Weaving! Everybody is basically a professional weaver right now, right? I’ve always wanted to give it a shot but then the internet got pretty saturated with so many crazy fringey neon roving yarn barf creations and I got pretty impatient with the whole thing. It kind of started moving into goofy crochet territory (just because you can doesn’t mean you should) except waaaay lower effort. Don’t get me wrong, art is art and art is personal and art is whatever you want it to be, but it’s hard to be interested in a piece someone didn’t put any thought or skill into. I hate having uncharitable thoughts about the people’s creations, but here we are, I guess.
Alright, I have no idea where I’m going with this introduction. “Weaving sucks”? Real cool way to get people hyped up to do a weaving, Eliza! So let’s try again: I hate having sloppy, floofy stuff in my home, so when November 8 happened, the Apocalypse began, and I got the usual compulsion to LEARN A NEW YARN SKILL IMMEDIATELY, I decided that a graphic black and white weaving was just the ticket. Because, well, what else is there to say other than fucking YIKES? (Well, a lot more, as it turns out, but it’s not polite enough for a wall hanging.) “Ugh” came a little later, when current events and a total lack of sunshine conspired to make me feel like just completely giving up on everything. (I made the French bulldog for my friend Jessica in exchange for some rides to Home Depot, but she keeps not coming by to pick it up so I think maybe it’s mine now?)
So if you’d like to make your own tasteful wall hanging to display your dissatisfaction with the current political climate or your life or the price of your internet bill, here are some instructions. And if you’d like to make a floofy neon roving disaster, go right ahead because who the fuck am I to judge your creative process?
- loom: I built mine for super cheap (tutorial here!), but if you don’t feel like doing that this loom on Etsy is a really good deal. This loom is a little bit more (still an awesome deal though) and comes with a few tools I wish I owned.
- shed stick: mine is actually just a jumbo paint stirrer I got at the hardware store and sanded smooth
- warp yarn: I use this cotton yarn from Oak and Ashe on Etsy, but there’s also this tussah silk warp yarn I’ve been dying to try
- a Tunisian/afghan crochet hook: I started out weaving using only the random craft stuff I already owned, and I actually find using a hook much easier than using a traditional weaving shuttle
- metal weaving needle, the longer the better
- regular fork
- yarn! just for reference, here’s what I used: white, gray, pink (in dogwood and ramble), black
- something to hang your weaving from: I used a section of copper refrigeration coil, but a wooden dowel would work too
step 1: double warp the loom
Double warping is really simple. Tie the end of your warp yarn to the bottom left side of the loom, then loop the yarn around the first notch, carry it up to the top of the loom and wrap it around the matching notch there, then back down and repeat until you’ve gotten as wide as you want the weaving to be. When you get to the end, just reverse directions and do the same thing until you’re back at the beginning. Cut the yarn and tie it off at the top of the loom. The notches should look like this at the end:
step 2: weave the shed stick/paint stirrer through the warp
The double warp allows you to create more detail in your weaving, but since this design only needs a lot of detail in the center, at the bottom and top you can treat adjacent warp threads as one thread. Weave the shed stick through the warp, making sure to go over two threads, then under two threads, then over two threads etc.
step 3: weave the bottom rows
Flip the shed stick so it’s perpendicular to the loom and creates an opening in the warp. Poke your crochet hook into the opening from the left side, grab onto the end of the yarn (a slipknot can help with this) and pull it from the right side out the left side. (I like to work with lengths of yarn that are about 2.5 armspans long, but do whatever works for you.) To keep the sides of the weaving looking neat, it’s best to start a piece of yarn an inch or two from the edge. Using the shed stick means you only have to physically weave half the rows, which saves a bunch of time.
To weave in the opposite direction, you’re still going to use the hook to pull the yarn through, but you’ll weave the hook through the warp first. Flip the shed stick so it’s flat, and start weaving the hook from the middle of the loom towards the left side:
Grab onto the end of the yarn and pull it through halfway, then weave the hook from the right to where you left off and pull the yarn the rest of the way through. (It’s best to do this in two sections so the hook doesn’t get impossible to maneuver.) (Also, if you’re left-handed, you can reverse the direction of these two steps–the way I’m doing it, you do all of the finicky work with your right hand.) When you pull the yarn through, make sure not to pull it too tight.
Once you’ve done this, you should have two kind of arched rows. Use the fork to push them down, starting from the middle and working toward the edges. Keeping everything kind of loose like this makes sure that you won’t have too much tension on the outer warp threads, which can distort the weaving.
Notice that at the end of the second row, the yarn finishes on an “over.” When you start the third row, make sure to grab the yarn from under the rightmost warp thread in a way that the yarn loops around it and doesn’t just totally bypass it. Here’s an extremely professional illustration of how to handle edges:
Weave four or five more rows, which will create some stabilization for the tassels that come next. End the last row a few inches in from the end:
step 4: make a row of tassels
First, find something rigid that’s about three times longer than you want your tassels to be. Wrap your yarn around it a bunch of times–I did six wraps but my tassels turned out kind of sad and skimpy, so if you’re using thin yarn I’d recommend at least double that.
