Project 9 – Stage 2 Weaving with yarn

Basic tapestry weaving techniques.

Here I start my tapestry weaving trials.  It has been very interesting, a huge learning curve and has brought up a number of problems that I am addressing, further details below.

This picture shows the finished sample prior to the Ghiordes knots ‘hair cut’.  I just love the shaggy look of the multiple strands of rug wool as they spill out from the weaving surface.

In this stage I have used a variety of yarns, mainly wool, wool blends and some silk, with a few synthetics thrown in.

Picture left, bottom to top: orange & green rug wool, variegated kid mohair and merino bouclé, gold and turquoise tapestry wool, variegated Indian silk, purple crimped knitting yarn, turquoise thick-and-thin spun knitting yarn.

A single row of turquoise tapestry wool was done between three rows of golden yellow to give the ‘running stitch’ effect.  All other yarns are plain weave.  Where a yarn has an uneven ply thickness it is quite hard to cover the warp 100%

Picture right, bottom to top: blue Indian silk, white barely spun silk fibre, pink tapestry wool, red wool diagonally wound with organza strip, white wool with synthetic woven web coating in variegated colours, deep yellow and green rug wool, 4ply variegated knitting yarn, purple and turquoise tapestry wool.

At the bottom of the photo there are some curves or eccentric wefts, which I feel have come out as quite well-defined shapes.

The deep yellow rug wool shows single Soumak rows – forward over two warps, back under a single.  The green rug wool shows Soumak again but with a slight difference – forward over three warps and back under two.  This gives a longer, flatter, front weave.  Sorry, pretty impossible to see from the photo.

The turquoise and purple tapestry wools have been started as single rows (half pass) of each, i.e. alternating rows.  This gives the columned look to the colours.  This was then followed by two rows (a pass) of each colour to give the horizontal stripe effect.

Here is the final piece once the Ghiordes knots have been trimmed.  They are still around 2.5cm long and continue to spray out quite well.  The coverage is very good considering there are only three row of knots, but bear in mind that each knot contains four lengths of rug wool, making it very thick.

I like the results.  I learned a lot about tension, yarn handling, starting and finishing yarns securely and the importance of warping up well – with a firm, stable product that will maintain its rigidity in the face of what can be some quite rough treatment especially when knotting.

Weaving issues and some possible solutions.

  • I have a neck injury which is serious enough to come with a disability classification, although you wouldn’t know this in the normal routine of everyday life.  It extends into my arms and especially into my left hand causing reduced sensation and movement.  This is obviously my weak point and, of course, I’m left-handed.  Without a question, some of this has impacted on my weaving ability and speed. Solution:  Weave during multiple short sessions rather than longer concentrated periods.  Accept that this is going to be a slower paced technique than anticipated.  Wear support gloves to aid warmth and movement in hands.
  • My stretcher frame is 1.5cm deep.  So when wrapping the warp there is a significant gap between the front and back lengths.  From the picture above you can see that my two lengths of header cord won’t even sit together even though they work effectively to pull the back warps up to join the others.
  • This picture shows the loom warp end furthest away from me where the warp gaps are most pronounced.  I set up a system to lift the front warps using a ruler set on its side and the back warps were captured by loops around a dowel which was pulled up to force those warps forward for the alternate row.  However, as I progressed from my header cord end towards this section I found the strength required to pull these back warps up was increasing dramatically as the gaps widened and the warps tightened.  Possible Solutions:  I wonder whether a second header cord at this end holding the two sections evenly would help?  Or would it make the whole warp too tight to separate for weaving?  Perhaps instead of using the ruler slipped between the front and back warps I should try it reversed – over the front and under the back warps – so pulling the back warps forward with the ruler rather than my looped system?  I could then use the loops on the front ones, couldn’t I?
  • My frame is 58cm in length.  Using it as recommended, leaning from a table edge on to my lap, worked extremely well when starting off.  However as I progressed along the length away from my body I found that holding my arms forward continually, leaning into the work to review my progress and beating every row down created neck and shoulder pain, even after quite a short time.  Obviously the further along I got the worse the symptoms and the shorter my session duration became until I was only able to do about 8 – 10 rows before resting.  Solution:  If I’m to continue weaving throughout future OCA courses I will buy a proper loom.

Weaving is all very new to me and it has been very stimulating to see the effects of different textures and thicknesses of yarns as they form a cloth.  I’m looking forward to the next exercise and will be experimenting with my ‘possible solutions’ as detailed above.  However, right now my neck needs a couple of days off.


About Claire B

I'm a passionate printmaker, paper-maker and a poor sketcher (which I'm working to improve). I've stitched from early childhood and am a perpetual student, loving learning and participating in everything creative.
This entry was posted in Assignment 4: Textile Structures, Project 9, Textiles 1: A Creative Approach. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Project 9 – Stage 2 Weaving with yarn

  1. Nola says:

    Love the weaving effects you’re getting! Very effective.

    Yes, using the ruler to lift the lower warp threads and thread loops to work the upper threads will work and may make it easier to weave. However, with the system you’re using, which has limited ability to adjust the tension of the work, you’ll still find it gets tighter as you weave. Warps that start out as a straight line are effectively being made to be a wiggly line, over and under the weft, even when the weave is warp-faced. So the line of yarn needs to be longer to cover the same overall distance (if that makes sense). That’s why even simple looms, like the rigid heddle I use, have the capacity to adjust the tension on the work.

    The other problem, of you working away from yourself, was something we talked about early on, when we were talking about the limitations of this system.(We talked about a lot of things!) Rigid heddle looms, which this system is a faint approximation of, allow you to roll the work onto the beam in front of you, as you weave, so the area you’re working on remains in the same area all the time. Much easier on the back and neck!

    And yes, as with anything, lots of small sessions are better for the body than long ones. Even if you set an alarm to remind you to go for a walk in the garden or stretch or do something else that doesn’t involve sitting in the same position, head tilted forward (like computing!), for a while, you’ll be more comfortable. Or do it every time you change yarn.

    • Claire B says:

      Thanks Nola.
      I’m about to warp up for the next section and will try the ruler and loop system reversed as we have both commented on. Without a question, a system of rolling your work towards you and over a bar/beam so you continue to weave at the same distance all the time would be a huge bonus. It’s a similar idea to normal embroidery using a standard embroidery frame whereby the rollers can be adjusted to alter tension and roll the work back and forwards.

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