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!

Weaving Studio Organization Guide

Weaving Studio Organization Guide

There is something about a clean and organized weaving studio that just makes you want to create! I am not sure if it is because you feel the need to mess it up a bit with creating, or if it is because you suddenly have some room for your creativity to breathe.

Perhaps it is both.

Either way, organization is important because it helps you to know where stuff is when you need it! I can not tell you how many times I have needed something and been unable to find it easily which disturbs my creative flow.

Organization is a learning process.

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Yarn organization

yarn organization

My yarn organization may be different from yours but as long as you have some organization you are on a good path.

If you have many different types of yarn you can organize it by type first. Group all of your linen yarn together, all of your cotton yarn, synthetics, and more. 

You can also color-code your yarns if color is a large part of your weaving practice. Especially if they are all the same type of yarn. Not to mention, if you have a lot of yarn then a color-coded yarn wall is amazing to look at.

Since I like to look at my yarn I like to keep it out and on a shelf. This also makes it really easy to see all the yarn I have in one glance to help inspire new work.

I personally love the look of yarns lining shelves in a studio. All of the possibilities just sitting there waiting to be woven in. 

All yarns except the wool yarn live there.

I recommend keeping your wool and other protein yarns in a closed space. This will keep them safe from the threat of moths. This could mean either keeping them in a cabinet or closed storage containers. 

If you decide to use a cabinet then cones and tubes sit well on a shelf, but I recommend keeping loose yarn balls and skeins in a bin.

You can also group by yarn sizes, amounts, or really anything you can think of that works with your weaving style!

Learn more about weaving yarn sizes here.

wool yarn organization (in cabinet)

Use all of your space for effective weaving storage

weaving studio organization - making use of all spaces

Miscellaneous storage is probably the most common storage needed in a studio. There are always small things that just do not have a good place to live! 

For larger spaces, you can use plastic drawers that stack on top of each other like the ones seen under my desk. One of the best organization tips I can give you is to make use of vertical space whenever you can! 

That means making use of that space underneath a desk or table and having tall shelves. 

Small baskets to go under cabinets can hold weaving tools you do not need all the time, but still want easily accessible.

That being said, make sure to leave some space for your studio to breathe. If you fill up every available section of the wall then your studio could start to feel small. 

The bunny basket above can be found here. (Good for storing frame looms plus it comes in other designs!)

The small black baskets above can be found here.

Weaving Cart

weaving studio rolling cart organization

Before I started to really get organized in my weaving studio I would tend to just stash the current yarns I was using underneath or to the side of my studio chair.

I never wanted to have to put them away every day so I would just keep them nearby. The issue with this is that they would get knocked over by my dogs or myself constantly. They would also roll around on the floor when not in use. 

Two words: Dog. Hair.

One of my favorite studio organization additions is this rolling cart. I use it to store my current yarns, my current frame weaving project (if it fits), general storage and I also use it as a table. It is definitely a multi-use piece of furniture.

With the wheels on the bottom, I can also move it between different parts of my studio as needed. If I need more space for current project yarn on my floor loom then I have a spot for it!

This cart is sturdy, easy to put together, and honestly, I love the color. It is also completely metal and not plastic. This was a big plus for me. 

You can also find other carts with pegboards on their sides, caddies, and more. These can also be great options for a studio. 

The mint rolling cart above can be found here.

Tools (tall basket)

tall basket weaving organization

When you have a weaving studio there tends to be a lot of storage needs for tall items.

Whether you have long flat shuttles, leash sticks, or reeds/ heddles there needs to be a place to put them. You can use a tall box that you have laying around or an old (clean!) trash bin. These will work just fine!

If you want something that looks nicer then you can get a tall basket instead. I love the look of this tall rope basket that is really meant to be a hamper. It is tall enough to hold my tools and sturdy enough to stay up. It also has handles to easily be moved around if need be. 

The tall rope basket above can be found here.

This keeps me from trying to store these tall tools just in the corner of my studio – ready to fall at any time.

Attractive vs practical storage

re-used bins studio organization

baskets weaving studio organization

Storage and organization options for your studio do not have to be good-looking. They can purely be practical and you can use what you have laying around. If you already have storage bins you can use, then use those!

