-orange, red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, and yellow-green are all intermediate colors. 

The color wheel

weaving color theory yarn and color wheel

These three color categories (primary, secondary, and intermediate) are what create the color wheel.

A physical color wheel can be a really useful tool to start out with when you are using more than one color. Having an inexpensive color wheel in your studio helps to take some of the guesswork out of choosing colors that will work well together. The one pictured above is the one that I use and I like it because it rotates to show different color combinations while blocking out the other colors. It also has a front and back that shows either tints or shades.

You can get this same color wheel HERE.

Another category to consider are complimentary colors.

Complimentary colors are colors that complement each other!

Looking on a color wheel, these are the colors that lay directly across from each other. Blue and orange are complementary, so are violet and yellow, and red and green.

This also works for any of your intermediate colors. Try using yellow-orange and blue-violet together to make your colors pop.

Cool and warm colors

Colors have a temperature.

Warm colors: Red, yellow, orange

Cool color: Blue, violet, green

That being said you can have a cool red if it contains some blue or a warm blue if it contains some yellow. These things are sometimes only really easy to see when placed next to another red or blue to compare it to. The temperature of your colors affects how they interact with other colors and how you perceive them. More on that below.

Simultaneous contrast

This is a pretty cool ( and interesting) phenomenon that occurs when you pair a neutral color with a primary or secondary color. When this happens and when other colors aren’t present, the neutral color can “take on” the appearance of the other color’s complement. For example: if you have a blue square and add a smaller grey square in the middle, that grey square will take on a slight orange appearance. 

Complementary contrast, on the other hand, occurs when you have two colors that have any amount of complementary relationship next to each other and they change visually. When you have a red-violet next to orange it will appear more violet, but next to a red it will appear redder. 

Basically, colors are affected by the colors that are around them. 

Value and hue

Hue is the name of the color – think blue, green, or yellow. Value is the amount of light or dark in the color.

If it is a light value then it is closer to white; a dark value is closer to black. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they contain those colors though. This just means that if you translated your hue into a greyscale then it will lean towards either end of the spectrum. (More on that soon)

What does this mean for weaving?

weaving color theory proportions

While all of these aspects of color theory can be applied to your weaving, there is also an extra aspect that you will have to consider when it comes to making your weaving. This is because of the way that the different colored yarns will inherently interact with each other. 

This is especially true when you are weaving anything other than weft-faced weavings. Since weft-faced weavings don’t show any warp, you don’t have to worry about the way the color of your warp visually mixes with the color of your weft. You only have to worry about the way your weft color interacts with the other weft colors. 

In plain weave and other patterns, the way that your warp and weft colors interact is crucial. Two colors in plain weave will also visually behave differently than two colors in a twill. That’s because in a twill you will see more of one color than the other. A plain weave has the potential to look a little muddled depending on the colors you choose. In this case, you can think of your weaving sort of like pointillism. In pointillism, your paint is applied in small dots or areas of color instead of mixed together. Your mind actually mixes the colors together to make an image.

If you are weaving a pattern, colors of contrasting values will show your pattern better. It could get lost if the values are too close. Think black against white and grey against white. There is a big difference in how these two sets of yarns would showcase your pattern. That does not mean you have to have a lot of contrast to make a good weaving, but it is something to keep in mind.

Even in the example above with the blue and orange warp/weft (complimentary colors) they tend to look a little more muddled in the image on the right. When two colors have a similar value, it is better to have one of the colors be more dominant or at least have large areas of color instead of a lot of smaller areas.

Color behavior

weaving color theory color behaviors and tapestry

This next theory is really good to keep in mind when you are weaving imagery. Just like with painting or any other image-based artwork you will want to pay attention to how your colors interact with each other overall to create a cohesive image.

Cool colors tend to recede when warm colors tend to advance. Saturated colors also appear closer than those that are de-saturated. Think about looking at the mountains and how they look less colorful as they get farther away.

Another thing about color behavior is that colors have different associations. What do you think of when you see the color red? Stop…

Green is associated with go, but also sustainability. These color associations can come in handy when you are creating your imagery. 

Colors can also elicit different emotions. Blue tends to be calming whereas yellow and red actually make you hungry! This was always a really interesting thing to learn for me because if you think about the main colors of a lot of fast-food restaurants – they are yellow and red. 

Are you planning on making your viewer hungry? Maybe not, but just keep in mind how powerful colors can be.

