How do I Learn to Weave?

J. L. Thompson

Weaving is one of the oldest forms of art, dating back thousands of years. In concept, weaving is quite simple: horizontal and vertical threads are interlaced to create a stable fabric. This technique can be applied to a wide range of materials that can be used for many purposes. To learn how to weave, you could learn by trial and error, study with an expert, follow instructions from a book, or attend weaving classes in the community.

The basic principle of weaving is creating a pattern that interlocks threads that are perpendicular to one another.
The basic principle of weaving is creating a pattern that interlocks threads that are perpendicular to one another.

Generally, weaving is relatively easy to learn and requires simple, easy-to-find materials. Yarn, string, paper, and wire can all be woven. Many people find that the best way to learn to weave is by practice. A simple, handmade weaving loom can be constructed to learn to weave quickly and easily.

Yarn can be woven.
Yarn can be woven.

To make a handmade loom, you could begin with a box with an open top. Shoeboxes typically work well as small hand-looms. Using a ruler and pencil, carefully mark intervals of about .25 inches (about 0.6 cm) around the top edge of the box. Cut notches along the top edge of the box where you placed the marks; the notches should be about .25 inches (about 0.6 cm) deep. This box is now a loom.

Take another piece of cardboard slightly longer than the width of the loom and about 2 inches (about 5.08 cm) wide. Cut deep V shapes in either of the smaller ends. This item is now the shuttle.

The next step is to choose the fibers you want to weave. Yarn and string typically are good choices for beginners. Two different pieces of yarn will be needed to create the weave. It usually is a good idea to use two contrasting colors while learning.

It is now time to load the loom. Take one of the lengths of yarn and secure one end near a top corner of the box with tape. Run the yarn around the box with each pass landing in the next row of teeth; the strands should be taut when you are finished. This web is called the warp. Take the other length of yarn and wind it around the length of the shuttle, from one V to the other. This yarn is called the weft or woof, and forms the cross threads in the fabric.

One end of the weft is then secured to the end on the leftmost warp thread. Push one end of the shuttle over one thread and then under the next; alternate in this manner until you reach the other end of the box. Pull the thread gently taut. Now repeat the process from the other side; where you previously went over a thread you will now go under it and vice versa.

Repeat this process until your piece has reached the desired length. On each pass, reverse which strands of the warp you push the shuttle under and which you push it over. Carefully tie off all the ends so your piece does not unravel.

Once you have experimented a little with the box loom, you likely will have a general understanding of the process of weaving. There are, however, other ways to learn to weave. One way is to take classes at an adult learning center. Classes are often scheduled in the evenings to make attendance easier.

Other than practicing on a handmade loom or enrolling in weaving classes you could learn to weave with the help of guidebooks. Numerous books are available that teach not just basic weaving but also advanced techniques. Works on the history of weaving and the technology behind it can also furnish you with useful practical understanding and ideas for future creative projects.

Looms can be used to make rugs, tapestries, curtains and blankets.
Looms can be used to make rugs, tapestries, curtains and blankets.

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Discussion Comments


@ocelot60- Anyone who is lucky enough to have a mother, aunt, or grandparent who knows how to weave will have an easy time learning this useful talent.

My grandmother taught me how to weave, and it seemed like I learned very easily as I watched her make clothing and quilts step by step. Learning all about weaving from my grandmother also gave us valuable time together, sharing something that we both loved to do.


This is a very interesting article that provides some basic steps for learning to weave. Anyone who is learning to weave for the first time could take the tips in this article and use them along with the instruction of someone who is an expert weaver. Relatives are great sources for weaving instruction, because many families have passed down the art and skill of weaving for generations.

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