Floor Loom Maintenance Guide

Floor Loom Maintenance Guide

A loom – if taken care of properly – will outlive you. 

I remember the first time that I heard that and realized that it was true. 

Think about it.

There are historic looms that still work and are used every day. I took a tour of Tessitura Bevilaqua in Venice, Italy in May 2018 and I got to walk through the rows of historic jacquard looms from the 18th century that is still being used today to create yards of exquisite velvets. (Learn more about velvets and other pile weaves)

I digress a little, but it really is quite astonishing seeing these looms still working and being used.

That being said, these looms did not just survive all on their own. Instead, they are lovingly tended to and taken care of.

For the most part, I am talking about maintenance of your floor loom, but some of the principles can also apply to table looms, rigid heddle looms, and possibly even frame looms.

Just think about your loom being passed down in your family for centuries, let’s make that happen!


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Humidity and your loom


Humidity is the enemy of your loom.

Since your loom is mostly made from wood, a lot of humidity can and will warp your loom.

I have seen it happen and dealing with a warped harness on your loom is frustrating, to say the least.

Depending on the style loom you have this can make it so your harnesses stick and do not open and close your shed smoothly. This makes it so your weaving flow is disrupted and you have to manually fix your harnesses before moving on.

Then you have to do it again.

… and again.

A loom with fully wooden harnesses and tracks will be the most prone to issues like this, but any loom will suffer from humidity.

If at all possible you want to make sure that your studio is in a place with adequate air conditioning to keep this from happening. A dehumidifier might also be a good investment if you do not have access to an area like this or you live in a place where you want to keep your windows open often and humidity can sneak in.


Loom rust



Rust happens.

Unfortunately, rust will rub off of your loom and onto your yarn.

I do not think I need to tell you that you do not want that.

If your loom parts start to get rusty or you have bought a previously used loom that has rust on it then you should clean this off before starting to weave on it.

While you can use a dedicated rust remover to do this, you can also use straight white vinegar and either sandpaper or steel wool. Either way, make sure to do it outside and I recommend doing it in an area where you do not have grass you are trying to grow! The image above shows moss, but I assure you no moss was harmed.

I also recommend wearing gloves while doing this. I worked on my loom parts over multiple days and the first day I did not wear gloves. My nails were not happy.


How to get rid of rust on your loom


First, separate the rusted metal from your loom if you can – detach rods, set aside your reed, or remove ratchets if possible. One option would be to soak these pieces in vinegar by submerging them completely and letting them sit. You would then need to either rub off the rust or use something abrasive to scrub it off. You then need to dry it off as soon as possible so it does not rust again.

This can work depending on what parts of your loom you are working on.

It may not be necessary to soak your metal pieces though and you may be able to just get away with scrubbing them with vinegar. This works really well for pieces like your loom rods that are smooth. Dip your steel wool in white vinegar and scrub! Just like above, make sure to wipe down and dry all the metal so it does not re-rust. The best thing to do is to dry as you go.



For your loom reed, it can be more difficult and time-consuming. Since the reed has many dents in it that will probably have rust on every side, you will need to spend more time working on each dent individually.

It can be tempting to try to just scrub it all together but trust me, it does not work that well. The steel wool does not get into the dents well enough to scrub the rust off of the middle of each metal bar. You may get a good amount off of each side, but you will still have to go back and individually work on each dent.

I have found that using 600 grit sandpaper and dipping it in white vinegar works well to work on each dent. The most important thing to remember, though, is to dry each dent off after you have finished scrubbing it.

I know that this is the third time I have said that, but it is important. Ask me how I know…

Since rust is caused by the mixture of oxygen and water on metal, the longer the metal stays wet, the more likely it is to redevelop rust. Keeping a rag or paper towel nearby to wipe down as you go will make things a lot easier.

Once you are completely finished you should seal your metal to keep it free from rust in the future. You can do this by using any machine/ metal oil that you can find. I used sewing machine oil because I knew it would be safe for my yarn even after it dried.

If you do not mind using an aerosol then you can also use wd-40 silicone spray, just remember that it is flammable and to dispose of any rags properly. The spray will be simpler than oiling your reed manually, so just choose the option that is right for you.

If your reed had tape on it at the top and bottom that comes off, then you can re-wrap it with either duct tape or cloth tape.




Yarn fuzz and dust



Probably the most regular loom maintenance that you will need to do is dusting. Like most furniture, your loom is prone to collecting dust over time. This is made even worse by the yarn fuzz that will accumulate on your loom as well. Every time your yarn rubs against your heddles or your reed, it could be leaving some fibers behind.

You will want to dust your loom on a regular basis. Make sure to focus on the area around your harnesses and reed, but really make sure to dust it all over. This will keep it good for general use.

When it is time for a deep clean of your loom then you will actually want to use a vacuum to get to those hard-to-reach areas. Mostly, your lamms or anything underneath the loom that does not actually get touched often.

Those areas will be the worst.

I like to use a microfiber duster for this!

