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Getting Started with the Introduction to Tapestry Class

ImageThis month I begin working my way through Claudia’s Introduction to Tapestry Techniques class on CraftArtEdu. I’m especially excited about this course because it covers the most useful tapestry weaving techniques, and because the sampler you get to make is an actual tapestry wall hanging.

Even though the class is suitable for absolute beginners, I’m coming into it with a few months of tapestry weaving experience. So far I’ve made several bead and tapestry bracelets (I previously completed the Bead and Tapestry Cuffs class on Craftsy, which I highly recommend), plus three small tapestry panels as practice pieces. I’m hoping this new class helps me perfect a few methods that are slowing me down and allows me to get more creative. Starting today, I’ll be guest blogging about the class. Feel free to post any questions in the comments as I go along.

First off, a little about CrafArtEdu. It’s a website devoted to making online craft and fine art classes accessible and convenient to everyone. They currently offer over 400 courses for all experience levels, in over 40 categories. The instructors are all highly experienced and well known for their work and teaching abilities.

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Once you create an account on CraftArtEdu and purchase a class, the class remains available to you indefinitely. You can stop it, restart it, or replay it as many times as you’d like. You can also create your own member profile and share photos or videos of your work, as well as network with other members.

The six tapestry class videos, called “broadcasts,” are composed of lots of photos with close-up views of techniques, helpful lists and information in text, and audio of Claudia walking you through everything step by step. It’s easy to stop and restart, and you can jump around and replay key parts anytime.

Part 1 of the class covers warping the loom. I’ve warped my Mirrix loom a number of times now, so this part was easy. Here’s a look at my 16-inch Mirrix loom before warping, sitting on my corner work desk.

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It has a couple of features that may look different from your loom, especially if you’re just starting out. First, there is an extra, black plastic clip on the vertical copper bar on the right-hand side. My loom originally came with two wooden clips, one on each side. (You can see the second one scooted up above the black clip.) I’ve added the black clip so that I can use the add-on treadle.

The second difference is that there is a black plastic strip with two metal knobs on the bottom horizontal bar. It’s part of the add-on bottom spring kit. For the class, I will be using my treadle, but I won’t use a second warp coil.

For the class project we’re using every other dent in a 14-dent warp coil (for a total of 7 dents per inch) and we’re using a total of 45 warps. Here I am (below) counting the dents — or spaces between spring coils — in my warp coil to make sure I’m using the right one.

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I’m using a beading awl to help keep my place as I count. Alternatively you could do this with a tapestry needle.

Although the completed tapestry should be about 6 inches wide, my warps are closer to 6.5 inches. I think this is because my warp coil actually has closer to 15-dents per inch. However, there will probably be some pull-in on the sides of the tapestry which may bring it closer to 6 inches.

Here are all 45 warps wrapped around the loom.

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The next step is to attach the heddles. These are little loops that wrap around the warps and ultimately create the shed, which is the horizontal space between sets of warps where you place the yarn when you weave.

Here’s a look at my heddles attached to the heddle bars on my shedding device.

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I made my heddles using cotton crochet yarn and this handmade jig.

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Alternatively, you can buy pre-made Texlov heddles. If you make your own, I recommend using something relatively strong that also holds a tight knot. You can test this by cutting a short length of the material and tying together the ends with a square knot. Then pull the ends away from each other and see if the knot slides. If it does, look for something more grippy.

Finally, here are side views of the shed when it’s closed versus when it’s open.

Closed:

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Open:

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You’ll normally attach the shedding device handle and use it to turn the bar to change the shed from one open position to the other. For the photo, I just turned the bar with my hand because I’ll be attaching the treadle to the loom instead of using the handle. In my next post, I’ll show you what the treadle looks like attached and we’ll get ready to start weaving the tapestry.

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at www.beadjewelry.net.

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