Saturday, February 28, 2015

Using weft tension to make those warps behave...

If you asked me what the number one problem students have with tapestry weaving is, I would have to say weft tension. Warp tension is often fingered as the bad guy in tapestry weaving. We mostly want a very even bed of warps to weave our weft into. Most of us like the warp tension to also be tight. But an even enough warp tension isn't that hard to achieve. It is getting the appropriate amount of weft into that nice even warp that is the hard thing.

It is harder when you're new to tapestry weaving. But believe me, it is a gremlin that will always follow you. When you have more experience weaving, you just don't notice the gremlin any more. Experience means you adjust for changing conditions constantly without thinking about it.

I wrote a blog post about this with some photo examples last year. You can see that post here:
Weft tension: how to control the amount of weft used in tapestry weaving

Remember this example? The weaver called it her latest catastrophe.
I am happy to report that though this looks bad, it is one corner of a large piece and she fixed it. The finished piece is lovely and proves that you can recover from something like this.

Here is a video about weft tension. I made it for some students in my online classes, but thought the blog readership might also like to see it. As always, you can see the video in larger format on my YouTube channel (just click the YouTube icon in the bottom right corner of the video).

I got a little much-needed help with photographing a new sample for the next online class this week.


  1. You do need little help now and then and when you get get it from someone dressed in purple, all the better. I do agree the weft tension is subtle - there are a couple different kinds really - the turn, then the middle....lots of muscle memory to develop. Off to look at the video - Thanks Rebecca!

  2. Trish at Tangled ThreadsFebruary 28, 2015 at 10:16 PM

    As the person whose work is in the photo, I would like to say that after Rebecca's three part course, I no longer display this error in my work! And that piece was the Latest and Last Catastrophe. I agree with Ruth that there is still a tendency for me to get too much warp in the middle when there are a lot of butterflies. But putting too little in has no longer been a problem. Thanks, Rebecca! And, BTW, great helpers!

    1. Since Trish has come out of the weft tension closet here, I should say that this example was a very long time ago and she has woven a whole set of amazing tapestries since then--none of them with this problem. :-) Thanks for being such a good sport Trish. I see a lot of examples of this problem, but this photo is the best one I have. So really, you're still the best!

  3. Which beater are you using, it seems very efficient? Thanks

    1. Looks like in this video I'm using a beater made by Threads Thru Time (Thomas Creations). They have a store on Etsy. If they don't have beaters listed now, they'll have more. The other beater I really like is made by Magpie Woodworks.


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