Some tips for figuring out your colors

The first thing you will want to do is make a sample – at least if you are doing plain weave or a pattern. You might be able to get away with just yarn wrapping if you are creating a tapestry since you don’t have to worry about the warp and weft interacting. *Yarn wrapping is simply wrapping your yarn around a ruler or cardboard in the same amounts you plan on using to see how well they interact. See my post on letting your yarn determine your weaving for an example.*

If you are unsure about your colors then I recommend having enough space on your warp to try out different things with some room between and/or something to cover up the other samples when you are looking at them. Remember those contrasts we talked about? Yeah, don’t let that affect your decision making when looking at two different samples. 

When you are looking at your weaving samples you can do a few things if you want to test out just how well they are working. Since your sample is on a small scale, it can be harder to determine which sample has the best value contrast or which colors compliment each other best.

What you should try

weaving color theory - perceiving values


Yeah, that may seem a little weird, but squinting at your weaving helps to eliminate some of the surroundings that could be influencing your colors. It will actually help you focus by narrowing your field of vision. Try it out!

Another simple thing you can do is take a black and white photo. This will help you see the difference in values better than anything else. That’s because when you take a black and white photo or convert a photo to black and white the only thing you are viewing is the value of those colors. In the images above you can see how just turning the image of the weavings or yarn makes a really big difference in the perception of it. This is usually pretty easy to do if you use your smartphone to take a photo.

Do you have any issues with color and weaving? Let me know!



Holtzschue, L. (2006). Understanding Color: An Introduction for Designers. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Mitchell, S. (2015). Inventive weaving on a little loom: Discover the full potential of the Rigid-Heddle loom, for beginners and beyond. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

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Essentials For Setting Up Your First Weaving Studio

Essentials For Setting Up Your First Weaving Studio

Setting up your first studio can be … intimidating.

Not only furnishing the studio but also what to look for in the space and how much storage you need.

When trying to find space for your weaving studio just remember that it can be anywhere. You might consider a second bedroom, dining room, shed, or a rented studio downtown. My personal studio used to be the dining room in my house! Before that I used our second bedroom. If you can find the space for your perfect studio then go for it, if you can’t then make the space you can find perfect.

If you’re not there yet, then make sure to check out my post on weaving without a studio.


setting up your first weaving studio install wall

The studio itself can be just as important as what you put in it. You may not always have a choice when it comes to actually choosing your space. If you have the choice for your studio space then there are some things that you might want to consider when looking around for the perfect studio.

You will want to consider both the furniture you have and the furniture you might want. Knowing what you want to weave will really help because it can determine the types of looms that you will have in your weaving studio. If you are planning to weave lots of large weavings then you need to make sure you have enough room for a floor loom or possibly a large rigid heddle loom with a stand. If you are planning to stay small then a smaller space where you can sit and weave on a frame loom might be all you need.

Generally, we can probably all agree that the larger the studio the better! That being said, making good use of the space you have can be essential.

Install wall

One of the things that I looked for in my studio was a large blank wall. This might sound kind of weird, but it’s perfect for installing your weavings to photograph them. If you are weaving on a frame loom then you can also hang your frame up while it’s in progress in order to step back and get a different perspective.

This is something that I definitely recommend, especially if you’re feeling stuck or uninspired. Gaining a new perspective on your artwork can help you to see it in a new light. But I digress…

This wall will ideally be painted a bright neutral white for the best background for your finished weavings. Keep some spackle (I like this one because it goes on pink and turns white when it is dry) on hand to fill in your large holes from installation if you are using nails. Make sure to gently tap down any convex surfaces from pulling the nails out pre-spackle. This will help keep your wall flat.

You also have the option of editing the holes out of your photographs, but eventually, you will have to fill those holes. You should also keep a small container of the same white paint on hand for touch-ups after your spackle dries.


Natural lighting is the best for making artwork of any kind. If you have a lot of windows then that can be good for both lighting and inspiration.

Beyond natural lighting from windows, you will want your lamps or light fixtures to use white light and nothing too warm. If you are weaving artwork that will be shown in galleries then think about the lighting that they use. It’s usually bright white lighting.

Think about where your weaving will end up and make sure that you are considering this when choosing your yarn for your weaving. Your yarn will look different in different lighting.

I use this LED lamp for my desk. It is great because it has multiple brightness levels that you can change with a quick touch and an easily adjustable arm so you can move the light wherever you need.


setting up your first weaving studio inspiration

Inspiration is a really important part of your studio. Having plants, photographs, artwork, or anything else that inspires your weaving is great to have around.

Keeping a cork board to collect items that inspire you is a great way to keep them on display but still make them easy to swap out. I tend to also collect things that inspire me and have them live amongst my yarn and books.

If you are lucky to have a great view then that in itself could be your inspiration. Think about where you will be sitting the most – at your loom, desk, or somewhere else – and try to make that have the best view in the studio.


