28 March 2016

How to weave: Free step-by-step tutorial

Are you ready to get your weave on?

I loved weaving from the moment I picked up my first loom. I taught myself to weave from a lot of googling, reading and trial and error. This step-by-step tutorial shows the process of how I like to weave, there are of course many different ways.

Choosing your loom...
Lap looms come in many different sizes, many of the larger ones come with stands so you can sit them on a table. I am going to choose the second biggest loom shown above, it is a nice size to start with. I got this loom from Spotlight but you should be able to find them in most craft stores or online.
Time to choose some wool. No matter how hard I try I am always attracted to the bright candy coloured wools, I just can't help myself, so that is what I will choose. I like to choose a base colour (white is always good) and then choose 3 or 4 more colours. Choose different ply or thickness of the wools to add contrast.
These are the colours I have decided to work with. The white and yellow I have is a thin and thick ply. You can of course change your mind about colours as you go along as I will demonstrate soon!

Lets warp up!
The strings that make up the vertical lines of a weave are called the warp. You can use anything for warp strings as long as they are sturdy enough and won't stretch too much. Here I am using an 8 ply white acrylic wool.
I start by securing the wool to the bottom left corner. I make sure I have plenty of wool off to the left and wrap around the frame 2 or 3 times and loop the wool under and pull tight...
It is tight enough to keep it in place but will be easy to undo at the end. Sorry this photo isn't the greatest!
Then you are going to bring the wool up through the first slot in your loom. All looms are slightly different, yours may have nails at the top and bottom instead but the concept will still be the same.
Now take your wool up and hook around the top and down through the next slot...

Keep going up and down in this manner until you get to the other side or until you are at the desired width for your weaving.
Now we are going to secure the wool to the loom on the right hand side just as we did on the left.
Make sure the wool goes down through the last slot then ...
...wrap the wool around the right side of the loom and then you just need to tuck the wool end under one of the loops and pull tight.

Now let's get started!

Your loom may have come with a shuttle, a wooden rectangular piece with slots at either end. It is designed so you can wrap the wool around it and then actual weave with it. I on the other hand have another use for it...
....I use it to create a gap at the bottom of my weaving (this gap will make sense at the end when we take the weave off). If you don't have a shuttle or if it is the wrong size simply cut a length of stiff card to use instead making it around 5cm (2") wide. Simply weave it over and under your threads as shown and it will sit in place while you weave.

Now you need something to weave with...
...I like to use giant tapestry needles. The eye (the hole) in them is big enough to insert a thick strand of wool. You can of course use whatever suits you. Sometimes for very thick wool I just use my fingers/hand.

The first thing we are going to do is a few rows of simple 'over and under' (the technical term!) in your main colour. I am using the same white thread.
Cut a length of wool about 5 times the width of your loom, thread your needle and go under and over your warp threads.
Pull your wool through leaving a tail hanging out at your starting point.
Then weave another row back ensuring this time you stitch the opposite, so you have an 'over' sitting on an 'under' (again very technical terms!). Don't pull your rows too tight.

After each row gently push the wool down into place...
Do about 4 rows of over and under...
....and then trim your wool and leave it hanging off to the side. All these pieces will be sewn into the back of the weave at the end.

Now we are going to create a line of tassels along the bottom. I am still using white but a thicker ply this time.
For each tassel you will need about 4 lengths of wool slight bigger than your loom.
Push them together. Don't worry about cutting the loops at the sides we will trim them all (or not) at the end.
Fold your strands in half.
While still folded place wool under the first warp string (here you will I have made one tassel already and am on to my second).
Now tuck the other strands through and pull tight.
Here are 2 side by side. Now carry on putting a tassel on each warp thread until...
...you have a whole row. Don't worry about trimming anything now, we will do it later on.
Now I have another 4 rows of under and over with the thinner white.
 Now it is time to add some colour. After taking this photo I decided to take the blue wool away.