I like to dust off my loom between projects. This is just a good way to remember to do it. If you make it a part of your warping process, it will always get done.



Oil/ Grease moving parts


With so many moving parts on your loom, it is easy to see how eventually you might have to give it more than a little elbow grease. Instead, if parts start to stick or creak you may need to apply some actual grease made specifically for your loom to keep things moving.

This should not be something you have to do often, but it is good to keep in mind for the future if something starts acting up. A little goes a long way when it comes to the grease so do not be too heavy-handed.

Likewise, If you have an unfinished loom (some rigid heddle looms come unfinished) then applying a wax polish can help to keep the wood in good shape. This is not something you will need to do right away, but sooner is better than later.

You can check out The Woolery for loom grease, oils, and waxes.



Check apron strings/ harness system


While the loom itself can probably stand the test of time, there are some parts to your loom that you will probably have to replace at some point.

Pretty much anything that is not wood, metal, or plastic could deteriorate and this is pretty normal with wear and tear. Both the manufacturers and sites like The Woolery sell replacement parts for looms that you can usually replace pretty easily.

Your apron strings, some treadle ties, string heddles, and pulley systems may need replacing even if you take good care of your loom. This is just due to the normal wear and tear of them moving and working.

When you do your routine dusting and/or whenever you warp your loom make sure to do a check on these parts. The last thing you want is to be ready to weave and you are held up because of broken parts!


Check Out The Woolery For Loom Parts & More!


Tidy up your floor loom



The simplest bit of loom maintenance that you can do is to just keep it tidy.

If you are like me then after finishing a weaving, your loom looks a bit… messy.

Not only does tidying up your loom just make things look better, but it also allows you to get in there and dust more, add scraps to your scrap jar and find things you probably lost.

Guilty.

Get your loom ready for your next weaving and start fresh!

I hate cleaning, but I always feel better after it is done. Starting with a fresh and clean loom is a great way to clear your head and put everything into the next weaving project.

Find out what you can do with your yarn scraps!


Loom maintenance is important for the health of your loom. If you want to keep your loom around to pass on to future generations or just want to make sure it is always in top shape for your own weaving, then it is good to show it a little love now and then.


Weaving In Mythology Around The World

Weaving In Mythology Around The World

Weaving is one of the oldest forms of textile creation that dates back to the prehistoric era. It was an incredibly important part of everyday life that supported and clothed families.

Something this important is often immortalized through stories that are passed down through the generations.

So just like the creation of the earth, the weather, and everything in between – weaving is steeped in its own set of mythology from different areas and cultures around the world.

Despite the fact that men have been weaving for as long as weaving has been around – weaving myths tend to center around women.

When it comes to goddesses, many of them are associated with more than just weaving. Often they are also associated with spinning, dyeing, and things like marriage, love, and the home. Throughout the world, these similarities in associations are astounding to see.

Probably some of the most well-known myths come from Greece and I will be going over those. I will also be recounting some weaving folklore from different parts of the world because weaving was and is important everywhere.



Arachne


weaving in mythology arachne and spider woman/ spider grandmother

Spiders were the original weavers, but not if you were to follow the myth of Arachne and Athena.

There are actually multiple different versions of this myth – as is common for anything that is passed down through generations.

Arachne was a weaver who believed that her weavings were the best in the world – even better than anything that could be made by the gods. She would boast about this to anyone willing to listen. 

When Athena, the goddess of wisdom, war, and crafts such as weaving, heard about this she disguised herself as an old woman to try to give Arachne the chance to take back her vain words.

When Arachne refused, Athena transformed back into her real form and challenged her to a weaving competition.

Despite Arachne’s proficient and technically incredible weavings, they lacked compassion and substance. For this, Athena turned her into a spider as a punishment but also a gift.

With this transformation, she would still be able to weave forever.


Spider Woman/ Grandmother


Speaking of spiders, more than one Native American tribe has a weaving figure in their culture. Depending on the tribe, she may be known as either Spider Woman or Spider Grandmother.

Navajo speak of Spider Woman as the helper of humans and she would teach people about agriculture and how to weave. She would often appear in stories as a helper and protector of the innocent. She was also the first to weave the universe.

To this day, young Navajo weavers are instructed to find a spider’s web and place their hand upon it without destroying it. This will give them the spirit of weaving that will live with them forever.

Hopi on the other hand, have Spider Grandmother who helped to create the world. Originally it was just her and the Sun god Tawa. Spider Grandmother controlled the underworld and Tawa controlled the sky. The two of them created the earth between. Just like Spider Woman, she taught people how to weave and take care of themselves.


The Fates


weaving in mythology the fates and the norns

In Greek mythology, the fates were three goddesses that controlled fate (surprise!) Oftentimes fate was described as a thread and the fates were the weavers. They each had a different part to play in spinning, weaving, and determining the fate of others.

  • Clothos was the spinner and was said to spin the thread of life at each person’s birth
  • Lachesis measured the thread of their life to determine how long they would live
  • Atropos cut the thread of life to determine their death.

