If there is one thing that I cannot stress enough about weaving and planning a weaving is the importance of samples. I often get asked: “How do you know if something is going to do what you want it to?” I wish I could say that with time you just automatically know what will and will not work – that you too can become a weaving magician… but it doesn’t really work that way. That doesn’t mean that some things won’t become second nature, but for the things that don’t – you have 2 options.


1. Just do it and see what happens.

2. Weave a sample!


It can be incredibly tempting to just jump right in whenever you get a new idea. There is always the option to just try it out and hope for the best. Some weavers take this approach because they don’t like sampling or don’t think they have time to make weaving samples.

I get this. 

Raise your hand if you’re impatient.


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Yeah, me too…

Sometimes you just want to get started.

This isn’t a bad approach as long as you’re ok if it doesn’t work out and are willing to work with whatever happens. This can even be fun if your studio practice includes stream of consciousness processes. If you want something specific though, this is not a recommended strategy. 

Weaving samples can take up a little more time at the beginning, but they can also save you a lot of time in the long run. You don’t want to finish an entire weaving and then realize it’s not what you wanted.

While you can make samples on a floor loom – I highly recommend sampling on frame looms whenever you get the chance. They take a lot less time to set up and require a lot less waste.



If You Have These Questions Then Sampling May Be Right For You:


“What EPI should I use?” (alternatively – check out my EPI post!)

“How does this yarn hold up to friction?”

“How much will it shrink if I wash it?”

“Do I even like this weaving technique?”

“What if I combine these patterns?”

“What happens if…. Or…..? “

You get the idea. 

Once you weave a sample that does exactly what you want it to do – you suddenly have a proof of concept. Proceed without caution!


weaving samples
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If something doesn’t work out, then keep the sample anyway! Put all your samples in a notebook or on a cork board in your studio. Make notes on EPI, type of yarn, etc. because the sample that didn’t quite work out for one weaving, might be exactly what you didn’t know you wanted for the next. That is what is so great about samples – they teach you things by showing you what is possible.

Here are a few examples of some of my finished weavings and the samples that preceded them. Each time I sampled something, it’s because I had no idea if it would work or not. 


weaving samples
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Here are a few weaving samples that ultimately led to nothing. For now…


weaving samples
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In a lot of these cases, the samples did exactly what I thought they would. Turns out – it’s just not what I wanted all along. In cases like these, samples are great because they help you to visualize your finished weaving better than a sketch can. Luckily, since you made a sample, you didn’t spend too much time on it anyway.

“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” – Pablo Picasso

Weaving Lessons = Life Lessons

Has weaving a sample ever saved you from wasting time/ resources/ or your sanity? Let me know in the comments!

-Nicole
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