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
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.
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!
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.
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
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!
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!
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