Weaving With Paper – Going Beyond Kid’s Crafts

Weaving With Paper – Going Beyond Kid’s Crafts

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

But why?

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

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

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

Well, these are just some starting points:


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


Designing patterns



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Paper weaving ideas


Weave photographs


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

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

Some other ideas:

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

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


Watercolor weaving



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

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

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


Journals/ books


At Any Given Moment, Nicole Bunting, 2020

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

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

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


Tips for weaving paper


Materials needed


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

Artist’s tape or painter’s tape

xacto knife or paper cutter

self-healing cutting mat

Cork-backed ruler

Archival glue or thread


Cutting your paper strips



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

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



Choose your warp and weft


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

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

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

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

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


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


Material Spotlight: Weaving With Cotton

Material Spotlight: Weaving With Cotton

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

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

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

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

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

Check out:

Specialty Yarns and Yarn Treatments

Deciphering Yarn Sizes.


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


weaving with cotton - cotton bolls

Cotton basics


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

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

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

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


The 4 main species


Scientific Name

Gossypium barbadense

Gossypium hirsutum

Gossypium arboreum

Gossypium herbaceum

Common Name(s)

Pima or Egyptian Cotton

Upland or Mexican Cotton

Tree cotton

Levant cotton

Characteristics

luxurious, long fibers

most common, less expensive

rare, used for muslin and gauze

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


weaving with cotton yarn

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

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

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

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



Pros to weaving with cotton


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


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


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

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

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

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


Quick drying


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

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


cotton towel and bolls

No moths


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

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

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


Sustainable and Biodegradable


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

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

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


Price


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

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

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

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



Cons to weaving with cotton


Not elastic


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

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

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


Wrinkles easily


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

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

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


cotton bolls and spinning cotton book

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

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


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Resources


Tapestry Needles – Which Should You Use?

Tapestry Needles – Which Should You Use?

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

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


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


How are tapestry needles different?


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

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


Materials


tapestry needles - metal, plastic, and wood

Plastic


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

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

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

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

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



Metal


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

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

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

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


Wood


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

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

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

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

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


Sizes


tapestry needles - different sizes

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

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

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


Straight or bent?


tapestry needles - straight or bent

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

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

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


More tapestry needle tips


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

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

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


Simple Tips For Weaving Without A Studio

Simple Tips For Weaving Without A Studio

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


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


At home or in public


Basket or bag weaving kit


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

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

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

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


Choose portable options


weaving without a studio - weaving outside frame loom

Folding rigid heddle loom

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

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

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

Frame looms

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

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

Smaller tools

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

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


Keep it clean


weaving without a studio - portable materials

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

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

Ask me how I know.

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

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



In public


Be prepared to answer questions


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

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

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

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

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


Carry a magnet/ Wear your scissors around your neck


weaving without a studio - keep your scissors around your neck

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

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

…just be careful not to stab yourself.

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

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

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


At home


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


weaving without a studio - weaving nook

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

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

No shame.

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

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

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


Set aside time for weaving


weaving without a studio - set a time to weave

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

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

Just schedule it.

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

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


-Nicole


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PPI – Figuring Out Your Weft Yarn Usage

PPI – Figuring Out Your Weft Yarn Usage

Wait, another initialism? Yep!

We’ve already talked about EPI (used for warp spacing), and briefly mentioned WPI (used to determine yarn sizing), so now it’s time to talk about PPI! This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about PPI. I mentioned PPI in my post about planning your weaving. But it’s time to really dig in and talk about why it’s important and what it really means for your woven artwork.

I talk more about WPI in my Weaving Planning e-book! Click the image below to learn more!



What is PPI?


PPI stands for Picks Per Inch and is a measurement of the weft in your weaving. More specifically, how many weft yarns can be found in a single inch of a weaving.

Ok, great, but, what is a pick?

A pick is when your weft yarn goes across your weaving in one direction, but not back. Each time your weft passes through your shed is one pick. This can also be called a half pass or a shot.

This is where the technique pick-and-pick gets it’s name. Pick-and-pick is weaving technique that creates vertical stripes through the use of 2 different colors that each only pass through one shed. So you will weave one pick of color A and then one pick of color B. Repeat. With this weaving pattern color A will only ever weave on top of warps 1 & 3, and color B will only ever weave on top of warps 2 & 4 which is what creates the vertical lines.


Why is PPI important?



