Technique Tuesdays: Woven Wall Hanging with Rachel Denbow

Summertime is just around the corner – and the start of a new season is always a great time to spruce up your home with a new piece of décor! In this project tutorial from our March/April 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, Rachel Denbow shows you how to create a woven wall hanging that is fun and one-of-a-kind. With weaving and home décor both hot topics in mixed media right now, this wall hanging is a perfect way to dabble in both of those worlds at the same time. Rachel made her beautiful wall hanging using a few nontraditional items, such as dyed feathers and dried Billy Ball flowers, as well as wool and acrylic yarns and a cotton warp. Grab a simple frame loom and some mixed-media items to get busy creating your own.

Rachel Denbow’s woven wall hanging mixes color and texture.

Mixed-Media Wall Hanging by Rachel Denbow

Materials:

  • Yarn
    • Cotton, 22 yards (I used ecru cotton yarn.)
    • Wool, worsted weight, 120 yards for each of 2 colors (I used light pink and mustard.)
    • Wool/acrylic blend, worsted weight, 120 yards (I used peach.)
  • Frame loom, 13″ x 18″ (Available at smileandwave.bigcartel.com.)
  • Scissors
  • Cardstock, 2″ x 13″
  • Needle: 6″ long weaving or 3″ long tapestry
  • Weaving comb or kitchen fork
  • Weaving sword, 13″, or ruler
  • Feather trim, 1 yard (I used peach feather trim.)
  • Dried Craspedia (also known as Billy Balls)
  • Wooden dowel or similar, 12″
  • Optional:
    • Handsaw, for trimming
    • Wooden dowel

NOTE: When gathering your supplies, consider how you could incorporate other items in your weaving. If you love natural supplies, add a few wooden beads or short pieces of copper tubing onto each warp row as you warp your loom. Weave jewelry wire or strips of natural cotton fabric through your warp rows to add contrast. Experiment with stitching beads, shells, or cut pieces of acrylic and wood onto a section of plain weave as embellishments.

How to Make It:

1. Tie a double-knotted loop with the cotton yarn and place it over the 8th peg (from the left) on the bottom of the loom. Wrap it up and over the 9th peg (from the left) on the top of the loom and back down and under the 10th peg on the bottom of your loom, the 11th peg on the top, etc. Continue wrapping the warp until you end with another looped double-knot on the 28th peg (from the left) on the bottom of the loom. Each vertical line on your loom is called a warp row. You should have 20 of these. (FIGURE 1) Trim the tails off the double-knot loops.

NOTE: There should be enough tension so that you can press down about 1″ or so on each warp, but not so loose that the yarn can easily pull off the pegs.

2. Starting from the left, weave the cardstock under the first warp row, over the second warp row, under the third, and so on, until you have it woven all the way across.  (FIGURE 1) This acts as a placeholder, so there is room to tie off the bottom warp rows when you take the wall hanging off of the loom.

FIGURE 1

3. Thread the 6″ weaving needle or tapestry needle with about 5′ of cotton yarn. The rows you weave with this yarn are the weft rows.

4. Starting from either side of the loom, weave the yarn opposite of how you wove the placeholder. Make sure you leave an 8″–12″ tail of yarn from the eye of the needle, so that it doesn’t pull out of the needle while you’re weaving. Since my placeholder was woven over the outer warp row on the right side (where I started), I wove under the outer warp, over the second, under the third, etc., leaving a 4″ tail where I started. Create an arch with the yarn as you pull it through. With the comb, bat the weft row down in the center of the arch, so that it’s flush with the placeholder, and then bat it down every 2″ or so to create little waves.

5. Continue to bat the entire weft row down so that it’s flush with the placeholder. This is called plain weave. Weave 6 weft rows and then wrap the yarn around the outer warp row, like you’re starting the 7th weft row, and tuck in the tail between the 2nd and 3rd warp rows to hide it. The plain weave will serve as the foundation of this wall hanging. (FIGURE 2)

FIGURE 2

6. Weave the weaving sword through the warp rows and stand the sword upright to separate the warp rows. This is called a shed. Cut the feather trim so that it’s about 1/2″ wider than the width of the warp, and slide the trim through the shed. Flatten the weaving sword, move it up to the top of the loom, and then pull the feathers up between the warp rows. (FIGURE 3) Slide the entire piece down on the warp so that the satin trim is resting on top of the plain weave from the last step.

