Why You Should Make Bad Weavings

Why You Should Make Bad Weavings

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

I definitely did. 

This is ok. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

So hear me out here.

You should make bad weavings.

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

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

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

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

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Why you should make mistakes in your weaving

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

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

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

*I am glad you are here!*

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yep, I made that.

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

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

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

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

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

The amazing thing about happy accidents

learn from bad weaving

“Ugh. I did not mean to do that.”

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

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

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

Let me clarify that a bit.

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

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

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

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

Bad weavings are a great starting point

turn bad weavings into samples

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

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

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

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

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

Learn. From. It.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Fix A Broken Warp On Any Loom

How To Fix A Broken Warp On Any Loom

What is the worst thing that can happen while you are weaving?

Depending on who you ask, the answer may be “a broken warp”.

While this is not an ideal thing to have to deal with, it is not the end of the world! A small setback – yes, but something that is actually very easy to deal with once you know how to do it!

One of my favorite things about weaving is how easy it can be to fix any mistakes that you make and issues that come up. 

Regardless of the type of loom you are using, your fixed warp will be just as simple to weave with as your previous warp was. You may end up having 2 extra tails to deal with when your weaving is off the loom, but in the grand scheme of things – this is doable.

I believe in you!

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Why your warp is breaking

Luckily, with a bit of forethought, a broken warp should not be a regular occurrence. Sometimes they do happen though and these are a few reasons why:

  • Getting twisted in your heddles – make sure to double-check your threading as you go. It is important to make sure your warp is going through the heddles straight or it adds stress on the yarn.
  • Too much friction in reed – if your warp is too thick or there is just too much stress on your yarn (selvedges pulling in a lot) then the reed may be putting friction on it.
  • Accidently cutting it when you mean to cut weft – oops! 
  • Picked the wrong warp – Warp yarns should be strong! If you are trying to use yarns that do not meet the strength test then they will be more likely to break. While a broken warp here and there is not something to get too worried about – having yarn that is unsuitable for warp will make trying to weave with it an uphill battle. Do yourself a favor and do not choose yarn that is not strong enough for the job. Learn more about picking the right warp yarn here.

If you are not sure why your warp is breaking then try to see where it is breaking. This can help you determine the problem.

Fixing a broken warp on a simple frame loom

broken warp on simple frame loom

What you need: extra warp yarn

One of the best things about a simple frame loom is just how simple it is! That even extends to fixing a broken warp. 

Learn more about simple frame looms here.

This method is best for when you do not have a lot woven. If you have already woven a lot then you can follow the instructions in the next section for the notched loom where we do not completely replace the warp.

The first thing you will want to do when you have a broken warp is to tie off the top of the warp yarn to the frame to keep your tension even. This is important because your warp is one continuous piece of yarn. A simple square knot will be fine for this.

Learn more about weaving knots here.

Cut a piece of yarn to be your replacement warp. This warp yarn will need to be longer than the height of your weaving so that you have enough yarn to tie it to the frame. The amount extra will depend on the frame you are using and how much yarn you personally need to tie a knot.

Next: tie this new warp yarn to the bottom of the frame in the same spot as the broken warp.

new warp on a simple frame loom

Then with your tapestry needle, follow the warp channel (include your scaffolding with this) and up through your weaving. Be careful not to pierce the weft yarns on the front or the back of your weaving!

Take this new warp yarn and tie it to the top of your frame, again make sure to go through your scaffolding. This will be next to your original tied warp. 

fix broken warp

Once your new warp is in place you can remove the old warp from your weaving and tie it to the bottom of your frame. This will keep the tension of your weaving.

Done! Keep weaving like nothing ever happened.

tie on broken warp on simple frame loom

Fixing a broken warp on a notched frame loom

broken warp on notched frame loom

What you need: extra warp yarn

Fixing a broken warp yarn on a notched frame loom is essentially the exact same as fixing a broken warp yarn on a simple frame loom. This is because neither one of them has an advancing warp. These smaller weavings are easier to fix because you can just tie a new warp yarn onto your frame in place of the broken one. 

