You Should Be Weaving on a Tapestry Loom

Want to improve your weaving skills and become a more thoughtful, deliberate weaver? Want to get more comfortable exploring color and texture? Want to learn new techniques? Then you need to be weaving on a tapestry loom. “But wait! I’m a shaft-loom weaver,” I hear some of you say, “not an ‘art’ weaver.” Au contraire. Let me tell you that if you’re not giving tapestry a try, you’re missing out.

Tapestry looms, frame looms, and their kin are unique in that you can see the whole of the weaving area throughout your entire project. While you might think this is a benefit only when you’re doing freeform weaving, think again! Say you’re weaving a tapestry of a sunset from a basic cartoon. You can try using hatching to give the sunset a more “painterly” look, or you can use a bit of rya to create textured trees. Maybe you want to see how the puffy clouds look when woven with roving or chunky, loosely spun yarn. You can try all those things and more, and if they don’t work with the rest of the piece, remove them and try again.

Another way that tapestry looms encourage freedom and creativity is through their simple warping process. On a floor or rigid-heddle loom, there are many different choices for warp yarns. You can sit and agonize over warp color orders and then you might spend hours winding and warping before you can weave a single pick.

tapestry loom

Techniques for the tapestry loom can be translated to the rigid-heddle or floor loom with great results. Judith Shangold gave her Sunset Shawl a painterly effect by using the traditional tapestry technique known as hatching.

With a tapestry loom, warping is so much easier. The fabric is weft-faced, so all you need to do is choose a tapestry weft—usually a strong, white cotton—that is the right size for your chosen sett. You can then warp your loom directly with that thread, and, depending on the size of your loom, warping, from start to finish, takes mere minutes. You can experiment and play as you weave and not have to worry about having wasted hours and hundreds of yards on a piece that didn’t turn out the way you wanted. You can just cut off the cloth, take a few minutes to rewarp, and start all over again. Brilliant!

Last but certainly not least, tapestry looms are extraordinarily simple, and it is this simplicity that makes them so perfect for weaving detailed pieces. Tapestry looms often require you to get close and personal with every warp end and every pick you place. They force you to be more mindful as you weave, which is a wonderful thing indeed.

Putting all of these elements together creates the perfect recipe for trying and honing new techniques that you can apply elsewhere in your weaving. Hone your clasped weft or hatching skills on your tapestry loom and then use it to weave a spectacular scarf on your rigid-heddle loom. Try your hand at rya now and use it later on your floor loom to weave a spectacular pillow. Weaving on a tapestry loom will make you a better weaver, period. And, who knows, you might find yourself preferring these versatile, little looms and the creativity they bring.

Interested but don’t know where to start? Check out our Lilli Loom Tapestry Weaving Collection. This kit has everything you need to get started weaving on a tapestry loom—including yarn! Just don’t wait too long because kits are very limited.

Happy Weaving!

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  1. Alyce Q at 2:43 pm November 7, 2018

    Pretty sure you meant to say the fabric is weft-faced, not warp-faced.

    • Tamara Schmiege at 2:56 pm November 7, 2018

      You are correct! Thanks! We have fixed it in the post now! Thank you.

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