Lesson 1 – What is weaving? (from a beginner to a beginner)

You can weave a basket, weave a story, weave through a crowd or weave cloth. The act of weaving means to interlace one object around another. In the case of creating fabric, weaving is the act of of crossing two sets of threads.

Fabric weaving can be achieved in a variety of ways with a variety of tools, simple to complex. One can use a cardboard box, a picture frame, even a piece of wood with nails bashed into it or you can use a purpose built loom. Card, inkle, backstrap, knitters, rigid heddle, floor, table, tapestry, counter balanced, countermarch, dobby, and Jacquard or all types of loom that can be made or purchased to achieve a huge variety of woven items from braid to rugs, scarves to cloaks, meters of fabric to tapestries.

Ashford KnitterAshford TableAshford Rigid HeddleAshford InkletteAshford Tapestry

I currently have an inkle loom Craig made for me, an 80cm Ashford Rigid Heddle loom and also a set of cards for card weaving I made myself. My home is currently not big enough to have a floor loom and I’ve never actually seen one set up in my life (although I have seen a few in pieces shoved in dark rooms never to be used again), but just researching simpler types of weaving from giant frame looms to tiny inkle looms has opened my eyes to the amazing beauty that can be created with a little patience, time and imagination. The things that artist weaver Bobbie Cox is able to achieve on her vertical frame loom (it’s 4 meters high x 2 meters wide!) is simply astounding, they are amazing works of art.

Bobbie Cox

As I’ve never done basket weaving, I’m going to stick to fabric weaving and hope that at some point soon I’ll be able to learn basket weaving.

When weaving you have a “warp” thread and a “weft” thread. The weft threads are fed over and under the warp threads which are held taught by the loom. You can not weave successfully if your warp thread is not held taught.

Some other useful terms when learning to weave are:

ends: this is what your warp threads are called. You will often read something like epi, which means ends per inch, or how many warp threads per inch of weaving.

pick: these are your weft threads.

shed: when you lift or lower the end threads (warp) you reveal an opening, this is the space you will pass your pick thread (weft) through, that space is called the shed.

fell: this is the edge of your weave where your last pick has been beaten

epi: as I mentioned above, this stands for “ends per inch” and means the number of warp threads per inch in a piece of weaving, it can also be expressed as ends/cm or e/cm meaning ends per centimeter.

ppi: can you guess? Picks per inch or picks/cm or p/cm stands for the number of weft threads (picks) per centimeter or inch

sett: the relationship between the epi and the ppi is the sett of the cloth

The most basic way to weave is over-one, under-one, whereby you pass the pick over the top of one end and under the next until you get to the end and then turn around and repeat the process in reverse: under-one, over one. Simple. Once you get this basic concept you can move on to a little more variation.

Balanced weave: the organisation of threads so that both the warp and the weft show equally

Weft-faced weave: the organisation of threads so that the warp threads are completely hidden by the weft (common in tapestry and rug weaving)

Warp-faced weave: the organisation of threads so that the weft is hidden by the warp

warp & weft-faced images from sleekfreakbalanced weave from sleekfreak