This is not only the least expensive option but also the most sustainable. 

I like to save sturdy boxes from things that I have purchased for this reason. It helps me to keep small things together and organized. You can use them open or closed. When open they can function like drawer organizers to keep things from rolling around. 

I have a few of these on my rolling cart to hold my bobbins, yarn snips, and pencils.

If you do not have these (or you want something nicer) you can also use dedicated organizers.

I had been using the teal bins on my shelf for extra storage, but when I decided to add some bins to further organize my cabinet, I switched them out for some baskets that I thought would look nicer on my shelf. The teal bins were moved to the cabinet where they still function exactly the same, but they are not clashing with anything.

Re-use what you have when you can.

If you do not have anything already laying around that you can use for organization then I recommend not just purchasing options that will get the job done, but also those that look good in your space.

The baskets above can be found here.

My weaving studio is a mix between reused and new organization that creates an eclectic and creative space for weaving.

Having a space that is inspiring can really help your creative practice. 

Yarn Ball Winding Options – Preparing Your Weaving Yarn

Yarn Ball Winding Options – Preparing Your Weaving Yarn

Depending on your yarn buying options you may never need any of these tools to wind yarn. This is because weaving yarn most often comes already wound onto a cone or tube ready to go.

This makes setting up your loom or winding your shuttles simple!

That being said, you may purchase yarn on a skein. This yarn needs to be wound in order to use it, otherwise, it will become a tangled mess. 

Most often yarn on skeins is knitting or crochet yarn. Make sure you know the difference between these types of yarn! You can read about it here.

Depending on the option you choose, the yarn – once wound – will be turned into either a ball or a cake.

A ball of yarn is pretty self-explanatory, but what is a cake?

Essentially, it is the same thing except that the top and bottom are flat.

Neither one is better than the other, the different forms just come from the way that the tool winds them.

So if you find yourself with yarn that needs to be wound then what are your options?

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Ball winder

yarn on yarn ball winder

Probably the most well-known and common way of turning a skein of yarn into a cake: the ball winder is also one of the fastest ways to do it. Despite the name ball winder – it actually makes yarn cakes, but really it does not matter since they do the same thing!

You can either get a manual one or an electric one depending on how much you want to spend and how much work you want to do. These are both great options if you will be winding a lot of cakes and want something that goes relatively fast. 

2 yarn cakes on table with plant


The nostepinne is the original ball winder! It is also the one you probably have never heard of – until now.

Nostepinne means “nest-stick” in Scandinavian and that is a pretty good name for this tool. It is a polished stick that you nest your yarn on to create a center-pull ball. These polished sticks are a simple tool that you can carry with you anywhere. They are actually pretty simple to use too, but they do take a bit longer to wind your ball than a ball winder. 

They also require a bit of patience to get the rhythm of the ball going. It will actually feel a bit odd at first, but sticking with it will get you a satisfying center-pull yarn ball!

How to use a nostepinne:

nostepinne to wind yarn directions

Open up your skein and either place it on an umbrella swift or stretch it across a stable surface.

Find one end of your skein and either wrap it around the far end of your nostepinne a few times or attach it with a slip knot. This will be the center-pull part of the ball.

Start wrapping your yarn around so that the wraps are sitting next to each other. After you have done this a few times, you can start to cross them diagonally as you twist the nostepinne towards you. You will want to try to catch it on the shoulder of the ball you are making as you go. This will help to make sure that it does not get loose.

Twisting the nostepinne while wrapping will ensure that the ball grows evenly and securely. You will want to make sure that your wraps are not just building upon themselves. Also, make sure that you are not wrapping too tight so you do not stretch out your yarn.

nostepinne to wind yarn directions

When you are done you can simply slide off your ball and tuck in the yarn end that was originally wrapped around the nostepinne!

This is the nostepinne I am using! The Kromski nostepinne in mahogony.

There is more than one way to wrap a nostepinne, but this is the way I was taught. You can always play around with it to find a way that feels natural to you. Another common method is to wrap your yarn in a figure 8 pattern. Try it out and see which one you like!

