Weaving Resolutions – Be A Better Weaver

Weaving Resolutions – Be A Better Weaver

Ok, so maybe this post should have been in January. That is when everyone does their resolutions, right? Well, January for me was more of a recovery from 2023. Plus, we can make resolutions to improve our weaving at any point, and really we should! We should continue to reevaluate our weavings goals throughout the year as new things pop up in our lives, we discover new techniques or materials, or really any time we just feel like it.

There is never a bad time to improve.

When you are weaving, you have to make a lot of decisions. The type of weaving you do might require these decisions at different times, before you weave, during, or after, but those decisions are always there. 

Now, I am not saying to not plan your weaving. Not at all, because planning is essential for a weavings success. You can learn more about planning your weaving here.

While it can be a really interesting experiment to not do a lot of planning at the start to see what becomes of your weaving, what I am really talking about is trusting yourself to make decisions without overthinking while you are weaving. 

Overthinking as you weave will cause you to second guess yourself. Instead, you need to trust in yourself and the process. Try to be intuitive in your weaving and not only will it be more enjoyable, but it will also move along faster.

And really, what do you have to lose? If you don’t like it, you can always unweave and try again!

The act of unweaving may seem defeating, but really it is an opportunity to create exactly what you want. The fact that you can unweave so easily and without destroying your artwork is one of the things that makes weaving so wonderful. Everything is easy to fix. 

So in order to weave more, you need to think less. Trust yourself and see what you create.

Ok, now you probably think I have lost it.

I stand by what I said above, that we could all stand to think a bit less when we are weaving. We could also stand to think a bit more. It really just depends on when we are thinking and maybe what we are thinking about.

As I said above, thinking before we start weaving during the planning process is greatly beneficial to the overall weaving. Spending a little extra time thinking about our colors, materials, techniques, etc. can save us from having to unweave and reweave so. many. times. It can also help to ensure the final product is exactly what we want it to be and functions the way we want it too as well. 

Your practice may be completely different from mine, but the materials I use are incredibly important to the meaning of each piece. Each decision you make is a part of your final product. I am always thinking about the materials that I use and what they mean for my work.

For example, my tapestries never contain animal fibers even though wool is the most common weft for tapestry. (Learn more about tapestry here). Instead, I use all cellulose fibers like cotton, linen, and hemp. Since my tapestries are inspired by natural patterns found in rocks, trees, lichen etc. it just doesn’t make sense to me to use wool or alpaca for my weft.

This may not be the same for you but I invite you to think about what you are using and what it means.

Sometimes we get so caught up in making that we forget the reason why we make in the first place.

You probably got into weaving because you thought it would be interesting and you wanted to have a specific end result. Hopefully, you also think that it is fun! 

If you are weaving just to weave then you are missing out on the magic of the art. This can happen a lot if you start a weaving business or you are creating a lot for presents. Really any time you are weaving a lot that is not for yourself. 

Make sure that through all of this you are still making things that you want to create. If you have lost the spark then you might need a challenge or to experiment. Check out this post on breaking your weaving block.

I know that even with this site where I am constantly talking about weaving, it can be really easy for me to not weave for myself. The amount of weavings I create for classes compared to what I create for my own studio is vastly unproportional. 

Due to this I am trying to make sure that I am weaving, at least a little bit, almost every day. What is working for me right now is weaving smaller pieces that I can take with me anywhere. The image above shows just some of the embroidery weavings and fabric weaving that I have been doing on a small scale.

Of course, I always have multiple weavings going at once. So there is always a larger piece sitting on the loom for when I can dedicate the full time to it. 

Enjoying the process also means only weaving what you want to weave and not what you think you should. I weave small most of the time because I like to weave small. I do this for me. Make sure you are doing it for you.

It is 2024. There is no end to the amount of knowledge that is out in the world about literally everything. Weaving is no exception. 

Even if you love exactly what you are weaving you can always be learning new techniques, weaving history, about new materials, etc. All of these things can be helpful to add to your own practice. Learning more about weaving can never hurt your weaving practice. 

As someone who runs a weaving business, teaches weaving classes, and likes to think I have a lot of weaving knowledge – I also benefit from taking classes, reading books, and learning from other weavers.

Considering weaving has been around for over 10,000 years, it is safe to say that no one person knows everything. There are so many different types of weaving, different materials, techniques, and tools. Weaving has been done all over the world and has different origins and uses. 

Want to learn how to weave tapestry? It is more than just imagery (although that can be a big part of it too!) Follow along with this self-paced online course that you can take from anywhere at any time.

There are now 2 ways to take it – either purchase the whole course at once for a discount or “create your own” course by purchasing just the parts you want! Either way, get 10% off for being a member of the Warped Community!

