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.

  1. 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.
  2. Sewing Needle- you can use a simple sewing needle with a large eye to weave your yarn through your warp.
  3. Small Crochet Hook - this has become an integral tool during my weaving process and I'm absolutely in love with it. 
  4. Scissors - self explanatory 
  5. 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! 
  6. Shuttle - wrap your yarn around this in order to speed up your weaving process!
  7. Warp String - a thin string used to "warp" your loom. I'll explain what a warp is below! 

3) Terminology 

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.
Credit:  Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

  • 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.

5) Sketch

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.

a recent idea I had that I plan on bringing to life...

a recent idea I had that I plan on bringing to life...

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. 

7) Connect 

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. :) 

Maryanne Moodie Weaving Classes

So for my birthday a couple of weeks ago, I was very pleasantly surprised to receive not one, but TWO weaving classes with Maryanne Moodie as gifts from my family and boyfriend. Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled, and couldn't wait to finally meet the woman who was one of the main reasons I started weaving. Her work is absolutely incredible, and her personality is even better.

The classes were held in the Makeshift Society in Brooklyn. A beautiful space filled with natural light, exposed brick walls and an overall airy feeling that made you excited to be there. As soon as I walked in, Maryanne greeted me with a big smile, gave me a hug, and I immediately felt welcomed in that space. She has such a warm and inviting personality, one that I've always appreciated in people, that made the entire day fun and exciting. She was excited to be there, we were excited to be there, it was perfect. 

The Makeshift Society

The Makeshift Society

First up was the Weaving 101 class for Beginners. The tables were adorned with beautiful arrangements by Karma Flowers, our brand new handmade looms, yarn, scissors, weaving needle, warp, and a little instructional booklet created by Maryanne. We were so spoiled. It was amazing. 

Maryanne introduced herself and her lovely assistants, gave us a bit on her background, and then we got started. She would take us to a smaller space a few steps away from our tables and taught us different techniques, then we'd go back to practice them. It was a great set up. Did I mention we were given mimosas? And other sweet treats, as well. I completely broke my "no sugar" rule, but it was well worth it.

Once the morning class ended, those of us that stayed for the afternoon class had a two hour break, then we were back at it! It was extremely inspiring to see Maryanne's work in person. Her technique is so impressive and her color choices are reflective of her personality: bright, beautiful, and fun. 

Maryanne and I. Aren't her weavings out of this world?! 

Maryanne and I. Aren't her weavings out of this world?! 

As I walked in for the afternoon class, I saw more goodies on the tables and I couldn't wait to get started. We sat down, started to warp our looms, and got going! Since this was a Weaving 102 class (the first was a Weaving 101 for beginners) we were told we'd finish a small piece to take home! When we opened our goodie bags, gasps and "oohs" and "aahs" filled the room. We pulled out vintage yarns, gorgeous roving, golden leather, horse hair, and so much more. Again, so spoiled. She also gave us tools made by the same man who made our looms from the beginners class. Shuttles, weaving swords, weaving comb, vintage crochet hooks, to name a few. Amazing! Maryanne taught us even more techniques, and I was excited to take these home and practice. 

Overall, it was the perfect day. I felt like I was in a dream. The entire experience was something I feel so lucky to have been a part of. And I owe a huge THANK YOU to my boyfriend for getting together with my family to surprise me with the best birthday gifts ever. And another massive THANK YOU to Maryanne for being such a delight and someone I hope to spend time with in the future again. I came out of those classes with a head full of new techniques, knowledge, and inspiration. I learned so many things that will save time and make my weaving  process so much smoother. It was great to be surrounded by women who were just as excited to be there and learn from a successful and inspiring woman. This made my love for weaving grow that much more, and I can't wait to see what's next on my journey!

My weaving loot from the day! 

My weaving loot from the day! 

I highly recommend taking Maryanne's classes. And follow her on Instagram! That's how I found her, and it's been a huge inspiration for me. 

Bethlehem ArtWalk

So the ArtWalk came and went! I spent months preparing for this, working on stocking up my inventory of weavings and creating the overall look I wanted for my "booth". I worked up until the 11th hour to get everything finished. From my logo sign on my booth, to creating what felt like a million little "S" hooks to hang the weavings, to making my business cards, it all came together in the end and I'm proud of how it turned out. Although I didn't sell as much as I'd hoped, it was a fantastic experience and I did what I went there to do: get my name out there and display the pieces that I worked so hard creating.  It was the perfect day to have all of us local artists come together in Downtown Bethlehem and showcase our work. The sun was shining, the street was buzzing with people heading to dinner and shopping, all in all, just perfect.

My mother has been making dreamcatchers for as long as I can remember, and she made some for me to sell at the ArtWalk along with my weavings. They fit right in and looked absolutely beautiful with my pieces, and definitely made a lot of people stop to admire them. I'm going to work with her getting set up on Etsy soon! ;)

The first couple of hours (the event was four hours long) was a bit slow. People were preoccupied with getting to dinner and didn't seem to have much time to stop and look at everyone's work. All of us artists were spread out along Main St. in Bethlehem and a couple of nearby cross-streets, and I was in a great location next to one of my favorite restaurants. It was a bit windy and my weavings were taking a beating from time to time, but they held up well and worked with the garment rack set-up I had.

