Week One: Design & Share Affinity Bracelet Weave-Along

Share your work on Instagram with the hashtag #affinitybracelet

Welcome to Mirrix's Design & Share Affinity Bracelet Weave-Along! Today I will show you the basics of warping and weaving an Affinity Bracelet. You can make your bracelet/s as simple or complex as you'd like and combine the techniques and ideas discussed here (and not discussed here) however you see fit. We encourage you to be creative and make each bracelet your own. These are meant to be fun and whimsical, so don't hold back! 

This week -> May 12th: Warping & Weaving
This week we'll show you how to warp for this project and go over basic weaving techniques as well as some different ways of incorporating a variety of fibers and beads. 
May 19th: Finishing 
This week we'll show a couple of different ways to finish these bracelets.
May 26th: Your Design Ideas 
This week we'll share some of your projects and design ideas. During the first two weeks of the weave-along email us with YOUR Affinity Bracelet design and/or material ideas and post pictures using the hashtag #affinitybracelet on Instagram! 

Click here to watch this video directly on YouTube

If you want to use your Saffron Loom for this project you can, but there will be some modifications to both the warping and weaving process. Skip ahead to "Warping & Weaving on a Saffron Loom" to learn more.

Preparing to Begin Weaving:

Gather your loom and materials. After reading this post over, spend some time brainstorming what your bracelet/bracelets will look like. What materials will you use? What colors? Will you use any special techniques? 

Warping: 

Notes:
If you are weaving this on a 5" Mini Mirrix without mini wooden clips, you can find instructions for warping here

If you are using a loom larger than the 5" Mini Mirrix, we recommend weaving this piece on one side and balancing the warping bar (explained here) on the other side OR warping for multiple bracelets side-by-side.

You can use a warp coil if you'd like for this, but you don't have to use one because the piece is so thin. If you're using our silk as warp and weft, we recommend a 14-dent coil if you do want to use one. 

While less likely  to happen with a thin piece like this, you may run out of warp while warping. This video shows you what to do if that happens.

How to Warp:

I will be warping my first piece seven warp threads wide. You can make your bracelet wider or thinner. I recommend warping with an odd number of warp threads.

Begin with your loom standing on a table with the leg or legs folded out so it stands steadily. 

Set your loom (on an 8" Loom or larger, you'll want to set the Mini to its maximum length) so there is about an inch of threaded rod showing. Measure each side to make sure your loom is even. 

Turn your wooden clips so they are facing backwards on the loom. Place your warping bar (the thick aluminum bar) between the clips (making sure they are secured in the holes in the clips) and then push the clips together slightly to hold the bar. 

loom ready to be warped

Tie your warp (in this case, we'll be using our Hand-Painted Silk Gima Tape Yarn. You don't have to use silk, but you want your warp to be pretty as it will be incorporated into the ties of your bracelet.) to the warping bar. Then, warp as wide as you desire, counting you warp threads at the top of the loom. 

You can find our more detailed .PDF warping instructions here. If the warping instructions below are not detailed enough and/or you have never warped before, I recommend reading that document over. (Adding the shedding device is not necessary, but you can use one if you want. Instructions on how to do that are shown there.) 

This is how to warp:

Bring you warp from the warping bar up the back of the loom towards the top beam (note: you can also start the other way, bringing it down the back of the loom to the bottom beam) and then over the top beam from back to front.

If you are using a warp coil, place the warp in a dent (space) in the warp coil.

warping 1

Continue back down the front of the loom until you reach the bottom beam and then bring your warp under the bottom beam from the front to the back and up the back of your loom. At this point, you've basically just taken your warp and wrapped it around the loom from the warping bar back to the warping bar.

warping 3

Now comes the only tricky part (and it's not actually tricky). Instead of continuing to wrap around the loom, when you hit the warping bar, do a U-turn around the bar and bring your warp thread back in the direction you just came from (in this case, you'll bring it back down the back of the loom towards the bottom beam.

warping 4

Now, continue to wrap around the loom in that direction, bringing your warp around the bottom beam from the back to the front, up the front of the loom, over the top beam of the loom from front to back (again, placing the warp in a dent in your warp coil if you are using one) and down the loom to the warping bar again.

warping 5

When you get to the warping bar, do another U-turn and start the process over again.

warping 6

It might sound complicated, but all you're doing is wrapping you warp thread around the loom and switching directions when you hit the warping bar. Easy!

