Beginning Weaving Handout

Weaving on a Cardboard Loom

A Hands-on Workshop
National Art Education Association Convention New York March 15, 2001. Presented by Maggie White, Alchesay High School, P. 0. Box 190 Whiteriver, AZ



I. Assignment: Visual analysis- Slides and reproductions of historic and contemporary weaving from a variety of cultures. Within many cultures, individual villages or regions have their own recognizable pattern and color combinations.


Note abstract floral designs and geometric designs. There are also some unusual cross-cultural influences: contemporary Navajo pictorial rugs incorporate cars, trucks, helicopters, the American flag, and motifs from popular culture (like the Wrigley's spearmint design). There are more pastel and muted colors used now, besides the traditional red, black, white, and natural wool colors. Zapotec weavings use traditional Navajo designs and M.C. Escher tessellations. This discussion addresses issues of tradition vs. market influences.

weaving Contrast flat weaving techniques with knotted (pile) techniques.


II. Assignment: Create a sampler of different techniques.


Warp the loom to about 4" (10 cm), using an even number of warps. Beginning with a chain stitch, create a sampler demonstrating at least five different techniques. Maintain an even selvage. Weave to within ½-1" of the top of the loom, and end with a chain stitch. Remove the sampler from the loom and finish the ends with one of the finishing techniques.


III. Assignment: Create a weaving using personal motifs and colors.


For the second weaving, warp the loom at least 8" (20.3 cm). Prepare a design on graph paper, keeping in mind that the wide spaces between the warp threads do not allow a lot of fine detail or round contours. Use colors, textures, and motifs which have personal or cultural significance. Materials other than yarn may be used: colored wire, dryer lint, metallic threads, twigs, grasses, shoelaces, etc. -- anything that can be woven in. Maintain an even selvage. Weave to within ½-1" of the top and end with a chain stitch. Remove the article from the loom and finish the ends.


IV. Evaluation: evenness of weave, straight selvages, techniques executed correctly, good use of design principles.


V. Extensions: Expand the students' interest in fiber.


1. Instead of chipboard, cut slits into colored mat board. Warp with colored thread(s). Allow some open spaces within the piece so the mat board shows through. Leave the weaving on the loom.

2. Use embroidery hoops, shaped coat hangers, chicken wire, old rakes, or shaped grapevines as looms.

3. Try tie-dyeing white cotton string before weaving. This creates a random, ikat-style design.

4. Introduce card weaving to create sturdy straps, belts, hatbands, or headbands.

5. Introduce crocheting and make foot bags (like Hockey Sacks©) or granny square pillows.

7. Do stitchery on burlap and sew into tote bags. (Caution: Wear eye protection when cutting a lot of burlap! The loose fibers can scratch your cornea.)



Avoid buying yarns in pull skeins or in bulk lots. Pull skeins can get quite tangled in the middle. With bulk lots, you may end up with four cones of a color no one else ever wanted (including your students).


Have a system for dispensing yarn in a tangle-free manner. Pre-cut the lengths of warp for the first assignment before beginning.


Have students cut the weft threads no longer than two arms' length. Longer threads than that may tangle.

Store cut lengths of thread on 2-3" (5 - 7.6 cm) wide strips of cardboard. Tuck the ends of the threads into small slits cut along the sides. Yarn too short for weaving can be stored in a bag and used for the Ghiordes knot or for fringes.


Many thanks to Judy Nagel of SAX Arts and Crafts for donating the supplies for this workshop. For ordering information, see Judy at the SAX booth in the exhibit hall, or call 1-800-558-6696.



Loom--a frame (or machine) on which weaving is done.


Warp--the vertical threads which form the base of the weaving; to warp means to string the threads onto the loom.


Weft--the horizontal threads which are woven across the warp.


Shed--a space created between the stationary warp threads and those lifted by a shed stick; the weft is passed through this space.


Shot--a woven row (to) bubble--a slight curve is added to the weft before beating it in, in order to prevent the selvage. from becoming distorted (to) beat in--to push the weft close to the previously woven weft

Selvage--the woven sides of the piece.




Weaving on cardboard: Simple looms to make & use. - This book cover easy ways to weave.

The Woven Bag: 30+ Projects from Small Looms. - Each bag is created using small looms, such as potholder looms, frame looms and knotted mesh looms. Even if you've never woven before, the tips, tricks and techniques in this book will quickly have you weaving squares, triangles and rectangles that can then be assembled into wonderful one-of-a-kind projects.

You Can Weave!: Projects for Young Weavers. - This well-illustrated collection of 18 step-by-step weaving projects, created by art specialist Monaghan, captures that ancient legacy with contemporary flare.




Chain stitch--secures the warp threads so they don't pull out. Always begin and end the weaving with a chain stitch. Can also be used to evenly space warp threads if they get bunched together.




Tabby (plain) weave--over 1, under 1. (Does not matter if you start over or under.) The bubble in this diagram demonstrates how to keep the selvages straight.




Basket weave--over 2, under 2. (Does not matter if you start over or under.) Use a double strand of weft.




Vertical bars--tabby weave with two colors. Use two 6" needles.




Dovetail--to change color within the shot. Use two needles.




Manipulated weft--to create curves and organic shapes. Tabby one shot, then push into place. Add more shots to fill in.




Twill weave--under 1, over 2. This is how jeans and khakis are woven! You'll see the diagonal rows emerge. Create a new shed for each shot from the same side you started.




Twining--creates two-color diagonal stripes or zigzags. Start with a row of tabby, then twine the second color around it, alternating the over/under. Use a 6" (15.25 cm) needle for color A, and a 3" (7.6 cm) needle for color B. Reverse the direction of the pattern by changing the direction from which you twine color B. In the diagram, the needle is shown coming from above color A. On the next shot, bring the needle up from below color A to reverse the pattern.



Ghiordes (YOR-deez) knot--traditional knotting technique for pile carpets. Use 4" (10 cm) strands of yarn. Add a row of tabby after every two rows of knots. Shear the pile to desired height.




Soumak--another traditional carpet technique. Creates single color diagonals or zigzags. Use a 3" needle. The right side of the diagram shows which way the wefts will slant after beating in.





Dowel or attractive twig inserted through loops




Making fringe – cut the yarn twice as long as you want the fringe to be. Do a lark’s head knot.

Chain stitch with a crochet hook. If the loops are long and don’t lie flat, crochet them through the back of the weft.


With two loops on the hook, pull loop 2 through loop 1. Loop 2 then becomes loop 1 for the next pair.




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