Tapestry Sampler

Hi!

Welcome to Project Two – Sampler Tapestry!

This tapestry is the first project in the book Tapestry Weaving by Kristen Glasbrook.  It is a sampler of basic weaving techniques, from horizontal stripes to shapes and curves.

The beginning of the book is about different types of yarn and weaving tools.  That is followed by warping a frame loom for the project. The instructions are ok and there are great color photographs of the process.  Although the photos are helpful, I would have liked there to be some line drawings of the techniques.  I was confused by a couple of the techniques and the drawings would have helped me.

warp on loom

The size of the project is four and half inches wide by about eight inches long.  The directions said to warp eighteen ends over the four and half inches.  I fit the eighteen ends into the four and half inches trying to space out the warp ends evenly.

I used the same cotton yarn for the warp that I used for the table runner in Project One.  I did not want to spend a lot of money so I used some acrylic yarn from my stash for the weft.  I was to find out that acrylic is not the easiest or best to work with for tapestry because it is very stretchy.  But, the yarn served its purpose in this sampler.


Images of a yarn butterfly and tapestry bobbin

Tapestry is created using discontinuous weft. More than one color may be in one pass of the weft.  The easiest way to work is to have the weft in butterflies or on tapestry bobbins because loose yarn will tangle and is unruly to pass through the warps.  Shuttle sticks are better for weft that runs the entire width of the piece.  Butterflies or bobbins are good for working on tapestries.  The book shows how to create a butterfly.  Also, Craftleftovers.com has a good description of making a butterfly.  Tapestry bobbins come in a variety of sizes.  I did not have bobbins during creation of this tapestry so I used butterflies.

                    

image of hem and soumak knot

image of hem and soumak knot

The blue/gray color is the hem.  The hem is made as a solid base for the rest of the weaving.  The hem is plain weave.  The weft is passed across the full width of the piece.  The hem can show when the piece is done or can be folded under.  The orange is a row of soumak knots.  It is used throughout to separate the different sections of the sampler.  This first row of soumak will also cover the exposed warp if the hem is folded under.  Gleason’s Fine Woolies Ranch has a webpage Soumak Weaving for the Beginner that has information on Soumak Knots.

So, I’ve come to the end of this post.  Next, my experience with horizontal stripes and spots.   Any questions and comments are welcome.

Weaving

weaving1

So, here we are at the weaving part.  🙂   At the bottom of the piece is the base line, it is done with a different yarn than the rest .  It’s used to set up a solid place for the weaving to begin and to set the correct spacing of the warp (ends per inch, in this case 12 e.p.i.).  As you can see, this base line does not do a great job of either one.    Not that bad for the first project!

weaving2

This view shows the pattern created by using a plain weave and two yarn colors, blue and cream.  There are twelve warp threads of each color and the weft is eight rows of each.   I intended each of the squares to be the same size but the tension wavered throughout the weaving.  This caused some squares to be larger or smaller, wider  or thinner, and a little wavy.

I like the checkerboard pattern because it gives a country feeling. Different patterns can be created using the plain weave and changes in yarn color.  This link is a PDF with  further explanation of plain weave and some examples.

weaving3a

These close-ups show some of the errors that can happen when tension of the warp threads is loose.  Loose warps can cause loose weft.  Inconsistent tension of the edge will cause slanting of weft at the edge,  As I’ve said in previous posts, the tension of the warp is vital.

woven piece

As weaving continued, my work became consistent.  The width of the columns, although not equal in size across the width of the piece, were consistently equal along the length.

weaving5a

When the weaving is done, it’s time to remove the piece from the loom, and I chose to remove the piece all at once.  I cut the warp threads long enough so that I could have fringe on the ends and gathered four warp ends together at a time and tied a double half hitch knot.  I then trimmed them to even lengths.  You can cut the fringe to any length you like.  I like long fringe.

finished woven table runner

finished woven piece

Finished project!

The weaving process itself went along rather quickly.  Most of the time was spent on preparing the loom.  In the image you can see minor imperfections here and there.  The glaring problem with this piece is that as the weaving went along, the piece got thinner and thinner.    I love it because it’s the first piece I have created.

That’s all for this project.  If you have any questions or comments please feel free to drop a line.

The next project I do will be from Tapestry Weaving by Kristen Glasbrook.  It is a small tapestry made with basic techniques.  Be talking with you!

Heddles

some more definitions:

Heddles:   wires or strings through which warp threads pass.

Shed:  opening through which the weft is passed.  created by raising or lowering warp threads.

Shuttle:  various types are used to pass the weft through the shed.

Stick shuttle:  a flat shuttle used to pass the thread through the shed.

Heddles can be a complicated subject because there are different ones depending on the type of loom.  Looms like my loom use heddle bars with string heddles or a continuous string heddle.  Other types looms use rigid heddles or wire heddles connected to a harness system.  I found descriptions of different types of looms and the kind of heddles that are used in The Art of Weaving by Else Regensteiner.

