This blog post is part of a series on the basics of weaving tapestry
Tapestry is by definition weft-faced weaving. This means that you can see the weft (the fiber that you weave back and forth) and cannot see the warp (the fiber you wrap around your loom). To achieve this, a weaver must figure out the correct combination of warp spacing (this is called “sett”), warp size and weft size.
On a Mirrix, warp spacing is determined by the warp coil (or spring) at the top of the loom. We identify different warp coils by how many dents (the spaces between the coils) are in an inch. This is called DPI (dents per inch) or EPI (ends per inch). Choosing the correct warp coil for the warp and weft you are using is very important when planning your tapestry.
Generally speaking, if you are using a finer weft you will want to use a warp coil with more dents per inch and if you are a using a thicker weft, you will want to use a warp coil with fewer dents per inch or even warp every other dent (For example, an 18 dent warp coil every other dent is equal to a 9 dent warp coil.)
How do you determine the correct sett?
Unfortunately, there is not a simple trick for figuring out your warp spacing. Every weft and warp combination is different and it might take some time to begin to get a sense of what warp coil should be used each time you weave a new piece.
A good way to determine if your sett is correct is to put your weft in between your warp threads vertically when your loom is warped. If your weft threads are much thicker than the space between the two warp threads, then your weft is probably too thick and if your weft threads are much thinner than you know your weft is too thin.
One way to choose your warp sett is to look at what sett others have used with the same warp and weft you are using. Check out some of our free projects and weave-alongs and look at the warp and weft and sett that we are using. Imitation is a good way to get started!
We also have a handy crowd-sourced list of different tapestry yarns people have used and the EPI/DPI they set their loom at.
I’ve wanted a tapestry of my dog, Sam, for a few years now. I think I decided that the first time I saw Kathe Todd-Hooker’s tapestry of her dog Chene (this one).
A couple years later, my Sam-estry dream has been realized, through the kindness and amazing generosity of one of our customers, Deb.
I love Deb’s work and even got to see in person a loon she wove that was at the ATA’s Small Format Tapestry Exhibit in Providence earlier this year (I had a lot of fun going through that exhibit and picking out the Mirrix customers I knew). Deb has done a few dog tapestries that I’ve seen pictures of (and loved) and recently made this one of a Bernese Mountain Dog. Adorable, right? You just want to hug that puppy.
You can see more of Deb’s work on her featured customer page here: click the tab “Debbie Santolla“.
After seeing the Bernese puppy I said something to Deb along the lines of, “I LOVE this! Someday I need a tapestry of my dog!” Not long after, Deb offered to make me a tapestry of Sam.
Yeah, that falls into the top sweetest things anyone has ever done for me. A SAM-ESTRY!
When Deb shares her tapestries, she always tries to show the process, which I think is really great to see. This meant I got weekly Sam-estry updates, which were always the highlight of my week!
Here are a few pictures of the piece:
And the finished piece…
When it arrived, Sam was thrilled to open it and is now sitting under where it is temporarily hanging whining because he knows it’s “his”.
I am fascinated by exploring all the different things that I can do with Mirrix looms.
While I am involved in this four month long co-creation with Mirrix looms, I am going to be looking at what I can and can’t do with the Mirrix looms.
(Guess what I am NO GOOD at? Bead weaving on the Mirrix!
Yep. All my bead weaving has been off loom and I am TERRIBLE at bead weaving on the loom.
That one came as a surprise… ah well… we shall see if that changes! )
In my previous blog post, LINK, I showed how I set up my Lani Mirrix loom, using the ‘No Warp Ends’ warping technique.
There are several advantages in setting up your Mirrix loom for the ‘No Warp Ends’ technique:
It allows you to sample different weaving techniques quickly and efficiently.
You won’t waste time OR yarn when using the ‘No Warp Ends’ technique.
I love that!
Because the ‘No Warp Ends’ warping technique precludes using a shedding device, it is perfect for weaving techniques that are hand manipulated, like: LENO lace! Yay!