The idea of three women who determined and controlled fate was not exclusive to Greek mythology. In fact, they can be found in a similar form throughout Western culture.

The Norse fates were known as the Norns. They both created and controlled fate which essentially made them even more powerful than the gods.

  • Urd -The Past
  • Verdandi – The Present
  • Skuld – The Future

In the imagery used to portray the Norns they were usually shown doing one of three activities: “casting” pieces of wood (like rolling dice), weaving cloth, or carving symbols.

Similar to the Greek fates, in Norse mythology, the Norns would visit a child when it was born to decide and weave their fate.


Frigg (Frigga)


Frigg is the wife of Odin and the Norse goddess of spinning and weaving. She is said to have woven the clouds, mists, and fog.

Just like Odin is known as the All Father, Frigg is known as the All Mother.

Frigg was known to practice Seidr (Say-der) which was a type of magic that was meant to perceive fate and even change it by weaving events into being. Due to this and her link to motherhood, children, and the home she was often associated with the Norns.



The Odyssey


If you are like me then it has probably been a while since you read The Odyssey. If that is the case (or if you never got around to reading it) then it may surprise you to know that weaving actually plays a major role in part of the story. 

Penelope, the faithful wife of Odysseus was left alone for years. During her time alone she had many suitors that came to try and woo her and gain her hand in marriage. Penelope never wanted to give up on seeing her husband again so she developed a plan.

She would choose one of them once she was finished weaving a burial shroud for Odysseus’s father.

Since she never intended to marry anyone else – every night she unraveled what she had woven that day so it would never be finished.


The Goddess Weaver


weaving in mythology the goddess weaver

In China, the creation of the Milky Way and Valentine’s Day have their own mythology and they are related! 

There were 7 fairy sisters that were once bathing in a lake. Niulang, a cow herder, came upon them and stole their clothes. 

The youngest of the sisters, Zhinü, was tasked with recovering their clothes and when Niulang saw her, he asked for her hand in marriage. She agreed.

Despite their rocky beginning, Zhinü and Niulang lived a happy life where they had 2 children. Zhinü spent her days weaving and taking care of the children while Nuilang attended to his cows.

The Goddess of Heaven (Zhinü’s mother) found out that she had married a mortal and abandoned her life in the sky and she was furious.

Zhinü was forced to return to her life weaving the clouds in Heaven.

In order to be with his wife again, Niulang made a cloak out of his magical ox’s hide which allowed him and their 2 children to enter Heaven.

Still angry, The Goddess of Heaven split the sky in two in order to keep them apart. This split in the sky is known as the Milky Way. Once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month a bridge is created in the sky and Niulang and Zhinü are reunited. This day is known as Chinese Valentine’s Day, the Qixi Festival, or The Double Seventh Festival. 


Tayet


Tayet was the Egyptian goddess of weaving. She was also associated with the mummification process and it is thought that her name comes from the Egyptian word for shroud. It is said that she also wove the curtain that hung at the entrance to the embalming tent.

As time went on due to these associations she also became linked to the linen bandages that were used to cover the mummified remains of Pharaohs and protect and cover injuries. Due to this, Tayet also became the goddess of purity and cleanliness.

With her association with Linen, Tayet has been portrayed with either green or pale skin. Her green skin is said to represent the green stalks of the growing flax plant and her pale skin represents the finished linen.


These are not all of the myths and folklore that are about or mention weaving, just the ones that I could find the most information on. The fact that there are so many is just another reminder of how important weaving is!


References



Sewing Handwoven Fabric – Getting Over The Fear

Sewing Handwoven Fabric – Getting Over The Fear

Sewing and weaving go hand in hand. Even if you have never sewn any handwoven fabrics before, you have probably sewn commercially woven fabrics!

Utilizing your handwoven fabrics in this way is a really great way to showcase and appreciate your hard work on a daily basis (depending on what you make.)

That being said, just the idea of using your fabric this way might be incredibly scary. I will go more into that in a bit, but just know that there are things that you can do to help get over the scary parts and make something amazing.

Before you can sew up your fabric, though, you have to first make it! So we are going to start by talking about a little something (really a long something) called yardage.



What is yardage


rigid heddle loom set up for yardage
Plaid yardage on my Schacht Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom (link at the bottom of the post)

Not everyone wants to weave wall hangings, tapestries, and rugs.

Sometimes you just want to weave and weave and weave.

Yardage is a really great way to do that! The goal of weaving yardage is to create long and consistent weaving to be utilized in another way. Essentially it is meant to be a step in your project and not the final piece. Once woven, these yardage weavings get turned into something else (in this case – something sewn!)

Yardage is best woven on large floor looms since they will have the capacity to hold the amount of warp and finished weaving that yardage requires. That being said, there is not a specific amount of weaving that makes yardage… yardage. 

