Learning to Weave is one of the books that almost all new weavers should own. I first purchased it because it was required for my weaving class at Virginia Commonwealth University, but I have recommended it ever since.
While this is not the newest weaving book on the market, it is still a fantastic resource for any and all weavers. I know that it can be tempting to be taken in by the flashy covers of newer books, but the fact that this book manages to still be a go-to for most weavers is a testament to just how good it is.
I also like a lot of newer weaving books as well, though.
Originally published in 1984 and revised in 2009 this book is mostly targeted at those weaving on a 4-shaft table or floor loom. That being said, it has a lot of great information for any new weaver looking to learn the basics.
All weavers should have their own weaving library.
It is important to remember that books on the same subject may teach or approach topics differently. That is why it is good to have or experience a lot of books. They will help you to find what does or does not work for you. Learning from multiple people can help you develop your own weaving style.
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About the book
If you are looking to purchase this book then you will see that it has been published under both the names Debbie Redding and Deborah Chandler (they are the same person!) It just depends on if you bought the revised version or the original.
The book is available in both hardcover and paperback. The paperback is especially great for using while weaving because it is spiral bound. This allows the book to lay flat and stay open or fold around so that you can focus on just one page at a time.
Spiral-bound is one of the best formats for an instructional book. That being said the spiral-bound version is still a paperback and can show a lot of use. Keep that in mind if you prefer your books to stay in perfect condition.
At 232 pages (213 first edition) this book has a lot of information.
There are fifteen different chapters in 4 parts.
Part I: For The Very Beginner
Part II: Now That You Know the Basics
Part III: For Those of You Who Know What You’re Doing
Part IV: Other Useful Things To Know
In the acknowledgements of the book the author goes on to say,
“ Very little credit for this book actually goes to me. Many of you will understand when I say I’ve been fortunate enough to be the channel for it, but in no way am I the source. To my knowledge, there is nothing original in here, only my interpretation of a lot of common knowledge, and even with that, I’ve had a lot of help.”
The reason I mention this is because I find it a good reminder that weaving has been around for so long that we are all only relaying the same information in different ways.
What you can learn
Since this book is meant to be for weavers at the beginning of their weaving journey to those that are more advanced – it covers a variety of topics.
Learning To Weave contains plenty of helpful photos (some color but most are black and white) and diagrams for every section to help you better understand some of the things that are being discussed. The language, though, is also easy to understand while not dumbing it down at all.
For those that are just starting out on their floor loom, the diagrams and images of how to warp your loom (front to back only in the first edition – front to back and back to front in the revised edition) are a fantastic reference for a pretty tedious process with a lot of steps. It walks you through sleying your reed, threading your heddles, tying onto your apron, and more. While I would not say that this book replaces the need for a teacher or video to walk you through the warping process, it is a great accompaniment or refresher.
Beyond the basic setup, you will also learn about double weave, honeycomb, overshot, lace, block patterns, and summer and winter. Each chapter includes an “assignment” that you can choose to do to put your knowledge of the information to the test. Use these to try out the different techniques and play around to see if you like them.
One of my favorite things about Learning to Weave is the reed substitution chart that can be found in the back. It is an amazing thing to have access to when you are without the right reed for your project. If you only have a 6 dent reed then it tells you how many warps to put in each dent to achieve 18 EPI, 24 EPI, and so on. This could mean you could get away with fewer reeds.
This reed substitution chart has saved me on many occasions and is something to pay attention to if you have a small amount of space and do not have a lot of room for a lot of reeds.
Who this book is for
Learning to Weave was one of the first weaving books I ever purchased and still one that I like to keep on hand as a reference.
Although it has plenty of useful information for all weavers, this book is best for those that are seriously interested in weaving on a floor loom or think they might be in the future. I recommend it to my weaving students who are looking at seriously studying weaving and moving forward in their weaving education.
If you think that weaving on a floor loom might be something that you are interested in learning about then I say, “get this book!” Since the beginning of the book is all about starting out it can benefit everyone, and maybe the other chapters will inspire you to learn something new.
This book along with The Handweaver’s Pattern Directory are both highly recommended for every weaver to have in their weaving library.
Even though I highly recommend this book, there are some things that I do differently than what is shown. I believe that no one book is the answer to all your weaving questions! This one, though, is a great place to start!
You can purchase Learning To Weave here. (revised edition in paperback or hardcover)
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