I’ve written a few posts already on materials that you might want for your weaving studio. So check out my post on 6 studio necessities or my supplies page for my favorite supplies that I currently have in my personal studio. Otherwise, these are some other materials that you either need or could be useful.


You probably aren’t going to get too far without yarn in your weaving studio. While you can weave without yarn ( check out weaving with paper) most often, yarn will be the go to. As far as yarn goes, if you are weaving tapestry then I recommend starting out with some 8/4 cotton rug warp.

You will also need weft but that is a little harder to recommend because it really depends on how or what you want to weave. Tapestry is often woven with wool, but I usually use cotton and linen. 

If you are not planning on something specific then grab a few cones of your favorite color that will inspire you to start creating! If you are looking to buy yarn online then check out THIS post with my favorite online yarn stores. You might also want to look at THIS post about the difference between weaving and knitting yarn.

You will also probably want shuttles or bobbins if you are weaving anything that will require large amounts of specific colors. Butterfly bobbins are a great option for when you only need small amounts of color at a time. If you want to learn more about the differences between shuttles, bobbins, and butterflies then make sure to check out THIS post.

Other supplies

setting up your first weaving studio materials

While the next set of supplies may not be essential, they may makes things a little simpler.


This probably isn’t something that you would normally think of for a weaving studio, but having a scale can really help you to price out your work. All you need is a simple kitchen scale like this one! Weigh your yarn both before you begin your weaving and after you are done. If you kept track of the price of your yarn in something like a yarn notebook then you will have easy access to the price per ounce of your yarn. Use this to figure out just how much the yarn you used for your weaving cost.

Yarn ball winder and yarn swift

These tools usually go hand in hand. More than likely if you bought some yarn on a hank instead of a cone, then you will want to wind it into a more easily usable form. If you bought your yarn online, then you can always check to see if the company or shop will wind it for you. If that is the case, you may not need either at all!

If you are buying a lot of yarn, though, that doesn’t come already in ball form or there is no option to do that, then you might want to invest in these so that you are not stuck doing it all by hand. (Although you definitely can do that too.) You can check out The Woolery for ball winders and yarn swifts.

Warping board

If you are weaving on a floor loom, table loom, and sometimes even a rigid heddle loom then a warping board or warping mill is an essential tool for you to have in your studio. You will need this in order to measure out your warp for your weaving project. You could also build a warping board yourself if you are so inclined as they are essentially a frame with pegs.

The one I have is a Harrisville warping board. Learn how to use a warping board HERE.



setting up your first weaving studio loom

The loom that you choose will vary depending on what you want to weave, how much space you have, and the price point you are looking at. When you are first starting out you may have to choose your loom more based on the last 2 points then the first. 

Like a lot of things in life, the right loom might just be the loom that you can get at the moment.

The loom that gets you weaving faster is better than no loom at all. 

We all have a dream loom, but if you can find a loom that will at least get you on your way to practice, make smaller weavings, or simpler weavings then you can get your dream loom at a later time. You are not married to it, so you can change it out when it no longer serves you or you can just get more than one loom! No one said you can’t have many looms or different types of looms.

The loom pictured above from my studio is a 36″ Harrisville 8 harness 10 treadle floor loom.

Desk or table

While a loom is generally the most thought about furniture that you will want in your weaving studio, it is also important to think about the extra space that you will need. Having a desk or table to sit at to sketch, plan out your weavings, layout your finished weavings for finishing and more can be invaluable.

If you are using a frame loom, having a desk is a great way to keep the frame at a better height for use so you are not bending over too much. (Learn more about your weaving posture HERE.) I also use my desk for cutting paper for paper weaving, storing projects in progress that aren’t on a loom, resting my rigid heddle loom on, and more.


setting up your first weaving studio seating

The seating options you have in your studio can play a major role in how you use your space. 

I recommend a comfortable chair where you can sit and come up with ideas, sketch your next weaving, or take in the inspiration of your studio. I also like to sit back and work on my finishing techniques like weaving in my weft ends in a comfortable chair. Having a comfortable chair in the studio makes it not only a place to create but also a place to relax.

If you are weaving at a floor loom then you will want a good loom bench. I recommend one that can tilt when you sit on it so you can adjust your hips to sit straighter. I often put a pillow down so it’s not so hard for long periods of time. You can find some with different pockets or cubbies to keep your yarn and supplies so they are within reach. The one that I use (pictured above on the right) can be found HERE. I love having the pocket below to hold the things that I need for the weaving I’m working on.