Towards the end, around 8pm, more people were stopping and showing interest. I think if I was there another hour or so, my sales might have been up. But like I said, I'm happy regardless of how many got sold. A few of my business cards got taken, which I was thrilled about. Who knows, maybe I'll get an e-mail or two within the next week for some custom orders! :) 

What made this experience so fulfilling wasn't the fact that I sold some products and had my art on display for everyone to see. It was the crazy amount of support I received from my family, friends, boyfriend, and even Instagram followers whom I have never met. It was unbelievable. After reading all of the supportive comments, the "how did it go?" texts, the phone calls, the sharing of my photos, my heart was (and still is) so full. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have this support system and people rooting for me from all over the world. It's such an amazing feeling. I want to say a huge THANK YOU to my family, my friends, and everyone who has given me a pat on the back for this. I may end up doing another one in August if I have time. But this is just the beginning and I can't wait to see what the future holds. :) 

And I've gotta say, I could not have done any of this without the help of this guy right here. And of course, his trusty Platinum wagon to carry all of my things. ;)

Here's a little sneak peak of what I'm working on now...soon I'll have my weavings for sale on Etsy! 

Make Your Own Tapestry Loom... for Under $20!

When I first started weaving I was browsing the internet for an affordable loom to buy. After about a day of looking I realized I wasn't going to find one under $75, which is out of my price range, unfortunately. I ended up finding some DIY looms, but most of them still cost close to $50 to make, so I decided to figure it out myself. I remembered an article I read about New Friends, and saw in some of their pictures that they used canvas stretcher bars for their looms. I figured if it works for them, it will work for me! And I already had spare stretcher bars, so I was halfway there.

If you are new to weaving or are a seasoned weaver and just want to have your own custom loom that's quick and easy to make, this project is for you. And the supplies will cost under $20 in the end! That is, assuming you have the necessary tools to begin with. :)

What you'll need:

  • Four canvas stretcher bars- you can get these at any art store, I bought mine at Blick Art Supplies and it came to about $12 for four bars. The price will vary on which bars you choose. I went with bars to make a 22"x34" loom.
  • Finishing Nails- I could only find ones that were 1.5" in length because there weren't any shorter ones, but I wouldn't go any shorter than 1". You can find these at any hardware store for under $2.
  • Drill-a small hand drill with a 5/64in drill bit will work just fine
  • Tape Measure
  • Hammer
  • Marker/Pen
  • Four wood screws -or- a staple gun (I recommend staple gun)
  • A companion or two

Now you're ready to make your loom!

Step 1: Frame It Out

The nice thing about using canvas stretcher bars is that they're made to fit right into one another, so go ahead and put those bad boys together.

Step 2: Secure the Corners

This is where a staple gun comes in handy. I made this frame a long time ago before knowing I was going to use it for a loom (it was fate, I know) so I used wood screws to hold the corners in place. They worked just fine, but I used a staple gun on a larger loom I made a few months ago and it's much easier and more efficient. If you're using a staple gun, just shoot a couple of them over the gap to connect the two pieces.

Step 3: Measure

I measured 2" in from the sides of each of the shorter bars and 1" in from the top just to avoid any collision with the gap where the bars meet. Once you have those set and marked up, just measure and mark every 1/2" along the bar until you have enough to span the width of the loom. 

Step 4: Make Pilot Holes

This step is very important. I know from experience that if you skip this step, the wood will split and the nails won't be secure. Take your drill with the 5/64in drill bit and make small pilot holes at each of the spots you have marked. This is a tedious step but well worth it! Be sure not to drill too far in or your nails won't set correctly.

Step 5: Nails Nails Nails

You're almost there! The final step....pound those nails in. After setting the pilot holes, you're ready to get the nails in there. They aren't going to be perfectly straight, so don't worry about that. All that matters is that you get them in their spots securely without splitting the wood. This is where having a companion or two helps. Since you're spending this time making something for yourself that you will clearly cherish forever, why not have someone to help you pass the time? In my case, it was my boyfriend and my cat Floyd.

Step 6: Relax!

You've done a lot of work getting this loom together. Now it's time to bask in your own glory. Go on with your bad self! You just saved a good chunk of change and you're going to weave on a loom you made all on your own. Well done! 

If you have any questions regarding this process, feel free to send me a message on my Contact page! 

Tapestry Weaving Love

I finally completed my very first tapestry weaving a couple of weeks ago. It took me longer than I had hoped to finish mainly because I work full time and my only chance to weave is on nights and weekends. And also because after moving from the small Lap Loom to one that is almost triple the size is very daunting. I think it would have taken a long time regardless of working, though, since it was my first tapestry-sized piece. Since I made the loom by hand using finishing nails and canvas stretcher bars (will create a how-to post soon!), not everything is lined up perfectly. It did seem to work very well, though! Plus it saved me from spending a crazy amount of money on a brand new loom, and who doesn't like to save money?

