Why aren't my edges straight? Why is my warp showing? What materials and finishing methods make for a quality weaving?
These are questions every beginning weaver (tapestry or weft-faced) has had at some point. Straight edges, correct warp spacing and durability are three basic elements that help to make a quality weaving. Below we discuss all three with information about achieving each one.
One of the biggest problems beginning weavers have is that their edges pull in and often create a piece that looks a bit like an hourglass. In the language of tapestry, we’d call this drawing in your selvedges. This can cause the piece to look sloppy and uneven. This can be caused both by pulling in too tightly on your edges and by simply not using enough weft to weave across.
Here are some tips to help you to weave with straight selvedges:
Being cognizant of whether or not you are pulling in is a good way to prevent it. Measure often (every inch and a half or so) and reweave if you notice you are pulling in.
2.) Don’t weave selvedge to selvedge for large sections
Weaving up in smaller sections (called using discontinuous wefts) instead of all the way across, can help prevent pulling-in because you naturally add in more weft horizontally with each section you weave.
Bubbling means placing a piece of weft into a weaving in little humps, which helps to ensure you are using enough weft to keep your edges straight.
This is where a good loom comes in! Good, tight and adjustable tension is very important to your weaving success and will prevent pulling-in. If you are using a Mirrix Loom (or another loo adjustable tension) and your warp threads feel loose, tighten them up.
Correct Warp Spacing
By definition, weft-faced weaving 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 weaving.
Generally speaking, if you are using a finer weft you will want to use a warp coil with more dents per inch (so your warp threads are closer together) and if you are a using a thicker weft, you will want to use a warp coil with fewer dents per inch (so your warp threads are further apart). 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.
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 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.
Generally speaking, both the better general quality and the better fitting the tools and materials you use for the weaving you are making will go a long way in determining the final quality of your piece. You may be tempted to weave with a very soft, short-fibered knitting yarn, but is that the best material for a wall-hanging? Will it hold up? Is your chosen method of finishing pretty, functional AND enduring?
Imagine your finishing piece hanging on a wall for five, ten or twenty years. Will it look then the way it does now?
Keep durability (not simply esthetics) in mind when planning, weaving and finishing your piece!Always Getting Better
Each piece that you weave as a beginner is a step towards your next piece, which will likely be even better than the last. Keeping the three elements we've discussed here in mind as you execute your weavings will help you improve the quality and longevity of each one.
If you're looking for the perfect loom to produce quality weavings on, take a moment to get a free and personalized loom recommendation from a Mirrix expert. Click here to get started.