When sitting at a desk either working on a frame loom, rigid heddle loom, table loom, or doing anything else make sure to choose a chair that is comfortable and keeps you from slouching after being in the studio all day. Don’t start hunching over! I like this ergonomic chair (pictured above on the left) because it helps keep my back straight while working.


setting up your first weaving studio storage

There is never really enough storage in a studio no matter what. Just like most parts of your home, I’m sure, if there is space then you will fill it. Then when you find something else you need, well you will have to find a place to put it too!

Vertical storage is one of the best options that you can use to make the most of the space you have and often the most underutilized in and out of the studio. Getting long shelves that go all the way up to your ceiling can be a great way to take advantage of unused space for more yarn!

Depending on the type of yarn you use, you may want to consider keeping your yarn in a closed area to keep it away from moths. Specifically, any protein fibers like wool are a tasty treat for moths. Cellulose fibers like cotton and linen are safe from moths, but as most things do, they can still accumulate dust and dog hair if left in the open.

Think about how you use your stash.

Do you go through it fast? Then you are probably safe to keep it out on open shelving so that you can see it at all times. Because who doesn’t like to look at a beautiful yarn wall? But if you will take a long time to go through your yarn then you may want to keep it tucked away and just take out the yarn you are using for each project. You can have a separate shelf or basket to put that yarn in for easy access.

Beyond your yarn, consider storage for books, tools, frames, and finished work. You can learn more about storing your finished artwork HERE.

Cabinets and plastic storage drawers can be used to house any number of things that you will want to keep out of sight or protected. You can make better use of space by putting the storage drawers under your desk and out of the way. I use storage drawers to keep fabric, installation materials, and other miscellaneous art supplies. You can use a simple strip of tape and a marker to label them so you never forget where you put that hammer.

No matter where your studio is make sure that it reflects you as an artist and maker. Your studio will probably look different then mine because we are making different things, but starting out with some of the above examples can help you get going. If you are having trouble then make a list of what you are doing and what you want to do and go from there.

If you have a perfect studio in mind (or you already have one!) let me know about it in the comments!

Weaving With Paper – Going Beyond Kid’s Crafts

Weaving With Paper – Going Beyond Kid’s Crafts

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

But why?

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

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

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

Well, these are just some starting points:

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!

Designing patterns

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

*Floats are when your weft goes over more than one warp before going under again. 

Depending on the stiffness of the paper that you have chosen to weave, these floats will create depth and interest. The stiffer the paper and the longer the floats, the more the pattern will leap off the surface of the weaving. 

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

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

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

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

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

Paper weaving ideas

Weave photographs

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

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

Some other ideas:

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

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

Watercolor weaving

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

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

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

Journals/ books

At Any Given Moment, Nicole Bunting, 2020

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

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

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

Tips for weaving paper

Materials needed

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

Artist’s tape or painter’s tape

xacto knife or paper cutter

self-healing cutting mat

Cork-backed ruler

Archival glue or thread

Cutting your paper strips

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

Using a cutter like this helps to eliminate the possibility of your ruler moving while you are cutting your strips. This could lead to uneven strips. If you are working off of a photograph or paper that would be hard to replace, it is better to make sure the cuts are good the first time! THIS is slightly a newer version of the one that I have. I prefer this kind because the rotary blade makes a smooth and easy cut for thicker paper.

Choose your warp and weft

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

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

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

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

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

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

Material Spotlight: Weaving With Cotton

Material Spotlight: Weaving With Cotton

Cotton: the fabric of our lives… That’s their motto right?

Either way, it is an extremely common but amazingly versatile material used in everything from clothing to currency. When it comes to weaving, it’s actually one of my favorite materials that I use all the time in my own studio!

While most of us probably just buy our cotton yarn from the store (learn about great places to buy yarn online HERE) before it gets close to your loom it first has to be grown.

What do you really know about cotton though? What makes it good for your weaving?

I’ve talked about cotton somewhat in some other blog posts, so you can check out these posts for some more cotton information!

Check out:

Specialty Yarns and Yarn Treatments

Deciphering Yarn Sizes.

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!

weaving with cotton - cotton bolls

Cotton basics

The cotton that we all know and love comes from a sometimes perennial and sometimes annual plant grown all around the world. It depends on the climate where it’s grown. It is a part of the mallow family of plants – where it is distantly related to 4,225 other plants including okra, durian (the stinky fruit), and hibiscus. 

Cotton actually starts out as a flower before turning into the plant we all recognize.

After flowering, the cotton plant produces its fruit – otherwise known as the distinct white fluffy pod or “boll”. As the boll matures it opens up to reveal the sections that get turned into yarn. Biologically, these fluffy sections are what cover-up and protect the seed. 