You never know when learning something new will spark a moment of inspiration that you can apply to your weavings. This can also help you to keep things interesting and continue to enjoy the weaving process.

No matter what your goals are for this year, I highly recommend you make some plans to change things up. Even if your goal is just to weave more, the act of weaving can sometimes be inspiration in and of itself. As you practice and gain more control over your weaving then you can gain more confidence in what you are doing. Confidence allows you to take chances without overthinking things.

Let me know what you are going to try this year!


2023 Weaving Wishlist – Gift Guide

2023 Weaving Wishlist – Gift Guide

Throughout the year I am constantly talking about new equipment, books, and more for your weaving studio. There are many posts here on Warped Fibers that you can read through if you are looking for something specific (links to specific posts at the end of the post!) Sometimes, though, you don’t really know what you want or you want to be able to just send link to your loved ones who won’t take “no gifts, please” as an answer.

We all know them.

Perhaps your weaving wish list is not exactly the same as mine, but hopefully it will give you an idea of where to start making your own or give you some new ideas for what you can add to yours!

So let’s go over some fun weaving and weaving related gifts that would be great for any weaving studio!

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

Starting out, of course we all want more yarn!

That being said, if you are anything like me then there is definitely some yarns that are on the more expensive side that you just might not be able to get for yourself. Or there are yarns that you want, but can’t justify because you don’t have plans for them.

The holidays or birthdays are the perfect time to get these fun yarns to add to your stash!

Below are just some of the yarns that I have had my eye on for various reasons.

madelinetosh pashmina yarn woolery

Image: Woolery.com

Madelinetosh Pashmina Yarn

This yarn looks so luxurious! It comes from Peru and is made up of superwash wool, silk, and cashmere. This yarn should be super soft and just look at those colors!

Recommended warp sett: 8 – 16 EPI

Euroflax Linen Yarn

I am imagining just how soft and beautiful this shiny linen will be once it has been washed a few times! This linen is wet spun which makes it shiny plus it is a long-line linen which makes it incredibly durable.

Recommended warp sett: 12 – 15 EPI

Learn more about linen yarn here!

euroflax linen yarn woolery

Image: Woolery.com

blue sky printed organic yarn woolery

Image: Woolery.com

Blue Sky Printed Organic Cotton

This cotton yarn gets its color from using a printing press and hand printing. This idea is really fun and unique and I love the uniqueness that each hank will get from this process!

Recommended sett: 8 EPI

Bellatrista Banana Yarn

It’s banana yarn…

I’m not sure how much more I need to say. This just sounds like a yarn that would be fun to play with!

bellatrista banana yarn woolery

Image: Woolery.com

Of course, there is nothing wrong with also just wanting more of your favorite yarns that you already use!

When in doubt, most yarn retailers will have gift cards that can be purchased. That way you can buy the yarns you want when you want them!

Is there a such thing as too many looms?

If you ask me, then no!

I do all sorts of weaving between my personal artwork, teaching, and creating here at Warped, that it definitely helps to have many different looms available. Even if you don’t have all of those things to juggle, having more looms can be great for working on more than one project at a time.

In the middle of a weaving but can’t get an idea out of your mind? Having more looms can give you an outlet for more ideas!

These are looms that I have not yet tried, but have been eyeing for awhile.

schacht arras tapestry loom woolery

Image: Woolery.com

Schacht Arras Tapestry Loom

I love my Schacht Flip rigid heddle loom and pretty much every Schacht product I have tried. So since I am primarily a tapestry weaver, it only makes sense to have the Arras on my weaving wish list. While I love weaving on a simple frame loom, having a dedicated tapestry loom has it’s own advantages.

22″ Mirrix Zach Loom

Similar to the Schacht above, the Mirrix Zach loom is a dedicated upright tapestry loom with a shed system and comes with 4 different sized coils (their version of a reed). This means that it can be used for a variety of tapestry sizes. No need to choose!

mirrix zach loom woolery

Image: Woolery.com

There is no shortage of weaving tools out there and in the grand scheme of things I have very few of them! Weaving tools are generally meant to make weaving a little faster or a little easier.

ashford warp thread weights woolery

Image: Woolery.com

Ashford Warp Thread Weights

I have always used fishing weights and film cannisters/ pill bottles whenever I need some extra tension on warps or when a warp breaks. I am really interested in the fact that these allow you to vary the weight and get a more precise tension. Of course, they also look a lot nicer!

