Intro to Tapestry Class: Finishing the Sampler

Welcome to the very last post in my CraftArtEdu Introduction to Tapestry series! Today I’m finishing the tapestry, which involves setting it up to hang on the wall.

First, I trimmed all of the wefts down to about 1 inch on the back of the tapestry.


Then it was time to twirl and tie off the bottom warps. I’m not great at twirling (twisting) yarn, so I kept my twists relatively short. I also waited to make the overhand knots until I had all the twists finished, so I could go back and redo any that were too loose.


At the top of the sampler, you need to tie overhand knots directly against the header. I used my beading awl to slide the knots down, but you can use a metal tapestry needle instead.


The following photos were taken after I’d completed the finishing process (which I did away from my camera, watching the Tour de France). First, I folded over the top header and stitched it down. I then stitched on a piece of twill tape and a strip of velcro (these are included in the class kit).


Then I stitched twill tape to both side edges of the back of the tapestry. I did all of this stitching by hand, sewing up around warps. However, because my sewing thread does show through here and there, I may try stitching through the backs of the wefts instead on my next project.

I used a large zig-zag stitch, because you really don’t need many actual stitches to get this done. You just want to keep the little tails of weft yarn from showing along the sides of the tapestry.


At this point, the only thing left to do is attach the matching piece of velcro to a piece of wood (not included in the kit) and hang it up on the wall.

Here it is temporarily on my door, where you can see it better. You may notice that I need more practice to get my side selvedges straight. (Oddly, my problem seems to be leaving the edges too loose, rather than making them too tight).


It’s so exciting to be finished! Although I made a few mistakes along the way, I still ended up with a pretty tapestry and, more importantly, a lot more confidence in my weaving.

A big thank you to Elena and Claudia for this opportunity to take the class and even hop into their blog to blog about it. If you’d like try the sampler for yourself, you can hop over to CraftArtEdu anytime and sign up for the class. To see what I’m up to next, visit my blog or my profile on Weavolution or Ravelry. I also have a Tapestry board on Pinterest.

Have a great summer, everyone!


Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at

Intro to Tapestry Class: The Circle

I’ve finally reached the upper section of my Introduction to Tapestry class sampler. This is the section that contains the big, colorful circle.

We start by using a template and permanent marker to mark the outline of the circle on the warps. I didn’t cut out my template like Claudia did in the instructions. In the first photo below, I’ve taped the template to the warps of the closed shed and already marked the circle on the warps with a permanent marker. You can see that the very sides of my circle are straight lines. I’ve learned that if those lines are too short, you’ll end up with “ears” on your circle.


Optionally, after removing the template, you can go back to each mark on the warps and extend it all the way around each warp. This makes it easier to see the marks if your warps spin around while you’re weaving.

We begin weaving the background of the circle with several passes of solid magenta weft. There are two separate wefts of magenta here, going in opposite directions. We weft dance them to hide where they come together.


Technically, the magenta yarn is supposed to reach all the way up into the beginning of the circle, but I ran out of magenta and needed to switch to dark orange sooner.


Here, Claudia points out that the bottom of the circle will start out covering quite a few warps, rather than starting with just one or two warps and then gradually getting larger. This is important for creating the correct shape. That said, keep in mind that no two weavers’ circles ever look exactly alike.

Because the bottom half of the circle increases in size as you weave, the negative spaces around it will decrease in size at first. This means we can continue with our background color around the empty space that will be the bottom half of the circle.


(What is it with cats and Mirrix looms?)

Now we continue weaving until we reach the point that is exactly halfway up the circle. This is the point where the circle will begin to decrease in size, and so we’ll need to weave the circle itself before completing the background.

Claudia shows you how to use the cut-out circle template to locate the middle of the circle. I just stopped weaving the background when I reached a point within the outermost vertical lines on the sides of my circle (because the circle doesn’t get any larger after that).


Next we begin filling in the circle with bright yellow weft. Again we’re using two separate wefts, laid-in in opposite directions. The two wefts come together with warp interlock.

You need to be careful here to make sure you follow the steps that you made on the warps when weaving the background color. That requires taking a close look at how many times you wrapped around each warp.


The yellow wefts are now separated and used to climb up the sides of the circle, covering a thickness of 5 warps each.