Knitting needle

Knitting needles are used in much the same way as a nostepinne since they are basically the same shape.

When it comes down to it all you really need is a stick to wrap some yarn around! 

The directions are also the same as for the nostepinne. The only difference is that there is no dedicated notch to attach the center of the yarn to, so just make sure to keep it separate. 

The advantage of the nostepinne over the knitting needle is that the nostepinne will be more comfortable to hold. Since it is a dedicated tool for that purpose it is made to be held for longer periods of time while you are working with it.

knitting needle to wind yarn directions

knitting needle to wind yarn directions

The advantage of the knitting needle is you may already have one in your studio!

If you only need to wind a ball of yarn occasionally then this may be a great option for you. If you will be winding yarn balls often then you may want to invest in a nostepinne or a ball-winder.

I am using the Clover bamboo knitting needles in size 17.

Winding yarn by hand

If you have none of the above and you still need to create a ball to work from then you still have an option! This option does not create a center-pull yarn ball, but it still creates a yarn ball that is in a format you can easily use for warping or shuttle winding.

I have actually gone over instructions on creating a yarn ball by hand in my t-shirt yarn tutorial. If you are looking for a yarn winding option that does not require any extra tools then make sure to check out my t-shirt yarn post.

Do you need an umbrella swift?

umbrella swift with yarn skein

No and maybe.

Let’s first start off with what is an umbrella swift

An umbrella swift is a tool that is used to hold a skein of yarn and turn freely as the yarn is taken from it in order to turn it into a ball or cake. They are often made of wood, but also sometimes made of metal and plastic and they open up much like an umbrella does (hence the name.) This means that despite their open size, they do get smaller and easier to store when not in use. 

Umbrella swifts are a great tool to have if you are winding yarn because it holds the skein for you and does the work of keeping it tangle-free during the winding process.

If you are using either the nostepinne, knitting needle, or winding a ball by hand then you do not need the umbrella swift. You can put the skein around a chair back or even around your knees while you are sitting in order to keep it taught and tangle-free. 

If you are using a ball winder though (and especially the electric ball winder) you will want an umbrella swift to accompany it. So while the ball winder itself is sometimes not that much more expensive than your other yarn winding options, the fact that you need the umbrella swift definitely adds to the expense. 

It does make things go smoother though! The video above was just for fun, but you can see how smooth the process is as the yarn goes from the swift to the ball winder.

I am using yarn by Sheep and Shawl on Etsy!

Regardless of how you decide to wind your yarn, it is always good to have some options in your weaving toolbox (literal and figurative!) If winding balls of yarn is not going to be a regular occurrence then stick with a simple method with inexpensive tools or ones you already have.

If you need to wind your own yarn often then I recommend investing a bit more to get a swift and a ball winder so you can spend more time weaving and less time preparing to weave.

How and Why To Combine Weaving Patterns

How and Why To Combine Weaving Patterns

Weaving does not have to mean sticking with just one type of weave structure.

Beyond the fact that you do not have to always weave one type of weaving for your entire life because you can change it up whenever you want.

You also have the option to weave with more than one weave structure in the same weaving!

Combining weave structures has a lot of benefits that range from practical to aesthetic. Choosing your different weaving structures and patterns can be as simple as manually choosing which warps to go over and under or by planning ahead for different looms.

But why exactly would you want to do this?

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Plain weave at the beginning and the end of your tapestry

balanced weave at the beginning and end of your tapestry

For a long time, one of my favorite ways to finish a weaving was to start with a bit of balanced weave.

Yes, I wrote that correctly.

A lot of times knowing how you are going to finish your weaving is important to know before you even start weaving!

This is definitely one of those cases.

I talk about weaving order and how to get your weaving started in my Weaving Process & Planning Guide! You can get that here!

As long as you remember to add a bit of balanced weave to the beginning of your tapestry your finishing process could become even simpler! Who doesn’t want that?

This inch or so of balanced weave that you add to the beginning of your tapestry (or another type of weaving) will be folded underneath and tacked down to create a clean straight selvedge to your weaving.

While you can just weave up some extra tapestry to turn under there are a few reasons I would caution you against it.