Ashford Wavy Stick Shuttles

These have been on my radar for a while because they just look so fun! These stick shuttles are supposed to be used to not only hold your weft yarn but also to beat your weft into place. The wavy shape creates non-straight picks of weft for an added dimension to your weaving!

ashford wavy stick shuttles woolery

Image: Woolery.com

weaving books

Just like looms, there really isn’t a such thing as too many weaving books. I love adding books to my personal studio library because I really believe that it is important to always be learning.

When in doubt, weaving books are such a great gift because you can come back to them time and time again for information and inspiration. For more book recommendations (books I currently own and recommend) check out my supplies page!

Tapestry with Pulled Warp: Inspiration, Technique, and the Creative Process by Susan Iverson

I am so excited about this book! Susan was my weaving teacher when I was at VCU and she is the reason that I teach.

Pulled warp is a fascinating technique that creates 3 dimensional weavings. Tapestry with Pulled Warp is only available for pre-order right now, but it will be a part of my library when it comes out!

Fabric of Civilization

I have said it before and I will say it again: I can never get enough books on textile art history! So while this book is not focused solely on weaving, there is probably a lot of really great and interesting information about all kinds of fiber art.

So maybe not on my wish list, but I can’t create a gift wish list without mentioning my own shop! Whether you are wanting to learn a new skill or you are wanting to show off your love of weaving you can grab these items right here on Warped Fibers!

warped fibers embroidery weaving kit

Embroidery Weaving Kit

This kit is a great option for beginner weavers or anyone wanting to learn a new way to weave! Embroidery weaving is perfect for creating shaped weavings with little effort and for weaving without a loom! The embroidery weaving kit comes with everything you need to create 3 sample weavings and 1 finished piece.

This is NOT a project kit, instead it walks you through the technique and allows you to sample and explore!

Weaving Tool Pouch

This tool pouch is huge! At 8.5″ x 11″ it can hold a lot of your weaving tools for organizing your studio or bringing your supplies with you on the go.

You can grab it on it’s own or add it on to your kit purchase for a discount!

warped weaver zipper tool pouch with embroidery weaving supplies

Weaving Stickers

Who doesn’t love stickers? These stickers are weatherproof so they are perfect for your car or to put onto your water bottles or tumblers. They also feature a split back for easy application.

It’s the little things.

dream weaver sticker
warped weaver sticker

teachable course or ebook gift

You can now purchase any digital Warped Fibers products as gifts! When you check out, just click “send as a gift”. You can then enter their info and add a message. They will then receive an email to let them redeem their gift!

Want to learn how to weave tapestry? It is more than just imagery (although that can be a big part of it too!) Follow along with this self-paced online course that you can take from anywhere at any time.

There are now 2 ways to take it – either purchase the whole course at once for a discount or “create your own” course by purchasing just the parts you want! Either way, get 10% off for being a member of the Warped Community!

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I wanted to list some previous posts just in case you are looking for something specific.

Wellness For Makers Book Review

Inventive Weaving On A Little Loom Book Review

Inexpensive Looms You Can Get On Amazon

Using A Schacht Fringe Twister

All About Tapestry Beaters

Weaving Supplies I Use In My Own Studio

Gift Guide For Weavers (2020)

If you are a weaver then you are amazing! If you love a weaver then you are also amazing!

Let me know what is on your own wish list this year!


I’m New To Weaving, Where Do I Start?!?!

I’m New To Weaving, Where Do I Start?!?!

I have been getting more and more questions from new or prospective weavers about how to actually get started with weaving. The world of weaving is vast and if you do not already have a clear idea of where you want to go it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to start. 

Warped Fibers has well over 100 posts to teach you all about different types of weaving, tutorials for techniques, material and tool spotlights, weaving philosophy and so much more. That being said, you don’t know what you don’t know, so how do you know where to go first?

Weaving Guide For The Absolute Beginner

First, you will want to start your weaving journey by grabbing my FREE guide.

This guide will walk you through the very basics of figuring out where to start – including the most common weaving terms, types of weavings, types of looms, and more. This guide also includes many links that will help you move forward.

These links all go to various beginner friendly posts here on Warped Fibers that are great to read through to help you with the basics.

What happens after all of this though?

Go exploring

weaving options infographic

Instagram and pinterest are both perfect for finding inspiration to try and figure out what types of weaving you want to learn. Weaving comes in many different shapes and forms. By doing a bit of research and answering a few questions you can get a better idea of what you want to pursue.

See if you can answer these questions to get started:

Do you want to weave tapestry?

Are you interested in: 

  • Imagery?
  • Abstract? 

Do you want to weave functional work?

Are you interested in: 

  • Scarves?
  • Towels?
  • Yardage for pillows etc.?

Are you interested in:

Do you like to work big?

Do you like to work small?

