I have a growing collection of craft books from all eras. If you open any craft book produced in the 1970s there will always be a section on weaving, complete with brightly colored tassels and hippy models. Well, weaving is back! It’s cheap, easy to do, and is great fun. Use up all those little scraps of yarn you have been saving. Mix and match different colors and play around with textures by placing a chunky yarn next to the finest mohair. A group of these woven pieces hung on twigs makes a vibrant and eclectic display. Be warned: once you get started, it can become addictive!
You will need
Yarn (chunky and fine)
Large darning needle
Twigs or sticks for hanging
A word on looms
You can buy a basic loom from a craft supplier. Look out for one that has a thin metal bar down each side that slots into the first and last notches. These bars are a great feature, as they help keep the weaving straight. Alternatively, make a simple loom yourself, using a wooden frame and some small nails. Mark across the top and bottom of the frame at 1⁄2 in. (1 cm) intervals, bearing in mind that you need an even number of nails at each end. If you like the idea of making smaller triangle and diamond designs, and intend to use fine wool, make the gaps smaller—say 1⁄4 in. (6 mm). Use a small hammer to tap in the nails, leaving 1⁄2 in. (1 cm) raised.
Warp: Threads that are held in tension across the loom.
Weft: Threads that are woven under and over the warp threads.
1. Prepare the loom with warp threads. You can use woolen yarn, although I prefer to use a cottonbased knitting yarn or a thick linen thread—I find the tension holds better and there is less stretch. Tie one end of the thread around the side of the frame at the top, winding the thread around a few times first, to give you some thread to tie off with later. Slip the thread into the first notch or over the first nail and take it down to the corresponding notch or nail at the bottom. Go into this notch, or around the nail, and along to the next notch or nail. Go into or around this notch or nail and back up to the corresponding notch or nail at the top. Repeat across the entire width of the loom. Tie off the thread to the side of the frame, making sure the tension is tight.
2. Now the fun starts! To weave back and forth in stripes, cut a length of yarn and use it to thread a darning needle. Starting from either side, weave the needle under the first warp thread and over the next, and so on across the width of the loom. Leave some yarn at the beginning for tying off later. Because there are an even number of warp threads, you always finish off on an under.
3. You will have gone under the last warp thread. Now, loop the thread back over that same warp thread, under the next, over the next, and so on until you return to where you started in Step 2. Carry on in this way, taking care not pull too tightly at the edges, as this will give your weaving an inward curve. (A loom with a metal bar avoids this problem.)
4. To change yarn, finish one colour by going under the last warp thread and leaving a short length of yarn for tying off. Start off the new colour in the same way that you began in Step 2, weaving under the first thread and leaving a short length of yarn to tie off.
5. Push the woven rows down as you work, so that the weave looks even. You can do this using your fingers or a fork. Store-bought looms often come with a wide comb for this purpose.
6. There are two methods for tying off. To tie off yarn that came over the warp, thread the loose length of yarn and take it through to the back of the weaving. Push the needle into the weaving, but without going through to the front. Then bring the needle up, away from the edge, and secure with a knot. To tie off yarn that came under the warp, thread it and push it down over the warp—between the two colors—and finish off in the same way.
7. Use chunky yarn to weave a block made from two different-colored triangles—this is easier to work with. Weave the first triangle. Follow Step 2 to weave along the width of the loom and return. As you complete the second row, stop one thread early, so you turn on the second-to-last warp thread. Continue in this way, turning one warp thread less on each row.
8. To change color and weave the second triangle, start the new color at the opposite side from where you have finished, but at the same level. Weave across to the end and then back again.
9. On the next row, when you reach the second to last warp thread go under the warp in between the woven threads of the first triangle and return back along the row.
10. Continue in this way, weaving either under or over the warp, and between the threads of the first triangle, until you have filled this area to complete the block. You may have to practice this a few times. It is worth persevering and will soon seem so simple. Once you have mastered this, you can create all sorts of designs with triangles, chevrons, and diamonds. (If using thin yarn next to chunky yarn, you will need to repeat each line twice to fill in the space.)
11. When you have finished, cut the warp ends at the bottom of the loom, leaving enough thread on each to tie off. Lift the top section of your weaving from the loom, leaving the loops intact. Cut or untie the yarn you attached at the side of the loom, thread it, and finish off at the back of the weaving, leaving a loop of similar size to the others.
14. Add tassels if you like. Cut some lengths of yarn measuring 8 in. (20 cm) in length. Take one, fold it in half, and thread the two ends through the needle. Bring the needle up through the weaving—from behind, and between the first and second rows at the bottom. Remove the needle and thread the two cut ends of thread though the loop. Pull gently to tighten. Continue all along and then trim—either straight across or in an arrow shape. Make a group of weavings like I have, for inspiration see the photo.
Extract from Wall Art by Clare Youngs
Photography by Joanna Henderson © CICO Books
Published by CICO Books