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Beginners guide to weaving techniques

The lovely Lucy Rowan from Peas and Needles has created a step-by-step library of weaving techniques which will help you create beautiful, textured weaves.

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This blog post is sponsored by Wildwoven.

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Weaving is a gorgeous craft which we’ve featured in multiple mags, so we thought it was about time we make a library of basic weaving techniques for you all. This guide was made by our good pal Lucy Rowan @peasandneedles and shows you everything from how to warp the loom to the different knots which will make your weave beautiful! Lucy will cover the following weaving techniques…

  • Warping the loom
  • Tabby weaving
  • Rya Knots
  • Interlocking
  • Soumak
  • Weaving with roving
  • Loop stitch
  • Taking the weave off the loom

The material for our fab weave was kindly provided by Liz from Wildwoven, whose ‘feel good yarns for fibre artists’ come in a wide range of textures and colours. Based in rural Wales, Liz learnt to weave in Chile, where women still spin yarn by hand using a simple homemade spindle. Her love for richly-textured, handspun yarns and the tactile quality of their weavings led Liz to work with rural women in Chile and Peru to produce her own range of yarns and kits in a kaleidoscope of colours.

We fully support Wildwoven’s business ethics and love knowing the history and production behind all our materials so make sure you check out her shop and pick up the bits you’ll need to weave. Before we get into all the basic weaving techniques though we thought we’d explain a little more about what weaving is so you can become a weaving expert.

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What is weaving?

Traditionally, weaving is the action of creating fabric through interlacing threads. This was originally the way to make fabrics like cotton but weaving also has a rich heritage dating back to 10,200 BC.  Weaving has been used by many cultures, tribes, and collectives as a way of telling stories and passing down family lore from generation to generation. The act of weaving is said to have a deeper meaning too, teaching people about the delicacy of life and how all living things connect together to make one world. Aside from the spiritual aspect of weaving it is also a really calming craft that produces beautiful results.

Modern-day weaving (in terms of craft) has moved away from creating fabrics. Weaving now often uses a loom, yarn, roving, ribbons, and other materials to make beautiful hanging pieces. String or yarn is attached across the loom and the yarn, roving and ribbons are woven through it to create a textured piece which you can then cut off the loom and hang. It’s for this type of weaving that Lucy will be teaching you all the basic weaving techniques.

What do you need to start weaving?

To start weaving you need a few materials. Many of these materials and tools you can buy cheaply online or even make yourself. Weaving is also a great stash buster because you can use yarn, ribbon, and roving scraps to add into your designs for extra texture. Here’s the materials you’ll need to start weaving…

Weaving loom 

weaving loom

Etsy, £30+

Firstly you’ll need a weaving loom. You can buy all different sized looms from Etsy and Amazon but the standard looms usually come in an A4 size like this one. This loom by Wild Woven is extra fancy because it’s designed to act both as a loom and a picture frame for your finished peice. You can weave straight onto the loom then hang making it great for beginners who are nervous about the process of removing their design.

You can also make your own looms from wood, nails, and string. We show you how to can make your own loom in our how to weave and DIY loom tutorial.

Weaving Needle

weaving needle for weaving techniques

Etsy, £9.50

Weaving needles are used to thread the yarn under and over the loom strings. It’s a really important tool for weaving and we’d definitely recommend buying some before you start weaving. Wild Woven sells a range of different sized needles and the size of the needle you get will depend on the size of your loom and yarn. For this beginner project, we’d recommend buying the 10cm needle.

Yarn

Weaving Yarn Selection

Etsy, £39+

Now you’ve got the tools you need material to weave with! There’s no rule as to what you can and can’t weave with but the most common material is yarn in different thicknesses. Thin yarn (the same as you’d use for crochet or knitting) will make up the base of your design then thicker roving and yarns can be woven in between to create patterns. This bundle by Wild Woven is perfect because it includes five different yarns. DK weight yarns, Aran weight yarn, chunky rustic yarns, bulky yarn and super bulky rustic yarn.

