Weaving Class: Creating Shapes and Getting Fancy

Weaving Class- Making Shapes and Getting FancyI'm back with the second of three installments of Weaving Class to teach you how to make simple shapes and customize your wall hanging with a little paint and fun tassels. In the first class we covered the general tools you need to get started and set the foundation with a few basic things you need to know to create your first wall hanging. If you find yourself getting stuck on something, head back to the first tutorial for a quick review. 

Making Shapes and Customizing Your Wall HangingMy first wall hanging was pretty simple in theory. There were rows of straight lines in different thicknesses with a little rya knot row, a basketweave, and even a shape made out of a negative space. I liked it, but it was early days and didn't really feel like my style yet. I started to notice different weavers popping up on Pinterest and finding them in my Instagram feed and started to recognize their unique styles by certain colors they used or ways they paired old and new media. I started in on a few more wall hangings and found myself most drawn to simple, graphic pieces with triangles and diamonds as a major part of the design.

One day I looked down at the kilim rug under my dining table and realized it was dotted with similar shapes and realized the hot pink that played a minor role in the design was showing up over and over again in most of my weavings. Sometimes your style shows up quickly in a new medium, and other times it takes a bit of experimentation before it makes itself known. 

Colors Are EverythingAs I shared in the first tutorial, there are a variety of yarn thicknesses and colors out there. Check your local yarn store for basics, natural-dyed yarns, wool roving, and more unusual colors than you'll find at some big box craft stores. If you don't have any in your area, check out the selection at Jo-Ann for yarns similar to the ones in this post. Also, there are a few ways to make your own loom if you don't have one yet. You guessed it: first tutorial.

Tools for WeavingSupplies:

-Loom. My Lap Loom Model A was purchased through the Met, but you can sometimes find them on Amazon a bit cheaper. I've also been drooling over this handmade loom lately.

-Cotton yarn for the warp. The warp is the foundation of your weaving and goes up and down across the pegs of your loom.

-Yarn for your weft. This can be any size, thickness, or color you prefer. All of mine was purchased at Jo-Ann, as they had the best selection of large craft stores, but if you have a local yarn shop in your area, I suggest checking them out for special colors and natural fibers.

-Wooden dowel rod, copper pipe, stick, etc. Something sturdy and wider than your weaving by 1" - 2".

-Tapestry needle. This will be about 3" long with a large eye and a blunt end. 

-Shuttle. Mine came with my loom and is shown above with the U-shaped ends. This is for wrapping your weft yarn around and sliding through the opening that is made when your shed stick is raised. I tend to not use mine and just stick with using my needle.

-Shed Stick. This is the wooden object to the right of the shuttle above. It looks like a paint stirrer. This is woven through your warp and left there to help save time when you're moving your shuttle through to create a new row. Some use two sheds, but I find it most efficient to leave only one in on this type of loom.

-Scissors

Warp Your LoomStep One: Create your warp. First make a loop knot at the end of your warp yarn, and fasten in to the top left peg. Then wrap it down to the bottom left peg and back up again. Continue on to make it as wide as you'd like, and finish with another loop knot. This will allow you to add a tassel to that last peg. You don't want your warp to be too loose or too tight. As your warp fills with weaving, it will become more taut, so keep that in mind. Gently pressing down should even out any uneven sections.

Tassels -Step OneStep Two: To create your fringe at the bottom of your weaving, cut a length of yarn and fold it in half. My yarn is extra thick, but if you're using standard yarn, you may want to double this in length and then fold it in half. 

Step Three: You'll make one of these per peg at the bottom and slip the center of your folded tassel over the first warp string and under the second and then back to the top.

Tassels-Step TwoStep Four: Fold the long ends through the center as shown. 

Step Five: Pull gently so that the knot tightens.

Tassels-Step threeStep Six: Pull your tassel all the way to the bottom of the peg so it rests underneath. Repeat with the rest of the pegs, and then trim the bottoms to make an even or angular bottom.