At this point, you can see that my weaving is a little shorter on the left than on the right. That’s just because I ran out of dark orange on the left.

Moving back to the bottom of the circle, we now introduce two more wefts: one for the lighter yellow background color and one for the green accents.  For the green I just wrapped the weft around the warps, only doing actual weaving (and changing the shed) when I moved to the right. The light yellow fills in the adjacent empty space. I love how this looks — it’s like you’re painting with yarn.


Next, we started a new color to create some dots. Dots are strange in that they don’t follow the general rules of tapestry. Case in point, you begin by laying in a color in the same shed as the previous row.


Dots are really just little accents that swim along in your wefts. They’d be a good use of short yarn scraps.


In this next photo, you can see that I’ve started to vary the width of green, actually weaving it rather than just wrapping once around the warp.


I should point out that I’m not just eyeballing it when I fill in the circle. There’s a lot of counting involved, as I continue to check how many wefts of the dark yellow cover each warp, and making sure I match that number with the light and green wefts beside them.

When you hit the center point of the circle, you need to keep building up the inside of the circle (which decreases in size from this point on) before filling in the background.


I decided to complete my circle before going back and finishing any of the remaining background colors.


Looking back at the photo above, I guess I didn’t weave all the way to my upper black outline. Instead I focused on making the top of the circle look similar to the bottom. However, I still used the sides of the outlines as guides.

Now it was a simple task of filling in. I had some color challenges with the background at the top of the sun because I’d run out of magenta and, eventually, green. I substituted some chartreuse green wool yarn from my stash. I hope it’s not too distracting.


Next it was finally time for the top header. This was actually tricky for me because I was running out of space on my loom, and I’d already advanced as far as I could without my warping bar coming forward over the top of the loom. But I persevered. This header was just like the one we made at the beginning of the sampler.

After the header, I couldn’t believe I’d finally finished weaving! How exciting! It was time to cut the tapestry off of the loom, which I must say was a bit nerve-wracking. It’s not difficult, it’s just that after spending hours on a project, it’s alarming to watch it slump down.


In my next — and final — blog post in this series I’ll finish my sampler and get it hung up proudly on the wall. Stay tuned…

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at

Intro to Tapestry Class: Eccentric Wefts, Outlining, and Weft Dance

Today in my CraftArtEdu Introduction to Tapestry class series, I begin the final large section of the sampler! It will include some techniques we’ve already covered, plus some new ones.

Eccentric Wefts and Outlining

This task is new. It begins with weaving a little blue “blob” shape and a slightly different green blob shape.


These blobs seem to be an exception to the rule that you create shapes that decrease in size before filling in adjacent shapes that increase in size. However, this situation is actually a little different because these blobs will be outlined in the next step, rather than having matching shapes built up next to them.

Here, we’re making the outlines with gold and orange weft yarn. The yarn is woven down on top of the blobs.


Next we added more blobs and more outlines. We’re also doing some weft dancing with the gold and orange yarn.



Next I filled in with some more weft dancing between the gold and orange. My wefts here are a lot more wavy than Claudia’s, and I don’t necessarily recommend making them that wavy. It makes it much harder to return to a straight line so that you can begin the next section. However, they do look kind of cool.


Another challenge with making super wavy wefts that include blending of colors is that (for a beginner, anyway) it’s hard to determine exactly what the blending will look like when it finally gets fully beaten down. Mine didn’t become fully beaten down until I’d completed the section with some straight horizontal wefts. To achieve those wefts, I first had to build up some areas (essentially invisible blobs) of gold and orange to fill in concave parts of the wefts. As I mentioned earlier, this can be challenging because wefts don’t always line up in the same shed, and you run into situations where warps show through. But eventually I pulled it together.


Weft Dancing

We’ve done some weft dance here and there previously, but this next section uses it as a primary way to blend colors. This is another take on freeform weaving. The section begins with 5 weft colors, again all going in opposite directions. We then weave those wefts in and out of each other’s territories.


Next we bring in some pick and pick. The two colors I used were green and magenta (rather than green and purple). I started by weaving the green to the right selvedge. I then changed sheds and wove the magenta to the right selvedge. Finally, I changed sheds again and wove the green back toward the left. The single row of pick and pick creates horizontal dots.


