This blog post is sponsored by Wildwoven.
Weaving is a gorgeous craft which we’ve featured in multiple mags, so we thought it was about time we make a library of basic weaving techniques for you all. This guide was made by our good pal Lucy Rowan @peasandneedles and shows you everything from how to warp the loom to the different knots which will make your weave beautiful!
The material for our fab weave was kindly provided by Liz from Wildwoven, whose ‘feelgood yarns for fibre artists’ come in a wide range of textures and colours. Based in rural Wales, Liz learnt to weave in Chile, where women still spin yarn by hand using a simple homemade spindle. Her love for richly-textured, handspun yarns and the tactile quality of their weavings led Liz to work with rural women in Chile and Peru to produce her own range of yarns and kits in a kaleidoscope of colours.
We fully support Wildwoven’s business ethics and love knowing the history and production behind all our materials so make sure you check out her shop and pick up the bits you’ll need to weave
You will need…
For this tutorial Lucy used the following materials and tools which are all from Wildwoven:
- Weaving Yarn Selection for Woven Wall Hangings
- Thick Thin Weaving Yarn
- Weaving Needle
- Natural Dye Cotton Yarn – in various colours
Then, once you’re a loom master, why not practice your techniques on our free woven hanging tutorial? And then, for maximum impact, have a read of our hashtags for weavers blog post and share your creation with the world. Remember to use the hashtag #molliemakers too!
Basic weaving techniques
Warping the loom
- Start by tying the end of a length of cotton string to the top left corner of the loom.
2. Keeping the cotton string tight, bring it straight down and loop it around the opposite notch at the bottom of the loom. Take the string back up to the top and loop it around the next notch. Repeat this process until you reach your desired width – this base is called the warp.
3. Tie the string off to the last warp thread. The tension of the threads should be fairly tight.
- Cut a small piece of card to the width of the loom, then weave it through the warp threads, over one thread, then under the next. Repeat until you reach the opposite side. Thread the needle with your chosen length of yarn and knot it around the first warp thread at one side, just above the piece of card.
2. Thread the needle under the next warp thread, then back up and over the next. Repeat along the width of the warp, going over and under – this creates the weft.
3. To weave the next row, repeat Step 2, this time going over the warp threads you went under, and under those you went over.
4. When weaving, try to not pull the yarn too tightly as this will bring the edges of the weave in and cause it to narrow. One way to prevent this is by pulling the yarn through at a 45º angle, bringing the needle down to make a hill. Using a comb or a fork push the middle down, and gently push each hill down, as you go. This will give the correct tension.
Test your new weaving techniques on these projects:
- How to make a woven wall hanging and weaving loom
- DIY weaving: How to make a tassel wall hanging
- The Anatomy of a Weaving Loom
- To create your tassels (known as Rya knots in weaving terms), you’ll need to cut strands of yarn roughly 30cm (12″) long. Each Rya knot will need approximately six threads, depending on how thick the yarn is.
2. Lay the bundle of yarn strands over the top of the warp threads. With the yarn in your left hand, twist the yarn under the first two warp threads and bring the bundle to the front.
3. Do the same with the right side, twisting the yarn under the next pair of warp threads, and bringing the yarn through to the middle. Even out the length on either side, then gently pull the yarn towards you and down to the bottom of the loom.
4. Repeat across the remaining warp threads to create a full row.
- Weave a few rows of your first colour using tabby weave, decreasing on a few rows to create space.
2. Start weaving a row of the second colour until you reach the warp thread the first colour ended on. Use your needle to pick up that warp thread.
3. Pull the needle through, push the first colour already woven down, then weave back the other way.
4. Carry on weaving back and forth, picking up the warp thread as per Step 2, until the section has been filled.
- Take a length of chunkier yarn or roving and weave the end through a couple of warp threads to secure it. Working with the other end, wrap the yarn over the top of two warp threads and twist it back through towards you.
2. Repeat this step with the next pair of warp threads, and continue across the loom. If your yarn is thinner, wrap the yarn over every warp thread instead of every two – this will create a much smaller soumak.
3. For the second row, reverse the weaving technique, this time wrapping the yarn in the opposite direction. Repeat all the way across the width of the loom, and the two rows together will form a Soumak ‘plait’.
Weaving with roving
- Weaving with roving is an easy way to add texture and interest to a piece. If the roving is especially chunky, split it into smaller widths to make it easier to use. Follow the steps for tabby weaving below, but use your fingers to weave the roving through, instead of a needle.
2. Gently pull the roving forward. For maximum texture, weave the roving loosely so you can tease more out.
3. Weave a couple of rows in the same way, then weave the ends in neatly at the back.
- You’ll need quite a bit of yarn for this weaving technique – we doubled ours to give the loops more texture. Weave your ends in.
2. Place the bundle of yarn at the top of the loom. Lay the yarn over two warp threads, then with your right hand, twist one loop in under one warp thread.
3. Do the same with your left hand, creating a second loop – this weaving technique is very similar to that of a Rya knot. Gently pull the loops down and towards the weave.
4. Move on to the next two warp threads and repeat Steps 2-3. Once you’ve completed a row of loops, make sure to weave over the top with a couple of rows of tabby weave to secure the loops in place.
Taking the weave off the loom
- Once the weave is complete, snip the warp threads across the top of the loom. Carefully lift the weave off, gently unhooking the bottom loops from the loom.
2. Turn the weave over so the right side is facing down. Working with two warp threads at a time, tie the thread pairs together around the stick – this could be a piece of wood or length of dowel. Try to keep all the knots on the reverse.
3. Make sure all the ends are woven in and trim any excess yarn or threads. The Rya knots can be left natural or, if you prefer, you can trim them into a straight line, or at an angle for a more geometric look.
4. Tie another length of yarn to either end of the stick, then use to hang up.
Congratulations – you’ve now got all the basic weaving techniques you could ever need. If you fancy brushing up your skills for other crafts, check out our following libraries and subscribe to Mollie Makes.