Learning to Weave

Ask Madelyn


Dear Madelyn,

Help! I am new to weaving! Can you tell me what reed I should use for fine yarns on the loom, and can you tell me what is a good book to buy that will teach me how to read patterns?

Thank you,


Hi Willie!

The very BEST book for you to get is Learning to Weave by Deborah Chandler. It will teach you how to read patterns and much more. Usually, a 12-dent reed is the reed size you’ll need most often for most projects in relatively fine yarns (you can put one thread in each dent for 12 threads/inch, 2 for 24/inch, 3 for 36/inch). You should practice with yarns like 10/2 cotton (24/inch) before you move up to finer yarns than that. Fine yarns require a little more care and experience than thicker yarns, which are usually stronger just by being thicker.

And welcome! Weaving is truly a wonderful, pleasurable (though challenging), endlessly variable creative activity!














And here's an addendum to last week's Ask Madelyn about measuring woven yardage on the beam. Madelyn recommended measuring by putting safety pins on the selvedge every 20 inches. A weaver from New Hampshire wrote with a little added hint: color-code your little gold safety pins in rainbow order! A scrap of red yarn on the first 20 inches, orange on the next, and so on through the spectrum. Wonderful! (I'm thinking you long-warpers could tie on two scraps for the second set of pins, three scraps for the third set, and so on.)

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