Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Weaving Wonders and Woes

Today's post has been 2 years in the works. This is not because I've been working on writing it for two years, but because the submission has been sitting in our inbox for 2 years. I'm not a weaver; the only weaving I've done was in 3rd grade with those cardboard looms and yarn. That doesn't quite make me an expert. I tried reading about weaving to figure out how to trouble shoot the submission and I just didn't feel like I got it enough to give tips on how to get this project down. So I waited. My aunt is working on her BA in Art and has recently completed weaving courses. Now that I have someone who really knows what they are talking about when it comes to weaving, I figured it was time to pull this submission out of the archives. 

The Original Pin
That is a cute rug made from old bed sheets! Isn't that fantastic?!

Anna gave this a try and didn't have the results she'd hoped for. 

The Pinstrosity
"First of all I think I was too aggressive in pulling the fabric - I should have just looped the fabric around the end pieces and not pulled tight at all. Secondly, I think the cardboard was not nearly strong enough (or I wanted to make my rug too big and therefore the weight of the fabric was too heavy?)."

"I tried making a wooden frame out of wooden dowels and nails. Alas, I kept pulling too tight (even though I tried really hard not to) and it started cinching in again!!!"

"Kept it small because I couldn't keep the larger shape intact"

"Cats like it at least".

Before I give Alice's response I thought I'd add in this photo as a reference for weaving nomenclature:
So the weft is the fabric that you weave into the warp (which is the vertical fabric attached to the loom). 

Alice says, "Anna, I love the colors you've used in this. First thing to know is your warp has to be super tight, so the heavy fabric needs a wooden frame, or even PVC pipe or any other clever frame. Secondly, if your weft fabric has any stretch, when you lay it into the warp it will indeed contract and squeeze the middle of your rug in too skinny. While I would love to make something that has that particular effect on my personal middle, on a rug it's just a disappointment!  Stretchy fabric will work, just make sure you've not pulled it tight before you beat or pack it into the warp. I just made a frame for weaving you might be interested in, to see it go to www.whatercolorit.blogspot.comGood luck and happy weaving!"

In addition to weaving, Alice also works in watercolor and pastels. Check out her blog and her work!


  1. Looking at the picture in the original, I think that one of the biggest differences, why this didn't work, is that Anna tried to make an even weave fabric. The weft strips appear to be relatively far apart (compared to the warp) in the original rug - it's how it has that lumpy look.

    If you think about the changes that this would make to the tension on the warp strips, that one change might explain how the original rug was woven on a cardboard sheet, when Anna's cardboard wouldn't hold up. Spacing out the weft more would also help with the fabric pulling in (which I remember from when I was a kid, working on those square peg looms). You'll still have to check the width of the rug after every pass through, but at least you don't have as many passes.

    1. The attempted one is beaten back too tightly. You want the spaces between the wefts and the warps to be a perfect square (or as close as possible) for a nice, balanced weave. This allows space for the warp threads to release their tension into when you remove the piece from the loom and wash it.

  2. I guess I don't know what Anna did wrong, but I tried this project two months ago and it turned out beautifully. It was actually part of my 101 Things in 2014 project, inspired by Marquette! http://cynicism-and-butterflies.blogspot.com/2014/04/101-things-update-april-23.html

  3. The original was likely woven on a real loom, not a piece of cardboard. It was also loosely woven- ie, the weft was not beaten back hard (pushed against the previous weft), leaving a good amount of space between the 'threads'(for lack of better), that once the finished piece was washed, allowed them to 'bloom' as we weavers call it.

    As far as the cinching in on the attempted piece- yes, that's a tension problem and the only way to fix it is to practice, practice, practice. Though keeping the weft at a 30 to 45 degree angle before beating it back can help, it's not a fix.

    I personally use the finger technique- ie, I hold the loop end of the weft to prevent it from pulling too tight once it's beaten back. Once you get the feel for how the tension needs to be, it's like second nature.

    1. The tutorial she followed does actually show in progress pictures using a cardboard loom (http://www.craftpassion.com/2010/03/recycle-tutorial-woven-rag-rug.html/2), but it does definitely look like it was loosely woven as you said.


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