What is your material budget?

What is your equipment budget?

All of these questions can lead you to a good place to start with figuring out what is right for you. If you said yes to all of the above, well, then try to narrow it down to what is the most accessible for you to start out with. There will be time for you to try out everything eventually!

Want to learn how to weave tapestry? It is more than just imagery (although that can be a big part of it too!) Follow along with this self-paced online course that you can take from anywhere at any time.

There are now 2 ways to take it – either purchase the whole course at once for a discount or “create your own” course by purchasing just the parts you want! Either way, get 10% off for being a member of the Warped Community!

Take a weaving class

floor loom weaving class
Floor Loom Weaving @ Pine Camp Cultural Arts Center

One of the best ways for anyone to start weaving is to take a class. 

Taking a weaving class allows you to not only learn from a weaver and ask questions, but if the class is in-person then it also allows you to use the tools and materials without purchasing them for yourself! 

This is especially great for classes that involve large equipment like floor looms that you may want to try out before you invest the money and space in your home. I have had many students use this method and many who continue to take the class to keep access to the floor looms without purchasing and housing one themselves.

Classes can also help you to get started faster because the planning is usually already done for you. This way you can get into the weaving faster! Hopefully, the class will also teach you the planning, but admittedly it sometimes helps to get to the fun stuff before the tedious things when starting something new.

You can learn about planning your weaving project from my Weaving Planning & Process Guide.

rigid heddle weaving class set up

Taking a weaving class is also great because it allows you to dedicate a specific time to learn something. Sometimes it can be hard to sit down and learn on your own time. That being said, you might want something you can do on your own time.

Online classes are great options if there are no classes near you or you can’t make them work with your schedule. These classes can usually be done on your own time so you don’t have to worry about learning to weave around someone else’s schedule, instead you get to learn on your own!

You can learn more about my online Tapestry class that you can take whenever you get the chance here!

Just start

tapestry weaving sampler 2 and 4 selvedge weaving

If after everything else, you are still not sure where to start, then I recommend just starting anywhere. I know that can be easy to say and not always easy to do, but tough love time.

Just start!

Let me let you in a little secret:

Your first weaving does not have to be perfect. Either does your second or your 100th.

It can be really easy to get caught up in the idea that you have to learn every little thing before you get started. And while I recommend learning about the techniques and mediums you want to use, if you wait to start anything until you know everything then you will never start.

So grab some cardboard, wrap some yarn around it, and try bringing weft to warp. 

Learn how to make your own cardboard loom here.

Starting with a simple plain weave, you can get a feel for the act of weaving itself by playing with your materials. Think about color, texture, and more. Then think about what you wish you could be weaving and that is probably a good place to go next!

Samples can also be a great way to try things out before you devote your time and materials to a full project. If you go into a weaving knowing that it is a trial then it can help allow you to take chances and make mistakes. This is what will really help you to learn.

Learn more about why samples are important here.

If you are just trying things out then weaving with paper can also be a really good starting point. It is a surprisingly versatile weaving material that can go far beyond children’s crafts. It is also inexpensive which means it can be an accessible option for just about anyone.

Weaving with paper isn’t just for kids! Learn all about how you can take this simple material and bring it to the next level in this 35-page ebook with full-color images, infographics, and instruction! Plus, use the provided pattern at the end of the ebook for exploring beyond plain weave!

The question of where to start your weaving adventure doesn’t have only one answer. Figuring out why weaving is calling to you can be one of the most helpful ways to find a starting place, and so does just starting literally anywhere.

One of the things that I love about creating this site is that I can bring weaving information to anyone who is willing to come find it. You can join my mailing list at any time and get an email whenever there is a new post. That way you can learn things you didn’t even know you didn’t know.

Weaving Tool Spotlight – Yarn Holders

Weaving Tool Spotlight – Yarn Holders

I love to deep dive into different equipment that you can use in your weaving studio because there is so. much. out. there! No matter what equipment you are buying (or making!) there will be different options that you have to choose from and sometimes it’s hard to know what the best option is for you.

Today we are talking about weaving yarn holders – what types you should use, when to use them, and how to make your own!

First, though, while you can definitely get away with not having yarn holders at all (I did it for years!) not having one means that your yarn may be rolling around your floor collecting dust or just generally getting as far away from you as possible. Using a yarn holder makes life and weaving a bit easier.

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

What types of yarn holders are out there?

Weaving yarn holders come in different shapes, sizes, and can hold different amounts of types of yarn.

For the most part when you think about a holder for your weaving yarn, you are looking for something that can hold a cone or tube of yarn in place while your are moving the yarn from the cone to somewhere else. That being said, weaving with knitting and crochet yarn can also be a great way to expand your weaving possibilities and this yarn may require a different type of holder.