Here I’m using just one piece of bulky yarn to demonstrate, but this is where you’ll slide your yarn off of whatever you wrapped it around and basically treat it as one length of yarn.
I wrapped my tassels around four individual warp threads on each side, but my tassels ended up a little too far apart considering how skimpy they are. You can adjust how many warp threads you incorporate depending on how fluffy your tassels are.
I only did one row of tassels because for some reason this part is extremely stressful for me, but in case you’re a normal person who doesn’t get yarn anxiety I feel like another row or two would probably look better. Once you’ve tasseled as much as you can stand, start filling in the bottom section with regular weaving.
Step 5: print out your design and attach it to the loom
This is pretty self-explanatory, right? If you want to use my super revolutionary design, here it is, or just measure your weaving and make your own template that isn’t as ridiculously unbalanced as mine.
step 6: triangles!
When you get to the bottom of the triangles, switch out the crochet hook for the long yarn needle. You can count the warp threads to make sure everything is centered, or just wing it like I did. Counting is probably better but who has time for that? I’m not sure if it’s better to do the triangles individually or to do entire rows at a time, so do whatever feels right to you. With the spacing of my warp and doubled up yarn, I got the angle I wanted by decreasing one warp on each side every four rows.
When the triangles are done, thread the white yarn into the needle and fill in all the empty space. Switch out the needle for the crochet hook at the top of the triangles an continue with the white until a little bit before the lettering starts.
step 7: letters!
Stop the white yarn about a half inch before the letters and get out some contrasting yarn to divide up the doubled warp threads. First you should re-weave the shed stick so there are single alternating warp threads–this is really fiddly and it doesn’t matter much which one out of each pair of threads goes on the top or bottom as long as they’re alternating correctly. Then weave a few rows of contrasting yarn in, until all the threads are basically evenly spaced.
Thread some black yarn onto the needle and start filling in the letters, following as closely to the print out as you can. With the spacing of my warp threads, I found four warp threads wide was a good size for the letters–whatever you choose, keep it the constant. Don’t go crazy making the curves totally perfect, since you can kind of push and tug on the yarn for minor adjustments once you’re done. I also found it helpful to fill in the circle inside the “g” with white yarn first, since it’s easier to make a symmetrical circle than to make a symmetrical, uh, opening? Basically just wing it and if it looks stupid take it out and try again. This is pretty low stakes, tbh.
step 8: fill in the empty spaces and continue weaving til you get to the top
Before you start weaving with the white yarn, remember to re-weave the shed stick so the warp threads are doubled up again! Remove the contrasting yarn and start weaving the white so it matches up with what you already did. You might end up with some gaps in the weaving on the straight sides of the letters, which you can sew up with thread later, but I usually just leave them because they’re not super noticeable when it’s just hanging on a wall. If you’re making a cushion cover or something, sewing them up would obviously be a good idea.
If there are parts of the letters you don’t like, at this point you can go in with more black yarn and kind of “embroider” any areas that need touch ups. I went back later and fixed the top of my “g” where there’s a little sliver of white showing. You have a little more freedom here because you’re not so constrained by the placement of the warp threads–just add in yarn with the needle where it looks like it needs some. As long as you don’t go crazy, all the black yarn will just blend together and it won’t be obvious that some strands aren’t following the woven pattern.
Once you’re past the letters, you can relax a little because all the annoying stuff is over. Just keep weaving til you reach the top, and throw in some stripes with different yarn if you feel like it.
step 9: secure the top and bottom with hem stitch and fix the tassels
Hem stitch trips me up every single time (as you can see by my hideous attempt up there) so I always have this tutorial open on my screen while I’m doing it. It’s fiddly but it stops everything from migrating once you take the weaving off the loom.
This is a good place to trim the tassels. Prop the loom up on the edge of a table or something, and trim until everything is even and the shape you want.
When you’re done, take a deep breath and pop the warp loops off the loom. You’re almost done!
step 10: finishing
Flip the weaving over and marvel at the hideousness of the back side.
According to every single weaving tutorial ever, this is where you’re supposed to weave all the ends in. Uh, fuck that. That’s insane. That would take as long as the entire weaving did. My strategy at this point is to just cover the back with a piece of scrap fabric (I used part of the drop cloth I got to make the mudcloth pillows) and sew it down. I braid and tuck the loose warp threads under the fabric too, which creates a little pocket for whatever you use to hang the weaving.
If you’re using a machine to sew the fabric on, use a piece of paper on the front of the weaving to prevent the yarn from getting caught in the feed dogs! If you don’t have a sewing machine, don’t worry! It actually looks better if you hand-stitch the fabric on, I’m just too lazy for that. When the fabric is all sewn down, just slip your dowel or pipe or whatever you’re using under the warp threads
Now find a kickass place to display your rage craft and start brainstorming ways to dismantle the patriarchy. We need all the ideas we can get.