You can also weave yardage on a rigid heddle loom if yours is wide enough to do so. The biggest issue with this is that the fabric beam does not have the same capacity as a floor loom. So while you can weave yardage, your yardage will probably be shorter. Keep this in mind when planning your weaving project.

Regardless of what loom you use, I recommend starting and ending your yardage with hemstitch. This will make it so it is very stable once it is off the loom. A little later on I will go over options for stabilization while sewing, but this is a good first step!

If you need to learn how to hemstitch then make sure to check out my simple tutorial!

Hemstitch Tutorial


handwoven yardage for sewing

It is also important to wash your fabric before attempting to do any cuts or sewing!

If you do not do this first, then your fabric could shrink which could mean that either you will not have enough fabric or your pattern could be altered. This simple step could help to keep you from wasting the handwoven fabric that you spent so much time on.

Do not skip it!

You can simply wash your fabric in the sink with a mild detergent and let it dry flat. If it is something that will eventually be washed in a washing machine then it is best to go through the effort of washing it and drying it as it will be used in the future. This will make sure that it does not continue to change after you have already made what you want with it.

Do not forget that when weaving plain weave the space between your warp and weft will shrink after washing. You do not have to beat really hard when weaving! Beat evenly and consistently and it should bloom and fill in after it is washed.


handwoven fabric before and after washing

Beyond yardage, an example of a time that you may want to sew your handwoven fabric is when you are making samples.

If you weave a bunch of samples on one warp then you can sew the fabric before cutting them apart. To do this, make sure to leave space between each sample.

Sew a straight stitch at the top and bottom of each sample. You do not have to do anything special to the fabric in order to be able to do this! Once each sample is secure you can cut them apart.

If you want to see some handwoven fabric being sewn with a sewing machine make sure to get to the end of this post!

Also check out:

The importance of weaving samples

Getting multiple weavings with one warp


Why you might have woven panels


handwoven panels for sewing

If you want to create large weavings but do not have a loom with that capability then you still have options! Weaving in panels is a great way to expand on your weaving options without purchasing a new and larger loom. 

Panels could be created for either wider or longer weavings (or both) depending on what you are working with. Even if you just have a small simple frame loom you can create larger pieces by connecting small squares or rectangles.

You can even take advantage of this and work it into your design! You do not have to hide the fact that you are combining multiple weavings. Instead, embrace it!


Tools needed for sewing your handwoven fabric


Depending on the type of sewing you want to do – you will need different tools. Hand sewing is the simplest and requires the least amount of supplies. There will be a list at the end of this post with links to the specific tools that I used so make sure to check that out!

Sewing and/or tapestry needles (All About Tapestry Needles)

Yarn or thread

Sewing machine if doing anything other than attaching panels

Muslin (to make a mock-up of your project)

Fusible interfacing

Fabric scissors

Pins

Iron


How to attach woven panels (hand sew)


sew handwoven panels tutorial

When attaching panels you will do a simple figure 8 stitch.

One of the best things to do is use an extra length of warp yarn so that it can blend in easily. If you choose a different yarn or thread then your attachments will be more obvious. For the examples above and below, I used a different color so that it is easier to see.

First, thread your tapestry needle with warp yarn.

Lay your two panels next to each other and find your first loop of weft yarn on one of the panels.

Bring your tapestry needle through that loop and then zig-zag over to the first loop on the adjacent panel.

Continue this zig-zag motion to the end of your panels.

Tie it off and you are done!


sew handwoven panels tutorial

Sew patterns (machine sew)


There are a few main steps when it comes to sewing your handwoven fabric with a sewing machine. When it comes to actually sewing the fabric, though, it really is not much different from sewing any other fabric. As long as you can get over the fear of messing it up.


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!


Getting over the scary factor


Sewing your handwoven fabric on a sewing machine can be a little more daunting than just hand sewing two panels together. This is partially because more than likely this means that you will have to cut your fabric to make whatever you are planning. 

Ahh!

I get it, you spent all that time weaving your beautiful fabric only to have to cut it up? What if you mess up?

Then you just weave more. (Not ideal, right?)

It is scary, but you made the fabric for a reason, and keeping it untouched forever is doing it a disservice. So it is time to cut it up and start sewing!

That being said, I recommend doing a practice project on regular non-handwoven fabric. Muslin is the go-to fabric for project mock-ups since it is inexpensive. If you are going to do any sewing at all then I recommend keeping muslin in your fabric stash for this reason.


Stabilizing your fabric


cutting handwoven fabric for sewing

When it comes to sewing your real deal woven fabric then you have a few options that basically come down to giving your fabric a bit more stability. 

If you have a pattern you are planning to use then your first step is to cut out your pattern pieces and lay it on your fabric. Just like weaving with any fabric you will want to try to utilize your handwoven textiles the best you can. Keep your pattern in mind first, but then make sure to lay your pattern out so that you can get the most out of the least amount of fabric. 

You do not want to waste all your hard work by spreading your pattern out too much! 

Once your pattern is set you will want to pin it to your fabric just like normal. You can then either mark your handwoven fabric with a water soluble marker or keep the pattern attached for the next step. 