The stick yarn holder

vertical weaving yarn holder double

horizontal weaving yarn holder

This type of weaving yarn holder is the most common type that you will find when looking for an option for your weaving yarn. At its simplest, this holder is just a dowel rod that sits upright in a base. That is it! This is an option that is easily made if you have a few tools on hand and just a little bit of time. 

Don’t worry! I will go over that further down in the post.

This type of yarn holder can be either singular or can have multiple rods to hold multiple cones at a time. The multiple cone option can be really great if you want to warp multiple warps at the same time or if you are sharing a holder with someone else in a studio. We do that a lot in my classes.

Some of them might also have another part to it that helps to direct the yarn a bit more by threading your yarn through an eye (like this one here.) This can be a great option if you can’t have your yarn holder close to you when you are warping. This will help keep things clean and tangle-free.

Another option is the horizontal yarn holder that works best for yarns that can be found on tubes as they tend to be smaller.

Choosing between vertical and horizontal yarn holders is mostly a matter of type of yarns you use and personal preference. If you only ever weave with smaller yarns, then this one is really great because it has different spots for multiple yarns plus areas to store smaller tubes or even thread.

Regardless of whether you choose vertical or horizontal, ideally your yarn holder will have a bit of weight to it so it’s not sliding around while you use it. Otherwise, you might as well just put your yarn on the floor!

You can find the double vertical yarn holder on Amazon here!

You can find the horizontal yarn holder on Amazon here!

The bowl yarn holder

yarn bowl with yarn

When you are using yarn that comes from a ball or cake then you can usually use the stick yarn holder but you also have the option of using a yarn bowl. These bowls are basically just like any bowl you would use in your kitchen but they have a hole or a spiral slot to thread your yarn through. This keeps the yarn from jumping out of the bowl. You can usually find these in either wood or ceramic and can sometimes even come in cute designs!

This type of holder would most likely not work for any sort of cone or tube unless it was small enough to fit in the bowl. I still would not recommend using a yarn bowl for cones or tubes, though, since it wouldn’t move as smoothly. 

If you are working exclusively from yarn balls then you could really choose whichever option appeals to you the most since they will work on either option. If you are working from both forms of yarn or just weaving yarns then I would recommend the stick option.

Grab this yarn bowl on Amazon here.

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!

When to use a yarn holder

Unlike some of the other weaving equipment we have talked about on Warped Fibers, the yarn holder is a tool used for the prep part of the weaving process and not the actual weaving part itself.

If you are interested in other weaving tool guides you can check these out:

Tapestry beaters

Tapestry needles

Warp separators

Shuttles, bobbins, & butterflies

When you are warping

students using shared yarn holder

Regardless of whether you are direct or indirect warping, you will need to find a place to house your yarn while it is going from the cone to its next destination. 

Don’t forget, if you do not have a yarn holder then your yarn may start rolling across your studio (this has happened to me SO MANY TIMES) and either getting away from you so you have to chase it and/ or collecting some of the dust bunnies that may live around your loom…

Learn how to use a warping board here.

Learn about direct vs indirect warping here.

When you are winding your shuttle 

wind shuttle with yarn holder

Another one of the big circumstances where you would want to use a weaving yarn holder is when you are winding your shuttles. For pretty much the same reason that you would want to use one while warping, having a tool to keep your yarn in place while your wind it onto your shuttle can be incredibly helpful and help keep your frustration down.

Learn how to wind your weaving shuttles and bobbins here.

Embroidery weaving is a hybrid technique of embroidery and weaving! It is a fun and portable weaving technique that is perfect for beginner and advanced weavers alike. The Warped Fibers Embroidery Weaving Kit contains everything you need for at least 3 samples and a finished embroidery weaving. Plus, if you have never done this technique before – don’t worry! The kit also comes with a download that will walk you through the process.

How to make your own stick yarn holder

Previously we talked about the fact that the stick yarn holder is basically just a dowel rod and a base and this means that it is pretty simple to make your own, if that’s your jam!

To create your own yarn holder you will need:

A dowel rod (I’m using 3/8 inch)

Hand saw

Drill and drill bit (drill bit the same size as your dowel rod)

Wood block (scrap wood is fine!)

Wood glue (optional)


materials for diy yarn holder

drill into yarn holder base

Choosing the size for your dowel rod can be decided by trying out a few options with the yarn you currently have. You do not want to choose a dowel rod that is too thin because then it won’t have the strength that it needs to withstand any pull on it, but you don’t want it too thick that you can actually have it house your yarn cones or tubes.