The next step was to begin a new blue weft at the left selvedge and then continue weaving all of the colors across. I had to be careful here because I had built up the green and magenta on the right a little higher than the rest when I created the row of pick and pick. That meant that I needed to fill in the rest of the tapestry to bring the wefts to the same level, while making sure all of the wefts ended within the same shed at the top.

In this next photo, I’ve completed this task to the point where we weave the two outermost wefts to the sides.


We then add two new wefts in the middles of the weaving. When adding at the middle (rather than at an edge) you need to add two colors at once so that they can run in opposite directions and be in the correct shed. The other important rule is that you must not cover the ends of any existing working weft yarns with the new wefts.

In the next photo, I’ve started new blue and gold wefts and completed that same row. In addition to making the new wefts in opposite directions to one another, I made sure they ran in opposite directions to the colors on either side of them.


After a bit more weaving, the weft dance section is complete!


Today’s sections really helped me get more comfortable with managing different colors and blending techniques.

And now we’ve finally reached the final, major part of the sampler: the big circle! See it in action in my next post.

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at

Intro to Tapestry Class: Triangles and Random Geometrics

Moving right along in the Introduction to Tapestry class on CraftArtEdu, we’re ready to give triangles and random geometric patterns a try.


We started here with another row of black soumak knots to separate sections. This version is called doubled soumak, because you go over three warps (rather than two), and then back under two.

I used a tapestry bobbin for this, maneuvering it like a big needle.


After one final row of black weft, it was time to start the triangles. Following the general tapestry weaving rule, you need to build up the shapes that decrease in size before filling in the shapes that increase in size. (We’ll see what appears to be an exception to this rule in my next post.) That means we begin with the right-side-up triangles, then go back and make the upside down triangles that fill in the spaces.

Once again, we start by using yarn markers to mark where the bottom triangles will begin and end. But this time we wrap the markers around pairs of warps rather than just placing them between warps. The next step is to lay in the colors, all going in the same direction.


At this point you’ll hear Claudia say:

“Insert the green weft on the left of the left tail of the left weft marker, and weave it to the left selvedge.

Insert the purple weft heading from the right of the weft marker to the right tail of the first weft marker.

The right green weft starts at the right selvedge and ends at the right tail of the weft marker.”

What this means is that you don’t weave over either of the two sets of warps that you have marked off. You weave between the markers, not within them.

Next, we weave two full passes of each color before starting to decrease at the sides to form the triangles. Eventually, you’ll have three completed triangles.

I should mention here that the green triangles are actually half equilateral triangles; I originally made my first one as a complete triangle, which was incorrect.  Here’s my correct one.


Because I’m using a treadle, I found it easier to make each triangle individually, rather than building them all up at the same time.



In retrospect, my triangles look taller than Claudia’s, and so I may have made a mistake in sizing them. (So don’t panic if yours look smaller; as long as they’re even and relatively smooth on the edges, you should be OK.)

When you begin filling in the black, upside down triangles, you need to start the black wefts in the opposite direction that you started the green and purple wefts. Then just start filling in the negative spaces between triangles, gradually moving outward on the warps.


It was helpful here to remove the black marker yarns so I could better see what I was doing.
A quick note: In addition to starting in the opposite direction with these warps, you should make sure that you’re in the correct shed. This requires checking the pattern of hills and valleys in the first row of green and purple, and making sure you continue that pattern with the black.

By the way, I think I finally figured out what I was having trouble with when I was making the increases in the chevrons section. The key is to remember that the weft goes on in a zig-zag stair step, and that each warp needs to ultimately have two wefts wrapped around it before the next increase is made.


Random Geometric Patterns

Next up are random geometrics using five colors of weft. They need to go in opposite directions, and — because they’re random — we don’t need to use weft markers.


The next photo shows these colors after four completed passes. Notice that the wefts are still (correctly) going in opposite directions (hurray!). If they weren’t, that would probably mean that I was off by a pass somewhere; either one too many or one too few.


Now I began creating the random shapes. You do this by bringing the wefts over into the adjacent colors’ areas. It looks like I forgot to photograph this part in progress.

