Essentials For Setting Up Your First Weaving Studio

Essentials For Setting Up Your First Weaving Studio

Setting up your first studio can be … intimidating.

Not only furnishing the studio but also what to look for in the space and how much storage you need.

When trying to find space for your weaving studio just remember that it can be anywhere. You might consider a second bedroom, dining room, shed, or a rented studio downtown. My personal studio used to be the dining room in my house! Before that I used our second bedroom. If you can find the space for your perfect studio then go for it, if you can’t then make the space you can find perfect.

If you’re not there yet, then make sure to check out my post on weaving without a studio.


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Space


setting up your first weaving studio install wall

The studio itself can be just as important as what you put in it. You may not always have a choice when it comes to actually choosing your space. If you have the choice for your studio space then there are some things that you might want to consider when looking around for the perfect studio.

You will want to consider both the furniture you have and the furniture you might want. Knowing what you want to weave will really help because it can determine the types of looms that you will have in your weaving studio. If you are planning to weave lots of large weavings then you need to make sure you have enough room for a floor loom or possibly a large rigid heddle loom with a stand. If you are planning to stay small then a smaller space where you can sit and weave on a frame loom might be all you need.

Generally, we can probably all agree that the larger the studio the better! That being said, making good use of the space you have can be essential.


Install wall


One of the things that I looked for in my studio was a large blank wall. This might sound kind of weird, but it’s perfect for installing your weavings to photograph them. If you are weaving on a frame loom then you can also hang your frame up while it’s in progress in order to step back and get a different perspective.

This is something that I definitely recommend, especially if you’re feeling stuck or uninspired. Gaining a new perspective on your artwork can help you to see it in a new light. But I digress…

This wall will ideally be painted a bright neutral white for the best background for your finished weavings. Keep some spackle (I like this one because it goes on pink and turns white when it is dry) on hand to fill in your large holes from installation if you are using nails. Make sure to gently tap down any convex surfaces from pulling the nails out pre-spackle. This will help keep your wall flat.

You also have the option of editing the holes out of your photographs, but eventually, you will have to fill those holes. You should also keep a small container of the same white paint on hand for touch-ups after your spackle dries.



Lights


Natural lighting is the best for making artwork of any kind. If you have a lot of windows then that can be good for both lighting and inspiration.

Beyond natural lighting from windows, you will want your lamps or light fixtures to use white light and nothing too warm. If you are weaving artwork that will be shown in galleries then think about the lighting that they use. It’s usually bright white lighting.

Think about where your weaving will end up and make sure that you are considering this when choosing your yarn for your weaving. Your yarn will look different in different lighting.

I use this LED lamp for my desk. It is great because it has multiple brightness levels that you can change with a quick touch and an easily adjustable arm so you can move the light wherever you need.


Inspiration


setting up your first weaving studio inspiration

Inspiration is a really important part of your studio. Having plants, photographs, artwork, or anything else that inspires your weaving is great to have around.

Keeping a cork board to collect items that inspire you is a great way to keep them on display but still make them easy to swap out. I tend to also collect things that inspire me and have them live amongst my yarn and books.

If you are lucky to have a great view then that in itself could be your inspiration. Think about where you will be sitting the most – at your loom, desk, or somewhere else – and try to make that have the best view in the studio.


Materials


I’ve written a few posts already on materials that you might want for your weaving studio. So check out my post on 6 studio necessities or my supplies page for my favorite supplies that I currently have in my personal studio. Otherwise, these are some other materials that you either need or could be useful.


Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!


Yarn


You probably aren’t going to get too far without yarn in your weaving studio. While you can weave without yarn ( check out weaving with paper) most often, yarn will be the go to. As far as yarn goes, if you are weaving tapestry then I recommend starting out with some 8/4 cotton rug warp.

You will also need weft but that is a little harder to recommend because it really depends on how or what you want to weave. Tapestry is often woven with wool, but I usually use cotton and linen. 

If you are not planning on something specific then grab a few cones of your favorite color that will inspire you to start creating! If you are looking to buy yarn online then check out THIS post with my favorite online yarn stores. You might also want to look at THIS post about the difference between weaving and knitting yarn.

You will also probably want shuttles or bobbins if you are weaving anything that will require large amounts of specific colors. Butterfly bobbins are a great option for when you only need small amounts of color at a time. If you want to learn more about the differences between shuttles, bobbins, and butterflies then make sure to check out THIS post.


Other supplies


setting up your first weaving studio materials

While the next set of supplies may not be essential, they may makes things a little simpler.

Scale

This probably isn’t something that you would normally think of for a weaving studio, but having a scale can really help you to price out your work. All you need is a simple kitchen scale like this one! Weigh your yarn both before you begin your weaving and after you are done. If you kept track of the price of your yarn in something like a yarn notebook then you will have easy access to the price per ounce of your yarn. Use this to figure out just how much the yarn you used for your weaving cost.

