Tapestry Weaving on a Mirrix Loom with Claudia Chase
Tapestry Weaving on a Mirrix Loom
A few weeks ago, Claudia Chase, the founder of Mirrix Looms, visited our studio. I was familiar with Claudia and her business because she was a guest on the podcast when it was just getting started, but I didn't have a chance to try out a Mirrix Loom in person until then. If you already weave on a Mirrix Looms, you know...they're amazing!
It really seems like a loom where Claudia thought of *everything*. Simple to warp, a great shedding device, an easy way with coils to have a different epi, adjustable tension...I could go on. If you're interested in tapestry or wall hanging weaving and you're used to weaving on a wooden frame loom, I really encourage you to try out a Mirrix.
Today on the blog, w'ere excited to feature this project Claudia designed using yarn from our shop. If you're brand new to tapestry weaving, this isn't a good project to start with. But if you're already familiar with tapestry weaving, you'll have lots of fun working on this project mixing handspun wool with paper yarn. The kit includes all the warp and weft you need to create this, plus lots of leftover yarn to do more experimenting with.
Claudia writes, "This adorable and fun-to-weave little tapestry consists of paper yarn squares woven with a wool background on a seine twine warp. It is a great project for those interested in learning more about the fundamentals of tapestry weaving and the relationship between wefts of different textures. It employs slit tapestry and weaving in opposite directions, both important foundational tapestry techniques."
with shedding device & 14 dent coil,
or tapestry loom of your choice,
Width at Reed: 5"
Warp Ends: 33
Finished Dimensions: ~ 5" W x 10" L + fringe
Finishing Details: Hand knotted paper fringe (details below)
Care Instructions: Do not wash. Gently iron tapestry as needed on cool setting.
The Mirrix Little Guy Loom is perfect for weaving both beads and fiber. It is portable and fits perfectly on a lap when it isn’t standing on a table with its two fold out legs. Weighing in at a featherweight 5 pounds, this 12-inch wide loom is a workshop goer’s dream. You can weave a piece up to 9 inches wide and 24 inches high on this loom, but it’s also great for weaving multiple small pieces at the same time.
Warping Your Mirrix Loom
Warp your loom with a 14-dent coil every-other-dent, 5 inches across for a total of 33 warp ends.
There are a few ways you can approach the design of this project.
Option 1: Make a simple pattern to help guide to as you are weaving (in tapestry this is called a cartoon, see photo above).
Option 2: Alternatively, you can mark your warp threads with a permanent marker to indicate where you want your squares to go. The tapestry is weft-faced, so you will not see these marks.
Slit tapestry: A slit is created between weft colors
Weaving in opposite directions (also called meet and separate): Wefts are inserted in opposite directions to one another and replaced or ended such that this relationship remains. It allows you freedom to move your wefts into a neighbor’s
territory while being in the correct shed, which is the space between raised and lowered warps.
Bubbling: This prevents pull in on the selvedges
Pigtails: These allow you to start a weft when the first warp is raised.
Half-Pass: Taking the weft once over the warps, thus covering half the warp threads.
Pass: Taking the weft once back and forth over the warps, thus covering all the warp threads.
Selvedges: The edges of your tapestry
Fell line: The last row of your tapestry weaving or the beginning row
Header: A few passes of warp material woven at the beginning of your tapestry
Footer: A few passes of warp material woven at the end of your tapestry
Place your loom in either shed by moving the handle of the shedding device and securing it on the side bar of the loom. Weave through the raised and lowered warp threads with a piece of warp a little more than twice the length of your loom. Loop around the side bar. Change the shed and bring your thread through in the other direction. Tie the two ends of the thread in a knot at the sidebar, making sure the thread is taut. This piece will act as a base for your weaving.
Weave a header, which is four passes of your warp yarn.
For the first few paper squares, we will give you detailed weaving instructions you will be able to use for the rest of the weaving.
Insert the green wool weft from the left. If the warp thread on the side where you begin weaving is raised, make a pigtail so that the tail is on the back of the tapestry. In every case you want your weft ends to be on the back of the tapestry. Weave two full passes so that the green wool weft ends at the left selvedge.
The relationship between the number of paper passes and the number of wool passes is approximately 14 half-passes of paper for 6 passes of wool. Weave the paper and the wool side-by-side. When you have finished a paper square, it needs to be the same height as the wool surrounding it. Follow the included pattern (or use your own) to gauge when you need to start a new paper weft square.
To start the blue paper square, weave the green wool weft that you’ve already started toward the right. Insert the blue paper weft going toward the green wool weft (headed to the left) and insert the right green wool where the tail of the blue paper weft begins heading to the right selvedge. This is how you weave in opposite directions. It gives you a lot of flexibility when you need to head into a neighboring weft’s territory.