I took the next photo to show you a mistake I made, in case you run into the same trouble. It happened after I’d added a blue square of color on the right hand side of my weaving. Even though I had started the blue yarn in the opposite direction of the adjacent gold yarn, I still ended up in the wrong shed at the top. When I pulled up and separated the blue thread, I could see the problem. I had begun in the wrong shed. Take a look at the very first row of blue below.


The remedy was to unweave all of the blue and start again, this time with the correct shed open on the loom.


Finally, another small section of the tapestry completed!


We capped this section with another row of soumak knots. At this point I discovered that I’d run completely out of black yarn, possibly because my weaving is a little wider than it was supposed to be, or because I made my triangles too tall. So I grabbed a double strand of Orchidea wool yarn that I had on hand and substituted it in.

Next time, we’ll make the very last large section of the sampler, using freeform weaving and making a circle.

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at

Intro to Tapestry Class: Pick and Pick Combination Plus Chevrons

This week in the CraftArtEdu Introduction to Tapestry Class I took on a combination pick and pick plus hatching technique, along with geometric chevrons.

Pick and Pick Plus Hatching and Warp Interlock

This is the first time in the class that we combine techniques to create an interesting effect.  We’ve already covered basic pick and pick, but now we’re adding the color blending technique called hatching as well as a new way to create the boundary between colors by using warp interlock.

I started out with pick and pick, using blue and black yarn. Because I started these wefts initially going in the same direction, I wove the blue yarn one extra time. This put the wefts in opposite directions, which is required for the next technique, warp interlock.


Warp interlock is similar to weft interlock, which we used earlier in the class, except that you wrap the yarn around a shared warp, rather than around each other.

Here’s my first warp interlock, at the center of the tapestry between the blue and black weft yarns.


We’re using this interlock to begin the next technique, which is called hatching. With hatching, you blend one color into the other using a series of partial horizontal lines. Hatching can be simple, like we’re doing in this tapestry, or it can be very complex and used to create subtle artistic effects.

Here’s my piece after several rows of even hatching with the blue and black.


Next, we move into some pick and pick, eventually adding in some purple yarn. Notice that the black vertical lines are on different warps than they were the previous time we did pick and pick.


After several more rows of purple, it was time to advance the weaving, which means to move it down on the loom to free up space on the warps at the top. To do this, you need to loosen the tension and then pull the warping bar on the back of the Mirrix loom upward.

In this next photo, I’ve advanced my weaving so that much of the already-completed tapestry is now facing the bottom and back of the loom.


After advancing the weaving, it’s a good idea to check your top warp spring. I find that mine often pulls down out of its bracket while advancing and needs to be pushed back up.


At this point in the class it was time to make chevron shapes. I had never made these before. Although their principle is simple, I struggled a little with keeping my wefts in the proper sheds.

You start by marking the boundaries of the bottoms of the chevrons with short lengths of yarn, just like we did for slit tapestry. A note here: although the class calls for seven warps between markers (if I’m interpreting it correctly), I actually found that I needed eight warps between markers in order to have the correct number of color blocks.


Next, you need to lay in your different colors of weft yarns in opposite directions. This is also like we did previously with slit tapestry. Just like back then, I had to watch my pattern of hills and valleys, but I can tell I’m gradually getting better at this.


I should point out that we are technically using slit tapestry here, but instead of making blocks with straight borders, the borders will create chevron, or zig-zag, shapes. To start making them, you need to shift over by one warp with each of your colors. For me, this is where the technique got a little complicated. I’m sure I made a minor mistake here and there, but overall I was able to keep the chevron shapes looking relatively even as I went along.

Here are the first two shifts toward the right.


And here are all of the rightward shifts completed.


You may notice that not all of my wefts are running opposite to one another anymore, darn it…. Still, I was able to fix things enough to proceed. The next step was to start shifting back in the opposite direction for the top halves of the chevrons. And here they are.


Pretty cool, eh? I figure it’s not bad for my first attempt. After the last row, I went back and made sure all of the yarns were in the same shed so that I’ll be properly set up for the next technique. Stay tuned for my next post to find out where it takes us.

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at

Intro to Tapestry Class: Slit Tapestry Technique

My journey through the CraftArtEdu Introduction to Tapestry Class continues. You might recall from my weft interlock post that I mentioned a different color-block technique that results in open slits in the tapestry. That technique is called slit tapestry, and it’s the topic of my post today.