In order to get your stability, you basically have to create individually shaped woven pieces by sewing around the pattern or marked areas. The sewing itself is not really that different from sewing normal fabric, but I recommend going slow and maybe practicing on a sample or area that will not be used. 

This can be a bit difficult, but it will allow you to use only the handwoven fabric and nothing else to stabilize it. This is ideal if you want the handwoven fabric and only the handwoven fabric in your finished piece.


handwoven fabric and fusible interfacing

For a more stable option, you can use fusible interfacing.

Interfacing is a type of fabric that will get attached to the back of your fabric through the use of heat (usually your iron.) This fabric will make it so your handwoven fabric will behave just like any commercial fabric! 

Once you attach your fusible interfacing you can cut your handwoven fabric without fear of it falling apart. You do not even have to sew it first!

I like to use cotton interfacing as opposed to the more common poly because I weave solely with non-synthetic yarns. If you are weaving with synthetic yarn then using poly-based interfacing should not be an issue. 

To use your interfacing make sure to follow the directions on the specific fabric you bought.

Generally speaking, you will be ironing on your interfacing so make sure to have your iron, a cover fabric*, and your handwoven fabric. You will want to turn your handwoven fabric so that the front is facing down. Place your interfacing down on top of your fabric with the adhesive side facing the fabric. Cover this with a cover fabric and iron on medium to high heat depending on the interfacing you have.

*Your cover fabric is important because it is possible for the adhesive of your interfacing to seep through and get onto your iron. This has not happened to me, but it is an easy step to take to protect your iron just in case.


sew handwoven fabric with interfacing
Handwoven fabric with iron on interfacing attached to the back.

What can you make with handwoven fabric?


What can’t you make?

If you can make it with commercial fabric then you can make it with your handwoven fabric!

Remember that sewing yardage is just sewing fabric.

That being said, you will want to utilize your handwoven fabric effectively and really have it be the star of the show. I recommend utilizing commercial fabrics to supplement your handwoven fabrics where applicable. No sense in using up precious yardage for the underside of something!


It is that simple!


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The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory – Weaving Book Review

The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory – Weaving Book Review

You may have heard of this book before, especially if you have been around Warped Fibers for a while. The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon is a very well-known pattern book in the weaving world. It also happens to be one of my favorites. Before I give away my review though (!) make sure to keep reading.

A little background info: I have had this book since I started weaving on a floor loom when I was a student. It was a required purchase for my class, but I 100 percent would have purchased it even without the requirement! I use it any time I want to weave patterns on my floor loom. I also recommend it left and right to my students because, yeah, it is that good.



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!


About the Handweaver’s Pattern Directory


handweavers pattern directory

Devoted to 4 shaft patterns this book has so many different types of patterns for you to choose from. It has 256 pages with full-color images of the draw-down for each draft and diagrams at the beginning of each section to help you understand each pattern. That is a really good point that I want to spend another sentence or two on. You can try out these patterns all you want, but actually understanding why they work the way they do makes a big difference in your learning. Real learning (for anything) requires going beyond the surface and getting a little deeper.

Speaking of learning – make sure you check out How To Read A Weaving Draft.

With the large full-color images The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory is really great book to look through and get ideas and inspiration because the images are large and bright. Feeling stuck? Just browse the book and try something new!

The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory is also spiral bound! If you have read my other reviews then you know how much I love spiral-bound weaving instruction books.

Spiral-bound instruction books allow you to lay the book flat and stay open to the page that you need when weaving. This one specifically also has a harder binding over the top of the spiral which makes it so the spiral stays in place. Sometimes with spiral books, it can move a bit and you have to fiddle with it at the top or bottom, but this book does not have that issue.

We do not have time for that.

Check out my other books reviews:

Learning To Weave Book Review

Inventive Weaving On A Little Loom Book Review


Get It On Amazon!


What this book has


handweavers pattern directory with twill weaving

Well, pretty much any pattern you can think of that can be done with 4 shafts!

But that is not all!



It also includes information on color theory plus other basic weaving information. The beginning of the book has 17 pages that get you started and ready to weave.

So what are some of the patterns that you can expect to find?

Plain weave patterns

Straight and point drafts

Twills

Block drafts

Overshot

Monk’s belt

Honeycomb

Spot Bronson

Swedish lace

Double weave

& More!

Yeah, this is not all of them.

Plus, all of these are actually categories that have multiple variations in them. So there are tons of patterns for you to try out.


What I wish it had


handweavers pattern directory with honeycomb weaving

Nothing is perfect and I would be doing you a disservice if I pretended that this book has no faults. That being said, I am not sure this could really be considered a fault, but something that would have made it even better!

I wish that this book had more information on converting drafts for other types of looms.

This is such a great pattern book but this would make it so that even more weavers could utilize it. It is possible to convert floor loom patterns for table looms and possibly also for rigid heddle looms, but it does not give you information on how to do it.