For my holder I am using a size 3/8 inch dowel rod cut down to 10 inches with my hand saw. I also recommend sanding down the end of your dowel rod to make it nice and smooth for your yarn and yourself.

I took everything outside to drill the hole so it would require less clean up. A 3/8 inch hole is pretty big so it could make a large mess. Keep that in mind.

With your drill you will drill a hole into the center of your wood base either all the way through or about 3/4. I opted for 3/4 just so I didn’t accidentally drill into my deck railing, but you can do whatever works best for you.

Your dowel rod will fit snugly into the hole you just drilled! You can glue it if you never plan to take this apart or you can keep it unglued if you want to be able to store it more easily.

That’s it!

finished diy yarn holder

How to make your own yarn bowl

diy yarn bowl

If you have access to a clay or wood studio you could make a really nice yarn bowl, but we are going a little more low tech for this option.

What you need to create your own yarn bowl:

A bowl

A paperclip and masking tape

Or a clip with openings at the top

Can you see where this is going?

If you are using the paper clip then grab any bowl that you have that will easily hold your yarn ball and tape your paperclip to the inside with your masking tape. Make sure that there is enough of the paper clip about the rim of your bowl for your yarn to go through.

Using the clip is even easier because all you have to do is clip it on to your bowl and thread your yarn through the top openings.

This is probably as easy as it gets.

While using a yarn holder of any type is not a necessity for your weaving process, it can be a helpful tool to create a smoother and less frustrating weaving experience. There are many different types that you can choose from, but all of them should help you out and make your life just a little bit easier.

All About Heddle Rods

All About Heddle Rods

Weaving isn’t always fast.

It is actually pretty rarely fast.

That being said, some looms will help you to weave faster than others and for those that are a little more manual, we can “upgrade” them easily enough to work a little more for you!

This upgrade is a heddle rod and is perfect for simple frame looms and rigid heddle looms to expand the ease and speed of your weaving for different patterns.

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

Manual vs assisted weaving

weaving shed on floor loom

When you think of weaving, at least at the core of what it is, you may think of over, under, over, under. This is how you manually weave plain weave. 

If you need a refresher on basic weaving patterns then make sure to read this post here.

Manual weaving is when you physically move your weft yarn over and under your warp yarns with a tapestry needle, bobbin, or something similar. This method is usually the least expensive method because it does not require a “fancy” loom but also usually the slowest since it requires you to weave o ver individual warps at a time. It also means you are responsible for keeping your pattern as you do. 

Manual weaving requires you to keep track of your pattern on a warp by warp basis, which may not be a big feat, but it may require some extra thinking. That being said, it also allows you to switch up your weaving pattern at any time with no extra steps. This is a fun experiment if you are looking for something a little different. 

Read about weaving with different patterns in the same weaving here.

Want to learn how to weave tapestry? It is more than just imagery (although that can be a big part of it too!) Follow along with this self-paced online course that you can take from anywhere at any time.

There are now 2 ways to take it – either purchase the whole course at once for a discount or “create your own” course by purchasing just the parts you want! Either way, get 10% off for being a member of the Warped Community!

What I am calling assisted weaving is weaving with any sort of shed system. As a reminder your shed is the opening that is created as your warps are moved up and/or down. This opening is where you can slide your tapestry needle, shuttle, bobbin, etc. This can be a big advantage because it allows you to interact with your warps as a whole instead of individually. This is both faster and doesn’t require you to keep track of your pattern warp by warp. 

Keep in mind you still have to keep track of your pattern pick by pick, but it is still faster. 

Why you would use heddle rods

heddle rod and pick up stick on rigid heddle loom

While I have made no secret of my love of weaving on a simple frame loom, I also can not deny that having some weaving assistance is nice! Depending on what you are weaving and how much time you have to weave it, this assistance might also be necessary.

While you can always purchase a loom with a built in shed system, you may prefer a simple frame loom or it may be all you have. When this is the case, you are not out of luck because that is when heddle rods come into play. 

Heddle rods are incredibly handy when you are weaving a pattern other than plain weave on a simple frame loom. They may take some extra time to set up, but they will save you a lot of time in the long run. Each heddle rod functions the same way as a harness on a floor loom. 

If the pattern is really complicated this also helps cut down on the mistakes that may come up with the pattern. 

Heddle rods do not only need to be used on simple frame looms, though. They can also be really helpful when weaving pick up on rigid heddle (like the image above), or just creating a second heddle when your rigid heddle loom does not have the set up for a second heddle (like the Schacht Cricket Rigid Heddle Loom.)