We’re making five color blocks with straight, vertical boundaries which are the slits. You start by using short pieces of yarn to mark the edges of the color blocks. Next, you weave-in a warp yarn for each color block. My yarns were all between about three feet and five feet long, although the five footers tend to be a little too long for my bobbins. (You can see the type of bobbin I’m using in this post.)

When I wove  the initial rows, I initially left the short ends of each weft sticking out the front of the tapestry.


I then needed to push those short ends to the back of the tapestry. When you do this, keep on eye on your pattern of hills and valleys to make sure you cover the warps that need covering.


From this point on, you just need to weave each color back and forth to build up the blocks. It’s a simple technique, but you need to watch your tension at each turn to make sure the slits that you’re creating aren’t too tight, which makes a hole in your tapestry, or too loose, which creates excess bulk.

After the first few rows, I recommend going back and making sure that your blocks are going to be the correct size. You can do this by counting the number of warps covered by a given color; that number needs to match the number of warps that you originally counted between markers. (Those markers useful, but I still found myself making one block too short and the next one too long at first.)

Because the wefts don’t interact with each other in slit tapestry, you can build up blocks of color one at a time. I chose that approach because it was faster than weaving single rows of colors all the way across, especially because I can change sheds very quickly with my treadle. Here are my first two completed blocks.


Notice that the vertical line between colors is straight and doesn’t have the slight zig-zag look of weft interlock.

For this sampler, we need a total of 16 half passes of each color. If you lose your place, you can pull that weft up and space out the rows so that you can count them, as shown below with the purple weft.


And here are all five blocks of split tapestry complete.


The final step for this section of the sampler was to cap off the color blocks with a pass of black warp. I used the same length of warp that I used for the last color block on the far right. However, if you’re in the same shed that I was in at this point, you can’t just weave the black across, because you’ll be in the wrong shed. To get around this, I gently crossed the weft behind the warps to the selvedge before weaving back (across the tops of the color blocks) in the opposite direction. This method is called looping behind, and you can learn more about it in Kathe Todd-Hooker’s book Line in Tapestry.



Finally, here’s what the completed section looks like.


The borders between the color blocks are actual slits that you can pass your finger through, kind of like button holes. When you use them for larger areas, it’s a good idea to go back and stitch them closed. For these small blocks, they should be fine as-is because they won’t pull open.

The sampler is starting to get really vibrant, isn’t it?

That’s all for this post. Next time I’ll try the technique called hatching, combined with pick and pick and something called warp interlock. It sounds complicated, but the effect will be well worth it. See you then!

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at

Intro to Tapestry Class: Pick and Pick and Soumak Knots

For this post I tackle two techniques in the CraftArtEdu Introduction to Tapestry Class: pick and pick and soumak knots.

Pick and Pick

Pick and pick is a method you’ll hear about a lot. It creates beautiful, narrow vertical stripes in your tapestry. Up until now, I’ve been a bit confused about how to handle the edges, but this part of the class cleared it up for me. The key is to remember that there are two different scenarios for the edges. In one, the first weft yarn goes under a raised warp, and in the second, it goes under a lowered warp. In the first situation, you simply weave the yarn back, allowing it to hook around the previous weft. In the second situation, you need to wrap the weft around the outermost warp twice before weaving. Whichever scenario you begin with, you’ll end up switching back and forth between the two as you go along.

Here’s what my first completed turn looked like, at the beginning of the third row.


I was in a different shed when I started than Claudia is in the class, so I needed to use the second scenario, where you wrap the weft around the warp twice (she uses the first scenario). You make these wraps from the outside in. Another way to think of it is that you wrap around the warp once, and then pass behind the two warps at the edge before you begin weaving the row.

You need to watch your tension with these wraps to keep the edge of the tapestry as neat as possible. I find it easier to maintain an even edge if I hold onto the first wrap with my fingers while weaving across.

This next photo shows what the edge looks like after completing that turn and lightly beating the yarn.


The next row gets woven from the same side, in the same direction, as the previous row. But this one uses the other scenario. That means that the magenta yarn hooks around the orange yarn to make its turn before being woven back. It seems strange that this weft doesn’t wrap around the edge warp, but that allows you to keep the stripes aligned properly.