The first reason being you will be using up materials you do not have to.

Why use that expensive yarn in a place you are not even going to see it? 

Tapestry also takes longer to weave. While an inch of tapestry is not going to take an incredible amount of time, it is time you could spend on a more visible part of your weaving. I recommend using your time wisely!

Another reason for weaving balanced weave at the beginning of your tapestry is because a balanced weaving is generally thinner than tapestry. Since there are fewer picks per inch (PPI) of the weaving it is not as dense. This makes it better for folding under and makes your weaving sit flatter when hanging!

Learn more about PPI here!

You can also weave an extra inch at the top of your tapestry as long as it has a straight top selvedge. If you end your tapestry in eccentric weft then you will instead want to choose a different finishing option that conforms to the tapestry’s shape.

Areas of interest (strips or shapes)

While you do not need different weave structures in the same weaving to create interest, it can be a fun way to do it!

Creating stripes of different weave structures or patterns can be a fun way to mix them up. Even something as simple as alternating twills to create chevrons can make a beautiful piece of fabric.

This can even work in tapestry! 

Throwing in a bit of balanced weave in the middle (or anywhere) in your tapestry can give the eye a rest as it is moving around. Take a look at the image below of a recent tapestry of mine.

adding balanced weave to tapestry

I included areas of plain weave to break up the density of the tapestry because it is on the larger side. Also, since it primarily consists of horizontal lines it allows the eye to follow up the balanced weave spots and travel all over the weaving. This means that the viewer will be more inclined to stay and look at the weaving for longer.

It is always a good idea to keep the interest of the viewer for longer! You spent a lot of time on that weaving – make sure they do too.

You can also weave up shapes in an alternate weave structure.

When you do this within a tapestry it not only creates a visual difference but also a tactile one. The tapestry is thicker than the balanced weave so it will sit above it. This small change in weaving elevation is just another way to differentiate the different areas.

Your loom choice can make a difference for your weaving structures

mixing weave structures on a frame loom

Changing up your weave structures can be really simple or it can require a bit more work depending on your loom of choice.

Weaving manually with a tapestry needle makes it so you can mix up your patterns and weave structures at any time. You are not relying on the loom creating the pattern for you so you have all the power! This does tend to make weaving go a bit slower, though, since you are doing it all manually.

On the other hand – working on a loom with heddles will require a bit more work upfront.

Setting up your weaving for multiple weave structures requires you to find some that work together with the same threading.

One of the simplest ways to do this is to use a book like the Handweaver’s Pattern Directory by Ann Dixon. This book has multiple patterns on each page with the same threading and tie-ups. The only thing you need to do to start weaving a different pattern is to follow a different treadling pattern!

If you want to learn how to read a weaving draft then read this post!

Read my full review of the Handweaver’s Pattern Directory here!

Generally, you will need to stay in the same pattern family, twills with twills, overshot with overshot, etc. That does not mean that you will not be able to create something dynamic, though. Just combining different versions of the same families can make for fun and interesting woven results!

Are you looking for a simple way to start and stop your weaving? Looking for a way to provide visual interest or move the viewer’s eye around your artwork? Mix up your weave structures and patterns!

Combining different weaving patterns can be practical or design-oriented. Both of these are great reasons to mix it up and try out different patterns together!

What is the correct way to weave tapestry?

What is the correct way to weave tapestry?

If you have never thought about how to weave tapestry, this may seem like a weird question.

The correct way to weave a tapestry is obviously to start from the bottom and weave upwards and to weave from the front. 


Let me be clear. That is what seemed obvious to me.

The actual obvious answer will probably be that the correct way to weave tapestry is the way you are taught. This is common for not just weavers, but really anyone learning how to do something new. You stick with what you know.

Let me be clear again, though.

There is no correct way to weave tapestry.

…only different ways.

These different ways all have precedent and the one you ultimately choose should be based on the pros and cons of each style. Do not be afraid to move past what you know if the pros outweigh the cons of a new way! You might just find something that works even better for you.

What does weaving from the front or back mean?