There are four main species of cotton that each have unique characteristics.

The 4 main species

Scientific Name

Gossypium barbadense

Gossypium hirsutum

Gossypium arboreum

Gossypium herbaceum

Common Name(s)

Pima or Egyptian Cotton

Upland or Mexican Cotton

Tree cotton

Levant cotton


luxurious, long fibers

most common, less expensive

rare, used for muslin and gauze

course with a short staple, seeds can be used for medicinal purposes

weaving with cotton yarn

The two most common cotton species that you will probably come across are upland and pima.

Upland cotton accounts for about 90% of the world’s cotton usage. This means the cotton you have in your stash is probably upland cotton.

Pima cotton is the premium option you might come across in the yarn store. If you’re looking for the softest most luxurious cotton for your weaving then this is the one you want! Most of us have probably heard of Egyptian cotton sheets or similar fabrics. This is the same type of cotton! Pima and Egyptian cotton both come from the same species, but differ in where they are grown. 

Gossypium barbadense originated from the Nile River Valley, but when it was brought over to the United States – agriculturalists worked alongside the Pima Tribe of Arizona to perfect the American Pima cotton.

Pros to weaving with cotton

When looking for cotton yarn to weave with there are a lot of options to choose from. Make sure to check out yarn treatments and specialty yarns to learn more about some of the different options you might come across when purchasing yarn to weave with.

Strong (stronger when wet) and 3x as strong as wool of the same diameter

Cotton’s strength is just one aspect that makes it so good for so many things. It is an excellent choice for warp because of this exceptional strength. This makes it less likely to snap while under tension on the loom. 

It also makes it ideal for anything that you need to be strong like most functional weavings.

There’s a reason sheets, denim, and towels are usually made from cotton.

Due to the chemical composition of the cotton it is actually stronger when wet. Where some materials like rayon lose strength when wet and other synthetic fibers like acrylics are not affected by moisture at all. If you are creating a weaving that will be used wet (towels) then cotton makes a great choice.

Quick drying

Depending on what you have created, you may never even need to wash your weaving. Most of the time, you’re not going to be washing a tapestry after it’s finished.

If you are creating functional work then this might be an important thing to consider since functional work is more likely to be used and washed. Towels are a great example of a woven textile that you will probably want to dry quickly.

cotton towel and bolls

No moths

Moths are the bane of most fiber artist’s (and most people’s) existence. They of course have their place in the world – but they don’t have a place in your studio!

Luckily if you’re weaving primarily with cellulose fibers like cotton then they should really be an issue. Moths are attracted to the keratin found in protein fibers (animal fibers) like wool, alpaca, and silk. Since cotton is made from plants and not animal fibers the moths leave it alone!

While it’s still advisable to properly store your yarn and weavings to protect them from other things like dust and dog fur, the cotton should at least be safe from these pests. Check out how to store and protect your weavings in THIS post.

Sustainable and Biodegradable

Before cotton even comes near your loom it first has to be grown! As a crop, cotton is both drought and heat resistant and therefore is easier to grow and uses less water than growing your lawn. We have also gotten to the point where we can use the whole crop – not just the boll – so that nothing goes to waste. This makes cotton a great choice if you are looking for a sustainable fiber.

Unfortunately, there may come a time when your weaving has lived its life. Since it is a cellulose fiber (made from plants) it is compostable and biodegradable. If you’re worried about the lasting impact of your fiber art then choosing biodegradable fibers is a great option. At the very least, your yarn scraps can be disposed of responsibly if you can’t find a way to upcycle them.

Learn more about recycling/ upcycling your yarn scaps in THIS post.


As discussed earlier, cotton comes in different price points depending on the type of cotton that you are using.

Despite that, it still tends to be one of the more economical options you can choose from when it comes to deciding what yarns you want to use in your weaving. Especially if you are looking at using cotton for your tapestry warp.

The very inexpensive option of using 8/4 cotton rug warp is much less expensive than a similarly sized linen yarn. There are advantages to linen over cotton, but if the price is your primary concern then cotton works very well.

This same cotton is my favorite to use for samples due to the price, but I’ve also used it for finished weavings when they called for it. It also comes in many different colors that you can purchase or you can always dye your own since cotton takes dye well.

Cons to weaving with cotton

Not elastic

If you are looking for a yarn that has some stretch to it, then cotton isn’t what you want. Due to the make-up of the cotton fibers (cells that are stacked on top of each other) they have very little elasticity. With cotton you basically get what you see. If you are planning to make garments out of your woven cotton fabric then you may need some extra darts to get it more fitted.