At this point, things are coming along nicely, and you can start to see the vertical stripes forming.


For the class sampler you need to complete four rows of each color. Here’s what my tapestry looked like at that stage.


Next, we switch to a different shade of orange. It looks like I grabbed the wrong orange for my first four rows, so I’ll have the darker orange above the lighter, rather than the other way around.


And that completes the pick and pick.

Soumak Knots

Next up is soumak knotting, which will be used to divide sections of the sampler. For this technique you use a closed shed, just like we did with twining in the header.

Before closing my shed, I wove one row of black weft, left to right.


Notice that I made sure the yarn in this first woven row passed behind the last two warps, because those are the first two warps you need to wrap around to begin the soumak knots. Once again, because I was in a different shed than Claudia (whom I’m probably driving nuts with this behavior), this is somewhat different from what you’ll see in the class.

To make the soumak knots, you go over two warps and then come back around the second warp. Here’s what the knots look like before you beat them down. (I usually slide mine down as I go along.)


My first completed row of soumak knots, all slid down, looked like this:


When you go back in the opposite direction for a second row, you go behind two warps and come around one – the opposite of the first row. The lines in this row will be a little shorter than the lines in the first row. They’ll also have a contrasting angle, which creates a chevron pattern.


Here are both rows of soumak, completed.


The soumak makes a contrasty textural border against the bright colors below it.

Stay tuned for my next post, when I’ll give the slit tapestry technique a spin.

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at

Intro to Tapestry Class: Weft Interlock

Today I continue my journey through the CraftArtEdu Introduction to Tapestry Class with a technique called weft interlock. It’s used for making blocks of color without leaving open slits in the tapestry fabric. This was my first attempt at weft interlock, so I was a little nervous getting started — but I think it turned out beautifully.

The first step is to mark the spaces between warps where your color blocks will begin and end. These markers are crucial for helping you decide where to begin and end weft yarns of adjacent colors. I followed Claudia’s approach and used pieces of black yarn as markers. In our sampler, the color blocks are all of equal size, and so the markers are equally spaced.


Next, a separate length of weft needs to be woven in for each color. This means a total of five lengths of yarn.  I used three in green and two in dark yellow. Importantly, they’re all woven in the same direction.


Because the color blocks will be relatively small, the lengths of these weft yarns are all short enough that you don’t need to use butterflies or bobbins.

What’s also different here from when we made wavy lines is that our weft yarns are all woven for short distances across, rather than traveling all the way from one side of the tapestry to the other. This means that you need to use your fingers to select the warps that you want to weave through, before sliding in the yarn. In the next photo, I’ve selected the warps under which I’ll be weaving a green yarn.

(A quick note for anyone else taking the class: You may be selecting either four or five warps, depending on where you are and which shed you’re in when you begin. I think I started in a different shed than Claudia starts with in the class.)


I actually found this very first row of wefts to be the most challenging. Because you’re leaving the end of each yarn on the front side of the loom, you occasionally end up with two side by side warps that both look bare. One of them will not really be bare, because it will be covered when you weave back in the opposite direction. However, I really had to slow down and check each warp to make sure I was creating a pattern of hill, valley, hill, valley, etc., all the way across (a hill is a weft over a warp, and a valley is a weft under a warp).

After weaving that first row of all five weft yarns, it’s time to change sheds and then go back and weave each weft in the opposite direction. To begin the “interlock,” you wrap each weft around the end of the previous weft in the row.

Here’s what my weaving looked like with the second row complete.


When you weave back in the other direction again, the interlocks between wefts are complete.


In this next photo, I’ve completed four rows of weft interlock. I pulled a couple of the weft ends out of the way so you can better see what the interlock join looks like between colors.


Finally, here’s what my completed blocks of color look like.


I love the look of this technique because the borders where the colors come together form vertical lines of tiny zig zags. They have a very Navajo look and appear so much more “woven” than when you make lines with slits (which also often need sewing up).

Next up in the Introduction to Tapestry Techniques class, we’ll try some vertical lines using pick and pick.

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at

Intro to Tapestry Class: Header and Wavy Lines

In my last post I shared my progress warping my Mirrix loom for the Introduction to Tapestry Class on CraftArtEdu. This week I completed the header and the first rows of actual color weaving.