So is this a deal breaker? Not necessarily, but it is something to keep in mind.


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!


Who this book is and is not for


The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory is a must for anyone with a floor loom who is interested in patterns. The patterns that it contains are varied and that means you are not stuck with just one type of pattern. Even if you think you are only interested in twills, you still have access to all that overshot!

Just looking through this book can inspire you to try out new patterns.

So if you are looking for a way to bring new inspiration to your weaving studio then this could also be a really good book to add to your weaving library. There are so many different patterns and variations to look through that you will not be bored.

While the book does also have some general weaving information about tools, materials, and more I would not recommend buying it just for that.

That is not what this book is for, but instead an extra added bonus for those that are looking to weave patterns.

If you are looking for a book that covers those topics more in-depth then I highly recommend Learning To Weave by Deborah Chandler. You can also check out my full review (also linked above)


handweavers pattern directory with swedish lace weaving

Got a favorite weaving book? Wanting a book reviewed before you buy it for your weaving library? Let me know!


What Are Pile Weaves? Rya, Ghiordes, Velvet, & More

What Are Pile Weaves? Rya, Ghiordes, Velvet, & More

Have you ever heard of pile weaving?

Even if you never noticed, you probably come in contact with pile weaving every single day! (To be fair, you usually will come in contact with at least one type of weaving every day – it is everywhere!)

But the pile weave I am talking about is carpet.

You know, that flooring option that a lot of people hate and replace with hardwood floors? Yep, carpet is a type of pile weave.

Similarly, pile weave can also be found in a lot of rugs, terrycloth (towels), and corduroy.


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So what exactly is it?

Pile weave is a generic term for a style of weaving that has a three-dimensional texture on its surface. There are many different types of pile weave, but two common techniques are rya knots and looped pile.

A pile can be either cut or looped, depending on what you are going for. If you have ever purchased a high-quality rug you may have seen these terms before.

Beyond just the “pile” or the three-dimensional pieces – a pile weave contains another very important component. In order to maintain the integrity of the fabric, most pile woven textiles also contain a ground weft. 

If you read through my overshot weaving post then you may already be familiar with ground weft!

Just in case you have not looked through it yet, a ground weft is a plain weave (tabby) weft that is woven between the pile weft in order to create a stable fabric. 


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!


Traditional Persian rugs


If you have ever shopped for a throw rug for your home, then you have probably come across Persian rugs… and their price tag.

Persian rugs are usually pretty expensive, and for very good reason. They are all hand knotted. Plus they are made with silk and wool with no synthetic fibers in sight.

Rugs have been woven in Iran since at least 2,500 years ago! They were originally made and used out of necessity for protection against the harsh environment, but due to their intricacy and beauty, they were eventually seen as a symbol of wealth. Originally these Persian rugs used an asymmetrical knot called a Persian (Senneh) knot. But, after Persia (modern-day Iran) was conquered by a Turkish tribe the trajectory of the Persian rug was changed forever.

The Turkish tribe brought with them the Turkish (ghiordes/ rya) knot that is used in a lot of Persian rugs today.


Velvet


tessitura bevilacqua velvet

Another common pile fabric that you probably know about, but have never thought about is velvet.

Velvet is actually a warp pile weave and thus requires two separate warps to be wound on either separate beams or individual bobbins (shown below.) The other pile weaves discussed in this post are all weft pile.

If you ever have the chance to go to Venice, Italy, I HIGHLY recommend taking a tour of Tessitura Bevilacqua. Tessitura Bevilacqua is a historic weaving studio and school that specializes in velvets. You can walk through rows of 17th-century Jacquard looms that are still in use today!

During the tour you can also watch the weavers create this extraordinary fabric by weaving and cutting the pile weave. 


tessitura bevilacqua looms
That is me on the right walking through the looms! I was in love.

Tessitura Bevilacqua has created velvets for many prominent organizations and people throughout history. Including the Kremlin and the Catholic Church.

If you are interested in weaving history then there really is not a better place to visit and walk through. When I toured the weaving studio, it really was one of the biggest highlights of my entire trip to Italy.


Rya (Turkish/ ghiordes) knots


rya knots front and back - pile weaves

The terms rya, ghiordes, and Turkish knots can all be used interchangeably.

Essentially, rya is a Scandinavian carpet created with Turkish knots and ghiordes is a Turkish rug made with Turkish knots. The terms rya and ghiordes have become synonyms for the type of symmetrical pile knot that is needed to create these rugs.

I most often use the term rya because that is what I was originally taught.

Rya knots are one of the simplest pile weaves that you can learn to weave! There are actually multiple ways to make rya knots, but the one that I use and teach the most is almost annoyingly easy to do.

What do I mean by that? 

Rya knots are a very often requested technique that I get from students. It makes sense! The shag-like pile that they create is enticing and tactile. They are also often used to create long and flowing fringe at the bottom selvedge of your weaving.

Once I show students how to do it, it can be almost anti-climactic.

