Fall in Love With Weaving

It doesn’t take much to get started creating works of art with this time-honored craft.

When was the last time you wove something? Chances are it may have been a friendship bracelet at summer camp or a paper placemat for a holiday meal. Thanks to a variety of innovative weaving tools available today and robust offerings across social media platforms, a new generation of weavers is developing as they fall in love with this fiber art. If you’re interested in trying your hand at weaving, it doesn’t take much to get started. In fact it could be as easy as looking in your own backyard.

To get started with the most basic supplies, you’ll need a weaving loom (such as a frame loom), yarn to work with, and a tapestry needle. The loom is wrapped with yarn around the bottom and top to create the warp, and the working yarn alternates each strand to create the weft. When the weft is passed through the warp over and under, it’s adjusted into place with a weaving comb and the woven piece begins to take shape.

Looms come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Companies like Purl & Loop offer looms that can help you create very small swatch pieces of your work to larger looms that can create placemats. 

Vilasinee Bunnag, founder and creative director of Loome, a company that produces an arsenal of tools that are well known for making pom poms, tassels, and weavings, loves when people want to get started with weaving and aren’t sure what tool is right for them.

If you’ve got a bit of yarn on hand, the following found items can be perfect for making your very own DIY loom, according to Vilasinee:

  • fallen or broken tree branches
  • cardboard
  • embroidery hoops or wooden rings
  • old picture or window frames
  • bicycle wheels
  • wooden craft sticks or chopsticks
  • old tennis rackets

Smaller looms produce quicker results, so they’re a great option for new weavers to turn to as you practice the basics. Advancing into more complex forms of weaving can offer a variety of different looms to work with.

Image courtesy of Abrams Books.

Image courtesy of Abrams Books.

You can get more complex tapestry looms that allow you to change tension and advance a project around the loom,” says weaver and author of On the Loom Maryanne Moodie. “You can buy rigid heddle looms for making fabric. Saori looms are a Japanese-style loom.There are also massive floor looms that almost play like a piano and walking looms that allow you to weave with your whole body.”

What can you create with a loom? Anything, really.

“My book is really trying to encourage weavers away from just focusing on the wall hangings. Weaving can be applied to many items of clothing and accessories as well as homewares,” Maryanne says. “I love to see people who weave weird and push the limits of what we expect from weaving. It’s such an age-old skill and I love to see people bringing their own skills and combining them with weaving: screenprinting on a weave, creating a sling for a chair, or even weaving a denim jacket.”

Angela Smith, founder of Purl & Loop, finds weaving to be so enjoyable because it gives the creator multiple options when it comes to supplies one can use and can be worked on anywhere, even while binge watching a favorite TV show.

“With the onset of social media sharing, we can get inspired by traditional and non-traditional methods, so creativity is unlimited, “ Angela says. “Weaving can be simple with small looms or more detailed with tabletop and floor looms, so there is growth potential regarding skill as well.”  

For Maryanne, she made her own loom to get started with her weaving.

“When I first started weaving I had no yarn and no loom or tools. I recycled materials from around my home: jute, some waxed cord, and even torn-up sheets,” she says. “It was great to get the basics down without laying out too much money.”

Unlike some craft mediums, weaving is an incredibly low-tech, on-the-go option for makers. It’s also a great way to give yourself some time to sit down, create and reflect. Maryanne finds her weaving inspiration when she carves out time for herself to focus on a strong emotion.

I think weaving is all about meditation. Keep your hands busy and you mind floating,” Maryanne said. “When you walk away from a session at the loom, you will more often have a new way of seeing the world and looking at your problems.”

Ready to get started? Maryanne suggests searching for weaving boards on Pinterest and exploring #weaving on Instagram to see what others are making and sharing. It’s also a great idea to reach out to local weaving guilds in your areas to see if they offer classes or workshops.

"I love the way weaving can bring together people and communities,” she says. “The same way it weaves together the cloth, it can form bonds between people.”

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