Beginner Weaving: 8 Tips to Get You Started
Before I began my weaving journey I felt pretty clueless. I browsed through Pinterest swooning over beautiful tapestries created by talented artists wondering if I could ever achieve something so complex. When I decided I wanted to try my hand at weaving, I had no idea where to start. My Google searches only turned up hair weaving tutorials and the little information I did find on actual tapestry weaving was very brief .
It wasn't until I dug more into the internet and found out more information from my Instagram friends and random blogs that I began to learn the tricks of the trade. And of course, my Maryanne Moodie weaving classes left me with a head full of knowledge that I use every time I weave now. Thanks, Maryanne!
However, I wish that before I even warped my first loom I had a "beginner's tips" guide or blog post that I could have read through quickly to know how to get started. So this is my rendition of that guide. I don't claim to be an expert, but this is something that I would have wanted to know, personally, when I first started out. I am not a seasoned weaver by any means, and have a huge amount I still need to learn, but figured this would be nice for any beginners out there who might be intimidated by the thought of weaving. So here it goes!
1) Start Small
The first loom I ever purchased was a used Lap Loom off of Craigslist. It still had some yarn left in it from the initial kit, all of the tools and the instructions were even with it! Try not to go for the big looms when first starting out. I suggest sticking with small lap looms to start or even make your own! I have a blog post on how to make your own tapestry loom, and it's meant for a larger scale, but you can make smaller ones just as easily. There are so many talented people out there who make their own looms, so try to buy from them and support small businesses! Etsy is a given...and here are just a couple of options that are affordable:
- Board & Bread - I recently purchased this loom from Emily and couldn't be happier with it. It's such a great size, especially if you travel and want to bring your weaving with you!
- Loom and Spindle - based out of Australia, there are a variety of looms available in her shop and they come with awesome bright pink tools to boot!
- Harrisville Designs Lap Loom - I have a used version of this, but it got me started and is a really great loom to work on!
- Make your own! You can easily make a small loom using canvas stretcher bars and finishing nails as I mentioned above.
2) Get Some Tools
Below is a list of some standard tools to get you started on your weaving. If you bought a loom kit that came with tools, that's great! If not, here are some basic ones to get you going. Several of these were part of a kit I got at Maryanne Moodie's weaving workshops, but you can get any of these in a craft store and/or online! And you won't necessarily need all of these, depending on your personal preference/style.
- Weaving Sword- this is simply a piece of wood, plastic, etc. that is similar in shape to a standard ruler that you weave through your warp in order to allow your yarn to pass through freely.
- Sewing Needle- you can use a simple sewing needle with a large eye to weave your yarn through your warp.
- Small Crochet Hook - this has become an integral tool during my weaving process and I'm absolutely in love with it.
- Scissors - self explanatory
- Weaving Comb/Fork - pictured below are, yes, an actual fork for eating, and a comb that is meant specifically for weaving. Before I decided to buy an actual comb I used a kitchen fork and it works perfectly!
- Shuttle - wrap your yarn around this in order to speed up your weaving process!
- Warp String - a thin string used to "warp" your loom. I'll explain what a warp is below!
To be honest, I'm still learning the correct terminology used in weaving, but below are some basics that are useful to know.
- Warp - this is created by the string you use to make the vertical lines in your piece. Basically, the "bones" of your soon-to-be weaving.
- Weft - this is what is created when you weave horizontally through the warp.
- Tension - this refers to the tightness of your warp on the loom.
- I am going to create another blog post with a "how-to" cheat sheet for common weaving techniques, stay tuned!
4) Stay Inspired
We all know weaving is nothing new to the world. It's been around for centuries and lately has been trending as the new cool thing to do. And can you blame it? It's an intricate, meditative art form that is translated all over the world with gorgeous rugs, tapestries, clothes, you name it. So what better way to make yourself a knowledgeable weaver than to take that inspiration and run with it? Nowadays there are so many extremely talented textile artists who are really reinventing the way weaving is done. Below are some of my favorites. I could make an extremely long list, but will try to keep it short. :)
- Maryanne Moodie - One of the main reasons I started weaving was because I saw a piece Maryanne had made on Pinterest and was immediately hooked. I had the pleasure of meeting this beautiful woman and learned a great deal from her. If you ever have the chance, take her weaving classes.
- Warped Threads - Two absolutely lovely women residing in Australia creating gorgeous weavings full of texture and delight. Your eyes will thank you once you see their work.
- All Roads - Unique pieces created by Janelle Pietrzak that really push the envelope and take risks. Her eclectic style and non-traditional materials work to create eye-catching wall hangings.
- Meghan Shimek - Holy amazing texture. Her pieces are like fluffy clouds that you want to sleep on. You need to check out her work. She's even created a Beginner Frame Loom that has a rotating heddle! (You'll see what I mean when you click that link)
- Himo Art - May Sterchi is the creator of these mind-blowing macrame pieces. I have no idea how she does it, but it's incredible.
- Rachel Hine - this woman creates tapestries that I couldn't even draw. Her attention to detail and illustrative style are truly impressive.
- Mimi Jung - her minimalist pieces pack a punch. And she works in such a large scale for some of her work that I can't even fathom. Can you say #inspiration?
- Ranran Design - another macrame artist who was a huge inspiration when I first started out. Bethlehem's beautiful bright colors and mass amounts of texture will make you swoon.
Like I said, there are so many artists out there who make fantastic work, and the ones I have listed above are just a few that I follow and take inspiration from. But do yourself a favor and explore the social media world, browse Pinterest, and don't limit yourself to only textile artists. I find images every day that I am inspired by that have nothing to do with weaving, but they make me think of my next piece or the colors I want to use, or the movement I want to create. Inspiration can be found everywhere, you just have to keep your eyes open and be ready to take it all in.
I like to keep a sketchbook on me as often as I can because I have ideas come to me at the most random times. The other day I was at work and had an idea in my head that I had to get down on paper before I forgot. Try to keep a notebook or some paper handy for when your mind is going a mile-a-minute and your ideas need a physical place to live.
6) Ask Questions
Don't be afraid to reach out to the artists who have inspired you. Send an email or a comment on Instagram if you have questions. The weaving community is a beautiful one, and we all like to help each other whenever possible, so just go for it.
Instagram has been my main source of inspiration and connection to the weaving world. I have virtually "met" so many talented artists through this social media connection and am beyond grateful for it. It's a huge platform for finding out when someone will be teaching an upcoming workshop, has a sale on their looms, new yarn kits available, literally, everything! Lately I've been seeing people post weaving meet-ups just to grab coffee at a local shop, weave, and hang out for a couple hours. How cool is that? Stay connected and you will be surprised at the amount of people who share the same passion as you, and you'll even make some friends. It's truly a beautiful thing.
8) Take Classes!
As you saw me gush earlier about Maryanne Moodie's weaving classes, you'll see that many textile artists have beginner weaving workshops. And from these workshops/classes you can usually get a loom/starter kit for weaving so you're ready to go! To my point above about "connecting", people post upcoming workshops and classes that could potentially be held in a city near you, so why not take advantage of that, meet some cool people, and learn? You'll not only take away knowledge that will make you a better artist, but you will network and connect with people that can lead to great opportunities!
Like I said before, I'm not an expert, and I am still learning each day as I go. But when I first began weaving I wanted some tips to get me started. If you are just trying weaving for the first time or know someone who is, I truly hope this is helpful. And please feel free to reach out if you have any questions. I will be more than happy to help. :)