Step Seven: Do the same for your last peg by going through the loop knot and finishing it up. Trim your ends to either be even or angled.

Under, Over, Under, OverStep Eight: Thread your tapestry needle with about 4' of yarn for your first layer of color. I always like to start about three or four warp strands in so that my tails don't stick out on the sides. To do this, skip the first three or four warp strands, and then go under the fifth and over the sixth and under the seventh, etc.

Over,Under-Make Your TriangleStep Nine: Once you turn back to weave in the other direction, be sure to pull your yarn up to the opposite corner instead of straight across. 

Step Ten: Press down in the center and then work your way out to both edges and adjust with a little tug if you need it. This action helps you avoid weaving too tightly and creating an hourglass look in the middle of your woven piece. As mentioned in the first tutorial, if you're working with thin yarn, you may want to use a fork or wide-tooth comb to push the  yarn down. 

Change Colors Step Eleven: I'm going to create the base of a triangle in this row. I usually don't start at the edge, so I wove the white yarn to start my fourth row and then tucked it under. Then I started my triangle base with the peach yarn by starting from where the white yarn would've come back up if I hadn't cut it. This is a basic color change, but I also want you to pay attention to your counting. I started the peach on the fourth warp row from this side, so I'll want to keep it symmetrical by ending over the fourth warp row on the other side.

Make Your Shape-1Step Twelve: I am not finishing rows anymore; I'm making a shape. This requires a little more attention per row, but you'll get into a rhythm sooner or later. I chose to make two rows before deducting a warp row on each side to make my triangle taller. 

Step Thirteen: This means I wove two rows of 23, two rows of 21, two rows of 19, etc. until I got down to two rows of one. You can deduct one warp row per side as well, but it'll make a shorter, more squat triangle. You'll have lots of negative space around your triangle. This will get filled in with more shapes and then with a filler color.

Make Your Shape - 2Step Fourteen: I'm going to make a diamond shape on top of my triangle that goes in the opposite direction. I wrapped my yarn around the center row twice and then started my next row and increased it to three warp rows. 

Step Fifteen: I did two rows of three and then continued on to two rows of five, seven, nine, etc.

Make Your Shape - 3Step Sixteen: I continued adding rows until I got to the fourth warp row from the edge, and then I started reducing again to end up making the top part of the diamond (essentially two triangles, right?).

Step Seventeen: Here's the finished diamond shape. 

Inner Shapes-1I added in my last triangle starting just above my diamond using the same technique of widening my rows each time. Basically, you can create a variety of shapes in your weavings by counting rows. Increase or decrease symmetrically or asymmetrically, depending on the design you have in mind. Keep the same number of rows each time, but shift to the left (or right) to create a diagonal shape. Create something more complicated, like an animal or flower, by sketching it out with a pen onto graph paper or directly onto your warp rows to help you along. Just think in pixels and you'll be okay.

Outer Shapes - 1Step Eighteen: I wanted to add another shape in the negative space, so I played around with the idea of stacked, half-triangles. I started at the bottom of my triangle and did two rows of weaving for every warp row I added to get the size I wanted. You could just do one row of weaving for every warp row and have shorter triangles. 

Step Nineteen: I wove in from the edge up to seven rows in, then started my next half-triangle up to six rows in, and then did my third half-triangle up to four rows in, but I think only to save space. I can see now that I did seven, five, four on all of the rest. Ha! The beauty of this kind of medium is in the assymetry as well, right? 

Finished With ShapesHere's my weaving with all of the shapes added before I filled it in. 

Fill It In-1Step Twenty: I cut about 4' of white yarn that was about the thickness of the peach. The trick when working with different thicknesses is to just fill in the blanks. I can match rows with the peach, but it may be too thick to match rows with the hot pink, so I just kept going over and under and back and forth, filling in the blanks as I went. 