The same options also apply. If your woven area is small then I recommend a full replacement, and if your woven area is large then your broken warp yarn should stay in place with the new warp yarn overlapping and taking over for the rest of the weaving.

The size of the woven area in these photos is small enough that I could have done a full replacement, but I opted for an overlapped warp for the sake of this post.

tie on broken warp to frame loom

If you are overlapping your warp then instead of weaving up the entire warp channel, you would instead weave into your scaffolding and then float the warp on the back of the weaving until a few inches below the top of your woven area. Then weave up the remaining few inches of your warp channel and tie your new warp to the top of the loom. 

This is much simpler than trying to weave up the warp channel of a large weaving but it still anchors the warp in place for easy weaving.

broken warp float on weaving

Your old warp yarn will stay in place and your new warp yarn will overlap it by a few wefts. The friction of the weft on the broken warp will keep the tension intact for the remainder of the weaving.

The pictures show the warp floating on the front of the weaving because it is easier to fix this way, but you will want to push these tails to the back of the weaving when you are finishing it. This will make it look cleaner.

fixing a broken warp on a notched frame loom

Once the weaving is finished and off the loom you can weave the broken warp and the new warp back into the weaving. Pull the new warp from the scaffolding to free it to be woven in. This is done in the same way as you would weave in your weft tails.

Learn how to weave in your weft tails here.

You can find the notched loom I am using here.

Fixing a broken warp on a rigid heddle and floor loom

What you need: extra warp yarn, t-pins, weights, something to hold your extra warp

Fixing a broken warp on a rigid heddle loom and a floor loom (and also a table loom!) is basically the same because the warp mechanics are very similar.

The biggest difference will be in the weights and types of weights you will be able to use since floor looms are much taller than their rigid heddle and table counterparts. It is possible you can use similar weights, but you will have to play around with the right options to maintain the right tension on your warp.

The first thing you need to do for a broken warp on an advancing warp loom is to measure out a new warp yarn to replace the broken one. I always like to make notes on my weavings for occasions like these. That way I know exactly how long my replacement warp yarn should be.

Re-sleying a broken warp on a rigid heddle loom

Take this warp over to your loom and tie a small square knot at one end.

Insert your t-pin into this knot and insert your t-pin into your weaving a few inches below where your woven area has stopped. Be careful when inserting your t-pin into your weaving that you do not pierce your weaving. Also, I recommend putting the tip of the pin toward the back of your weaving so you do not pierce yourself…

Next, you will re-sley your reed or your rigid heddle with your new warp yarn. If using a floor or table loom you will need to also re-thread your heddle.

The remainder of your yarn can be wrapped around a weight and left to hang from the back of your weaving.

If you have old film canisters or pill bottles these work really well to contain the remainder of your warp so it is not dragging on the ground.

broken warp with weight

broken warp with weight

The weight that you choose will depend on the amount of tension that you need. Fishing weights are really good options because they are small and heavy, but you can use anything that is easy to get your hands on!

You will need to let out the extra warp as you keep weaving and moving your warp forward. Just think of this as a way to make sure you get up and stretch occasionally!

fixing a broken warp on a rigid heddle or floor loom

Your new warp will weave in seamlessly and beyond letting out some warp from the weight occasionally, your weaving experience will be the same.

Once your weaving is finished you can take it off your loom as usual.

To start your finishing process: remove your t-pin or straight pin and untie your square knot. You will finish this the same way as any other broken warp. Weave in your broken and new warp up and down the warp channels. It is ok if your new warp tail is on the shorter side, weave it in anyway. It will be overlapping your old warp so everything should stay in place.

This works even if you have a balanced weaving and you can see the warps. I have circled where the warps overlap in the picture below.

Barely noticeable!