Yarn ball winder and yarn swift

These tools usually go hand in hand. More than likely if you bought some yarn on a hank instead of a cone, then you will want to wind it into a more easily usable form. If you bought your yarn online, then you can always check to see if the company or shop will wind it for you. If that is the case, you may not need either at all!

If you are buying a lot of yarn, though, that doesn’t come already in ball form or there is no option to do that, then you might want to invest in these so that you are not stuck doing it all by hand. (Although you definitely can do that too.) You can check out The Woolery for ball winders and yarn swifts.

Warping board

If you are weaving on a floor loom, table loom, and sometimes even a rigid heddle loom then a warping board or warping mill is an essential tool for you to have in your studio. You will need this in order to measure out your warp for your weaving project. You could also build a warping board yourself if you are so inclined as they are essentially a frame with pegs.

The one I have is a Harrisville warping board. Learn how to use a warping board HERE.


Furniture


Loom


setting up your first weaving studio loom

The loom that you choose will vary depending on what you want to weave, how much space you have, and the price point you are looking at. When you are first starting out you may have to choose your loom more based on the last 2 points then the first. 

Like a lot of things in life, the right loom might just be the loom that you can get at the moment.

The loom that gets you weaving faster is better than no loom at all. 

We all have a dream loom, but if you can find a loom that will at least get you on your way to practice, make smaller weavings, or simpler weavings then you can get your dream loom at a later time. You are not married to it, so you can change it out when it no longer serves you or you can just get more than one loom! No one said you can’t have many looms or different types of looms.

The loom pictured above from my studio is a 36″ Harrisville 8 harness 10 treadle floor loom.


Desk or table


While a loom is generally the most thought about furniture that you will want in your weaving studio, it is also important to think about the extra space that you will need. Having a desk or table to sit at to sketch, plan out your weavings, layout your finished weavings for finishing and more can be invaluable.

If you are using a frame loom, having a desk is a great way to keep the frame at a better height for use so you are not bending over too much. (Learn more about your weaving posture HERE.) I also use my desk for cutting paper for paper weaving, storing projects in progress that aren’t on a loom, resting my rigid heddle loom on, and more.


Seating


setting up your first weaving studio seating

The seating options you have in your studio can play a major role in how you use your space. 

I recommend a comfortable chair where you can sit and come up with ideas, sketch your next weaving, or take in the inspiration of your studio. I also like to sit back and work on my finishing techniques like weaving in my weft ends in a comfortable chair. Having a comfortable chair in the studio makes it not only a place to create but also a place to relax.

If you are weaving at a floor loom then you will want a good loom bench. I recommend one that can tilt when you sit on it so you can adjust your hips to sit straighter. I often put a pillow down so it’s not so hard for long periods of time. You can find some with different pockets or cubbies to keep your yarn and supplies so they are within reach. The one that I use (pictured above on the right) can be found HERE. I love having the pocket below to hold the things that I need for the weaving I’m working on.

When sitting at a desk either working on a frame loom, rigid heddle loom, table loom, or doing anything else make sure to choose a chair that is comfortable and keeps you from slouching after being in the studio all day. Don’t start hunching over! I like this ergonomic chair (pictured above on the left) because it helps keep my back straight while working.


Storage


setting up your first weaving studio storage

There is never really enough storage in a studio no matter what. Just like most parts of your home, I’m sure, if there is space then you will fill it. Then when you find something else you need, well you will have to find a place to put it too!

Vertical storage is one of the best options that you can use to make the most of the space you have and often the most underutilized in and out of the studio. Getting long shelves that go all the way up to your ceiling can be a great way to take advantage of unused space for more yarn!

Depending on the type of yarn you use, you may want to consider keeping your yarn in a closed area to keep it away from moths. Specifically, any protein fibers like wool are a tasty treat for moths. Cellulose fibers like cotton and linen are safe from moths, but as most things do, they can still accumulate dust and dog hair if left in the open.

Think about how you use your stash.

Do you go through it fast? Then you are probably safe to keep it out on open shelving so that you can see it at all times. Because who doesn’t like to look at a beautiful yarn wall? But if you will take a long time to go through your yarn then you may want to keep it tucked away and just take out the yarn you are using for each project. You can have a separate shelf or basket to put that yarn in for easy access.

Beyond your yarn, consider storage for books, tools, frames, and finished work. You can learn more about storing your finished artwork HERE.

Cabinets and plastic storage drawers can be used to house any number of things that you will want to keep out of sight or protected. You can make better use of space by putting the storage drawers under your desk and out of the way. I use storage drawers to keep fabric, installation materials, and other miscellaneous art supplies. You can use a simple strip of tape and a marker to label them so you never forget where you put that hammer.