Let’s start out here: weaving from the front means that the area that you are seeing when you weave will be the front of the weaving. In this case, your tails will be out of the way and fall behind your weaving.

This type of weaving is said to focus more on creativity as you can more easily make decisions as you go to what the final weaving will look like.

Weaving from the back means that the area you are seeing when you weave is the back of your weaving. This will mean the tails from your wefts will be on the surface you are seeing. A focus on technique is a common reason to weave from the back since you are not seeing the weaving as it will be displayed.

The slight visual difference of viewing something from the back can be enough to take you out of the subject matter and into the weaving process.

Want to learn how to weave tapestry? It’s 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.

Archie Brennan’s legacy

Weaving from the front of the weaving is one of the most common ways that it is taught in the US. This is partly because of Archie Brennan who led a transformation in American weaving.

Archie Brennan was a Scottish weaver who lived and taught weaving all over the world. As a young Scottish weaver, he was taught to weave from the back with a focus on following the cartoon.

In his attempt to introduce more creativity into his weaving he shifted to weaving from the front to focus on imagery and not just technique.

Brennan served in many prominent tapestry positions including director of Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh, consultant for both the Victorian Tapestry Workshop in Melbourne and the National Arts School in Papua, New Guinea.

After moving to the United States in 1993 and continuing to teach, his weaving style became very common around the country.

Should you weave from the front?

Put the image first

tapestry woven sideways

Weaving from the front allows you to see the exact outcome of your finished project. This is because since you are looking at it the “right” way there will be no surprises when you take it off the loom.

This is why weaving from the front is generally considered an image-forward (literally) approach to weaving tapestry.

The main concern is that it looks the way you want it to, and not necessarily that the techniques are perfect. As long it looks right – you are good!

This is definitely a pro in my book!

All that being said, weaving from the front does not mean that proper technique should be ignored. Technique is very important and should be a very large consideration when weaving. For me, though, when it comes down to it – the way it looks is my main priority.

You should always choose the options that align with your main priorities.

Another pro of weaving from the front is that you do not have to worry about accidentally creating floats on the front of your weaving. This is because you will be able to see any mistakes right away and you will be able to correct them as they happen.

Pulling through your butterflies

A con of weaving from the front is dealing with all of your yarns.

You usually have 2 options when it comes to working with your shuttles or butterflies. Either they can sit on the top of your weaving or fall beneath it when not in use. Both of these options come with their own pros and cons.

If you are weaving with a lot of color changes then that will mean that you have many shuttles or butterflies to deal with. If they sit on the surface of your weaving then they can get in the way of you being able to see your weaving.

This can essentially defeat the purpose of weaving from the front. If you want them to fall so they are out of the way then you really only have the option of using butterflies or tapestry bobbins because your shuttles would unwind themselves. It can also be annoying – especially if you have a lot of color changes – to have to reach underneath your weaving to pull through your bobbins each time. 

If you want to learn how to make your own butterfly bobbins then you can sign up for my free weaving course here!


tapestry inlay front and back

Some techniques can be simpler to do from the back than they are from the front. Inlay is a great example of this.

Inlay is a technique that uses an extra thin weft in sections of each pick to create a subtle image.

When you weave inlay you will have floats on the back of your weaving because the weft does not go to each selvedge. Instead, the weft travels vertically on the back of your weaving to get to the next shed. If you weave inlay from the front then you will need to reach around to get to your inlay weft constantly. 

Keeping your weaving smooth

One other thing to consider is that when you weave from the front you may be abrading the surface of your tapestry.

Leaning, rubbing, and otherwise just touching the front of your tapestry could eventually make the surface become fuzzy. Yarn is subject to friction and reducing your friction will create a cleaner weaving. Wool yarns are going to be more prone to this, but in general, if you are careful you should not have an issue.

Weaving from the back

Focus on techniques

As you can probably guess, the cons of weaving from the front become the pros of weaving from the back. And vice versa.

There is a reason that traditionally weavings woven by schools were woven from the back. This focus on technique was important because they were executing the ideas of a master artist. They were not the ones making the creative decisions.