The Schacht Flip folding rigid heddle loom I am using can be found here.

fixing a broken warp overlapping warp

When a warp breaks it can be easy to stress out and get discouraged. Luckily, if you follow any of the steps above then it should not be any more than a few minutes of extra time added to your weaving!

Best Weaving Looms For Beginners

Best Weaving Looms For Beginners

Starting out on your weaving adventure can be a bit daunting. There is so much to learn and so much to buy! This is a common topic here at Warped Fibers because I am always hoping to bring more people around to weaving.

Why wouldn’t I?

Weaving is awesome.

I have talked a bit about what you need to start weaving here and if you want to know the looms and supplies I use in my studio you can see those here.

Also if you are a new weaver or just someone looking for a weaving refresher then check out my FREE Weaving Guide For The Absolute Beginner. 



You can enter your info into the form below to sign up for my mailing list to get access to the free guide or just click the link above!

You can also check out my beginner weaver post for even more weaving tips for when you are starting out!

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Table of Contents

Looms are one weaving supply that might be the scariest to buy because they are the one that is the most exclusive to weaving. Everything else that you will need you will probably already have or will be able to use for other things. 

What to look for in a beginner loom

Once you get to know what you want to do it can be easier to figure out what type of loom you want. I will be going over the 2 main types of weavings that you will probably be starting with and what type of loom you will need to weave them.

That being said, there are so many different looms out there, and all of them offer different things.

When you are first starting out it can be a good idea to try to find a goldilocks loom that is not too expensive and has some options but is still simple to use.

If you want to go all out from the beginning because you do not want to buy another loom later, just remember that there is nothing wrong with having more than one loom! You can also upgrade later once you know what you really like. There are many different places you can sell a used loom if you decide to make room for a new one.

Other things you might be looking for are a frame loom with a stand for easier weaving or a loom that is small either for storage or portability.

Make yourself a list and go from there.

Why you should start weaving with a frame loom

beginner friendly looms - frame looms

If you are new to weaving or looking to get into it then these are my recommendations for looms to get you started and get you hooked!

If you are brand new to weaving then the best way to dip your needle in is with a frame loom!

Frame looms are my favorite beginner looms and not just because they are how I originally started weaving.

That being said, there is a reason that most people start with frame weaving. They are (mostly) inexpensive, (mostly) small, and generally easy to warp. 

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!


Frame looms are just about as simple as you can get when it comes to starting your weaving journey. While, yes, you can start with a cardboard loom (learn how to make a cardboard loom here) if you have the ability I recommend you give a frame loom a try instead.

Frame looms will not only give you better warp tension but also will not fall apart after a few uses. They can even be just as inexpensive or almost as inexpensive as just pulling some cardboard out of your recycling bin. 

That is because you can use a repurposed picture frame that you already have laying around or grab something from a clearance section for only a few dollars. 

This type of loom is called a simple frame loom and if you want to learn more about them then you can learn about simple frame looms here. 

Speaking of warp tension, their ability to hold a very high tension makes frame looms ideal for tapestry weaving. If you are wanting to start your weaving adventure with tapestry then frame looms are the best option.

If you want something that may actually be simpler than a simple frame loom then you can get a loom with notches or make one with nails. These will warp up even faster than a simple frame loom (which already warps up fast) because everything is already spaced out and good to go.

You can also learn about spacing hacks for your simple frame loom here.

Easy to warp

Since there are many different types of frame looms there are varying degrees of difficulty when it comes to warping your loom. All of them though, are going to allow you to get weaving fast and with little effort.

The easiest frame looms to warp are going to be ones with dedicated notches or nails with either no shed system or a simple heddle bar (see above video.) These looms require no extra math to figure out your EPI and keep your warp spaced perfectly as you go.

Other types of frame looms are not hard to warp, but they may require a little extra effort. They do have their advantages though.

Learn about different types of frame looms here.

Learn specifically about simple frame looms (my favorites) here.