Then you can add ribbons, pom pom strings, thin fabric strips – whatever is in your stash to give your weave an extra edge. Remember we’d love to see how you’ve got on with our weaving techniques so use the hashtag #molliemakers!

Basic weaving techniques

Warping the loom

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  1. Start by tying the end of a length of cotton string to the top left corner of the loom.
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Warping the loom Step 2

2. Keeping the cotton string tight, bring it straight down and loop it around the opposite notch at the bottom of the loom. Take the string back up to the top and loop it around the next notch. Repeat this process until you reach your desired width – this base is called the warp.

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Warping the loom Step 3

3. Tie the string off to the last warp thread. The tension of the threads should be fairly tight. You can learn more about the anatomy of the weaving loom in our blog post. 

Tabby weaving

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Tabby weaving Step 1
  1. Cut a small piece of card to the width of the loom, then weave it through the warp threads, over one thread, then under the next. Repeat until you reach the opposite side. Thread the needle with your chosen length of yarn and knot it around the first warp thread at one side, just above the piece of card.
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Tabby weaving Step 2

2. Thread the needle under the next warp thread, then back up and over the next. Repeat along the width of the warp, going over and under – this creates the weft.

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Tabby weaving Step 3

3. To weave the next row, repeat Step 2, this time going over the warp threads you went under, and under those you went over.

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Tabby weaving Step 4

4. When weaving, try to not pull the yarn too tightly as this will bring the edges of the weave in and cause it to narrow. One way to prevent this is by pulling the yarn through at a 45º angle, bringing the needle down to make a hill. Using a comb or a fork push the middle down, and gently push each hill down, as you go. This will give the correct tension.

Now that you’ve mastered tabby weaving why not put your new skill to use and make our weaving bookmarks

Rya knots

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Rya knot Step 1
  1. To create your tassels (known as Rya knots in weaving terms), you’ll need to cut strands of yarn roughly 30cm (12″) long. Each Rya knot will need approximately six threads, depending on how thick the yarn is.
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Rya knot Step 2

2. Lay the bundle of yarn strands over the top of the warp threads. With the yarn in your left hand, twist the yarn under the first two warp threads and bring the bundle to the front.

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Rya knot Step 3

3. Do the same with the right side, twisting the yarn under the next pair of warp threads, and bringing the yarn through to the middle. Even out the length on either side, then gently pull the yarn towards you and down to the bottom of the loom.

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Rya knot Step 4

4. Repeat across the remaining warp threads to create a full row.

Interlocking

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Interlocking Step 1
  1. Weave a few rows of your first colour using tabby weave, decreasing on a few rows to create space.
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Interlocking Step 2

2. Start weaving a row of the second colour until you reach the warp thread the first colour ended on. Use your needle to pick up that warp thread.

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Interlocking Step 3

3. Pull the needle through, push the first colour already woven down, then weave back the other way.

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Interlocking step 4

4. Carry on weaving back and forth, picking up the warp thread as per Step 2, until the section has been filled.

Soumak

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Soumak Step 1
  1. Take a length of chunkier yarn or roving and weave the end through a couple of warp threads to secure it. Working with the other end, wrap the yarn over the top of two warp threads and twist it back through towards you.
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Soumak Step 2

2. Repeat this step with the next pair of warp threads, and continue across the loom. If your yarn is thinner, wrap the yarn over every warp thread instead of every two – this will create a much smaller soumak.

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Soumak Step 3

3. For the second row, reverse the weaving technique, this time wrapping the yarn in the opposite direction. Repeat all the way across the width of the loom, and the two rows together will form a Soumak ‘plait’.

