I’m pretty lucky that my weaving journey started in an academic setting. I learned how to weave as a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, which meant I was surrounded by those with common interests, an abundance of materials at my disposal, and a wealth of knowledge. This meant that I was a bit sheltered from what it was like to learn to weave as most people do (as you’re probably doing) – on your own.
Just because I was able to get a degree in Craft/Material Studies with a concentration in Fibers, doesn’t necessarily mean I knew what I was getting myself into when I started! There are some things that I learned while I was in school and since I left that I wish I knew when I started weaving.
For the record – NONE of these things would have kept me from weaving or exploring fiber art, but I do think they are good to keep in mind for new weavers.
Weaving Takes Time – Sometimes A Lot Of Time
I know that all art takes time and depending on the type of weaving that you are making, it might take more time than another. I promise that the first time you weave tapestry, you will be surprised at just how long it can take you to weave up only an inch of weaving! Especially if you have a lot of color changes or you are weaving an intricate design. This will take longer than a single continuous weft from selvedge to selvedge. Check out THIS POST if you’re looking for tips to weave faster!
If you are weaving on a deadline, then keep this in mind! Weaving a sample might be a really great option to try to get an idea of how long your weaving will take.
Balanced weaving will take less time than tapestry, weaving on a floor loom may take less time than weaving on a frame loom, and taking your time can actually save you time.
I’ll say that one again, just because it’s important.
Taking your time can actually save you time.
Don’t forget to account for set-up and finishing your weaving as well. Warping a floor loom is notorious for taking a lot of time and finishing your ends can be tedious, but set up and finishing are both essential parts of the weaving process. Just know that there are certain finishing techniques that take less time, it all just depends on what you want for your weaving.
Even Experienced Weavers Struggle With Selvedges
… and other aspects of weaving. I know that I have written blog posts about how to fix and/or avoid some of your weaving mistakes. That doesn’t mean I always follow my own advice! I know first hand how easy it can be to get caught up in the process, lose focus, and have my selvedges start to pull in or forget to weave in my weft tails.
When you are looking at a finished weaving, sometimes it can be hard to understand how much went into the piece you are looking at that you can’t really see. What you don’t see is every time the weaver got distracted by what they were watching on Netflix and pulled a little too hard on their weft. You don’t see all the times that they had to un-weave because they stepped on the wrong treadle and messed up their pattern.
Or maybe you do, and they left them there on purpose.
Whether you see them or not – I guarantee they happened.
It’s important to remember that you will probably always have to pay attention to these things – even though it does get easier the longer you weave! Trust me – I still make plenty of mistakes, but as long as you can recognize and fix them then you will be fine.
Plus, mistakes make us better weavers (and people!) So embrace them, learn from them, and remember: we all make them!
Fiber Art Is Underappreciated
You do what?
Yeah, I get that one sometimes.
When I first made the decision to study Craft and Textiles, even one of my professors from my previous school thought I was crazy.
“You should study painting or sculpture.”
Suddenly those options were the safe choice.
Fiber art is so often underrated and overlooked, yet it has an even stronger history than some of the other more popular art mediums.
You rarely even learn about textile history in school even though advancements in textiles directly led to the industrial revolution and other really important historical events.
Did you know that weavings tend to sell for less than other art of similar sizes and creation time. That was a really hard one for me, but luckily I didn’t become an artist to be rich.
Don’t let this deter you if you love to weave, because you will find the right person to appreciate your art for what it’s worth.
If you find yourself defending your choice to weave (or do anything really) just know that the only opinion that actually matters is yours. Fiber art is a fantastic choice with historical ties, practical uses, and the ability to create something incredibly beautiful and meaningful.
It Can Be Hard To Find Materials
At least until you know where to look. I wish that weaving yarn and tools were able to be purchased more places in person.
Maybe some day.
You might be lucky to have a local yarn store (LYS) near you that sells these weaving supplies, but if you’re not then you will probably have to purchase them online.
There’s nothing wrong with buying yarn online and it could even mean that you have access to more types of yarn and information about what you’re buying. More options means the ability to shop around for the best price. That being said, I’m only a little jealous of those that can buy materials and not have to wait for shipping…
It also took a lot of looking around and researching to find the best places to buy online. That’s why I put together an entire post about the best online stores you can order your yarn and other weaving supplies from.
You can also do a quick google search in your area for local yarn stores. I was surprised when I moved across town that there was a LYS only 3 minutes from my house! They don’t sell a lot of weaving yarns, but the knitting and crochet yarn they sell is beautiful! Maybe you can even convince them to order some yarn just for you.
Yeah, I just wish I knew more. This may seem like a silly one to include, because well obviously, but hear me out.
My first loom was a simple frame loom. From there I moved straight to an 8 harness jack-style floor loom.
These are my safe tools.The tools that I learned on and feel comfortable on. That doesn’t make them bad! In fact, they really truly are some of my favorites! That doesn’t mean they’re the only option.
Until I branched out after leaving the safety of the University setting – I wasn’t that interested in trying out other options. I didn’t know anything about other types of frame looms or styles of floor looms. I had never woven on a rigid heddle loom before, but I didn’t feel like I needed to. I now understand the importance of all the different tools and materials that I can use to work for me and create more art. There is such a thing as the right tool for the job – and such a thing as making the tool you have work.
You may have your own safe tools and there is nothing wrong with that. Branching out and learning new tools and techniques, though, can be a great way to move forward as a weaver and an artist. I recommend starting a collection of weaving books and of course reading this blog every week!
There will always be something you don’t know and that’s ok! In fact, that’s probably why you’re here. So whether you are a new or experienced weaver, just know that there is always another step that can inspire you and move you forward.
Is there one thing that you wish you knew when you first started weaving? Let me know!
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