No matter where your studio is make sure that it reflects you as an artist and maker. Your studio will probably look different then mine because we are making different things, but starting out with some of the above examples can help you get going. If you are having trouble then make a list of what you are doing and what you want to do and go from there.

If you have a perfect studio in mind (or you already have one!) let me know about it in the comments!


How To Store And Protect Your Weavings

How To Store And Protect Your Weavings

You’ve made all of these beautiful and wonderful weavings, but what exactly do you do with them while you are waiting for them to find new homes? More accurately, how to do you protect your weavings and where do they live until then?

First thing, I don’t recommend just letting them sit out indefinitely until you are ready to ship them off.

Think about the dust and pet hair that they might acquire in the meantime!



So much dog hair…

It’s great to have a system in place that not only influences how you store and protect your weavings, but also how you organize them while they are stored.

There’s definitely no one method fits all when it comes to… well anything pretty much ever, but if you are looking to store  and protect your weavings than I highly recommend looking into these options.



What You Will Need:


Pool noodles (yes you read that correctly) or cardboard tubes

Muslin or similar natural cotton fabric

String or scrap yarn

Paper tags

Hole punch (optional)



For Flat Weavings


Let’s start first with the pool noodles or cardboard tubes. If I lost you at pool noodles, then just hang in there with me for a minute.

There’s a method to the madness.

If you are unaware of pool noodles, I am talking about the long foam tubes that you find in summertime that are colorful and lightweight and used to suspend yourself in water.

These are perfect for shipping and storing your weavings!

Think about it: they are a good diameter to keep your weaving from being rolled too tight, while at the same time taking up the least amount of space. They are also lightweight so they don’t add a lot to your shipping costs.

It’s important to not roll your weaving too tight, or it will be want to keep that shape once you are ready to hang it.

Cardboard tubes are another option if you don’t want to use foam or the pool noodles are out of season. They will be a little heavier than the foam noodles, but that is really only an issue if you are shipping your weavings and are concerned about the price to ship.



Fabric


Muslin is the ideal fabric for wrap and protect your weavings.

It is an inexpensive and lightweight cotton plain weave fabric often used for creating mock garments. Muslin is also unbleached and un-dyed so it is perfect to have against your weavings and won’t transfer any unwanted colors or fibers.

Muslin can be bought at any fabric store or online. If you don’t have muslin or can’t find it – you can use any other untreated cotton fabric to wrap around your weaving.

Most pool noodles are neon colored and are not ideal to have directly against your weaving. First thing you will want to do is wrap your pool noodle or tube with the muslin. This will give your weaving a smooth surface to rest against and also portray a clean professional surface if you are shipping your artwork off.

I don’t recommend shipping out your weaving with just a plain neon green pool noodle…

Next, cut your fabric so it is a few inches longer than the length of the pool noodle or tube so that you can tuck it inside after wrapping it around. This should keep the fabric in place.

When rolling your weaving around the noodle or tube make sure to roll it with the backside of your weaving towards the tube. Doing this will help the weaving lay flat on the wall once installed as opposed to flaring out. 

A second piece of muslin can then be wrapped around the weaving and secured with string or scrap yarn. 



Tags And Storage


If you are just storing your weaving then you should create labels that are easily accessible in order to find the weaving you are looking for without having to unwrap it. This is especially useful if you have a lot of weavings in storage. I like to include the Title, Materials, and Year Finished on my tags just to keep that info handy. You could also include a small image of the weaving if that would help you out.

I use a heavy paper for the tags and punch a hole in the corner.

Easy.

For shipping you can purchase a cardboard tube that is a larger diameter than the wrapped weaving. If you can’t find one then you have the option of purchasing a long box to ship it in. In this case, I usually add some extra padding via bubble wrap or tissue paper and make sure to write “FRAGILE” and “ARTWORK” on the box or tube.

Honestly, this doesn’t always seem to help – but I figure it’s worth a try. Shipping artwork is always a scary endeavor, because you never really know what your work will encounter before it gets to its intended destination.

As with most things you want to find a nice happy medium between adequate padding and low shipping weight. On the bright side weavings aren’t nearly as fragile as other forms of artwork – so you can be thankful for that.

More info on shipping your artwork in a future post!


Staying Organized


When it comes to organization it also pays to take a little bit of time to compile a list of all of your weavings and their info in one place. I created a spreadsheet that I keep in my Google Drive so that I can access it anytime, even on my phone!

This may not seem like a big deal, but if you’re ever talking to anyone about your work and you’re away from a computer – all you have to do is look at your phone to see how much you priced your weaving at!

When I first started my studio practice I didn’t have this and I would constantly be re-measuring artwork and trying to remember how many hours I spent on each piece…. etc. The spreadsheet has helped immensely whenever I apply for a show. I NEVER remember prices or sizes. Sometimes I don’t even remember the year it was finished….

I want you to be organized too, so I’ve made the same spreadsheet I use available to you!


Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!


For Your Three-Dimensional Or Mounted Weaving


There isn’t a lot that’s different about the way you store and protect your weavings that you can’t roll. The biggest difference would be that you don’t need the pool noodle or cardboard tube.

I still recommend wrapping your weaving in muslin and possibly storing it in a box to protect any bits that stick out. Boxes can be stored upright or flat at your discretion.

This box could be the same one you use for shipping and in that case I always put an image of the weaving, and all of the pertinent information that the gallery will need when it arrives. Adding a photo on the outside of the box makes it immediately recognizable to the gallery and helps them to re-match your shipping materials to the artwork if it is returned to you.

Make sure to put some crumpled tissue paper (no crazy colors) under any parts of your weaving that are three-dimensional if they need the extra support. Just don’t forget to put in your hanging instructions that this paper needs to be removed if you are sending it off to a show!



A Note On Moths


Depending on the fiber you use – you may have to consider if or how to protect your weavings from moths. Moths are attracted to protein fibers like wool and alpaca. They probably won’t bother your cottons, linens, and other cellulose yarns.

Depending on the type of materials you usually weave with – this may not be a huge consideration for you. If you are weaving with protein fibers, though, it is worth looking into.

Keeping your weavings covered with muslin helps to protect them from moths since it is made from cotton. I’m not saying this is fool proof, but it should help. You could also consider storing your weaving somewhere less likely to be bothered by any lingering moths – just in case.

Moth balls are not recommended for a few reasons – health wise and otherwise.

Nobody wants to receive or show artwork that smells like mothballs.

How do you stay organized in your studio? Let me know!


-Nicole


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Yarn Notebook – Organize Your Yarn Stash

Yarn Notebook – Organize Your Yarn Stash

One of the greatest lessons I have learned from having my own studio practice is that good organization can save you.

Now that might seem a bit dramatic – but really it is one of those things that I figured out the hard way.

Even if organization doesn’t come naturally to you (guilty) sometimes you just need to buckle down so you can get through it, because in the long run you will be thankful you did.

In case the title didn’t tip you off: today we’re talking about using a yarn notebook.

It may not be the most exciting part of your studio practice, but it might just be the most helpful.

If I didn’t force myself to keep track of my yarn – I’d run out of something and have no idea what size it was or where to buy more. This obviously could be detrimental if you are mid-project. It can also be a good way to keep your studio stocked with the yarn you use the most. The notebook is an easy and inexpensive way to get your studio together. Pretty much everything you need can be purchased in the office supply section of any store.


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


Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!


What You Need:


3 – Ring Binder

Card Stock

Plastic Sheet Protectors

Stapler or Tape

Pen

Ruler


yarn notebook

The Binder


I’m sure there are many different options for keeping track of your yarn, but I find the most effective way to be in a 3 – ring binder.

I began using these binders for art handouts and notes throughout my time at VCU. They were actually required for the class – but I found them so helpful in the long run that I required them of my students as well while I taught there.

These binders still to this day are a great resource for a lot of my fiber related information and notes. You could even use yours to hold other information beyond your yarn stash. Think about storing samples and their respective information or receipts from yarn and tool purchases in case you can deduct them come tax time. Really you can use this to keep track of anything pertinent to your own studio.

So here’s how I’ve set mine up:



Card stock is a really great option to use for your notebook because it’s heavy enough to hold up to all your yarn samples but thin enough not to be bulky.

I have set up each page as a different type of fiber – but you could divide your pages between retailer, warp sett, or size. Then each each fiber page is split up into the five categories that are most important to me, but you should do what makes the most sense to you.



Possible Categories To Include:


Sample

Size

Price per lbs/ cone/ tube

Name/Color

Retailer

Warp Sett

Origin

Notes

Number of Cones You Have On Hand


yarn notebook

Other Considerations


If you dye your own yarn then it is really important to take good notes. This will help to avoid inconsistencies between dye lots. It’s always a good idea to dye all the yarn you need for each project at one time, but sometimes you need to recreate it. I don’t know about you, but my memory isn’t that good.

You might even want a separate notebook dedicated to this if you dye a lot of yarn.

Think of your dye notebook as a not so tasty recipe book.

Your notebook could also really help you out if you plan on selling your work. Having a well organized account of how much you paid for your materials can be a lifesaver when pricing out a piece that is already made or one that is being commissioned. On that note, a kitchen scale can really help you out to weigh your cones before and after the piece is finished. Doing this helps to get a more accurate account of how much yarn you used and therefore how much to charge for materials.

Don’t let the set up deter you. Setting up your yarn notebook shouldn’t take too much time unless you have a ton of yarn. If that’s the case, I recommend the notebook even more to help keep you straight. Honestly, the hardest part is just remembering to update the notebook when you buy new yarn.

Speaking of…


-Nicole


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