You better be weave it!
April 28, 2015 11:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in weaving and would like your best resources for absolute beginners. Supplies, books, blogs and websites, etc.

I'm interested in both "art" weaving and also practical applications (for use in apparel). I'm looking just to do pieces by hand, not some industrial scale automated production of patterns. As you might tell, I know next to nothing about this. So How can I get started? Whats a good project for beginners? What's an aspirational weaving studio set-up?
posted by WeekendJen to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Is there a Weaver's Guild in your area?

The Minnesota Weaver's Guild is a great resource around my parts. I have taken classes there (using portable, rigid heddle looms), and they also teach/have available for rent large floor looms, so you can take on a large weaving project without having to invest in large weaving equipment. They also have a small gallery where they feature fiber artists (usually weavers) for inspiration.

If you want to dive right in, for a beginner, you can go super low tech with something like a Zoom Loom (this is also not a hard DIY project to build yourself, if you want).

If you want something that is more like "real" (huge caveat on that word, all looms are real looms, etc) weaving, the rigid heddle looms like Ashford's Knitter's Loom are easy to warp (i.e. set up), are portable, and if you do other fiber crafts, they are nice to use with "regular" knitting/crocheting yarns. If you want to learn rigid heddle weaving, I can recommend the book Hands-on Rigid Heddle Weaving, and Deborah Jarchow's Rigid Heddle Weaving (Beyond The Basics) class on on Craftsy, as those are the two resources that I've used (beyond my weaver's guild classes).
posted by sparklemotion at 1:04 PM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Are you still in Philadelphia? There's a guild. I got started by taking a one-day class where the loom is warped for you and you weave a scarf by the end of the day; looks like the Philly guild has this type of thing too.

Woven Treasures has good beginner projects for several different kinds of small looms and Simple Weaves has projects that will work on floor looms and probably table looms too. Learning to Weave is how I learned to use my own loom, for the most part, but taking classes with a live person has really helped me not suck at it.

You could look into backstrap weaving if you wanted to get started for practically no money (but a fairly steep learning curve), and if you want to do art weaving you might like tapestry or Saori.

What setup you aspire to depends totally on what you like to weave. I have a small floor loom in my living room and my aspirational weaving studio setup is a dedicated room with a loom that's a little bigger and heavier, for making wider fabrics with finer yarns.
posted by clavicle at 1:47 PM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

For online resources--are you a member of Ravelry? It's primarily known as a site for knitters and crocheters, but there is also an active community of weavers on the site. You need to be a Rav member to access the forums, but signup is easy and free--I've been a member since 2007 and it is an invaluable resource/nice social space for fibrecrafters.

There are lots of weaving groups on Ravelry; here are some I found that are really active:

Beginning Weavers ("A place for new weavers to come and ask questions, get support and share our first projects off the loom!")
Weavers Cafe (has a sticky thread called "Beginning Weaver Tips")
Backstrap Weaving
Weaving in the SAORI Way (group description says it's for newbies and experienced weavers alike)

This one is only moderately active, but probably a good resource for when you're choosing a loom: Loom Reviews
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:27 PM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't have much to add to the above, but I agree that Ravelry is the place to go for weavers. Check out the Warped Weavers group as well as the groups mentioned previously. They also have a very active marketplace group that's a great place to find deals.

The 10" Schacht Cricket rigid-heddle loom is an awesome, inexpensive first foray into weaving. I still use mine constantly, despite having larger, more versatile looms. Buy "Hands-On Rigid-Heddle Weaving," as previously mentioned, and Jane Patrick's "The Weavers' Idea Book." I also recommend the Craftsy rigid heddle classes. There's also an active rigid heddle group on Ravelry.

Check out your local yarn shops for classes -- that's where I learned to weave.
posted by liet at 3:04 PM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

If you are anywhere on the East Coast (and maybe anywhere else) I can't recommend strongly enough that you take a weekend intro workshop with Tom Knisely at The Mannings in Gettysburg. You'll learn all the fundamentals of weaving, from the architecture of cloth, to how to read a draft, to how to finish and full your pieces. The Mannings is legit and Tom is an old-school craftsman and technicians with some serious weaving community cred. You won't warp the loom in a weekend class, but you can teach yourself to do that via books and YouTube when you go to weave something at home.

A rigid heddle loom is the lowest-investment way but actually pretty versatile way to produce some pretty decent cloth; the biggest issue is that you're so limited in width. But you can do some amazing things with pickup sticks and your fingers; it's a good way to see if weaving is for you and it will take you at least several months to outgrow it as a beginner. A loom and knitting yarn is all you need to get going; for rigid heddle lengths you can always measure warps around two chairs or something else round the house.

If you end up getting into it, you'll probably want (assuming you want to weave yardage and not tapestries):

- a floor loom; they come in a bewildering array of types and traditions and are much, much more expensive than you'd think. They also take up a LOT of room. I like Schacht looms, but even their Wolf Pup "portable" folding loom needs a ton of open floor space if you're to warp and weave comfortably without bumping elbows into things. A new loom will usually come with the little things you need to produce a piece of cloth - sley hook, a couple spare bobbins for the shuttle, etc. I do not recommend buying a loom used until you're very sure what you want and are very confident about appraising what you're looking at for completeness and working order. Go and weave at a shop or join your local guild and make friends with members so you can get some studio time on many looms before you decide.
- A warping board, which you use to semi-conveniently wind off hundreds of identical lengths of yarn for warp;
- a bobbin winder. Omg my bobbin winder changed my life;
- several reeds of different dents to weave cloths of different finenesses/ends per inch
- general needlework notions like tapestry needles and sharp thread snips;
- nice-to-have tools including temples to keep your work at the right width; a McMorran yarn balance for identifying and calculating yardage of mystery yarns; the perfect stool or bench for you and your loom; storage, so much storage to hold cone yarn and tools; another loom...or three...because of course you'll end up weaving more than one thing at a time. A lot of wine for when a warp thread breaks three inches into the work.

A word of warning: weaving is a rabbit hole that can take you deep down into dyeing and occasional spinning, especially if you want to weave art pieces. Sow good seeds betimes with teachers and guilds in those communities for when you need them.
posted by peachfuzz at 11:58 PM on April 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older What is this little purple flower?   |   Definitive test to see if someone is eating... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.