By Amy King
The first two articles in this series covered the basics of weaving. In this installment I’m sharing three easy-to-master techniques that will make your finished pieces look their best.
The No-Header Header.
I call this trick “the Quick Start.” It’s a simple technique that helps solve an annoying problem: the funky spacing that occurs in the first few rows of weaving. To combat the uneven beginning, you're typically advised to add in thick pieces of waste yarn, strips of plastic bags, cardboard—anything to help you to even out that weaving before you start with your weft yarn. I find it annoying to start with something that will have to be picked out later, so I don’t do it. Instead, I advance my warp past the beam about three inches or so until I can easily see that the yarn evens itself out. Once I hit that point I simply start weaving. Easy peasy.
|Just starting no header yet!||Using plastic bags as a header.||Advance the warp: the yarn evens out with no header!|
With your weaving started off right, the next step is to add a secure edging Knotted and sewn edges are the go-to choices for most, but sometimes you want something different. Something secure and good-looking. Enter the hemstitch edge. This stitch is a lot like Kitchener in that it takes a few times working it to really get the hang of it and to be in the rhythm.
Here's how to do it:
- Weave about 8-10 rows (or picks) leaving a tail at the start (using weft yarn) that is about four times the overall width of your piece. For example, if your piece is 8 inches wide, leave a tail that is 32 inches long.
- Thread the tail onto a needle and insert that needle diagonally from the bottom of your work, up three rows and over three rows (Fig.1). Four rows by four rows or two rows by two rows will also work, just be sure to keep the number of threads consistent.
- Pull the needle all the way through and out of the fabric and leaving a loop that lies on your work that in the shape of a C or a backwards C (depending on the side you are working from, left or right). (Fig. 2)
- Put your needle under the same number of warp threads as you went across in the previous steps (in my example, that’s three) and take the needle over the “C” that you made in step 3. (Fig. 3). Bring the needle all the way through making sure it stays in that C-loop.
- Pull tight and you've just done your first hem stitch! Continue to work this way across your piece. (Fig.4)
|Fig. 1: Pulling needle over 3 and up 3.||Fig. 2: Creating a C-shape.|
|Fig. 3: Pull the needle under 3 warp threads and over the C.||Fig. 4: Pull it tight and repeat!|
Look at that beautiful hemstitch!
Making even edges and keeping your piece from drawing in is the bane of most weaver's existences. It's certainly one of the toughest things for new weavers and it can make your piece look wonky and certainly out of shape. Have you noticed that one selvedge edge looks better than the other? That's still the case for me. My right edge ALWAYS looks better than my left. Conquering this takes attention and practice.
When you open a shed and weave through, make sure to lay your thread in and not tighten it down. Grabbing the yarn at the edge will help keep you from pulling too hard and creating draw-in. Laying in the yarn at a diagonal or as a hill will allow for enough yarn to weave in and will keep things loose enough not to cause extra draw-in.
|Laying the thread in diagonally.||Laying the thread in as a hill.||Pinching the edge to prevent draw in.|
Look at those even edges!
Keep working at it. Work with small sample pieces if you like. Work with different weights of yarn. Practicing really does make your weaving better.