“That is it?”

Yep. That is all there is to it.

So let’s go over this super simple rya knot technique that you can use to weave all the tactile shag rugs that you want.


How to make rya knots


how to make rya knots

The most important thing that you need to know before making any type of pile weave is that you must start with plain weave.

If you were to just start your rya knots onto your warp without plain weave then it would fall off when you take it off the loom!

Ahh!

So always start with at least a full pass (left and right) of plain weave before starting. This is true even if you are using your rya as fringe. This is because your rya knots will be long enough to cover your full plain weave pass.

Rya is made my taking individual lengths of yarn and wrapping it around your warps. It is best to cut all your rya wefts at the same time to make sure they are the same size. You could also wrap your weft yarn around some cardboard that is the right length you want and then cut them off. This will make sure they are all the exact same size.

Rya is worked around two warps at a time. Your rya weft will go over the top of the two warps with equal amounts of weft on each side.

Then bring the ends through the middle of your two warps.

Pull down and repeat!

See. I told you it was easy.

After your row of rya you would want to do another row of plain weave to make sure your weaving is very secure (this is your ground weft I mentioned at the beginning.)

You can mix it up by using more than one weft at a time per rya knot. Try using different colored yarns or just more of them for a fuller textile!

When you are finished you can trim down your rya knots so they are all the same size. Trimming them also gives your weaving a cleaner and fuller look.


Looped pile


rya knots and loop pile weave

Looped pile weaves create a fun bubbly-type texture on the surface of your weaving. (The blue yarn in the image above.) This simple looped pile technique does require one extra tool in order to make uniform loops.

I really like using a bamboo knitting needle because it is a really good thickness – not too thin and not too thick. They are also smooth and made for yarn so you do not have to worry about any snagging – your yarn will always pull off smoothly. This is the size that I used for the example:


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Really, though, you can use anything that you can wrap yarn around that is the same diameter along its entire length. Dowel rods, straws, or pencils are all options that you can choose if you are looking for something around your house.


How to make looped pile


loop pile weave how to

The first thing that you want to do is attach your pile weft yarn to your warp. You can do this by just weaving two warps and then weaving your tail back in. (If you do not know how to weave your tails in then make sure to check out THIS post.)

Hold your knitting needle or whatever you are using up to the warp. Your first loop is the most annoying because it is not yet secure, but don’t worry it does not last long.

With your weft on a tapestry needle bring it over your rod so that you are working on top of it. Find the next warp that you would normally go under and pull the weft under that warp.

Next, bring your weft back over the rod so that you are now working underneath it. Find the next under warp and pull your weft through.

Work your way across the rod until you get to the other selvedge.


loop pile weave how to

You are almost done!

In order to secure your looped pile you will need to weave at least one pick of plain weave over top of it. After you go all the way across to the other selvedge you can pull out the rod and set it aside.

Beat down your pile and now you are ready for the next row (which is done exactly the same way!)


Experimenting with different types of yarns, pile lengths, and yarn amounts can lead to some really fun and interesting weavings. Plus pile weaves can be used anywhere in your weaving, not just at the end or all in one row. Consider creating areas of pile weave paired with areas of plain weave to really emphasize the textures you created.

I always love to notice different weaving structures out in the wild (outside the studio) and pile weaves are pretty much everywhere!

Let me know your favorite pile weave in the comments!


Resources


https://www.little-persia.com/rug-guides/rug-history

https://nazmiyalantiquerugs.com/scandinavian-rugs/

https://nazmiyalantiquerugs.com/turkish-ghiordes-rugs/

https://www.little-persia.com/rug-guides/country


Why You Should Join Weaving Organizations & Guilds

Why You Should Join Weaving Organizations & Guilds

Weavers are a part of a community. You may have heard me say that before…

And while Warped Fibers is a great community to be a part of, that does not mean it has to be your only community!

In fact, there are many different organizations that you can be a member of that can help you further your weaving knowledge and reach.

Depending on what you are looking for you have some options. There are large-scale and small-scale organizations that you can join. Also, if you look at your local level you might be able to find a weaving guild.

On a larger scale there are more expansive options like The American Craft Council, The American Tapestry Alliance, Surface Design Association, and The Handweaver’s Guild of America. All of these different organizations come with perks!

Who doesn’t love perks?


If you have not already, don’t forget to join the Warped Fibers community! (Yes, there are perks!)


Become a member


Most organizations will require a fee for membership.

This probably comes at no surprise.

Fees vary depending on the organization and the level that you subscribe to. There are also usually discounts for prepaying for your membership for multiple years in advance. If you can swing it, then this is the best way to join because you will save money in the long run.

If you are a student, they often have reduced fees! If you are a student then definitely make sure to check that out and take advantage of your student status!


Membership Perks


weaving and fiber organizations membership

Discounts on entering shows


Entering art shows and exhibitions costs money.

Ugh. Of course.

If you want to show your work and you find the price of entering shows a little high, then joining an organization can be a good option!