Weaving with roving

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Weaving with roving Step 1
  1. Weaving with roving is an easy way to add texture and interest to a piece. If the roving is especially chunky, split it into smaller widths to make it easier to use. Follow the steps for tabby weaving below, but use your fingers to weave the roving through, instead of a needle.
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Weaving with roving Step 2

2. Gently pull the roving forward. For maximum texture, weave the roving loosely so you can tease more out.

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Weaving with roving Step 3

3. Weave a couple of rows in the same way, then weave the ends in neatly at the back.

Loop stitch

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Loop stitch Step 1
  1. You’ll need quite a bit of yarn for this weaving technique – we doubled ours to give the loops more texture. Weave your ends in.
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Loop stitch Step 2

2. Place the bundle of yarn at the top of the loom. Lay the yarn over two warp threads, then with your right hand, twist one loop in under one warp thread.

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Loop stitch Step 3

3. Do the same with your left hand, creating a second loop – this weaving technique is very similar to that of a Rya knot. Gently pull the loops down and towards the weave.

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Loop stitch Step 4

4.  Move on to the next two warp threads and repeat Steps 2-3. Once you’ve completed a row of loops, make sure to weave over the top with a couple of rows of tabby weave to secure the loops in place.

Taking the weave off the loom

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Taking the weave off the loom Step 1
  1. Once the weave is complete, snip the warp threads across the top of the loom. Carefully lift the weave off, gently unhooking the bottom loops from the loom.
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Taking the weave off the loom Step 2

2. Turn the weave over so the right side is facing down. Working with two warp threads at a time, tie the thread pairs together around the stick – this could be a piece of wood or length of dowel. Try to keep all the knots on the reverse.

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Taking the weave off the loom Step 2

3. Make sure all the ends are woven in and trim any excess yarn or threads. The Rya knots can be left natural or, if you prefer, you can trim them into a straight line, or at an angle for a more geometric look.

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Taking the weave off the loom Step 3

4. Tie another length of yarn to either end of the stick, then use to hang up.

And that’s it for our weaving techniques section! We hope you use all these fab techniques in your future designs. If you just can’t get enough of weaving then head over to our weaving patterns where we’ve included even more techniques and types of weaving projects.

We know that a lot of you will be weaving newbies and might need a little extra help getting started. That’s why we’ve rounded up the top weaving kits for beginners so you can have all your materials sent to you in one handy box. These weaving kits would also make great gifts for any crafty pals or for an impromptu weaving party! Here’s five of the top weaving kits for beginners…

Weaving kits for beginners

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weaving kit

Shiv Textiles weaving kit for beginners

Etsy, £29.00

2

‘s weaving kit for beginners

Wool Couture Company's weaving kit for beginners

Etsy, £25.50
Want to choose your own yarn colours? Then ‘s weaving kit for beginners is the one for you. There’s six kit themes to choose from all including different yarns to suit their theme. You can choose between a basic, starter and full kit depending on what you have at home already but we think their full kit is best for beginners. It comes with a weaving loom, booklet, mounting bar (to hang your finished work), comb, needle, warp, roving and your colourful yarns.

3

2 loom weaving kit

Oakdene Laser Crafts 2 loom weaving kit

Etsy, £23.99

If you’re wanting to experiment with your weaving projects we recommend

4

Super-sized weaving kit for beginners

Super-sized weaving kit for beginners

Etsy, £93

This huge weaving kit is by

5

weaving kit

Westmorland Weaver weaving kit

This eco-friendly weaving kit comes in some gorgeous colourways that suit every season. Choose between six different yarn colour themes and get a loom, comb, needle, weft threads, dowel (for hanging) and heddle to lift the warp threads. Although it does come with some instructions you may need to head to their website for extra beginner information. 

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Congratulations – you’ve now got all the basic weaving techniques and weaving kits you could ever need. If you want to step up your weaving game then learn how to do peg loom weaving with our free tutorial. If you fancy brushing up your skills for other crafts, check out our following libraries, our basic macrame knots, and embroidery for beginners guides.