I think that Leno lace is the bee’s knees.
It’s kind of a miniature version of the ancient technique of twisting fibers, called, Sprang.
You do this nifty twist thing, and tadah! You get a bonus free row that is cheerfully waiting for you, gratis! Whee!
Leno can seem a little challenging at first, so I figured that a video tutorial is a good idea.
Here it is:
I hate wasting yarn… so I really don’t like loom waste – who wants to toss their yarn in the trash? Really 🙂
That’s why I love Claudia Chase’s ‘No Warp Ends’ technique for the Mirrix looms.
The one thing that I wasn’t keen on was using paper clips to be the holders for the yarn ends, so I thought about it and mulled it over.
Hmmmm…. I use ‘S’ hooks all the time to hang things and connect them, but I have never used them on a loom.
This called for some experimenting.
I don’t know about you…. but, I have a tendency to start with a really complicated plan, and have to do a lot of trial and errors to get to the elegant and simple final version.
I was thinking about all kinds of ways of making harnesses to hold the bars for the ‘s’ hooks…. oh my!
I also figured that I wanted to use both sides of the loom while setting up for this technique.
I had woven two affinity bracelets at the same time- one on the front of the loom, and one on the back, so this seemed to stick in my mind as ‘the way to go’.
Well… I twiddled and fiddled, and threw away the whole overly elaborate harness idea, and ended up using 4 loops of double sided velcro to hold the bars to the upper and lower edges of the loom.
That was a big breakthrough- talk about a simple way to do this! Yay!~
And, I am really pleased with the final method that I came up with- it really works for me!
Here is the video, showing how I warp the Mirrix Lani using the ‘No Warp Ends’ technique, with ‘S’ hooks:
I my last blog post, I talked about two projects that I rally want to loom, and how I couldn’t choose which to do first. Someone then suggested I could get them both on the loom. There are two options for this. Firstly, I could loom one, then advance the completed weaving and then loom the other. secondly, I could warp as usual and push the warping bar all the way down. Then I would be free to use both sides of the loom simultaneously. The latter sounded more like what would be the suitable method.
Now, the two projects are 152 and 162 beads wide. I don’t want to jump in at the deep end, as it’s crucial for me to get them absolutely right. With that in mind, I decided to try out this way of using the loom before proceeding with the portrait and purse. I warped as usual, then pushed the warping bar as far down as I could. It doesn’t quite fit underneath the loom so it juts out slightly at an angle.
I encountered no problems in warping and moving the warping bar. I then loomed two rows at top and bottom of the warps for the (two) projects that would go on the back. There was no need to do this for the front project, as the coil was enough to space the warps. I did add a line of beads on the front of the bottom bar, but found I couldn’t quite place the warps in it once I had moved the warping bar downwards. However, this can be very effective in spacing the warps towards the bottom of the loom, if you don’t have the bottom spring kit. Thank you to the person who suggested it to me (you know who you are).
As you can see I am able to work on three projects at the same time. Without the extra warping bar kit, a substantial amount of warping thread is used for warping. This is one way to reduce this warp wastage, as long as the warp colour chosen matches what you plan to loom. So, a little forward planning helps. As I often like to (or inevitably) work on several projects, this makes things easier for me – I don’t have to keep swapping looms to work on each, and my thread doesn’t go to waste.
So, I think this could be something I use again in the future if I have multiple projects that can fit on the Mirrix at the same time. For now, I have the two bracelets at the back, and the front of a photo purse to complete. Some warp cutting is necessary for the bracelet on the left, but I may leave that till the front project is all loomed. I’ll make up my mind as I go along.
I’m off to nurse my cold and get some sleep. Hopefully I can do some more tomorrow evening. The purse (front) takes some time to set everything up – more than 26 colours need to be laid out on bead mats, in a particular order. It’s a little boring but needs must! Sweet beady dreams!
Some people love weaving with yarn butterflies.
And some people (like me) don’t.
I love wooden tapestry bobbins and I love making each one a unique piece- and I especially like using upcycled wood to make them.