When you've done this as many times as you need, tie off on the warping bar.

warping 7

If you are planning to warp for multiple bracelets at once, repeat this process on the other side of the warping bar. 

Remove your warping bar from the clips and bring it down 1-2" from the top of your bottom beam.

finished warping

Balance your warping bar if needed (explained here)

Tighten your tension. You want your tension fairly tight, but not so tight that you can't get your fingers in between the warp threads! You can adjust your tension as you go. 

Weaving:

First, choose where to begin your piece. It should be at least 6 inches from your warping bar (measuring from the warping bar, around the bottom of the loom and to the front of your loom) so you have enough warp length on either side for finishing. 

weaving 1

To begin, start with a length of your warp material. Tie onto your center warp thread, leaving a long (6" or so) end that will be incorporated into one of the ties on your bracelet. Begin weaving with the other end! 

Basic Weaving:

If you want, you can weave this whole bracelet very simply, back and forth from selvedge to selvedge (edge to edge) switching colors as you go. I love the look of this, especially if you're using a beautiful weft material. 

The concept is simple: Weave your weft (being with the piece you just tied to the warp) under and over the warp thread, around the selvedge thread and then back in the other direction, making sure you are going under and over alternating warp threads. Weaving over and under HALF of the warp threads is called a half-pass. Going back in the other direction and therefore covering all of the warp threads makes that a full pass. 

We recommend using a tapestry needle for this project. Simply thread the end of your weft through the needle and use that to move your weft over and under the warp threads.

weaving 3

weaving pass

Especially if you aren't using a warp coil, make sure your warp threads are spaced correctly. You want your weft to cover your warp threads, but not to pull them together too tightly. It takes some practice to get this right.

If you find you are pulling in on your edges and your piece is looking thinner as you weave up, you may want to unweave up until the point where you began pulling in. 

Here are some tips to prevent pulling in:
-Be conscious as you weave that you are not pulling too tightly at the edges of your piece. 
-Bubble to make sure you are using enough weft. Make a half-pass as an arc rather than a straight line before beating it down. 
-Make sure you have enough tension on your loom. You do not want your warp threads to be baggy! 

Below is an example of a very simple Affinity Bracelet I wove using only silk.

affinity bracelet

Ending/Starting Threads

Depending on your tapestry weaving philosophy, you might typically let your weft ends hang behind your weaving (I do!) because that side is not seen. For this piece, you don't want weft ends hanging behind the piece because the other side of the weaving is the underside of the bracelet. For this reason, we will overlap our wefts when we end an old weft and begin a new one.

Below you can see I have ended my silk and started a piece of Railroad Yarn, overlapping the two so neither has a "tail" hanging down. 

overlapping wefts

overlapping wefts 2

Once you've overlapped with your second weft you can continue weaving with it! 

Adding Beads:

Adding baubles or large beads: One way to add a large bauble or bead to your piece is to string it straight onto to your warp thread (if it is thin enough), skip a few warps and then continue to weave, securing the bead to the piece. You can do this in the center of the piece or on the edges! 

adding large beads

adding larger beads

Adding Smaller Beads:

This is my favorite trick.

First, make sure that the last row you wove ends with the weft OVER the selvedge warp thread as shown below. 

weft over warp thread

Now, take a beading or sewing needle and a piece of beading or sewing thread and run the thread through the hole in the needle and then tie both ends into a knot, making a loop. 

loop

Next, pick up with your needle one fewer bead than the number of warp threads you have. You want the beads to be small enough that they won't distort your warp too much when placed between each warp thread, but with a big enough hole that they can fit on whatever weft you are using. Here I am using 8/0 beads. 

