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Adventures in Weaving

Aside from crochet, my other craft interests wax and wane – you may have noticed that I love to try new crafts and learn new skills! A few months ago, Kim Werker tweeted that IKEA now sells an inexpensive weaving loom, and a plan started to form in my mind: a way to experiment with a completely new-to-me craft, and use up some of my excessive yarn stash at the same time…

Getting Started

The IKEA Lustigt loom costs only $20 and is marketed for kids, but all you need to get started in weaving is a sturdy frame with something at the top and bottom to loop the warp threads around, and the IKEA loom is just as good as any other frame loom.

So, one trip to IKEA later, I was ready to start learning how this weaving thing works. I checked out all the (five) weaving books from my local library and got reading. If you’re as new to weaving as I was a couple of weeks ago, here’s the 5-second primer:

  • To weave, you first set up a series of vertical threads, called the warp threads.
  • Then you pass another thread (the weft) over and under alternate warp threads, going back and forth across the warps in rows, so the fabric starts to build up.

I’ve decided I’m most interested in the traditional style of tapestry weaving (where the warp threads are completely covered by the weft). It takes longer, but makes a sturdy fabric and it’s perfect for drawing pictures with yarn – the weaving equivalent of punchneedle embroidery!

Tapestry Weaving Sampler

I found the book ‘Tapestry Weaving’ by Kristen Glasbrook had the best instructions and most techniques from my borrowed collection. Her included sampler pattern looked like a good way to get started and learn lots quickly, so I followed the instructions and got started…

tapestry weaving in progress

Excuse the colours, they were the nicest trio from the cheapest worsted acrylics in my stash. This is only a practice piece, so it doesn’t need to look pretty!

And here’s the end result:

tapestry weaving sampler

It’s a bit wonky, but I think it’s pretty good for my first attempt at weaving, and now I know which techniques I like the look of (the dots near the bottom and the outlining at the top are my favourites) and which I don’t (I’m not a fan of the distorted weft, second from the top). And I now know I definitely won’t be using this type of yarn for my real tapestry projects – I don’t like the look of it at all.

Things I learnt:

  • The IKEA loom is incredibly easy to set up and very sturdy. The wooden bars that cover the pins at the top and bottom probably aren’t necessary, but I found they stopped me getting my weft yarn caught in the hooks, so they are quite useful.
  • The warp thread IKEA provides with the loom is pretty weak. Save yourself some heartache and use a decent cotton instead! I’m using size 10 crochet thread and it seems to work fine.
  • Tapestry weaving produces a lot of ends! (Here’s a pic of the back of my sampler after weaving in all the green and pink and some of the grey…)

back of tapestry weaving sampler

What’s Next?

I’m really excited by the possibilities here! Now I understand the basics of tapestry weaving, I’m going to try designing something I actually like the look of – I want to try weaving simple animal pictures instead of abstracts.

I have no idea how that’ll go, but I’m looking forward to experimenting, and I’ll report back here so you can accompany me on this weaving journey!

Have you ever tried weaving, or has this post intrigued you? Do let me know in the comments below 🙂

Comments (9)

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