A Beginner’s Guide to Loom Weaving

Aug 2021

credit: Wisheart & Wild

written by Wiseheart & Wild

Weaving is an art that can seem rather daunting and complex to a beginner so, Kate and Annie have put together their personal top tips for beginner weavers. Remember to start simple with your weaving projects and as you work, you’ll develop your skill and pick up tips and tricks along the way.

Like any craft, there’s an amazing community of weavers that are keen to share their skill and pick up new techniques themselves, so if you’re looking for some weaving friends, be sure to head to the Wiseheart and Wild Instagram account (@wiseheartandwild).

Try Before You Buy!

There are so many possible options when it comes to weaving and looms are definitely investment pieces so our number one tip is to find a course aimed at beginners and start there. Wherever possible, find one that includes the warping up process. This is the fiddliest and most time consuming element of weaving but also the most essential part and how you feel about warping up will decide for you if you actually want to weave!

Tutors we love:

Our very own Kate’s Weaving Weekend – a one-to-one session that starts you from the very beginning.

Jan Beadle Textiles (Jan is fantastic and is responsible for teaching Kate to weave) – her ‘Get Weaving’ courses are superb.

Do A Little Research

We don’t mean you have to get straight down to the library and immediately learn everything there is about the history of weaving here! Instead hop onto Instagram, Pinterest, or Google and have a browse. Keep your search terms broad and see what inspires you. You may find yourself drawn towards the pictorial style of tapestry weaving, the graphic patterns of bound weave. It might be the beautiful utility of cloth and its many permutations. It may simply be the use of colour in the fabric. The point is that whatever style of weaving you find yourself leaning towards will dictate what loom you buy.

Go For Versatility

When it comes to buying your first loom, look for something that’s as versatile as possible. It may be that you think you’re probably going to become a tapestry weaver, or a weaver of tweed, or and experimental maverick! However, like any art, weaving can take you in unexpected directions. Our personal favourite starter loom is the 4 shaft Louet Erica (or an Ashford table loom). These kind of looms are compact (the Louet starts at 30cm), they fit on a table or a discreet stand, can be folded away, and most importantly they’re fabulous to experiment on. You can do plain weave, make cloth, design tapestries, and play to your heart’s content.

Find A Loom:

Janet at The Threshing Barn sells both Louet & Ashford Looms and knows her stuff.

credit: Wisheart & Wild

Find A Community

The weaving community is incredibly friendly and supportive, it’s also quite spread out! So, we recommend finding yourself a few friends who also get excited by warp calculations and point twills. For those of you on Facebook, this is very easy, there’s lots of groups out there and they welcome new weavers with open arms. If you prefer to go old school, head down to your local wool shop or textile studio. They may not be weavers themselves but any shop worth their salt will be able to point you in the right direction. There are guilds of weavers across the world, plenty of UK based groups also teach, some don’t but they all share their knowledge and enthusiasm.  We also love Jane Stafford’s online guild, which is an international group and excellent for weavers that really want to do a deep dive into techniques. In the UK and the US the Fibreshed movements should also be able to help you find connections with other handweavers.

Have Fun & Find Your Voice!

There’s no exams here (unless you get completely carried away!) so go wild. Explore, try colour combinations, patterns, fibres. Experiment and play. Some things will be disaster, some will be unexpected moments of genius.

It’s so easy when you’re learning something new to find yourself replicating rather than creating. Be bold and do it your way instead. Like most traditional arts, the building blocks are already there and have been honed over thousands of years so it’s all about how you use them. At the studio we have two vastly different ways of working. Kate likes to dive deep into the fine details of a weave structure, often finding new ways to imagine very traditional patterns and traditional materials. Annie on the other hand likes to learn the basics of a technique and then immediately breaks as many rules as she can possibly get away with! Neither approach is wrong, or better than the other, it’s a personal journey and that’s fine.

K.I.S.S

Keep it simple sweetie! It’s worth putting the time into getting the basics down so you feel confident to get experimental in. Take your time learning to wind a warp and warp your loom, and get to know your loom.

Looking to get started with weaving and need some yarn? Check out Kate and Annie’s favourite weaving yarns in the Wiseheart & Wild Edit.

MEET THE AUTHORS

Owner of Wiseheart Textiles, designer and weaver Kate makes beautiful woven textiles with the intent of using traditional crafting techniques to create stunning pieces for a modern, sustainable home. As well as sharing her finished woven pieces, Kate also shares her time and knowledge in weaving and spinning workshops, all of which can be found on the Wiseheart and Wild online shop.

credit: Wisheart & Wild

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