The header is the initial band of weaving that you create using the same yarn you used for the warps. I’m using the class kit, and so my warp and header material is the Navaho wool warp.

Before you start the header, you need to weave two strands that serve as a base for your tapestry to rest on. The base yarn is wrapped around both sides of the loom and tied to hold it in place. You weave it like you do anything else, passing the yarn through one open shed, then changing sheds and passing back through.

Here’s my base.


I used my weighted tapestry beater to beat those strands down.

To begin the header for this project, we’re weaving a row of twining. This was my first time doing twining, and it wasn’t difficult at all.

Twining is performed with the shed closed, meaning that there is no space between sets of warps for passing the yarn through; all the warps are on the same plane. I mentioned last time that I’m using a treadle to change sheds on my loom, instead of the standard handle. Before I show you how the twining turned out, here’s what the treadle setup looks like.

This is where the treadle device hooks up to the loom.


The two cords are cables that run all the way to the floor and connect with the foot treadle itself.

Here’s the treadle on the floor.


I have it sitting on a stair runner carpet to keep it from sliding. The big flat silver portion is the pedal. It rotates like a seesaw. You press it forward and down to open one shed and backward and down to open the other. If you’d like to see how to install the treadle, check out this free video by Claudia.

To close the shed for twining, you position the pedal so it’s flat, which is halfway between one shed and the other shed.

Twining uses two bundles of yarn that cross one another between warps. Here are my first several “twines.”


They almost look like a rope running along the warps.

Here’s my completed row of twining.


It probably could have been a little neater toward the end. I think I allowed the strands to twist too much.

Next up is the main portion of the header, which simply involves weaving a bunch of rows that reach from one side all the way to the other. When you do this, you need to create a hill, or bubble, with the weft yarn, rather than pulling it straight across in the shed. This ensures that the weft is long enough to zig zig between the warps when you close the shed without pulling in the sides of the tapestry. Claudia explains this in more detail during the class.

Here’s my first header weft making a bubble.


And here I am beating down the wefts after making a few rows of bubbles.


To use the weighted beater, I used a sort of loose tapping motion, letting the beater do the work. Here’s a look at those first few rows completely beaten down.


The next step is to just keep weaving for a while. The biggest challenge at this point is learning how to keep the sides of the tapestry straight and even, and keep them from pulling inward. Which reminds me, I need to correct something I mentioned in my previous post. I had stated that my tapestry would probably end up pulling in a little on the sides — but that’s not correct! In the class, Claudia shows you how to measure as you go along to make sure your sides don’t pull in.

Looking closely at this next photo, I see that I could have done a better job keeping my edges even.


With the header complete, it’s time to start some real weaving using the beautiful wool/mohair yarn from the kit. We begin with several regular rows of black. You usually start a color by cutting a workable length and then deciding how to manage it. Claudia shows you how to make and use butterflies for the class, where the only tool you need is your hand. Another option is to use tapestry bobbins. I recently got a great deal on a bunch of bobbins on Ebay, and I decided to practice with them for this project instead of using butterflies.

This is what a bobbin looks like with some black yarn loaded on.


And here I am using the bobbin to pass the yarn through a shed.


One of the nice things about using a bobbin is that you can use it to push down bubbles between beatings. (I know…that sounds a little strange! Weaving has some interesting terminology.)


If you’d like to learn how to use bobbins, check out Kathe Todd-Hooker’s book Tapestry 101.

Here are the first few rows of black yarn completed.


The wool/mohair yarn is a little puffier than the Navaho warp yarn, which means that you need to experiment to determine the right size of bubbles to make. I found that my edges tended to be too loose if I wasn’t careful.

Next we switched to a few rows of magenta.


At this point it was time to try the first special technique: wavy lines. They’re super easy. We were supposed to use orange yarn for the first one, but for some reason I grabbed yellow. So, my wavy lines are going to be yellow.

Here’s a close look at a pig tail which is used to secure the new color of yarn to a warp.


After making some wavy lines, I actually decided that my edges were unacceptably loose.


