Setting up a tapestry weaving frame.
Not being a weaver, or having really put my mind to trying it before, I’ve spent the last fortnight researching different forms of weaving, how looms work, weaving terminology and how to get started with a minimum of equipment. It has been a fascinating process and some of the books I’ve referred to are listed below.
I’m currently reading Weaving without a loom by Barbara Pegg. It is split into two main sections: Braid weaving which encompasses finger weaving, backstrap weaving, tablet weaving and finishing braids and Tapestry weaving. For a soft-back book containing only 111 pages I can highly recommend it as it is extremely clearly written with many drawings to guide the beginner and is in an order which can be followed from starting out to a finished item. The tapestry weaving section takes up half the book and all the samples in our course manual, and more, are covered in depth.
I’ve also spent quite a bit of time on the internet, especially youtube, watching tutorials. Admittedly I got a little diverted by videos of tablet weaving as I have never seen this before. It’s a brilliant concept.
Having two good friends, both weavers, available to run through ideas with me has also added to my knowledge base. Notes from our chats scribbled onto the back of an envelope may mean little to most but it explains a lot to me.
So my loom has evolved from many sources including the course manual. I have a large stretcher frame which has been wrapped with 12/12 cotton warp. I ordered a couple of items for this part of the course and this cotton yarn was one of them. It is a very tight twist and has what I would describe as a corded appearance: a firm, rounded, strong, smooth and durable thread which seems resistant to splitting or snagging and with a negligible amount of elasticity.
I have made my header cord from the same warp. I bought a couple of wooden rulers and drilled a hole in either end of one. Once it was woven through the warp I loosely tied it to the frame so it can’t slip out. When this is turned on its side it will lift one set of warp threads and create a shed. To make the opposite shed I tied long loops around each of the other alternate warps and threaded a dowel through and, again, tied it loosely to the frame so the loops can’t slip off. When the ruler is flat and I lift this rod the opposite threads will rise up and create the second shed. That’s the theory and it is working so far.
I had intended to make a couple of shuttle sticks but they were very inexpensive so they slipped into my shopping basket as well. My final equipment purchase was a tapestry shuttle. This cost a few more dollars and I’m hoping it will come into its own later in the project when we move to more complex work. It was explained to me as being very useful for picking out the warp for patterning or when weaving small sections.
I haven’t used rug wool before and bought a couple of different ones. The large round ball is quite coarse and rough on the hands, is tightly woven and with hardly any give in it. The two skeins to the left of the picture are also rug wool but a different brand. They are quite a bit softer and I can see they have a less of a twist to them. The smaller skeins are tapestry wool. They are very loosely twisted, very soft and have a lot of elasticity. They feel very insubstantial next to the others so it will be interesting to see the results.
Along with my own stash of yarns this should give me a good start to see a variety of effects.
Hilary Chetwynd, Simple Weaving, Studio Vista, London, 1969, reprinted 1973.
G H Oelsner, A Handbook of Weavers, Dover Publications Inc., New York, 1952. This is a republication of the original edition published in 1915 by The Macmillan Company.
Barbara Pegg, Weaving without a loom, A & C Black (Publichers) Ltd, London, 1986.