They don’t take up a lot of space

Most frame looms are small.

This means that not only are they good for travel, but they are also good for when you do not have a bunch of dedicated space to devote to a skill that you may not even love.

Do not worry. You will love it.

That sounded threatening… anyway.

Not only do you probably not know if you will love to weave or not, but you may not even know what you really want to weave. It is never a bad idea to start small and work up from there. If you decide later that you want a larger loom of any type you can still rest easy knowing that you can always still use your frame loom for smaller weavings or samples.

You can read more about finding the best second loom here.

Why you should start weaving with a rigid heddle loom

Not everyone wants to weave tapestry.

When you are looking to weave something else, then a rigid heddle loom might be a better object for your creative input than a frame loom – at least to start.

Rigid heddle looms are great for weaving longer weavings that are either balanced or pattern woven, but tapestry should be left for a loom with the ability to hold more tension.

Easier to warp than a floor loom

Floor looms are notoriously annoying to warp. Not necessarily hard, but there are a lot of steps and it takes a while. The more steps there are, the more opportunities you have to make a mistake in the process.

Mistakes are good. They are how we learn. 

For most people though, when first starting anything new it is a good idea to start on the easier side to get hooked first. It is a lot easier to deal with things that can be frustrating when you love what you are doing. 

Rigid heddle looms have the ability to be warped directly instead of using a warping board or mill. This means that you eliminate a step in the warping process that requires you to measure out your warp first and then put it on your loom. Beyond this, the warping itself is simpler because there are fewer moving parts to deal with.

Unlike a floor loom, a rigid heddle loom only has 1 heddle for you to pull your warp through. This means fewer chances to make mistakes.

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!

Longer weavings than a frame loom

Sometimes a frame loom is just not going to cut it for what you want to weave. If you know going in that you want to weave scarves or other long pieces of fabric then starting with a frame loom may not make sense.

Weaving on a rigid heddle loom is great for when you want to create longer weavings and when you want to work on balanced or pattern weavings.

With its ability to have an advancing warp you can create weavings that just keep going!

Even if your goal is not to weave something specific, rigid heddle looms can be great for beginners because they allow you a lot of room to practice your weaving skills. Weaving, just like any other skill, will only keep improving with time and practice.

The more time you have to weave without having to re-warp your loom keeps you in the weaving mind-frame longer. A.K.A. more time to get hooked!

My beginner loom recommendations

choosing beginner looms

If you really just want to get started with no fuss then purchasing a loom that already has notches and a shed device will get you weaving the fastest with the least amount of learning involved in the warping process. 

Frame looms

If you are going the simple frame loom route then you can use any old frame you have laying around or one that is found in a clearance bin to keep it cheap. You can also use canvas stretcher bars for a more tailored size. I usually purchase mine here.

Another inexpensive frame loom that is great for beginners is this notched loom that you can find on Amazon.

Easy to warp? Check

Inexpensive? Check

Portable and easy to store? Check

Heddle bar capability? Check

Rigid Heddle Looms

Rigid heddle looms for beginners are usually less expensive, but still capable of weaving a lot of different techniques including pick-up weaving.

The Schacht Cricket rigid heddle loom is great for beginners because it is small and does not have any extra frills. You can read my full review here.

Take a class

If you are still having some doubts then the best loom to start with is one that you do not own! Taking a local class helps you to get your needle on the loom without committing to anything you have to keep in your home. A lot of times you will get to use a loom that may even be beyond beginner status (but still has beginner capabilities.)

If you are in the Richmond, Virginia area then check out my in-person classes. If you are not, then just google weaving in your area to get in with a local weaver who can teach you on their looms before you purchase your own!

Floating Selvedges – When Do You Need Them?

Floating Selvedges – When Do You Need Them?

Floating selvedges are an essential part of weaving patterns.

They make your life easier with each pick you weave and mean you do not have to think too hard about what you are doing. Instead, they allow you to be lost in the process of weaving – as you should be.