That being said, even if you decide to weave from the back you can still make your own creative decisions! You are the one that will be creating your cartoon, choosing the colors, and making any other decisions. If focusing on technique is important to you then you have the option to make most of your choices before the actual weaving process. This way you can focus just on how to weave what you want and not what it will look like.

Your weft tails can get in the way

tapestry woven from the back

Much like the way your shuttles or butterflies could get in the way if you decide to weave from the front, your tails could get in the way if you weave from the back. This may not be as big of a deal though, because you are not going to be as focused on your image when you weave this way.

If you do not like the look of a messy tapestry, though, this will drive you mad.

One important thing to note is that when you are weaving from the back you will need to mirror your cartoon. If you do not do this then you will turn your weaving around when you are finished and it will be backward!

What direction should you weave?

Another question you may have never asked yourself is whether or not you should weave from the bottom of your weaving. While weaving from the bottom is the most common direction to weave your tapestry, you also have the option of weaving from the side!

What I mean by that is you would weave your tapestry rotated by 90 degrees. This can be a really good option if your image has a lot of vertical lines. 

Look at the example cartoon below.

tapestry cartoon with vertical shapes and small vertical areas

This specific image has a lot of vertical diagonal lines. If you were to weave this image right side up then creating those diagonals would be really difficult. You would need a weaving with a very high EPI to create smoother diagonals. I am not going to lie, I gave up trying to weave this tapestry right side up at the same EPI I used for the sideways version.

It was just too annoying trying to create these diagonals plus I opted to do joins instead of split tapestry and it was taking forever.

You can see in the image below how it was turning out compared to the finished version that was woven sideways.

The tapestry that was woven sideways is a much better representation of the cartoon.

Learn more about EPI and warp sett here.

two types of tapestries - woven sideways and from the bottom - which is the right way to weave tapestry?

When you are planning out your tapestry it is important to keep in mind the shapes you will be weaving and techniques you will be using. These will help you to determine how you want to set up your loom.

As for me? Most of my tapestries have horizontal lines and discontinuous weft that starts from the selvedges. This means that weaving from the bottom of my tapestry works the best for me. I also weave from the front because when it comes down to it, the techniques are secondary to the finished outcome.

As for you? Try out different ways to weave and you may just surprise yourself. You can also mix it up depending on what you are weaving.

Remember, there is no right way to weave tapestry! Take advantage of the fact that tapestry can be woven many different ways depending on the weaver and the weaving.


DIY Woven Gift Box!

DIY Woven Gift Box!

Are you looking for a unique and creative gift to give this year? 

A few weeks ago I posted 6 tutorials for simple on-day weaving projects. This woven box tutorial was originally going to be a part of that list, but it turns out that this box takes more than a day to complete.

The biggest reason this box will take you a bit longer is because of the materials being used. Using stiff linen makes it so this box is rigid enough to stand up and actually perform as a box. This linen is also on the thinner side which gives it a nice look and smoother appearance.

You could weave this up with larger yarns to make it go faster, but it may not have the same stability that you can get with the smaller linen.

While this box would make a great gift in and of itself, you could also use it as a gift box for something else! Perhaps another woven gift or some jewelry?

If you are looking for more weaving projects for small gifts then make sure to check these out:

One-Day Weaving Projects

DIY Handwoven Gift Ideas

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Materials you need

Frame loom ( I am using a simple frame loom – see why I like simple frame looms! )

Cardstock or other thick paper

Linen yarn ( I am using Bockens Linen 16/2 in colors 1440 and 1223)

Scissors or yarn snips

Tapestry needle (learn about the different types of tapestry needles here)

Tapestry beater or comb (learn about types of tapestry beaters here)

Making a mock-up box

paper box mock up

If you have ever had to break down a box (hello Amazon!) then you know that they are originally designed flat and with flaps that fold up and around each other.

One of the best ways to determine how to weave your box is to make a diagram and a paper version to make sure that it works first before you spend the time to weave it.

You can do this with any paper you have, thicker paper will hold up a bit better, though. 

First, you should draw out a diagram (as seen in the first box above.) If you are using it to specifically hold something then make sure to keep the size of that in mind! I recommend writing out your measurements on your paper box to make it easier to transfer them to your woven box.