How to set up heddle rods

heddle rod options and simple frame loom

When setting up a heddle rod all you need is a sturdy yarn (scrap yarn if you have it), dowel rods (you could also use chopsticks, pencils, etc.), scissors, and tape (I like washi tape because it is easy to remove and can easily be color coded!) You may also want a guide, but I will get to that in a minute.

If you are using dowel rods then you will want to make sure they are wider than your weaving by at least an inch if it is a small weaving or more if it is larger. This will make sure that your loops stay on the rod and you can easily pick it up. I cut a long dowel rod I already head on hand with a small hand saw for this, but use what you have.

measuring heddle rod to cut

The general idea of a heddle rod is that it is connected by loops of yarn to all of the warps that you want to lift up for your pattern. Starting off with plain weave, this means that you will have a loop of yarn around every other warp yarn on one heddle rod and a loop around the other warp yarns on a second heddle rod. 

It is important to make sure that all of your heddle loops are the same length so that your heddle rod works efficiently and is not wonky. One of the best ways to do that is by using a simple guide for cutting your loops. I like to use my EPI mini loom for this, but you can use anything that is the right size and rigid. Cardboard cut to the right size makes a really great guide too.

measuring and cutting loops for heddle rod

Wrap your yarn around and around your guide as many times as you need and then cut them all in the same place to create multiple loops of the same length. You also will need to make sure to tie your knots in the same place. I am using a simple overhand knot for these.

You can read more about weaving knots here.

Take your first loop, fold it in half, and bring it around the warp that needs to be pulled up. Put your dowel rod through the two ends of the loop. Continue doing this for every warp in your pattern and then put tape on the first and last loop to keep them from sliding off.

heddle rod set up

heddle rod set up

tape on heddle rod

If using washi tape you can use different colors to mark the different parts of the pattern or you can number them. Whatever works best for you.

For patterns other than plain weave you may need to loop your yarn around multiple adjacent warps at a time (You can see this in the rigid heddle image at the beginning of the post.) Keep this in mind when you are cutting your loops and make them a little longer if needed.

If your pattern is complicated it may help you to draw out your pattern on graph paper to follow while setting up your heddle rods. This way you can also mark off parts of the pattern as you go making it easier to not miss parts or duplicate them. 

Continue this same process for every line of your pattern. For the plain weave pattern I am following in this post, I will have 2 heddle rods total.

2 heddle rods

Using a heddle rod

create shed with heddle rod

keep shed open with shed stick

When it is time to weave with your heddle rods you will also need a pick up stick, ruler, stick shuttle, or another long flat object to keep your shed open. Just make sure whatever you use isn’t too sharp on the edges so you don’t fray your warp! For this reason I usually stay clear of metal rulers and opt for wooden options.

To create your shed you will want to pull up on the correct heddle rod until it creates a large opening. Slide the heddle stick into this shed and flip it up so that it holds the shed open for you to slide in your weft! Once your weft is positioned you can slide out your stick or flip it back down and use it to beat your weft into place.

Move onto the next heddle rod in the sequence and do the same thing! 

Embroidery weaving is a hybrid technique of embroidery and weaving! It is a fun and portable weaving technique that is perfect for beginner and advanced weavers alike. The Warped Fibers Embroidery Weaving Kit contains everything you need for at least 3 samples and a finished embroidery weaving. Plus, if you have never done this technique before – don’t worry! The kit also comes with a download that will walk you through the process.

Using a heddle rod is a great way to expand your weaving options and make weaving complicated patterns on simple looms easier! While they take a little extra time to set up, the time they could save you during your weaving will most definitely make up for it.

That being said, it might be worth it to weigh whether or not creating heddle rods for a small weaving is worth it. Try it out and decide what works best for you!

“Lazy Weaving” & A Woven Coaster Project

“Lazy Weaving” & A Woven Coaster Project

Sometimes you just want to create an easy woven project that does not take a lot of extra thought or planning. Even better if it also does not require a lot of extra finishing techniques as well. From start to finish, lazy weaving projects are simple, fast, and satisfying.

If you are looking for a project that allows you to just keep weaving until you run out of warp and get lost in the weaving process then these lazy woven coasters are perfect or you. 

Why lazy weaving can be great

woven coasters long weaving

First, let’s talk a little bit about what I am affectionately calling “lazy” weaving. This style of weaving is not actually lazy as it still requires you to warp your loom and weave up your project. 

Instead, lazy weaving means the skipping of steps that are not necessary for the success of the weaving.

In the case of these coasters, the difference between lazy and “non-lazy” weaving is that we are not separating the coasters by adding in spacers. While this may seem like a small difference, when it comes down to the finishing process we will be going for a much faster solution. When you weave in spacers it means you will have to finish all of the selvedges which can take a long time.