Let’s back up a bit though and first start with the big question.

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What are floating selvedges?

floating selvedge

Floating selvedges are used on floor looms and table looms and are extra warps on each side of your weaving that are not threaded into any heddles. Since they are not threaded they will float above the rest of your warp and be stationary for the entirety of your weaving. You can see them in the image above as the first and last warps that are above all of the others.

These floating warps act as an anchor for your selvedges so that your weaving remains stable all the way to its edges. 

When you need floating selvedges

If you are weaving plain weave or have only woven plain weave before you will have had no need to use or even know of floating selvedges. This is because with plain weave your selvedges warps are always caught by your weft when you switch to the next shed. 

Take a look at the diagram below.

If we break down plain weave into squares then we can easily see that the selvedges of your weaving are always alternating. This means that your weft will always catch as it moves up to the next pick. This creates a very stable weaving.

floating selvedge plain weave infographic

What if you are weaving something other than plain weave?

That is where your floating selvedges come into play!

Now let’s look at a new diagram.

In the diagram below we are looking at twill. In the areas at the selvedge of your twill weaving you can see there are times when instead of your warps alternating what is being woven they are sometimes repeated. This repeat means that your selvedge warp is not catching when it moves up to the next pick. 

Twill is one of the 3 basic weave structures. Learn more about the 3 basic weave structures here!

twill/ pattern floating selvedge infographic

If your weft does not catch then your selvedges will not only be less stable, but your pattern will not go all the way to the selvedge. 

In order to avoid this we use floating selvedges to catch any warps that would not have otherwise been woven. 

How to set up floating selvedges

threading floating selvedge

Floating warps are no harder to set up on your weaving than any other part. If anything they are technically easier because they do not have to be threaded through your heddles. The biggest part of the learning curve is understanding when to use them and then actually remembering to set them up.

You will have one floating warp on each selvedge of your weaving. These warps will be measured and sleighed through your reed just like all of your other warps. (I warp front to back so the instructions and information for floating selvedges will represent this.)

If you need to learn how to measure out your warp then read about how to use a warping board here!

When you go to thread your heddles you will sit the very first one aside and start your threading pattern with the second warp in the reed. Make sure to include the first warp in your bundle when you tie it onto your back beam. 

Do the same thing with your very last warp. Do not thread it in your heddles but do make sure you include it in your bundles!

That is it! That is how you set up your floating selvedges!

If you forget to set them up then it is not the end of the world. Like most things in weaving – everything is fixable!

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!

There are 2 main scenarios for when you forget to set up your floating selvedges.

First scenario: You have already threaded all of your heddles but you have not yet rolled your warp onto the back beam.

This is the easier fix of the 2 scenarios, although neither is very difficult. 

If you forget to leave out the floating selvedge warp of your threading pattern then you can easily remove that warp from the heddle it is in and then tie it onto your back beam as per usual.

If you do this then that means that you will technically be skipping the very first part of your pattern at the selvedge, but honestly, this is not that big of a deal. You probably will not even really notice when everything is said and done.

tieing on floating selvedge

Second scenario: You have finished rolling your warp onto the back beam.

In this second scenario, we have to almost create a broken warp-type system to add our floating selvedge without undoing all of your hard work. 

If you want to learn how to fix a broken warp then you can do that here.

The first thing you will want to do is measure out 2 additional warps on your warping board. These are your 2 floating warps.

You will tie these warps to your front apron bar and then sleigh them through your reed adjacent to the rest of your warp – one at the beginning and one at the end. 

At the other end of your warp yarn you will attach a weight of some sort to keep the tension on the warp as you weave. Make sure to put this warp over your back beam so that it distributes this tension evenly and does what it should do – float!

floating selvedge with weights

This scenario does create a weaving that is exactly 2 warps wider than your original weaving would have.