Yes, as we just said, you usually have to pay to be a member. When you add up all though, the other perks that you get then you will end up saving money in the long run. 

Not only will you probably get a discount for entering a show, but you may also get access to shows that you would not be able to enter if you were not already a member.

As another plus, a lot of organizations will have shows that showcase only the work of their members. Some even pull work from their own directories for online exhibits – no entering required!

If you want access to these types of exhibits then make sure to check out some the organizations that I have linked later on.

If you are not sure about whether or not their shows would be a good fit for you then make sure to check out their previous exhibits. Most of them will have a page on their site devoted to current and past shows. These shows can help you get a good idea of what to expect for the future.


Embroidery weaving by Nicole Bunting
Traverse, Nicole Bunting, 2020

This embroidery weaving was in the Handweaver’s Guild of America’s: Small Expressions Exhibit.


Discounts on craft shows


Do you like to look at weaving and other Crafts? Certain fiber art and weaving organizations will have physical craft shows that you can visit.

Specifically, the American Craft Council (ACC) has a few shows around the country that are huge.

I mean HUGE.

They feature many artists that range from weavers to woodworkers and everyone in between.

With membership to the ACC you get at least one complimentary ticket (it depends on your membership level) to the craft show of your choice.

I was able to go to their show in Baltimore a few different years, and honestly, it is something that I look forward to greatly. You get to experience many different types of art all in one place and talk to other makers just like you.

If you want to participate, but you are still new and not sure if it is right for you, then they also have an emerging artists program that gives you a smaller and more manageable space for an emerging artist.



Access to members only content


Exclusive content is a really great perk that you can get for being a member.

Look out for Facebook groups like the ATA’s Let’s Talk Tapestry group where questions are answered and tapestry weavers are spotlighted. They also have monthly tapestry topics to discuss and members can share their tapestries in progress for review or encouragement.

That is only one example.

Joining these groups are a great way to talk to other tapestry weavers from around the country. Look into the organization you are thinking about joining to see if they have anything similar.

Speaking of members-only content – did you know that if you have signed up for my FREE butterfly mini-course or any other online course that I teach then you can join the Warped Weavers Facebook group!


Magazines


weaving and fiber organizations magazines

Whether you like digital or physical magazines, you will be in luck!

A lot of organizations come with a subscription to their magazine as part of the perks of membership. Monthly or quarterly magazines can be delivered to your mailbox or inbox. They showcase artwork that could inspire you or teach you about textile traditions around the world. 

These are fantastic to get if you are the kind of person that likes to have inspiration delivered straight to you. Not only do they contain helpful information, but they also usually have interviews or articles on practicing artists that you can read. If you want to keep up with what other fiber artists are doing then this is a great way to do it.

If you are sustainably minded (yay!) then check to see if they have a digital option instead of a physical one. Physical magazines are usually the default, so just make sure to read all your subscription options. Bonus: sometimes you get a discount if you only want the digital magazine!

Save money and paper – still get inspired!

If you like to have as much textile content as you can then this might be another great way to get it.


Artist directories


Most organizations will have a member directory that lists all of their members. Depending on the organization there will be different information that you can display beyond just your name.

You may be able to showcase your website, textile techniques practiced, or topics you are interested in. These directories can be really great to be a part of because you may just be contacted because of them for opportunities. 

If you are a premium member of the Surface Design Association (SDA) for example then you have the ability to upload your work to a special premium gallery. This gallery is used for the SDA to pull work from for some of their online exhibits. No extra application work for you!

Some organizations will also feature you on their social media. This one can be a really big deal if you are trying to get your work out there. Social media reaches so many people and the big organizations probably have the reach that you do not. (No shade, they have way more of a reach than I do!)


At Any Given Moment featured in the Exposure section of the Summer 2020 Surface Design Association magazine.

Meet up with like-minded makers


Guilds are more likely to be local and therefore you might actually be able to meet up either in person or via zoom with other makers and weavers. 

These meet-ups can be really great because talking to other like-minded people can be one of the best ways to stay inspired and on track with your weaving. If you need some accountability to make sure you do not let life get in the way of your weaving then having someone local can be a great option.

Guilds may also have members only retreats or workshops that you can join. This is on top of their exhibitions!

If you are wondering about the weaving guilds in your area, the best things to do are to either ask other local weavers or just search Google.


Which organizations should you be a member of?


Short answer? I can not tell you that.

It will all depend on what your weaving and fiber art goals are. The same answer goes for whether or not you should join more than one. All of the different organizations have different member perks, resources, and content. The best thing to do is research them to figure out if they make sense for you.

As for myself, I am a member of many different organizations and one regional guild. This is because I have found value in being a part of all of them for various reasons.

I recommend you take a look at the options that you have and create a list with perks and prices. Determine what you are willing to spend (if anything) to have access to what they have to offer.

If you just want to be a member of a weaving community with no monetary commitment – the Warped community is always open and free.


The weaving and fiber art organizations where I am a member



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