Time to try a slightly more difficult technique but in the most easiest way. This is the soumak. If you google it you can see how many different ways it can be done but this is my favourite. Cut a long strand of yellow yarn, about six times the width of the loom. Double it over as shown.
Take the end with the loop and thread it under the first warp thread.
Now grab the 2 ends and thread through the loop.
Pull it tight.
Now here it gets a little trickier. Pick up the next warp thread (with 1 piece of wool either side) then...
...pull the two ends through.
Pull it tight. Repeat theses steps all the way along.
And then your row of soumak should look like this. Try and keep the same amount of tautness with every stitch to keep it even. I love how this looks.
Finish the row and leave the strands hanging at the side.
Next I chose the thick white wool and using and under and over stitch I have gone over 2 strands then under 2 strands, making sure I did he opposite on the way back. I did 4 rows altogether.
Time for some green! Simple over under stitch. I did 6 rows.
 Next I thread a strand of dark pink and a strand of light pink onto 1 needle. Then I did 3 rows of over under.
 And another 6 rows of green under over.
 Another 3 rows of chunky white of over under over 2 strands.
 By repeating colours and techniques you will keep your weave looking consistent rather than random (unless you like random of course!)
Now I have threaded my needle with 2 strands of light pink wool and am using under over. I did 3 rows.
Now I am going to do another fancy stitch I call looping. You are basically wrapping your wool around every 2 warp strands. I have threaded up with a long strand of chunky yellow.  Come up under the 2nd warp strand...
...then go behind 4 strand and pull your wool through...
...which will look like this.
 Now go behind 4 strands again...
...and pull tight(ish).
 This is what a row looks like.
 Then I did 4 rows of over under in thin white.
 Then a row of soumak that we did above in yellow. This time I chose green and used double strands.
 Then 3 rows of under over in green.
 Time for 2 shades of pink again. 3 rows of that in simple under over.
 Back to the thick white wool going over and under 2 strands. 3 rows of that.
 Then another row of looping in the yellow again.
 Here I have threaded up with 2 strands of pink wool and  have gone over 1 and under 2. Just remember the opposite of the way back will be under 1 and over 2.
Then I have done another row of looping like the yellow on we did a few rows back. This time I have wrapped around one strand at a time which means coming up under the first warp thread, going around and coming up between the second and third. So same process as earlier. Sorry for some reason I forgot to photograph this one!
A final 4 rows of hot pink under and over and we are done! You need to leave enough room at the top to thread through your hanging rod.
So here she is, still on the loom with all her loose threads hanging either side. Now we need to get her off the loom.
 Lift your tassel fringe up...
 ...and carefully remove the shuttle or cardboard...
 ...so it looks like this.
 Now carefully undo your loose knots either side of the loom and let the wool hang down...
 ...like this. Now don't panic because your weaving will stay in place.
 Again very carefully unhook your loops from the bottom.
 It will look like this.
 Now snip a loop...
 ...then tie the 2 pieces together with a double knot.
 Repeat all the way along, snipping and knotting...
 ..until everything is knotted except the 2 long side pieces.
Now simply tie piece 1 to piece 2 with a double knot. Then tie piece 3 to piece 4 with a double knot. Trim the long ends
 Done! All these knots will be hidden under the fringe.
 Now to remove it from the top of the loom. Choose your hanging device. Dowel, copper rods, driftwood or as I like to use wooden knitting needles.
 Take note of what your last row of weaving is and then weave your rod in as though it was wool, going over and under..
 ...like this.
 Then simply lift it off! Easy.
 And she is off the loom.
 Now flip her over and trim the side strings so they are more manageable.
 Now it is the not so fun part of sewing in the ends. Use your tapestry needle again and simple thread each strand, one at a time...
 ...and very carefully run the needle through the back of the weaving ensuring you are not going through to the front.
 Pull the wool through and trim.
Then thread up the next one and keep going....
...until they are all woven in.

Now hang it on the wall to see how you would like to trim the tassel fringe.
At this point you can cut your fringe straight across or with a 'v' shape, you can cut the loops, whatever takes your fancy. I quite like a mixture of loops and straight pieces so I am just going to tidy up the bottom by trimming a few edges...
.....sharp scissors are a necessity!

Now I like to add a little wooden tag with my logo on...
 I have 2 designs which I got made from All this Wood on Etsy.
The rectangular one looks great sewn on the front. I usually use coloured embroidery floss to sew it on. But with this one I fancied using the round tag...
I have just looped through wool, threaded t through the weaving and knotted it at the back. This is a great way to add pom poms too which we will get to later on.

So here she is in all her glory...
I like to hang my woven wall hangings by sitting the rod on a simple nail. You can however tie a length of wool onto the rod either side of the weaving and hang it on a nail.

I hope you found this tutorial useful, please feel free to comment if you have any questions. I will be back with more weaving tutorials and experiments soon. I can't wait to start adding pom poms and felt elements....so many possibilities.

In the meantime keep up to date with me on my instagram account especially for weaving HERE or you can see all the fabulous weaving inspiration and many other crafty things I will be pinning on Pinterest HERE.

Happy weaving!

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