When you have finished the first blue square weave the wool until everything is the same height. Remember there is a slit being created between the two types of weft. End the wefts so that the left green wool weft is headed toward the right selvedge stopping just before the blue paper weft. Stick the end tail to the back of the weaving. If it ends covering an up warp, make a pigtail. The blue paper weft needs to head to the left selvedge stopping at the slit where the blue paper weft square ends. Stick the end behind the piece. The right green wool weft needs to head toward the right selvedge. In the next pass cover both ended wefts (the left green wool and the blue paper) by weaving the right green wool weft to the left selvedge.
Start the purple paper weft the same way you started the original blue paper weft. Insert green weft on the left heading to the right and then the purple paper weft heading to the left. The right green wool weft will begin to the right of the purple paper weft, sticking the tail in that space. Weave until you have half a purple paper square and the left green weft is headed to the left and the purple paper weft is headed to the right. Insert an additional green wool weft to the left of where you will insert the pink paper weft heading toward the left selvedge ending at the slit between it and the pink paper weft. Insert a pink paper weft at the tail of the green wool weft you just inserted. It heads right for the width of the pink paper weft. Insert a green wool weft at the right selvedge heading toward the red paper weft. You now have five wefts.
When you have woven a third of the pink square, weave all the wefts so that the left green wool weft is headed to the right, the purple paper weft is headed to the left, the green wool weft next to it is headed toward the right, the pink paper weft is headed to the left and the last green wool weft is headed to the right. Then, you will weave the left green wool weft to the right the purple paper to the left and the green wool weft to the right. At this point you will insert a red paper weft heading right and a green wool weft heading left to meet it. Weave the pink paper weft to the right and the last green wool weft to the left. What just happened here is a fact of tapestry you will encounter again and again. You can always add a single weft to the left or right selvedges heading it in the correct relationship to the weft next to it but if you need to insert a wet color in the middle of two already existing wefts, you will need to insert two I know, a tad confusing. See it as the major building block of tapestry, something that does not instantly resonate since you’ve never done it before. Tapestry is magical, but it has its rules and they can take a bit to digest. Once you do though, it’s so much fun.
Pep talk over. Weave all your wefts in the direction they are meant to go remembering to create those slits. Once you have built up the red weft, end all of them as you did when you finished the first blue paper weft, weaving toward each other and ending at the slit between wefts.
Start all over with a new row inserting the left green wool weft from the left, the blue paper weft toward the right of the piece and that final green wool weft heading toward the blue one. Following the previous instructions, when the blue paper weft is half built you will be inserting two wefts, a purple paper one and a green wool one to its left.
Take time to pat yourself on the back when you get everything going in the right direction. If you make a mistake, tear it out. Eventually, you will internalize this process and it will be so much easier. Even practiced tapestry weavers can have a pause when deciding how and where to insert new wefts. It’s a really fun dance once you get going!
Advancing your weaving: At some point your piece will be too close to the top of the loom and the shedding device to make weaving comfortable. Loosen the wing nuts, cut your base thread and push up on the warping bar until your tapestry is lowered to a a more comfortable position.
When you have woven up nine and a half inches (not including the header) weave about a half an inch of just the paper yarn. Then, when your piece is ten inches total in length (again, not including the header) weave a footer (just like the header) with four passes of the warp material.
Loosen the tension on the loom and remove the warping bar. Trim the loops off the ends of the warp. Remove the heddles.
Trim the weft ends on the back of the piece so they are no more an an inch long.
Sew the header and footer down so that they are on the back of the piece and do not show.
If the weft ends seem to wander to the selvedges and show, sew them in place with the same thread you used to sew down the header and footer.
Add fringe by cutting paper yarn to twice the desired length of the fringe. Then, using a tapestry needle, sewing the yarn through the bottom of the tapestry so the two ends meet. Then, secure each piece of fringe with an overhand knot at the base of the tapestry.
Add a piece of paper yarn for a hanger in the top center of the tapestry.
Gently iron your tapestry and fringe if you need to flatten it.
Claudia Chase began weaving tapestry in 1984 on a rigid heddle loom and with only her imagination to guide her. As a self-taught tapestry weaver, she made every mistake possible. A few years later Claudia began mastering tapestry techniques and bought a suitable tapestry floor loom which drastically changed the quality of her work.Years later, Claudia found herself wanting a portable loom for tapestry that could do everything her large looms could. Before she knew it, she had developed a loom to fit her needs. It turns out other tapestry weavers wanted the same thing and in 1996 she sold the very first Mirrix Loom. Today, Claudia runs Mirrix Tapestry & Bead Looms full-time from her New Hampshire studio.