Notice in this step that I didn't overlap my peach and white, or white and hot pink weaving. This makes for a smooth line of color, and a diagonal pattern won't leave large sections of space in between the colors.

Step Twenty-One: You can see in this step how my white rows match the peach rows, but on the hot pink side I match almost all the rows. Two rows of peach equal two rows of white. Two rows of hot pink usually equal two rows of white, except about halfway up each half-triangle where I only do one row of white. Basically, just fill in the blanks and keep consistently pushing your lines down to fill in the negative space without messing up your shapes.

Fill It In -2Step Twenty-Two: My 4' of white ran out a few times as I filled in, so I just picked up where I left off with another 4' of white. I made my way up the right side, wove all the way across to the left, then wove back down to fill in the rest. Once I was done, I added another three rows of chunky white to the top to fill in the gap. While I said to leave room at the top to tie your weaving off, you can also weave up higher and then just wrap your warped ends around your dowel rod. We'll get to that soon.

Paint Your DowelStep Twenty-Three: One way to customize your wall hanging is to paint or stain your dowel rods. I started to only paint the blunt ends of my rod in a neon color, but it was still too subtle, so I taped off about 2" of each end of my dowel rod with washi tape to get a clean line. Then I painted each end with metallic acrylic paint and let it dry while I wove in my ends on the back of the weaving. If you're unfamiliar, see the first tutorial.

Fancy Rod and Unhooking From the LoomStep Twenty-Four: I removed the tape from my dowel once it was dry and got a lovely end result. Another fun option would be to cover your whole dowel in a patterned washi tape or a strip of tightly wound, printed fabric.

You can see I wove up to about 1 1/2" below my pegs at the top of my loom. This was just enough room to wrap it around my dowel rod without having to cut, tie, and tuck in my ends. 

Step Twenty-Five: Carefully unhook one peg at a time and wrap it twice around your dowel rod as shown. Then unhook the next one, wrap it around twice, and gently scoot them both across the dowel a little bit. Repeat with each peg, scooting as you go, and then adjust once you're done. Don't pull too hard because it'll shift your weaving since the whole warp is just one long piece of yarn. 

Make A Tassel Or TwoStop there or add some tassels to your wall hanging. I chose to make three for one side and two for the other in the same colors in my weaving.

Step Twenty-Six A: Wrap your yarn back and forth so that you get a handful that measures about 6" - 8" long. Fold it in half, but don't lose your center. You'll also need about 12" of yarn for the hanging part and about 8" for the part that ties around.

Step Twenty-Six B:  Wrap the hanger piece under the center of your folded piece and tie a loop-knot. The knot part will be hidden in the next step.

Step Twenty-Six C: Pull the knot from the hanger so that it's hidden under the folded handful of yarn, and then wrap the shorter piece of yarn around the folded handful.

Step Twenty-Six D: Tie a knot about 1/2" from the top of the folded handful with the shorter piece to secure things, and then tie a knot against the top of the handful with the hanger to keep that part from moving.

Tassels ForeverStep Twenty-Seven: Fold the smaller piece down with the handful, and trim for even ends. Then make more tassels. 

Attach Your HangerStep Twenty-Eight: I attached another length of the same warp yarn to the top of my weaving by cutting a piece almost twice as wide and making loop knots at each end that would fit over my dowel.

Creating Shapes in Your WeavingsThis is a project that took only a few hours but feels really special. I've already got a friend picked out to share this one with and hope to make a few smaller versions as Christmas gifts this year. 

Weaving Class - Shapes, Tassels, Painted DowelsExperiment with your shapes on a smaller piece if you're feeling a little intimidated, and work your way up as you build confidence. I promise, it won't take long before you've wrapped your mind around how it works and realize how much more awesome you are because of it! Stay tuned for one last Weaving Class with a project of more epic proportions. -Rachel

Credits // Author and Photography: Rachel Denbow. Edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

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