How To Weave

Here is an outline of the basic weaving process, for those of you who want to see what goes into weaving something. Click on the highlighted words for definitions.

1. Decide on your project

All right, I know thatís kind of obvious, but the type of project you want to make will effect your selection of thread and pattern. For example, you wouldnít want to make a bath mat out of fine crochet cotton. Nor would you want to make fancy dinner napkins out of thick rug wool. Try to find a thread and pattern that will compliment what you want to make. If you are planning on using a fancy thread, you probably want to use a plain pattern. And vice versa - if you have a fancy pattern, use a plain thread. If you have both a fancy thread and a fancy pattern, you probably wonít notice either the pattern or the yarn as much as if you used just one or the other. There are exceptions to this rule, but in general itís a good rule of thumb.

2. Weaving calculations

After you choose what you want to make, you need to decide what size to make it. Then you can figure out how much yarn or thread you will need. The following equations donít have to be done in the order I gave them - itís just how I normally do it.


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(A) First you need to know how wide your finished project will be -

(B) then how many ends of thread per inch. I figure out the number of ends per inch (e.p.i. for short) by wrapping the yarn I want to use around a ruler. I press the threads close together, but not on top of each other, then count how many wraps there are to one inch. Then I divide this in half to get my e.p.i. You divide it in half because the warp is only half of the fabric. The weft will make up the other half.

(C) To get the warp width add:
project width + draw-in + shrinkage = width

(D) To find how long my warp will be, I add:
project length + fringe(or hem) + shrinkage and take up (about 10%) + loom waste = warp length

(E) To find how many warp ends there will be I multiply the e.p.i. times the warp width.

(F) Now multiply the number of warp ends times the warp length to get the amount of yarn needed for the warp.

(G) To get the total amount of yarn you will need, multiply the warp yardage times two.

I know this sounds really complicated, but after youíve done it a couple of times it isnít hard at all - and remember, I hate math!

3. Measure Thread

Next you have to measure your warp threads. I use a warping board to measure my thread, but you can also use warping pegs , or a warping mill . You have to measure each warp thread. On beginning projects itís good to keep the warp ends down to a sane number, say, around 150-250 ends. My most ambitious project (the extra-fine baby blanket on the projects page) had over a thousand warp ends. If you donít have a warping board, etc., you can set two chairs at the right distance apart, or get two people to hold each end of the warp! A warping board makes things easier, though.

4. Load the Loom

After you measure your warp, you have to get all that thread onto your loom in some semblance of order! You can load a loom either from the front to back, or back to front. I have always loaded front to back. Either way is correct; from what Iíve heard it mainly depends on how you learn, and what kind of loom you have.

(A) First thread each thread into the front of the loom through the reed .

(B) Then thread each thread through the heddles . You get your pattern depending on how you thread the heddles.

(C) Next, tie the thread on the back warp rod , and wind it onto the back warp beam .

(D) After the thread is wound on the back, tie the front of the warp on the apron rod .

Now youíre ready to weave!

The weaving calculations, thread measurement, and loading the loom normally take me just about the same amount of time as actually weaving a project.

5. Weave!

To me this is the most fascinating part. You get to see how everything fits together once you finally start weaving. You weave by pushing the foot treadles. When you push the foot treadles, it pushes some of the harnesses up. Then you can push or throw the shuttle through the warp with the weft. You can change your pattern by pushing the treadles in different order.

6. Finish your project

When you are done weaving, you cut the unused warp, unroll the fabric from the front cloth beam and cut the knots that hold it to the apron rod. If you were making a blanket, you would hem it, or tie its fringe now. After I take the fabric off the loom, I always wash it. It helps the threads to interlock with each other, and it takes off the stiffness from being under tension.

Further Resources

If you are interested in weaving, I would recommend the book ďLearning to WeaveĒ by Deborah Chandler. (It also has an earlier edition released as ďLearning to WeaveĒ By Debbie Redding.) I learned to weave pretty much completely from this book. I didnít (and still donít) know any other weavers personally, and couldnít afford weaving lessons, so aside from a few tips from the lady I got my loom from, this book was all I had to go by. It has just about all the information you need to start with, plus tips and projects for more advanced weavers. (She also explains weaving calculations a lot better than I do!)