TIP: For a fuller effect, repeat the same process: Bring the weaving sword back down, stand it up to create a shed, add in another length of feathers, and slide the feathers down again.

FIGURE 3

7. Thread a needle with about 6′ of yarn in your first color, having the 2 ends meet. I used light pink yarn. This will give you 2 strands of yarn to weave through at the same time. Create a plain weave just over the front of the satin on the feathers to lock the feathers in place. (FIGURE 4) Weave 4 weft rows.

FIGURE 4

8. Cut seven 10′ strands of the same yarn and gather them in a bundle. Tuck 1 end of the bundle down between the first and second warp rows on the right side of the loom, and wrap the bundle to the right so that it wraps around the outer warp row and comes back up between the first and second warp rows. Next, wrap the bundle to the left, so that it wraps over and around the second warp row, and then wrap over and around the third warp row. Continue loosely wrapping over the top of each warp row until you get to the opposite side of the loom. (FIGURE 5) This is called soumak weaving. Continue wrapping the strands around each warp row and then gently press the entire row down so that it is flush with the weft row below it. Using a single strand of the same color yarn, add 2 rows of plain weave, and bat down tightly to lock in the soumak.

FIGURE 5

9. Weave in 2 more rows of loosely woven soumak, adding 2 rows of plain weave in between each row. Change yarn color, and add 5 rows of soumak with 2 rows of plain weave in between each row of soumak. I switched to peach. (FIGURE 6) If you run out of yarn halfway through a weft row, end with 3″ of yarn on the back side of the loom, tucked between 2 warp rows. Cut another length and start weaving from the back side of the loom, continuing where you left off with the last strand. Make sure you leave a 3″ length at your starting place so the yarn doesn’t pull out. There is no need to tie a knot, as the next weft row will lock these yarns in place.

FIGURE 6

10. Add in 12 rows of loose plain weave, using a third color of yarn. I used mustard. Tuck the Billy Balls in from opposite sides and weave the stems through the warp. (FIGURE 7)

FIGURE 7

11. Add 12 more rows of loose plain weave. Then, gently pull the warp rows off the top of the loom, 2 at a time. Tie the 2 attached warp rows gently into an overhand knot, so that the knot is flush with the last row of plain weave. (FIGURE 8) Cut the loose ends at the loops, where the 2 warp rows met at the top of the loom. Using the embroidery needle, stitch each loose end down the back side of the woven piece by stitching down through 4 weft rows. This will tuck in the loose ends without disturbing the pattern on the front of your weaving.

FIGURE 8

12. Stitch another 4′ length of cotton yarn under each of the knots at the top and loop them around the dowel. (SEE OPENING IMAGE.) You can clean up the back side of the wall hanging by tying pairs of loose ends in gentle knots and trimming the ends.

13. Add a cotton yarn hanger and you’re ready to display your mixed-media work of art.

There you have it – your mixed-media woven wall hanging is complete! Be sure to also check out Cloth Paper Scissors editorial director Jeannine Stein’s Studio Saturdays: Mixed-Media Weaving post to see her take on this fun project. We also invited you, our readers, to create your own mixed-media weaving projects for a special challenge – check out the finalists here!


Rachel Denbow – author of the book DIY WOVEN ART: INSPIRATION AND INSTRUCTION FOR HANDMADE WALL HANGINGS, RUGS, PILLOWS AND MORE! – has been a creative skills teacher for more than 10 years. She has authored more than a dozen e-courses, contributes DIY projects for the blog A Beautiful Mess, and supplies weavers with looms, tools, and project kits through her shop. To learn more about Rachel, visit smileandwave.bigcartel.com.


Ready for more? Find this mixed-media woven wall hanging project and more in the March/April 2017 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. Print and digital copies are available to purchase in our online shop.

March/April 2017

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