I wanted to redo them, so I un-wove several rows of weaving. The downside I’ve found with un-weaving is that wool yarn tends to get fuzzy from pulling it through the warps multiple times. I always end up trying to snip off the extra fuzz with my embroidery scissors. Maybe one of those little sweater fuzz eater machines would work better.

Here’s my initial weaving after re-weaving to tighten up the edges a little.


The left hand side looks a little bulky because I used that side to carry up each color when the opposite color was in use (for the wavy lines), but I think the right hand side looks much better.

Next, we’ll make some blocks of color, starting with the weft interlock technique. Stay tuned for my next post to find out how it goes!

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at

Getting Started with the Introduction to Tapestry Class

ImageThis month I begin working my way through Claudia’s Introduction to Tapestry Techniques class on CraftArtEdu. I’m especially excited about this course because it covers the most useful tapestry weaving techniques, and because the sampler you get to make is an actual tapestry wall hanging.

Even though the class is suitable for absolute beginners, I’m coming into it with a few months of tapestry weaving experience. So far I’ve made several bead and tapestry bracelets (I previously completed the Bead and Tapestry Cuffs class on Craftsy, which I highly recommend), plus three small tapestry panels as practice pieces. I’m hoping this new class helps me perfect a few methods that are slowing me down and allows me to get more creative. Starting today, I’ll be guest blogging about the class. Feel free to post any questions in the comments as I go along.

First off, a little about CrafArtEdu. It’s a website devoted to making online craft and fine art classes accessible and convenient to everyone. They currently offer over 400 courses for all experience levels, in over 40 categories. The instructors are all highly experienced and well known for their work and teaching abilities.


Once you create an account on CraftArtEdu and purchase a class, the class remains available to you indefinitely. You can stop it, restart it, or replay it as many times as you’d like. You can also create your own member profile and share photos or videos of your work, as well as network with other members.

The six tapestry class videos, called “broadcasts,” are composed of lots of photos with close-up views of techniques, helpful lists and information in text, and audio of Claudia walking you through everything step by step. It’s easy to stop and restart, and you can jump around and replay key parts anytime.

Part 1 of the class covers warping the loom. I’ve warped my Mirrix loom a number of times now, so this part was easy. Here’s a look at my 16-inch Mirrix loom before warping, sitting on my corner work desk.


It has a couple of features that may look different from your loom, especially if you’re just starting out. First, there is an extra, black plastic clip on the vertical copper bar on the right-hand side. My loom originally came with two wooden clips, one on each side. (You can see the second one scooted up above the black clip.) I’ve added the black clip so that I can use the add-on treadle.

The second difference is that there is a black plastic strip with two metal knobs on the bottom horizontal bar. It’s part of the add-on bottom spring kit. For the class, I will be using my treadle, but I won’t use a second warp coil.

For the class project we’re using every other dent in a 14-dent warp coil (for a total of 7 dents per inch) and we’re using a total of 45 warps. Here I am (below) counting the dents — or spaces between spring coils — in my warp coil to make sure I’m using the right one.


I’m using a beading awl to help keep my place as I count. Alternatively you could do this with a tapestry needle.

Although the completed tapestry should be about 6 inches wide, my warps are closer to 6.5 inches. I think this is because my warp coil actually has closer to 15-dents per inch. However, there will probably be some pull-in on the sides of the tapestry which may bring it closer to 6 inches.

Here are all 45 warps wrapped around the loom.


The next step is to attach the heddles. These are little loops that wrap around the warps and ultimately create the shed, which is the horizontal space between sets of warps where you place the yarn when you weave.

Here’s a look at my heddles attached to the heddle bars on my shedding device.


I made my heddles using cotton crochet yarn and this handmade jig.


Alternatively, you can buy pre-made Texlov heddles. If you make your own, I recommend using something relatively strong that also holds a tight knot. You can test this by cutting a short length of the material and tying together the ends with a square knot. Then pull the ends away from each other and see if the knot slides. If it does, look for something more grippy.

Finally, here are side views of the shed when it’s closed versus when it’s open.





You’ll normally attach the shedding device handle and use it to turn the bar to change the shed from one open position to the other. For the photo, I just turned the bar with my hand because I’ll be attaching the treadle to the loom instead of using the handle. In my next post, I’ll show you what the treadle looks like attached and we’ll get ready to start weaving the tapestry.

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at