I started off having a clear idea in my head of how I wanted this weaving to look. I made a few sketches before warping my loom in hopes that I could follow the patterns that were coming to mind. After about a day of weaving, I quickly realized that my sketches would not directly translate to my loom, and I was fine with that. I've come to love the fact that it's such an organic process that allows me to make decisions on-the-go based on the color of yarn I used last or the technique I chose. 

Initially I had planned to have a mohawk-like look to this weaving, with the long strands of yarn spanning from top to bottom, straight down the middle. After making the bottom "tail" out of thick blue and thin golden yarn, I felt how heavy that one section was and decided to go against my mohawk idea. At that point, I just started to wing it. 

I like the look of neutrals with little bursts of color added here and there. The softness of the off-white yarns mixed with a contrasting deep blue and mint green allow the piece to be subtle, but still have a presence. All in all, I'm happy with how this piece turned out. As with all of my work, I look at it and think of what decisions I could have made differently, but that's just part of the process.

Knowing that my possibilities are endless when it comes to different looks for my weavings, I'm excited and anxious to keep creating these tapestry pieces. I'm constantly inspired by everything around me so I take what I see and build off of that whenever I create. I can't wait until I am able to start creating custom, commissioned pieces for clients. They will be able to display their piece knowing I took into account their personal style and vision, and that will be the most gratifying process of my work. As long as I can make one person happy, I'll be happy!

I still have a lot to learn when it comes to tapestry weaving, but it will all come with more practice and more work. I'm ready to take that on and keep going, knowing each piece will be better than the last! 

Packaging Design

Last week I sent out a couple of my new mini-weavings to two of my friends. This was my first test in shipping my products and first attempt at creating the packaging for them. I've always known the type of experience I want the customer to have from the start. I want it to be personal, inviting; A beautiful gift they are excited to open. 

For my first shipment, I decided wrap the weavings in muslin. To me it has that soft, natural touch while also maintaining the protection I want on the weavings. A handwritten note rests in the muslin as a personal "Thank you" for purchasing one of my products, or just a simple "Hello" if it's a gift. One or two strands of yarn hold it together in a nicely wrapped package with my logo tag attached. The yarn color is matched to one that appears in the customer's woven piece to add that personal/custom touch. 

As I progress I'm sure my approach to the packaging will evolve, but for now, this is what I've got and it seems to work well so far! I'll have to adjust according to the size of the weavings since the larger ones will require more maintenance when it comes to wrapping. My friends seemed to enjoy these little packages and they held up well during the mailing process, so that's a good sign to start! 


A couple of friends have told me that they want to buy one of my weavings. At the moment I'm working on some larger pieces that I'd like to start selling, so I don't have time to make big ones for them just yet. But at the same time, I've been wanting to send them something to hold them over until I do have the time to make larger, more personal ones. 

My solution? Create mini-weavings! Thanks to Janelle Pietrzak of All Roads, I noticed she made these awesome little weaving ornaments that inspired me to make tiny weavings for my friends. They don't take too long to make and they still have that personal touch that I wanted. I figured out that I can make two at a time using my Lap Loom (check out my Instagram page to see!). They are only about 3" wide and 10" long, so they won't take up much space on your wall. And...they're cute! I plan on having a table full of these for the Artwalk this June in Bethlehem. 

These could also be a nice miniature version of how I want to create larger pieces in the future. It allows me to decide on a color palette with limited space so that I can see what works and what doesn't. It's almost as if they are sketches for my large tapestry hangings.

I have to refrain from making a million of these for more of my friends and family because right now I have to focus on creating larger pieces to sell this summer. But once the Artwalk is over, I'll be able to send these little gifts on to more who have asked for weavings! 

"This could be the start of something big..."

After working on a small Lap Loom for a few months, I've decided to upgrade into a much larger loom that I made by hand. Using some wooden stretcher bars and some finishing nails, I made a 26" x 42" loom, which is roughly triple the size of the little Lap Loom I've been using. It's a bit daunting, but it's time to move it on up so I can start making some tapestry weavings!

It's not perfect, but it will do for now. Warping this was a challenge and as I continue to work on it, I'm noticing a few more flaws in the construction, but it's my first so I'll just take it and run with it.

My Mom gave me some roving she had found back at home and I can tell already that I'll be using this a lot more in my future work. The thickness of it has helped my process big time, making the size of the loom not so intimidating. I'll definitely be digging through Etsy to find some more.

I love the textures created by the mix of roving and thinner yarn in my new piece. I think what I like most about weaving, textiles, and art in general, is being able to see the details in the artist's work. You can definitely see that when you look at any weaving. Knowing that it's all created by hand is truly something significant.