If this is something that you do not want then I recommend unwinding your warp from the back beam and going back to scenario 1. That being said, 2 warps will not make a huge difference in the size of your weaving. Decide whichever works best for you and your artwork.

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!

Using floating selvedges

When you are using floating selvedges it is important to be consistent.

Since these warps are not threaded into heddles it means that they are not going to move as you step on your treadles. 

This means that you actually get to choose when to go over and under your floating selvedges. It does not really matter which option you choose as long as you do it every time.

using shuttle with floating selvedge option 1

You can choose to go over both floating selvedges and then under both on the next pick. You could also choose to go over your right selvedge and under the left and then switch at the next pick.

using shuttle with floating selvedge option 2

Again, it does not matter as long as you do the same thing each time. The pattern you choose does not really matter because you will always be doing the opposite (over instead of under or vice versa) when you change your shed. 

Depending on the pattern you choose it may or may not tell you that you will need to use floating selvedges but you can mostly assume that if it is not plain weave, you will probably need them!

Beating Your Weft For The Best Weaving

Beating Your Weft For The Best Weaving

When it comes to weaving, the idea of beating your weft might seem like a pretty straightforward topic, but really there is a lot more to it than you might think!

First, though, what is your beat?

Your beat is the way and strength behind how you place your weft in your weaving. On multi-shaft looms, your reed is actually a part of your beater. When weaving tapestry you are probably using a tapestry beater. The beater is the tool, your beat is your “style”.

Your beat is incredibly important because not only does it change the way your weaving looks, but it can also change the way your weaving behaves, and the way you behave when you are weaving.

Depending on what you are weaving, you may be beating your weft too hard or not hard enough! So how do you know what to do for your specific weaving? 

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lace scarf on rigid heddle loom
Lace scarf on the loom with a great beat! We want the little windows in the plain weave!

It is really easy to beat way too hard when you are weaving a balanced weaving or patterns. I mean the word “beat” really makes you think that you have to put your entire body into it to make sure it goes where it needs to.

The fact is, that if your EPI is correct for the warp and weft you are using and you have set up your weaving correctly, then you really should not need to put all your strength into your beat.

You want to weave with the idea in your head that the wefts will not be touching. There should be little open squares between your warp and weft, which also allows you to easily see both the warp and the weft. If you are only seeing your weft or barely seeing your warp, then your beat is probably off. Creating these squares means you are building in space for your weaving to change when it is finished.

This is a really important thing to remember. Your weaving will change! That is one of the amazing things about a finished weaving is how it transforms when no longer under tension and once it has been wet finished. 

After a weaving has been taken off the loom it will relax. Your yarn will no longer be stretched and it will settle into place. This will give you a better idea of the drape and flow of the weaving.

Once it has been washed and dried your yarns will bloom! If you are weaving with protein and cellulose yarns then it will open up a bit and get softer. Your wool and cotton will probably shrink up a bit and close up those little holes that you were so worried about before. 

The towel in the image below 100% cotton yarn with an even beat. After washing, you can see that the holes have closed up to create a more even weaving suitable for a towel!

This tea towel pattern is available for download for Linen and Modal Patrons! You can join here!

washed vs unwashed woven towel to show correct beat

If you weave without the “addition” of these little square holes then you can expect a few different things.

First, you are putting way too much stress on yourself and possibly your loom. Trying to push your weft into a space that it does not want to be will only make your weaving experience less fun, less calming, and more expensive.

Yep, more expensive (this is the second point), because you will be using more yarn than you need to! If you are beating your weft too hard then you are increasing your PPI which results in using up more yarn than you would if you were beating correctly. 

Yarn is expensive! Don’t use more than you need to.

Third, if you beat too hard then you are forcing more weft into your weaving and changing it’s PPI and density. Denser fabric does not drape as well. Depending on what you are making, this may not be an issue, but it is still important to understand.