One of the most important reasons to figure out your PPI is when you are planning your weaving and trying to figure out how much yarn you need! Knowing how many weft yarns you have per inch of your weaving will allow you to more accurately measure how much yarn you need total. Once you find out your PPI you can plug it into a weaving calculator like the one I link to in my weaving planning post, or do the math yourself! ( I also walk you through that in the same post or you can get my e-book and get an exclusive weaving planning worksheet)

Here’s a really simple tip for PPI for a balanced weave: it’s the same as the EPI!

Super easy. 

Since a balanced weave shows the same amount of warp as it does weft, the Picks Per Inch and the Ends Per Inch should be the same! 



What if you’re not weaving balanced weave?



Well, then it’s time for you to weave up a sample! If you already know what EPI you plan to use for your weaving then you can use a frame loom to set up your sample. You could also use some leftover warp on a floor loom if you have one that is already set up for the correct EPI. Both of these options will allow you to make a larger sample if that’s your thing. Larger samples may be necessary for more complicated weaving patterns or to also test out some other weaving parameters (more on that later.)

If you bought your yarn from an online yarn store then make sure to check out the information that is listed under the yarn that you bought. More than likely it will give you a recommended warp sett for your weaving. 

If you don’t already know the EPI, then make your mini-loom to figure it out and then you can use that same sample to count your PPI.

Either way, make sure to weave up a few inches before counting how many wefts or picks can be found per inch of weaving. While technically you should be able to just weave up a 1 inch square to determine both EPI and PPI, I recommend giving yourself a little more to work with since it doesn’t take that much longer to weave a 2 inch square!

This will give you the most accurate count because it will help to eliminate any inconsistencies in your weaving. For example, sometimes you beat heavier than other times and this can affect your PPI.

Another note, is that it is generally best to always count your PPI while your weaving is still under tension. This will be the most accurate and easiest time to do this since it hasn’t relaxed yet and everything is sitting exactly where it’s supposed to.

The example I have above shows my EPI loom set up for 6 EPI. With the yarn that I am using, this weaves up weft-faced. After weaving 2 inches for my sample I counted the amount of picks that I had in the 2 inches and divided it by 2 in order to get my PPI. So this 6 EPI tapestry has a PPI of 32.

As you can see, your weft-faced PPI will tend to be pretty high because of the amount of compression inherent in the weaving. So while a balanced weave may use more warp, your weft-faced weaving will use more weft.


Things To Keep In Mind



Your PPI is not only important for figuring out how much weft yarn you need – it is also important for determining the drape of the fabric or weaving you intend to make.

The more yarn you have per inch of your weaving, the thicker and stiffer the weaving will be. You can play with the PPI manually as you weave to manipulate the way the fabric will behave once it is taken off the loom. Again, samples are incredibly important for this! Make sure to weave a slightly larger sample if you are wanting to test the way it drapes. You will have an easier time determining how it will behave if you have more to work with.


When You’re Weaving


In general when you’re weaving, you will want to be consistent. If you are striving for a specific PPI, it is even more important.

Just like when you are weaving up a sample, beating differently as you weave is completely normal. Trying to be as consistent as possible, though, will help you maintain the correct PPI and will give you the most even weave. This will also make sure that your weft yarn measurements are correct!

That being said, if you are going to be very close to using the exact amount of yarn that comes in a skein or cone then you could always buy another! This will ensure you have enough even if you beat inconsistently and make sure you have enough for samples.

Plus, more yarn! Yay!

If you’re looking for a way to make sure you get the right amount of yarn each time and make sure your weaving behaves the way you want it to, then knowing the PPI is an important step in that process! Don’t forget if you’re planning a weaving project then I go through the whole process with you in THIS post or click the image at the beginning of the post to get the e-book. You will get to download and print it for your own use (it also includes an exclusive weaving planning worksheet!) plus some information not found on the blog!


-Nicole


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Breaking Weaving Rules – Experimental Weaving Ideas

Breaking Weaving Rules – Experimental Weaving Ideas

Weaving Rules Are Meant To Be Broken

Have you ever heard the statement that you need to learn the rules before you can break them?

For the record, that is a statement that I definitely agree with! I even have it on the Warped Fibers classes page when I’m talking about my weaving philosophy.

Weaving and art in general is meant to be explored and expressed in any way that you see fit. Knowing the rules first, though, means that you will be better at controlling your experimental techniques.

So if you understand the weaving rules, then read on. If you’re brand new, then read on! You can see what you have to look forward to.