Each warp thread is passed through a heddle.  The heddles are attached to a bar that uses the heddle to lift the warp thread.  This is set depending on the pattern of the weft that you are going to create.  For example;  A plain weave  is created by passing the weft over and under alternating warp threads.  Using my loom in this example, odd number warp  threads would be attached to heddles on bar 1 and even number warp threads would be attached to bar 2.  When the first bar is lifted  a shed will be created and the weft is passed through this shed.  Then, the first bar is lowered and the second bar is lifted creating a different shed.  The weft is passed back through this shed.  This back and forth creates the plain weave pattern.  This information can be found Learning to Weave as listed in a previous post.

heddles and heddle barsMy first experience with heddles was totally messed up for a couple of reasons.  First, I should have paid attention to the part that said the warp needs to be tight and that certain yarns tend to stretch once on loom.  When I tied up the heddles, my warp was loose so I could not create a shed that my stick shuttle would pass through.  Second, when I tried to rectify this I did two things at once to correct it.  Big NO-NO!   When trying to fix things never try more than one thing at a time.   I shortened the heddles and tightened the tension.  the shortened heddles pulled on the warps even before the bar was raised.  That fix did not work!  By then I really was thinking of quitting but I persevered.

Continuous Heddle and barsI used 4 bars for both those tries and realized I was doing more than was necessary, I only needed two.  So then I tried the continuous heddle using only two bars.   The continuous heddle is a string that runs from one side of the warp to the opposite side.  It is wrapped around one warp then the bar and then the next warp.  This pattern continues across the width of the piece.  This solution was not great but at least it worked for me.

So much for Heddles!  The use of heddles in one form or another is used in weaving in order to create the shed for the weft.  The weft usually runs from salvage to salvage using a shuttle.  This is can be different in Tapestry Weaving.  The weft can be discontinuous, not running across the width of the project.  There are other ways to work with the weft in tapestry.  I will talk more about that in the following projects.  Hope this gave you some information and look forward to talking about the weaving process starting in the next post.

Lessons Not Yet Learned

A couple more definitions:

Warp Ends – one entire warp thread not just the end.  On a continuous warp it is one complete revolution around the loom.

e.p.i.   – ends per inch, the number of warp threads or wraps in an inch of the loom.

Sett – the number of e.p.i. per inch used for the project.

Project one was a table runner.

I used a plain weave and cotton yarn.  I did not understand the information about the spacing of the warp ends, lesson not yet learned.

loom with warp

I did not get that the warp ends needed to be spaced far enough apart for the weft to fit.  As you can see, the warps are practically on top of each other.  Later I will show you what kind of havoc this brings down on the project. The warp ends are in stripes so that the weave will create a checkerboard effect.  The weft will be completed with the same striping effect.

Plain weave is where the weft goes over and under alternate warp ends. I think the set I used was 10 e.p.i.  I say think because I can’t remember.  That is a good reason to write down all the information about a project.  Not long after you finish project it kind of leaks out of the brain. lesson not yet learned.

Continuous warping was very difficult for me.  Warping on my loom requires one to wrap the yarn in a particular formation.  I won’t explain it just because all looms are different.  I wrapped it with the tension bar half way up its space like the directions for the loom said. In tapestry, tension is so very important! lesson not yet learn.  Later on in the project you will see how the wrong tension in the warp will create problems.  Tension is important with all weaving, but in tapestry it needs to be very tight.

That is about all on my warp for now.  Next I will explain how I set up the heddles, and what they are!

See you later!

The Beginning

Just a couple definitions for those  new to weaving

Warp: the yarn attached to the loom and held under tension during the weaving.

Weft: the thread that is woven side to side, over and under the warp.

As usual, I jump into things head first.  I bought a few books off Amazon, ordered a loom and its accompaniments, and some yarn.  I really should learn to slow down and do more investigating before I start collecting.  The first book that I used was Learning to Weave by Deborah Chandler, published by Interweave Publishing.   It is a good book to get if you plan on regular weaving and using a table or floor loom.  It talks about the different types of looms and the different types of weaves.  The weaving process is explained clearly as well as the different types of yarn characteristics.  The drafting of designs is also explained. I like the book and would recommend it because it does contain a wealth of information.  It gives a good basic foundation.  I used it for my first project, a table runner,  but haven’t really used it since because I am more interested in tapestry weaving which is a little different from standard fabric weaving.

I purchased a Schacht Tapestry Loom.  It is a continuous warp with tension loom.  The warp is wrapped around the loom in one piece.  It has four  heddle bars which allows for good flexibility in creating sheds.  This is good for standard fabric weaving.  I used them for the first project but, in the tapestry work I have done I since, I have not used them.  I personally found the heddle making a little difficult. Because it is a continuous warp you have to space the warp ends yourself which can be difficult especially while learning. The loom is good and sturdy and reasonably priced as looms go. Unless you are doing tapestry, I would recommend a small table loom to start with  something like the Schacht Cricket Loom.  I still may someday get one myself.  Mirrix looms seem to be good for tapestry work, although the cost is a little higher.  I suggest that you do a good amount of research before investing in any loom.

I purchased some cotton yarn for the warping for my project and used the same yarn for the weft.  Still trying to learn about yarn and its different characteristics.  Probably should have invested more time in learning that aspect to start with. As you can tell by the shortness of this paragraph I still have a long way to go to understanding the different threads and yarns.

Next Entry I will start showing pictures and explaining what I have done, both bad and good.  See you then!