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I want to start this section off by saying that you usually do not want to ever be beating “hard”. You just want to beat appropriately to what you are creating. If your weaving is set up correctly, then your weft should slide into place exactly where it should go.

This is probably pretty rare outside of weaving weft-faced weavings, but it could happen. If you are worried about beating too hard then you may “pull back” on yourself a little too much and create too much space between your wefts. Again, we are looking for little square holes between warp and weft when we are weaving a balanced weaving.

What if we are weaving weft-faced and tapestry?

tapestry beat too loose vs just right

Weft-faced weavings are characterized by the fact that you cannot see the warp at all and only the weft. This means that the weft will be beat so that it covers up the warp completely. This is the same for tapestry. 

Again, ( I feel like I have said this so much, but…) if you set up your weaving with the correct EPI then this shouldn’t be an issue at all! Your weft-faced weavings will require a much smaller EPI than a balanced weaving so that there is enough space for the weft to fall between your warps. You DO NOT want little holes when you are weaving weft-faced. 

The biggest sign that you are not beating hard enough is that you have lice.

Eww. I know.

That is the technical term for when you see little bits of warp (a lot of times it is white) through your weft. For the purpose of making this sound less gross, I will now refer to it as rice instead. 

You’re welcome.

Rice happens on a weft-faced weaving either when you are not beating hard enough or your EPI is incorrect. If your warps are too close together (EPI too high) for the weft you are trying to use then it will not compress like you want it to. Instead it will behave more like a balanced weaving.

If your EPI is incorrect you may have to start over or consider doubling your tapestry warp. You can learn more about that here. 

When your warp sett is correct, but you are still experiencing rice then beat harder! Don’t be afraid! Make sure your wefts are touching and the rice is gone in order to get the true weft-faced weaving look. With the correct warp sett this should be smooth and not take a lot of energy.

Your beat will be personal to you and your weaving.

Just like a lot of aspects of weaving you have to find your goldilocks.

Sometimes figuring out the exact way you need to beat for your weaving takes some trial and error, but the more you weave, the more you will have a frame of reference for how it feels to create even weavings with perfectly placed weft.


Weaving On A Table Loom

Weaving On A Table Loom

I talk a lot about floor looms and rigid heddle looms, but that doesn’t mean I don’t also have love for table looms. In fact, I am quite a big fan of table looms, but only just acquired one for my own studio! They are a fantastic option as both an only loom and an additional loom for your weaving studio.

Weaving on a table loom is not much different than weaving on other multi-harness looms, but there are some differences to discuss!

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Essentially, a table loom is a floor loom but without the treadles. Instead, it has levers that activate the harnesses. These looms also, as their name suggests, are small enough to sit on a table. This makes them a great option for those who don’t have room for a full floor loom set-up!

Different table looms might have different lever systems, but they all pretty much work the same. You can see in the photos just four different lever systems either on the front, side, or top of the loom. You can also find table looms with pretty much any amount of harnesses. From 2 (below left) to 8 (below right) and even more. The Woolery has a great selection of table looms of different sizes, harness amounts, and lever configurations.

Regardless of the type of levers they have, pressing them down will lift up the attached harnesses and you can lift as many as you want in every single combination you can think of. This is possible because they stay activated until you release them. 

Just like the Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle Loom, there are even some table looms that can be folded up for travel! This is a really cool option if you want to save space in your home and studio or you are traveling with your loom. At this time, I have not personally tried out any of these table looms, but they exist if that is something you are looking for.

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Since table looms and floor looms are essentially the same, you can easily use pattern drafts for floor looms to weave the same thing on a table loom! As we just talked about above, table looms have the ability to activate the harnesses in every combination. This means that you are not limited to the number of treadles listed on the draft.

As long as you understand how to read a weaving pattern draft then you will be able to easily pick up the conversion. 

If you don’t already know how to read a weaving draft then make sure to check out this post so you can brush up on that first.

Ok, so now that you have refreshed yourself on how to read a pattern draft, let’s look at it under the lens of a table loom.