Elasticity isn’t only determined by fiber and in fact, is also largely determined by the way you use it. Take a look at my post about the difference between weaving, knitting, and crochet to learn more about this.

Beyond it’s strength, this characteristic is actually what lends itself so well to being used as warp. (ok, so this part isn’t a con…)

Wrinkles easily

Due to this lack of elasticity, cotton is prone to wrinkling. Again, depending on what you are weaving this may not even be an issue. Luckily, it is also able to withstand significant heat so it is easy to iron or straighten out.

That being said, it is also highly flammable, so just don’t keep the iron in one place for too long…

While it’s not the fiber most prone to wrinkling (this designation belongs to linen which is notorious for holding on to crimps and bends) it is still significant enough to keep it in mind.

cotton bolls and spinning cotton book

If you’re interested in learning more about cellulose fibers then I recommend The Practical Spinner’s Guide – Cotton, Flax, Hemp. It is targeted towards spinners, but as a weaver, I still found it incredibly interesting. This easy to read book talks about the history of how cotton, flax (linen), and hemp are grown and processed. It also includes tips for spinning. If you’re interested in weaving or spinning cellulose fibers then you should check it out!

Cotton is relatively easy to work with and can be used in any manner of weavings. It’s versatile enough to be used for clothing, towels, tapestries, and anything in between. It’s also one of my favorite weaving yarns to use and start new weavers out with.

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Tapestry Needles – Which Should You Use?

Tapestry Needles – Which Should You Use?

When it comes to weaving, there can be a lot of tools and supplies that you need to get started. It’s not always that easy though. Almost everything that you will end up needing for your weaving project comes with it’s own set of possible options to choose from. Tapestry needles are one of those supplies that may seem simple, but you still have some choices to make. 

Generally speaking, you can probably get away with any type of tapestry needle that you have or come across. If it fits your weft yarn, then you can probably make it work. That being said, different materials and sizes are better (or worse) at different things.

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!

How are tapestry needles different?

Tapestry needles are made specifically to be used with yarn because the eye of the needle is much larger than your normal sewing needle. Also, unlike sewing needles they have a blunt end so that they don’t puncture the plies of the yarn you’re using.

They come in different materials and lengths and what you choose to use will depend on your project, budget, and preferences.


tapestry needles - metal, plastic, and wood


Plastic needles are usually the cheapest option that you will come across.

Beyond the cheap price tag, the biggest advantage to the plastic needle is that it is flexible! If you have a smaller space to work then using a plastic tapestry needle that can bend a little could be advantageous.

The cons of the plastic needle is that it is, well, plastic.

Since they are flexible, they could be prone to breaking. Plus, depending on the type of plastic that they’re made from they may not be recyclable. So keep that in mind if you decide to go this route. Try not to break them because even though they’re cheap, they’re not disposable.

Also, you just may not want a flexible needle. They won’t be as strong as some of your other options and therefore may be harder to work with.


Metal tapestry needles are probably the most common ones that you will come across and are my personal favorite!

These needles are the strongest option that you will have and work for pretty much everything. Despite the fact that they’re more expensive than plastic needles – metal needles really aren’t a huge investment. 

They are incredibly strong and can stand up to anything you put them through. You don’t have to worry about them bending or getting misshapen due to too much stress on the needle (in case you weave hard!) Plus, if your metal needles are steel and not aluminum then you can use a magnet to find them if when you drop them on the floor, in your couch, under your desk, in a park…

You can also check out my post on weaving without a studio for more on magnets and other tips for when you take your project outside.


Wood tapestry needles are usually the most expensive needle option. You can get less expensive ones that are less finished or pay more for hand carved needles finished with wax to make that can be more comfortable to hold.

The wood needles are generally just as strong as your metal needles while using them. Just don’t try to bend it in halfalthough I’m not sure why you would do that anyway!

They tend to be thicker than plastic or metal and are usually flat. This could be an advantage if you have a hard time holding onto the smaller needles as there is more surface area. For that same reason, they can also be great for kids just learning how to weave.

If you get needles on the larger side they could potentially serve double duty as a pick-up stick or small shed tool! I admit to loving pretty much any tool that can be used for more than one thing.

The biggest disadvantage to these flat needles or any needle that is much wider at the eye is that they are not ideal for use when finishing your weaving. If you’re going to use a wood needle during your weaving, then I recommend having a backup metal or plastic needle to use for the other parts of your weaving process. More on that below.


tapestry needles - different sizes

Most types of tapestry needles will come in different sizes. The larger the number = the smaller the needle. So a size 28 tapestry needle will be smaller than a size 16. The standard size I recommend is a size 13 needle (third from the left in the image above.) They are usually good for just about anything you want to make, but you can mix it up depending on your project. THESE are the ones that I use personally and in my classes.