Your Weaving Has To Be Straight


break weaving rules - straight selvedges

Most of the time you probably want straight selvedges on your weaving. If you do, then you should check out my post with tips for getting straighter sides to your weaving. Neat edges on your weaving generally create a clean and classic look. If you want something else…

Have you ever thought about not having straight selvedges on purpose? There are quite a few different ways that you can purposefully manipulate your selvedges to weave up wavy or uneven sides. One of the ways that you can do this is by using a technique called Navajo Wedge Weave. Essentially, you’re weaving eccentrically the whole time and therefore adding extra weft. This is what creates their signature selvedge design. If you’re interested in that technique than I recommend checking out THIS link.

These wavy selvedges aren’t exclusive to Navajo Wedge Weave, and in fact can be seen whenever you add a lot of eccentric weft to your tapestry. It just may not be as precise.

Another option? Look at the image above! In this case, I am manipulating the bottom selvedge and making sure it weaves up as a wavy uneven shape. All you have to do for this is to cut the shape you want out of a firm paper, card stock, or cardboard and place it in your warp. Then you can weave around it!

Here’s a rule you don’t want to break: Always weave from selvedge to selvedge at the top and bottom of your weaving if you can! This will make finishing your weaving much easier if you don’t have to worry about multiple tails or splits in your weaving.



Some other options for you are to manipulate the selvedges manually. Simply pull in your selvedges on purpose! Be careful because when you do this it will be hard to bring them back out if you want to.

Your EPI is going to change when you do this, so be prepared that your tapestry may turn into more of a balanced weave. If that happens then you will want to think more about your warp choice because it may become visible within your weaving! The color of your warp becomes very important when you are weaving a balanced weave!


Your Split Tapestry Has To Touch


break weaving rules - split tapestry

Split tapestry is a technique that creates a slit in your weaving and allows you to weave clean vertical lines between two shapes. Most of the time you want to treat this split as though you have a selvedge in the middle of your weaving. A.K.A. Don’t pull too tight so that each side of the split touches so that you can sew it up later. Then pretend it was never there!

What if you want to create a hole?

There are a few ways to do this, but one way is to play around with this idea: pull your split tapestry on purpose! 

Keep in mind that if you do this you will have to deal with the consequences when it comes to the rest of your weaving. Just like pulling in your warps in the previous section, when you pull your warps in this way it will change your EPI at that part of your weaving. You will have to work to put it back – if that’s what you want. Or just embrace it and make it works with the rest of your weaving. 



You Can’t Combine Weaving Types


Just because you set up your loom for one type of weaving doesn’t mean that you can’t add in some others! If you think you will want to have multiple types of weaving in the same piece then you can set it up for the highest EPI you will need. Then you can just float over the warps you don’t need later on in the weaving when you want to change your weaving type.

This is an idea that is similar doubling your tapestry warp! When you double your tapestry warp you have to ability to add in balanced weave in addition to your tapestry. You could also weave up twill or other patterns by just playing around with your weft floats.

For example, if you want to weave both balanced weave and tapestry on the same piece then you could set your loom up for 12 EPI and then when you are ready to weave tapestry – weave over 2 and under 2 in order to recreate a 6 EPI warp sett.

If you’re worried that the two patterns or weaving types aren’t going to work together or weave up easily then make a sample! Samples can save you a lot of time and heartache.


Your Weaving Has To Be Flat


breaking weaving rules - 3D weaving

Just because you probably wove your weaving flat, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way! There are a lot of different things that you can do to or with your weaving to take it to the next dimension.

Some examples:

Gather it!

Once your weaving is off your loom, you can choose how you want to display it. You can check out THIS post for some general display options. 

You can manually gather your weaving and tack it down to a canvas – just like I did in the image above. If the three dimensional areas are large then you might want to consider adding a little bit of wire to create an armature. Otherwise, eventually gravity will start to pull it down and won’t be quite so… perky.

Sew your weaving in the round!

One of the great things about weavings is that they’re fabric and fabric is flexible! You can sew your top and bottom selvedges together to create a continuous strip or twist it to create a mobius strip.

Pulled warp!

A technique where you leave negative spaces in your weaving to pull and gather later. This is a more controlled way to create a three dimensional weaving. It also allows for gathering without the need for something to tack the weaving down to.

You can also add texture, objects, and embellishments!

Any of these things will add more dimension to your weaving without actually changing the weaving. You can either embed them into the weaving or use embroidery to attach them to the surface.

Think about the things that you know you’re not supposed to do when you’re weaving and see if you can make them work for you! There are some rules that need to be followed if you want your weaving to turn out a certain way, but breaking weaving rules just might get you something better.


-Nicole


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