Tapestry Techniques

Weaving tapestry is painting with fiber.  As you learn new techniques you gain the skills to weave different shapes and patterns and to better translate your ideas. The tapestry/bead cuff bracelet is a great place to begin playing with tapestry techniques. Here we will go over three techniques. If you don’t understand them right away don’t get frustrated, as tapestry takes time to master.

If you’re interested in better explanations of tapestry techniques or want to learn more about tapestry we suggest you purchase a book. Kathe Todd-Hooker’s book, “Tapestry 101” and “Tapestry Weaving” by Kirsten Glasbrook are both great books for beginners with lots of detail and easy-to-follow instructions. What we show you here is just a taste! 

I began to take new pictures of my current weave-along bracelet to show tapestry techniques, but realized the pictures we had already taken were very clear. Have fun this week, experiment and play! Remember also that you don’t need to use these techniques in your bracelet. Using them (and/or how many techniques you use) is all up to you and your design.

Selvages: The four sides of your piece.
Warp interlock: When the two ends of weft meet at a warp thread and wrap around that thread before changing direction. 

Tapestry techniques we’re trying today: Pick and Pick, Wavy Lines, Hatching.

A short explanation of pick and pick and wavy lines:
Both of these techniques require that you alternate the weaving of two different color threads. In pick and pick, you alternate them one after another. In other words, thread one, thread two, thread one, thread two, etc.. Wavy line technique requires that you weave thread one twice, thread two twice, thread one twice, thread two twice. Pick and pick produces vertical stripes, wavy lines produces the effect of wavy lines. These two have in common the necessity to deal with the selvages in a slightly unusual manner. You will have to manage these two threads in a way that will guarantee the selvage thread has enough weft around it.In the first case, depending on the position of your threads you will have to wrap one of your weft threads around the selvage thread in order to guarantee complete coverage.

In the second case, the top thread will pull the second thread and by doing so the top thread will cover the selvage thread twice. These techniques take some time to master but are well worth the effort. If you’re feeling intimidated, it is by no means necessary to use these techniques in your cuff but we do suggest you try the hatching technique (described last) at the very least.

Pick and Pick: 

In our example, we’ve used magenta and a golden yellow to begin our pick and pick. We alternate the colors thereby creating vertical stripes. In other words, weave the yellow thread once, and then the magenta thread once (making sure to change sheds every time you weave a new thread) then the yellow, then the magenta, etc… Follow the pictures for a visual of what we did:

First line of yellow

Second line of magenta (refer to earlier in this post to learn how to deal with your edges). Remember to change your shed every time you bring a thread across. 

Notice the beautiful vertical stripes emerging 
To continue with this design, but to add something extra, we stopped the magenta in the middle of the piece and started a purple thread at that place, thereby replacing the magenta with the purple. This allows us to continue the design but with a different color scheme. You could theoretically keep replacing threads as they run out with new ones for the entire bracelet and allow that to be your design. One way to approach this would be continue with the yellow thread and only replace the other ones. That would give you the most interesting effect. This kit may not include enough of any one shade of one color to do that, but we wanted to give you an idea of future design possibilities. We switched to using green after the purple thread as an example of this.

Changing the color to purple
Wavy Lines:

Wavy lines are very similar to pick and pick but instead of making one pass with a color, you make two passes creating what looks like wavy lines. 

Here, we started with two passes weaving with green, then two with yellow, then two with green, etc… 

Follow the pictures to see what we did:

The first pass through with green


This technique also involves two threads but the left thread will stay on the left and the right thread will stay on the right. In a full scale tapestry this is a great way to blend two colors together to create shading. This technique also involves warp interlock because when the two ends meet at a warp thread they each wrap around it before changing direction.

The way hatching works:  The two threads will come meet each other at any place within the tapestry you would like.  The threads must be woven toward each other.  They will then wrap around a common warp thread and head away from each other in the next shed.  These two colors will dovetail into each other.  A lot of other techniques can spring from this one including adding additional colors.  For now and for such a small piece we suggest you keep it simple and just use two colors.

The yellow and blue thread heading toward each other.

Wrap the two threads around the common warp, change sheds and head in opposite directions.

A clear visual of the threads wrapping around a common warp.

See how the dovetailing is beginning to reveal itself!

You can see how useful this technique can be!

Remember that these techniques can take some time to master. Play around! Have fun! And, as always, contact us with any questions and post YOUR tapestry technique pictures on our Facebook Group.

2 thoughts on “Tapestry Techniques

  1. I was experimenting today with vertical stipes. However the effect I got looked more like wavy lines. I am using one sport-weight wool yarn, and a thinner, novelty yarn. Could the difference in yarn weigh effect the look of my pattern?

  2. Yes, that is probably the problem. The only way to get a perfectly vertical column is to use the same kind of yarn with an even thickness. Depending on the difference in weight, you may not see the stripes at all. This is a good point for us to note!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s