I also love having an extra long metal needle for when I am weaving a wide project. If I am weaving without a shed then having the extra length makes weaving go just a little bit faster and smoother. 

It’s also good to have small needles around for use when finishing. Regardless of the material, you will want to have some of these lying around. These are helpful especially when weaving your weft tails back up their warp channels. You don’t want to try to fit a thick tapestry needle in your warp channels as this can distort your weaving.

Straight or bent?

tapestry needles - straight or bent

A lot of tapestry needles that you find are straight, just like the sewing needles that you are probably used to. These straight needles are good for everything from weaving to finishing.

Then there’s the bent tip needle. These are perfect for weaving when you don’t have a shed to lift up your warps for you. Using the bent tip makes weaving just a little bit faster since you can use it to lift up your warp. Pair that with pushing down on your other warps and you can get across your weaving in no time. More about weaving faster HERE.

A disadvantage of the bent tip needle is that it is not ideal for finishing. It just won’t travel up your warp channels as easily as your straight needle.

More tapestry needle tips

You can keep all of your needles in one place by using old medicine bottles, eyeglass screw containers, altoid boxes, or purchase a dedicated holder. Some tapestry needles like these bent tip needles come with a screw-top holder that travels well and keeps your needles together.

When it comes to choosing a tapestry needle, the best thing is to have more than one kind and more than one size! They are good for different things and honestly, they’re pretty easy to lose… Let’s just say, I have a lot of tapestry needles for this exact reason. I usually buy them in bulk.

If you can only choose one? Medium straight tipped metal is the best overall needle you can use. It will do everything, last forever, and not cost a lot! This will get you pretty far in your weaving journey before you need to start branching out.

Simple Tips For Weaving Without A Studio

Simple Tips For Weaving Without A Studio

Not everyone has the space for their very own weaving studio. Looms, yarn, supplies, and other materials can take up a lot of space if you’re not prioritizing space saving options. So what do you do if you want to weave but don’t have a dedicated space to do it? Or what if you’re wanting to get outside the studio and weave in nature or public? No studio? No problem! These tips will help you weave anywhere.

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!

At home or in public

Basket or bag weaving kit

Have your essentials in one place! This could be having a dedicated basket or bin for your yarn, frame loom, tapestry needles, shuttles etc. If you’re in public you will want to only bring what you need for what you’re currently working on. In this case a basket or tote bag might work best for your weaving kit. Wind your shuttles or bobbins ahead of time or create yarn butterflies to carry the extra yarn. This way you’re not carrying around multiple bulky cones or skeins of yarn with you. Flat shuttles and butterflies will also take up a lot less room then boat shuttles, so keep that in mind when choosing your shuttle of choice!

If you’re at home then this basket or bag will help you to move between rooms, or help you store your supplies in the closet when not in use.

Either way, if you have a lot to carry then find a bag that has a lot of pockets so you can stay organized. This will help you avoid having to pull everything out just to find your tapestry needles!

Having dedicated space – even if it’s small and portable – for all your weaving stuff will help make you more organized and keep your materials from taking over your whole house!

Choose portable options

weaving without a studio - weaving outside frame loom

Folding rigid heddle loom

There are a few rigid heddle looms that actually fold up when they’re not in use. These are great portable options for when you want to weave something with a long warp but no dedicated space. You can even keep your weaving on the loom while it’s folded, so don’t worry about trying to finish that entire scarf while hanging out in the park. These looms are great for weaving balanced or pattern weavings that don’t require a super tight warp.

They are also perfect if you’re traveling and want to take your long project with you. You can fold it up and store it in your RV or vehicle when not in use. Weave in your hotel room, AirBNB, or your in-laws house.

If you’re looking to weave scarves, towels, or other long weavings, but are concerned about space or weight then a folding rigid heddle loom could be a really great choice!

Frame looms

These are the best option for weaving tapestry on the go. They allow a higher tension than a rigid heddle loom so they are perfect for tapestry. They can also be smaller and even simpler to travel with then a rigid heddle loom! The biggest issue with a small tapestry loom is that it’s small. This means you might be limited with what you can create on the go. Unlike rigid heddle looms that have an advancing warp – most frame looms have a finite amount of warp that can be on the loom.

Small tapestries, samples, and project you plan to piece together would all be perfect for a small frame loom that you can use wherever you are.