Weaving this way means that you get to Just. Keep. Weaving! 

Go ahead and get lost in the process. Put on an audiobook or stream that new show. Have a weave-along with friends and get lost in the conversation. (all highly recommended!)

Embroidery weaving is a hybrid technique of embroidery and weaving! It is a fun and portable weaving technique that is perfect for beginner and advanced weavers alike. The Warped Fibers Embroidery Weaving Kit contains everything you need for at least 3 samples and a finished embroidery weaving. Plus, if you have never done this technique before – don’t worry! The kit also comes with a download that will walk you through the process.

This method will not work for every type of weaving you do. It may not even work for a lot of weavings that you can do, but if you are looking for something that will allow you worry a bit less and produce a useful product then this is perfect. 

Lazy weaving means taking shortcuts when they are appropriate but it does not mean sacrificing the integrity of your weaving. You still probably want to pay attention to your beat and your selvedges. Make sure the weaving itself lives up to your ideals and just keep going.

In other circumstances, lazy weaving may mean not caring about your selvedges because you are planning to sew your fabric into something else or not weaving in your tails for the same reason.

The pattern

woven coasters on rigid heddle loom

Let’s move onto a project!

You could use a lot of different patterns for this project, but the one that I am using here is adapted from my colorblock scarf pattern. If you haven’t already joined the Warped Community (for free!) make sure you do and you will get access to the colorblock scarf pattern and more! Join here.

This is a really great pattern for this coaster project because it is bold and simple. 

Unlike the original pattern we are stopping each color block sooner since our weaving is thinner. Each color block is about 2.5 inches long instead of 6. You can weave an extra pick or so of weft for each color too to make up for the space needed to sew between each one, but if you don’t then that’s ok! They will be just a little shorter than 5 inches. We are weaving lazy here, so do whatever feels right.

The width of our weaving is also 5 inches instead of 10 from the original pattern. This gets us 5 inch square coasters with 2 color blocks on each one.

Preparing your coasters for sewing

woven coasters tail error

Sewing your weavings can be really scary sometimes. I did an entire post about how to get over your fear of sewing handwoven fabric and you can read about that here.

That being said, we are doing something a little bit different this time around.

First thing you will want to do is finish up your weft tails. I highly recommend you do this before you do any sewing on your fabric. If you wait to do this step later then there is a really good chance that you will accidentally sew one of your tales onto your weaving (see image above. oops.) You should be able to cut any trapped tails, but it is a lot easier to just do the work at the beginning instead of fixing it later.

Learn about dealing with your weft tails here.

wash woven coasters

Next, you will need to wash your weaving.

This will make sure that your yarn has filled out and settled.

Handwash your weaving with a gentle soap and warm water and you will want to agitate it some, but not too much. I am using 100 percent wool so I am actually hoping for it to felt a bit. This will make it even easier to sew. If you are not using wool or your are using a superwash wool then don’t worry. It will still sew up fine without felting!

Learn more about yarn treatments here.

After washing, the best way for your weaving to dry is to lay it flat on a towel. I usually just leave mine overnight.

After your weaving is fully dry we can sew our individual coasters!

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!

Sewing our woven coasters

We will be using a regular straight stitch and going over it twice to make sure all of your warps and weft are secure. You could also use a zig-zag stitch instead, but without a backing on your weaving this can be a bit sketchy at times. At least on my sewing machine it moves the yarns too much. Doubling your straight stitches are a safer option.

I always like to practice on a scrap piece of fabric first to make sure my sewing machine is behaving. You don’t want to start sewing on your handwoven fabric only for your sewing machine to get stuck! Sacrifice some normal fabric first!

start sewing with test fabric

sewing lazy woven coasters

The first line of sewing will be up against your warp ends. I usually just tie off my warps for a fast option to keep everything in place to take it off the loom. I go over the same line twice to make sure to catch each and every yarn. This will help to make sure nothing escapes after you cut your weaving.

Next, you will want to sew two parallel lines just on either side of a color block change with about a quarter of inch between them.

You will cut between these lines when you are finished. You can either sew and then cut and sew more, or sew all of your coasters at once and then cut. It is entirely up to you!

sewing woven coasters

Finishing your coasters

cut apart woven coasters

finished lazy woven coasters

After cutting your coasters apart you may need to clean them up a bit.

Trim any threads left over from sewing and gently tug at the sewn selvedges of your coasters. You may get some errant pieces of yarn or fuzz that come out of the edge. This is totally normal! Just pull them out and trim your coasters until they look clean.

Your lazy woven coasters are now ready to use!

What are your thoughts on lazy weaving? Let me know!

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