Specifically, we need to focus on the tie-up and treadling sections because that is where our two looms really differ.

The easiest way to convert your draft for your table loom is to break it down into columns and rows. 

We will be looking at 4 harness patterns, but the mechanics are the same for 8+ harness drafts. In the pattern draft, the columns of the tie-up represent the different combinations of levers that will be activated as we weave. Each column will have 1 to 4 squares marked that each represent a lever. 

Since we are not stepping on the treadles and they stay active until released, we can activate as many harnesses as we want at one time! This makes it possible to weave patterns with more tie-up spots than levers.

The treadling portion of the draft tells which levers to activate and when. On a floor loom you can activate more than one harness with a single treadle as long as you tie it up that way. On a table loom, you have to activate the individual harnesses/ levers with each part of the pattern.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

Example 1

Your pattern draft for plain weave will typically show a straight draft on 4 harnesses. The tie-up will use only 2 treadles with harnesses 1 and 3 on the 1st treadle and 2 and 4 on the 2nd treadle. Based on the treadling pattern you will simply alternate between treadles 1 and 2.

If we take this same draft and look at it in the lens of a table loom then in order to weave it we will have to activate levers 1 and 3 every time there is a mark in the 1st treadle column and then levers 2 and 4 whenever there is a mark in the 2nd treadle column. 

Example 2

The pattern draft for a 2/2 twill with also show a straight draft on 4 harnesses. The tie up will use 4 treadles with harnesses 1 and 2 on the 1st, 2 and 3 on the 2nd, 3 and 4 on the 3rd, and 1 and 4 on the 4th. Your treadling pattern will be 1, 2, 3, 4 repeat. 

We are now taking these exact same numbers and using them for our table loom! A mark in treadle column 1 will mean activating levers 1 and 2, column 2 – levers 2 and 3, column 3 – levers 3 and 4, and column 4 – levers 1 and 4.

The easiest thing to do is to figure out the pattern and write it out for yourself for when you are actually weaving. Unless you memorize the pattern, this will make everything go faster since you have to remember multiple levers for each pick of the pattern. 

So if I were to write out the weaving pattern for a 2/2 twill it would look something like this:

1 + 2, 2 + 3, 3 + 4, 1 + 4, repeat

I’ll usually put this on a sticky note on the castle of my loom so I can easily see it while I am weaving. The adhesives on the sticky note are also pretty mild so they won’t damage your loom at all. 

There are so many different types of table looms out there that this post is not even going to begin to cover it. Instead, lets look at some options that you will come across and what you might want to consider before a loom purchase.

Like pretty much all looms, you will want to pay attention to size, price, and functionality.

  • Will the loom fit your studio and what you want to create?
  • Does the loom fit into your budget? (Consider new and used options. The loom above is my new-to-me table loom that I got second-hand)
  • Will the loom do what you need it to do?

These are generally the most important questions that you will need to answer. When it comes to table looms, though, there may be some more options to consider.

  • Do you need a loom that will travel well? There are some table looms out there that will fold up with your weaving still on them – making them perfect to take with you wherever you want to weave!
  • Do you want to convert your rigid heddle to a table loom? The Schacht Cricket has a conversion kit available to turn it into a 4 harness table loom! This could be a great option if you already have a Cricket and don’t want to purchase an entirely new loom. (I have not tried the Cricket Quartet, but it seems like a pretty interesting option).
  • Do you need a table loom that has a stand? A lot of table looms actually have optional stands so you don’t even need a table! This can be a great option if you don’t have a space to dedicate to a table loom.

Regardless of your needs, there is probably a table loom out there for you!

If you are looking for a weaving option that lets you weave like a floor loom for a size that is closer to a rigid heddle, then a table loom could be a really great option for you. There are many different types of table looms out there from different companies – all offering slightly different experiences, but all ultimately allowing you another option to weave and create the way that works best for you.


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