Up until the other day all my current knitting projects are shawls & I’m feeling a bit shawl-ed out. All of them are at varying stages of doneness, but working on them was feeling like a slog & I needed something different for a change of pace.
During yet another reorganisation of the Girl Cave, I excavated a huge bag of my early attempts at handspun yarns. Most of it is spindle spun with some early super lumpy wheel spun. There isn’t quite enough of anything in a consistent enough yarn thickness to knit something, so these yarns just sat in this bag, some for 10 years. I was looking for a use for them & figured they would be best used for weft in a weaving project. I considered a rug, but again the inconsistencies of thickness would not work out well & the thinner bits would fray very quickly. I decided to mull things over a bit longer…then I got a newsletter from The Workroom with their new class list & they had added an Intro to Tapestry Weaving class! Unfortunately, it was being held at a time I couldn’t make, an annoying side-effect of working weekends. So, I did what I always do when I can’t make it to a workshop/class to learn a new skill, I looked for tutorials online & in books then assembe a list of supplies.
I had considered using my rigid heddle looms, but after a lot of reading, discovered they are not able to maintain the high degree of warp tension required for tapestry weaving & I didn’t want to risk breaking them. A bunch of tapestry weaving blogs suggested Archie Brennan’s copper pipe looms as being a very good DIY tapestry loom. Being made of copper it is better able to support the higher tension required for tapestry weaving. I printed the plans & headed out to the hardware store…
Liam even got in on the action!
After assembling the copper pipe loom, both Liam & I discovered it was a bit heavy & unwieldy. The lack of a drill press to make the holes to put in bolts to stabilize it was also a problem. I was staring to consider just ordering a proper tapestry loom/frame loom from one of the two weaving supply shops in Ontario, turned out both Gemini Fibers & Camilla Valley had just closed for 2 weeks for their Summer breaks. Back to the internet to searched for other DIY Plans for a tapestry loom. MAKEzine’s tutorial to build a lap loom was the second result.
A quick trip to the arts supply store & hardware store, a bit of assembly and 30 minutes of glue drying time & I had a workable lap loom for making small tapestries/wall hangings. I picked up the “gallery stretchers” as they 2” & sturdier than the regular frames. My final size was 24”x16”.
All that was left was to warp it
and make with the weaving
The instructions called for string heddles, but I found using pick-up sticks to be faster especially when I was making the hills since I only needed to pick up some of the warp threads.
I’ve been puttering away on it for a few weeks & quite enjoying it. Am not using a pattern & just playing it by ear, but I will need to order a proper tapestry beater and some 20” pick-up sticks. I currently have 10” & 30” pickup sticks, which are causing a bit of a Goldilocks situation where they are too small & too big, I need some that are just right. A comb with the handle snapped off is sort of working as a tapestry beater, but not quite.
Some of the tapestries I came across in my searches were amazing & very inspiring. Am now keeping my eye out for a 2nd hand Leclerc Tissart vertical tapestry loom, so far all the ones I have found for sale are in British Columbia…