Place the end of your weft through the loop you made with the thread. 

needle with beads

Slide your beads down the needle and the loop and onto your weft. 

beads on silk

At this point you can weave the beads into your piece, over and under as if you were weaving normally. 

beads in tapestry

Continue to weave as usual! 

Thicker Weft: 

One fun way to add texture is to add in a thicker weft. I recommend going over and under pairs of your warp threads to make this work. If you have an odd number of warp threads like I do, you'll have to go over pairs and then a single warp, but it should all work out. Here I used "Tina Tape Yarn" in Eucalyptus Green by Wool And The Gang. 

thicker weft

Finishing Up Your Weaving

affinity bracelets

You want your total weaving length to be about 4" or 5". We recommend tying a string around your wrist with loose ends and using that to determine how long you want your weaving and how long you want each of your ties to be. You'll want your bracelet to be longer (in total weaving plus ties) the bigger the wrist it will end up on is. 

End your last row by tying onto the warp thread and leaving a long end like you did with your first row. 

Remember: Don't be afraid to be creative. This is a great project to experiment with. It's also a great project to fail with. Maybe those neon orange beads don't work with that pink yarn, but now you know! 

Email us with YOUR Affinity Bracelet design and/or material ideas and post pictures using the hashtag #affinitybracelet on Instagram! We'll share some of your ideas in week three! 

On Facebook? Join our Facebook Group. It's a great place to ask questions and share your ideas! 

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Warping & Weaving on a Saffron Loom

If you have a longer rod on your Saffron Loom, you should have enough warp length to weave your bracelet without adding fringe (more on this below). You will want to start your weaving so it will be centered on the warp, with an equal amount of warp waste on the top and bottom of the piece. 

To make a version of this bracelet on a regular Saffron Loom (without the longer rod) you will want to first set your loom to the length you want your bracelet to be. This might range from 4"-5" depending on wrist size and design. Decide how much of the bracelet you want to be the "ends" and how much you want to be the actual weaving.

For basic instructions on how to warp the Saffron Loom, click here

Adding Fringe: You will be adding fringe onto the top and bottom of this piece to act as the "ends" that are a part of this bracelet design. 

Begin by tying off on one of the loom's tines on the top or bottom of the loom. Leave about 6 inches of warp loose. This will become part of your fringe. 

Warp the loom by zig-zagging back and forth from the bottom to the top of the loom and back again. 

We recommend weaving a thinner bracelet if you are using this loom. 5 warps wide is a good number to aim for. Here I show a piece warped 4 warps wide, but an odd number of warp threads works better for this project. 

When you tie off on your final tine (if you're warping with an even number of warps, this will be on the same beam you started on, and it will be on the opposite beam if you're warping with an odd number of warps) once again leave about 6 inches of warp loose. 

tie on

Next you will add "fringe" to the top and bottom of the piece to be used for finishing. Cut some lengths of your warp material, each one about 12" long. You'll want one of these for each tine you have warp looped around, not including the tines you've tied on and off onto. 

Fold each of these pieces in half and then fold each one around a warp thread, bringing the loose ends through the loop at the top. You will need one piece of "fringe" for every pair of warp threads looped around a tine on both the top and bottom of the loom. 

fringe

Bring the fringe under each tine on the bottom of the loom and over each tine on the top. 

fringe

Now you're ready to begin weaving! You can go back to the "weaving" section and follow along!

Notes on Weaving:

-Because the sett of the Saffron Loom is 8 epi, you will have to triple/quadruple your weft if you're using our silk or use a thicker weft or a thicker weft combined with some silk (we recommend the latter).

-We recommend weaving a half inch or so down from the top of the loom when you get towards the end of this piece. It makes getting in those last couple of rows easier. You may also want to loosen your tension slightly. 

saffron loom weaving