Smaller tools

If you are going to weaving on the go a lot then you might want to also consider smaller tools and supplies. You probably don’t need a large pair of fabric scissors if you aren’t going to be cutting fabric while you’re out and about. Instead try a small pair of thread scissors or yarn snips.

If you decide to go the shuttle or bobbin route, opt for the smallest option that will work for you and your project.

Keep it clean

weaving without a studio - portable materials

With weaving comes yarn scraps. These yarn scraps can get everywhere if you’re not careful! 

If you’re at home, then keeping track of your yarn scraps is a means to not having to deal with pieces of yarn in your kitchen, bathroom, on your stairs, or anywhere in between. Really it’s mostly for your sanity.

Ask me how I know.

If you’re in public then it’s a matter of being a good person and not leaving anything behind. Any sort of material left behind can be considered littering even if it’s biodegradable. 

You should have a dedicated bag or jar to keep your scraps in so that they all stay in one place. Bonus points for keeping track or your scraps because they will be readily available to upcycle for other things!

In public

Be prepared to answer questions

One of the biggest things that you should be aware of (I’m sure you’ve thought of this) is that you are going to be asked questions!

Weaving is different from knitting and crocheting in many ways. One of the biggest ways is that it’s not nearly as well known. If you go out and start knitting, then you may not be asked what you’re doing – just asked what you’re making.

If you pull out a loom and start creating a tapestry then you are bound to turn some heads!

This can actually be really great (if you’re extroverted) because then you get to talk about and expose other people to what you love about weaving! Maybe that’s just me, but I’ll take any chance I can get to tell more people about weaving who may never have had access to it.

Just be aware that you are doing something that most people don’t know about and they might be curious enough to ask!

Carry a magnet/ Wear your scissors around your neck

weaving without a studio - keep your scissors around your neck

It can be so easy to lose things when you are, well, anywhere! Especially if you are in public, though, it might be a good idea to go the extra mile to make sure you don’t lose track of things like scissors or tapestry needles. 

While having a well organized basket/ bag will help with this, you may not always feel like putting your scissors back in their dedicated pocket after every snip. Tying some yarn around the handle and putting it around your neck is an easier way to know where your scissors are at all times. This way they will be accessible whenever you need them. You can even reuse some of your loom waste for this!

…just be careful not to stab yourself.

Assuming you are using metal tapestry needles – I also recommend that you keep a magnet on you in case you drop your tapestry needles or just need an easy way to keep them all in one place.

I actually keep a magnet in my studio at all times for this very reason. Luckily, tapestry needles are blunt so if you do drop it you don’t have to worry about it stabbing anyone. I’m always almost losing tapestry needles, but using a magnet has really helped!

While you don’t want to lose them in your house, you really don’t want to lose them out in public. You can even attach the magnet to your bag or basket so you don’t lose that too…

At home

Find a quiet space (or a space where you can listen to your own noise)

weaving without a studio - weaving nook

One of the biggest tips that I have for weaving at home is to find a way to limit your distractions. If putting on music and noise isolating headphones helps you then I recommend finding something that will keep you energized and excited to weave. That means no tv shows that are too exciting as to make you start watching instead of weaving.

No lie, sometimes I even like to listen to 90’s pop music while I weave!

No shame.

I know it’s not actually weaving related, but I really like these noise isolating earphones for when I don’t want to get distracted. They work really well and all I hear is my music or the show that I’m streaming. They’re perfect when I just want to get lost in my project.

If you have a place in your house that you can make into a weaving nook then that’s even better. You may not have a full studio, but having an inspirational space can make a big difference. This is especially true if you’re having a hard time staying focused. Find a comfortable chair with good light and maybe even a nice view. This can help you stay focused and inspired.

If you like the yarn I’m using: Harrisville Shetland Wool in peacock and charcoal.

Set aside time for weaving

weaving without a studio - set a time to weave

If you’re weaving in your family room instead of a studio, then it may be hard to concentrate with that laundry piling up or knowing your carpet needs to be vacuumed! I’m not saying ignore cleaning your house completely, but sometimes that stuff can wait.

Set aside time for your weaving just like you would if you were actually going to a studio or to work. Whether that’s just a half an hour or half a day, if you put it on your schedule it will be easier to get in the right mindset. Plan for certain days of the week or times of day and put it on your calendar or to-do list if you must. Sometimes even if it’s something you want to do, it’s hard to make the time unless you actually put it on your schedule. There will always be something else.

Just schedule it.

You can even put a reminder on your phone that pops up to say “It’s time to weave!” and then don’t break your weaving date!

Whatever you have to do or bring – you don’t need a weaving studio to be a weaver! You just need time, determination, materials, and focus!


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