Your deconstructed box will basically look like a giant plus sign. Each arm of the plus sign will end up folding up to create a side of the box. 

Once the bottom of your box is done, do almost the same thing for the top. Your box top will have shorter sides and be just a bit wider on each side. This will make sure it can easily sit on top of your box without pulling it in.

Weaving your gift box

woven box in progress

The box that I made is a great size to hold some jewelry or small trinkets. The base of the box is 3″ x 2″ and the sides are 2″ x 2″.

This means that you need a total weaving width of 6 inches. (2″ for each flap and 2″ for the bottom)

Using the Bockens Lingarn linen your weaving will be 8 EPI with 48 warp ends total.

You can learn more about EPI here.

Depending on what you want your box to look like you can choose different colors or do all the same color. I chose to do 2 colors just to make it a bit more interesting to weave up and to give it some extra interest when it is finished.

The first part of your woven box involves weaving one of your sides. This equates to the bottom part of your plus sign. This shaped weaving will have a lot of open warp – which might seem odd if you have never woven like this before. You can think of weaving this portion just like weaving a square in the middle of your warp. Remember: this square will be 2″ wide and 2″ tall.

Once your first square is woven you need to add some spacers next to your square to prepare for the next section of weaving.

Whenever you have to weave with empty space below it is best to put a placeholder in your warps to give you something to beat against and make sure things stay in place. I never recommend weaving with empty space below because it makes your job unnecessarily hard.

Do not make this hard on yourself!

All you need to fill in these gaps is some thick paper, like cardstock, that is cut to be the height of the bottom-most woven flap. It is best to weave your bottom square first and then add your paper into the warp so it does not get in the way.

woven box for presents in progress

Now you can weave up the middle portion of your box!

This portion of your box includes the longer sides of your box and the bottom. You will want to weave all the way across from selvedge to selvedge and up 3 inches.

Make sure to watch your selvedges and keep them as straight as you can. Otherwise, your box will be a bit wonky.

Follow these tips for weaving straighter selvedges.

When your middle section is completely woven you can move onto the top square! This will be the exact same size as the first portion of the weaving. You will not need more spacers though, because you will be beating against the already woven portion below it.

DIY woven box and top

The last step in your weaving is to basically do it all again.

But smaller.

A.K.A. weaving your box top!

The top of your box will have similar dimensions to the bottom. You will want to make the base of the top a little bit bigger, though so that it can fit snug, but not pull in the bottom.

The dimensions of the box top are 3.75″ x 2.75″. This adds about a quarter of an inch to each side of the base (middle) of the top and creates flaps that are a quarter of an inch as well.

When you start weaving up the middle portion make sure to add in your placeholders next to the first flap.

Finishing your woven box

You will want to choose a finishing technique for all of your warps that creates a clean edge. This will give you the best look for your box. I recommend weaving your warp ends back into the warp channels to create a smooth edge.

Once all of your ends are finished you can construct your box by folding up all of your sides. The linen will aid in making your box stiffer and your sides will retain the memory of the fold you put in it. This will be helpful when you are in the process of sewing it up.

Learn more about linen yarn here!

sew up sides of woven box

To sew your box:

Thread your tapestry needle with a long strand of yarn that is folded in half and knotted at the end. This is your working yarn.

Attach this yarn at the base of one of your flaps by exposing a warp and wrapping your working yarn around it. Bring your needle through the loop of your working yarn and pull tight.

Bring your flaps together and line them up so that they are even at the top. Sew your working yarn around the corners and to the top. Tie a knot to secure it and do it all again on each corner of the box.

Do the same thing for the top of your box!

woven box for presents and gifts

You can add some cardstock to the insides of your box if you are wanting to give it a bit more structure, but it will stand on its own just do the way it was made.

If you are looking for some filler for your box when you are giving it as a gift then you can use some fabric or yarn scraps! You can always use tissue paper too, but if you have the yarn scraps lying around – then why not?

Learn about what else you can do with yarn scraps here.

Try experimenting with different sizes and even different yarns. You can also create other three-dimensional tapestries using the same ideas and paper mock-ups! Tag @cole.bun on Instagram with your creations!

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