Weaving month: what to buy
Welcome to the Cosy Craft Club's weaving month! We really want to encourage you to have a go at weaving yourself, and we'll be sharing the key things you need to know to get started. You can find all our weaving posts in one place here.
If you've seen those beautiful woven wall hangings everywhere on Pinterest, you may have decided that you really want to give weaving a go. But you might not know anything about weaving. What do you need to buy to get started?
tools and materials
The basic materials are a frame loom, warp thread, weft materials, a shuttle or a needle, and a beater.
The easiest thing to do is to buy a beginner's weaving kit, which will have all of the above, plus some instructions to get you started. Well, I would say that, wouldn't I - because you can buy a great weaving kit in our shop!
But if you don't want to invest in a proper loom, then you can make your own! I like this tutorial from The Weaving Loom showing you how to make a loom from cardboard. Or if you want something a bit more sturdy you can make one from a picture frame or a canvas and some nails (like in this Creativebug video).
You don’t need anything fancy to get started; I began my weaving journey with a simple wooden picture frame, cotton string for warp, a tapestry needle and a ruler for a pick up stick! - Stephanie from Le Petit Moose
You'll also need some string for your warp (which runs up and down the weaving). The best material for this is non-stretchy cotton string or yarn. The thickness and colour will affect the final look of the weave, so bear that in mind when choosing (or experiment with different types!).
Now for the fun stuff, the weft. This is the material you are going to be weaving in and out of your warp to create your weaving. There are so many choices here, and it is a real opportunity to be creative. Yarn is the obvious choice, since it is affordable and comes in a range of colours. Another great thing about yarn is that it also comes in a range of thicknesses and textures, which will all look different.
Roving is also very popular for creating really chunky sections in your weave. And there are so many other options: t-shirt yarn, ribbon, strips of fabric, even natural objects! Anything that is long and thin can be woven.
You can weave with just about anything - yarn, plastic bags, sticks, leaves, metal, etc and you can easily make yourself a fantastic loom from just a picture frame and a handful of pins. Eventually you’ll discover your favourite materials to work with but that will very much depend on your style and the techniques you like to use. - Jennifer from Wandering Coast Collective
In addition to the loom and the materials that you are going to be weaving with, you will probably want some tools to help you weave the weft in and out. Many weavers use a shuttle, which is a bit like a stick that you wrap your weft around and insert in and out of the weft. A blunt needle (preferably with a large eye) is also useful for small areas that you can't fit the shuttle into.
Another useful tool is a beater, which looks a bit like a wide-toothed comb. This is used to push down each row of your weave to keep it neat, tight and straight. If your weaving is quite small, you could just use a fork for this!
If your weaving is a wall hanging, then you'll need something to hang it from, such as a dowel or a piece of driftwood.
where to buy
Weaving supplies are a little hard to come by in the UK, since it's still a growing craft here. As I said, the easiest thing to do if you're just starting out is to buy a kit, which will have everything you need included. Kits can be purchased from us, Le Petit Moose, Wild Woven, Hawthorn Handmade or Wool Couture.
If you've already got a loom, or you've made one yourself, you'll need some warp thread, such as this one from Airedale Yarns.
As I've already mentioned, you can choose from all sorts of materials for your weft! If you are on a budget, look to yarn that you already have, or maybe ask a friend or family member. You could also raid charity shops - they quite often have some.
Yarn can purchased from so many places (as I mentioned in my knitting guide) but a great place to start is your local yarn shop (mine is A Yarn Story in Bath). They'll be able to show you different types of yarn and you can see how it feels and looks before purchasing.
Online, you're spoilt for choice as well. Look at Etsy for hand dyed yarns and roving (Wallflower Weavings or Wild Woven, for example), or check out larger suppliers such as World of Wool, Wool Warehouse and Love Knitting. Yarn Yarn is a great place to look for more exotic types of yarn and weaving materials - and they're ethical and eco-friendly as well.
Always shop with quality in mind and think about the finished ‘look/style’ of tapestry that you are aiming to create. Ask yourself these questions before you start filling your shopping cart : Are you wanting to produce ethical pieces? If so then this narrows down your choice of suppliers. Are you a fan of 100% wool products or wanting to mix synthetic fibres into your work? Are you after a sleek vs a more textured finish? - Anita from By Bella Designs
If you're getting more serious about your weaving, Fibre Hut is a great one-stop shop for all things weaving - including looms, tools and fibres. And if you're willing to shop abroad, Funem Studio, The Weaving Loom and Roving Textiles all have a wide range of supplies.
I hope that’s demystified weaving supplies a little and got you on your way to getting started. Next time we’ll point you in the direction of some great resources to teach you how to weave!