So, for those of you who like yarn butterflies, here’s a video tutorial on how to make yarn butterflies:
And, here’s how I make my one of a kind tapestry bobbins, which wouldn’t suit everyone, but I love them and find them to be a pleasure to use:
Start with a piece of cast off wood. In this case, a wooden plaque (don’t use chipboard or mdf ! This needs to be hardwood)
Flip it over, and draw in the rough lines for the first cuts:
next, saw them into rough shape:
Working on getting more definition and shaping:
All the wooden offcuts are going to be burned in the wood burning stove in the studio in the winter- nothing’s wasted!
When the rough saw shaping is done:
I move over to the belt sander:
and I do a whole bunch of sanding (very carefully)
Did I mention that this is a really slow, meditative process? Yup.
Go slowly… and pay attention….
Then, it’s off to work with a bunch of different small sanding drums:
And more sanding:
and then, I draw faces on each one, and get out my wood burning tool and draw and burn faces and the year on each one:
Here’s a closer look:
I just listen to what each bobbin wants, and then I draw on their faces. Some of them crack me up.
Like the ‘Get to the Point’ guy… 3rd from the left…. I know, I am easily amused….
And, here they are, all wrapped up and ready to weave!
I hope that the photos will all open for you!
So, happy butterflies, and happy bobbin-ing!
Happy weaving! 🙂
My daughter-in-law spins gorgeous yarn. Which makes me very happy.
Because, sometimes a skein or two finds its way into my studio.
Recently, she spun Merino and silk and dyed it turquoise and purple, separated by short sneezes of sunshine yellow.
I love it, and have been puzzling over how to use it in one of my new tapestries in a way that keeps the integrity of the colorway, while working across the entire width of the tapestry. Weaving narrow bands of it in vertical columns would not be a problem with maintaining the colors as units… but… horizontally- ah, well… that’s another cup of soup entirely.
I didn’t want to have the colors end up in little splats of one color arguing with another.
That meant working in short segments, weaving small blocks of each color.
I could have woven little squares of each color, with little slits that would need to be stitched or interlocked. Myech…
I sat down with my trusty little pencil and thought about this conundrum….
and came up with this:
If I started at the left hand edge, and wove a little triangle with one length of turquoise, then, I could use the little bursts of yellow to tell me when to nip down, and start a slanting wedge of purple.
This completely worked for me! I wouldn’t have any joins to deal with, and I could work each little section of color in order, so the colorway of the yarn stays intact.
It’s a happy solution to an interesting problem!
Tapestry weaving is full of nifty little voyages of discovery 🙂
My first little purple patch was not so perfect, but by the time I had woven across to the right hand side I was pleased with it.
Here’s the video:
If you have a loom that doesn’t have a shedding device, picking up the warp strands for every row you weave can be a tedious process.
I like to use a stick, a pin and a loop of string to open the sheds. It’s a huge time saver!
I’ve made a video tutorial on how to do this for narrow bands, but this technique also works on wider pieces, too.
Pick up every other warp strand with a weaving stick (even a popsicle/craft stick or a paint stick will work).
Push that stick up to the top of the loom.
Now, use a knitting needle to pick up the ~remaining~ warp strands, to open the second shed.
You’ll be going over the strands that you went under in the first shed, and under the ‘overs’.
Take a loop of string (in this case, I used 2 string heddles from one of my inkle looms held together for more strength, and to make it easier to see in the video) through the open shed.
Pick up the end of the loop with a kilt pin, and then lift the loop strings between each warp strand onto the pin.
Take the second end of the loop up onto the pin, and close it.
Adjust the length of each section of the loop.
And, Voila! you now have a handy, dandy way of opening both sheds!
Here’s a pic of the shuttles that I make by upcycling old rulers and bits of decorative trim:
HOT TIP that I mentioned in the video: If you use a file folder as the separator/background thingie between the front and back of your loom, you can use the pocket of the file folder to park your shuttle and beading needle when you’re not weaving.
And, here’s the video tutorial: