Beginning weaving workshop opinions?

I’m the workshop planner for our guild this year and want to schedule a workshop for rank beginners, people who’ve never woven or touched a loom before. I’d like to hear some thoughts on beginning weaving workshops.  Keep in mind that the workshop has to fit in a day and a half (about 10 hours total time).

If you took a beginning weaving class, how was it taught? Was it on a rigid heddle loom or multi shaft loom? Did you warp it or was the loom already warped? Do you wish the class had been taught differently? If so,what would be different?

If you teach classes, do you start the student with a pre-warped loom, or do you teach them how to warp from the first step? Which do you find is more successful, or keeps people interested in weaving without them getting discouraged?

Any other thoughts or opinions you’d like to add are welcome.



8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa
    Jan 18, 2012 @ 11:56:57

    Great idea to send a call out to the weaving world for personal experiences. I will give you mine . . .

    I don’t think 10 hours will be sufficient to effectively teach warping and weaving if each student must wind a warp, dress a loom and work on weaving technique (imho and assuming more than 3 or 4 participants).

    I do think that you could either have one instructor taking each student aside to do a little of each step of the winding/dressing process while another instructor worked with the students on pre-dressed looms to cover beat, selvedges, treadling, simple structures, etc.

    If you have only one instructor, he/she could go back and forth from the warping to the weaving covering an issue at a time. I do think it is very important that each student have a chance to do a part of each step hands on – not just observing.

    As far as rigid heddle vs. floor – I would say that really depends on the participants. Some beginners only want rigid heddle because it is the only loom they can afford or have room for. Many of my students (youth not adult) only want floor loom weaving because they love to treadle, and they get much better results in a shorter time (on pre-warped looms.)

    Good luck and I look forward to hearing from other readers!


  2. Sandy
    Jan 18, 2012 @ 13:44:31

    In my beginning weaving class we started with pre-wound warps but dressed the looms ourselves. The warps were scarf warps with 3/2 cotton at 12 epi, so there weren’t a lot of ends to thread, and most of us were done fairly quickly. Dressing the loom allows the student to get intimate with the treads and understand the loom itself in ways that aren’t going to happen if they are presented with a pre-dressed loom.

    I wouldn’t start a beginner class with winding the warp — not only would it take a lot of time, but winding a warp is a bit tedious as your introduction to weaving.


  3. Cally
    Jan 18, 2012 @ 14:07:17

    My first experience of weaving was at a “taster day” which was extremely well organised to get a lot out of about 6 hours contact time. There was one table loom pre-warped for each participant – that is, it was beamed, threaded and sleyed, but not tied on at the front. Then there was also a warping board and an unwarped loom. After a brief introduction to the equipment, we took it in turns to wind a bit of the warp for the unwarped loom, took it in turns to help beam the warp, took it in turns to thread – you get the picture! And when it wasn’t our turn, we worked on our “own” loom: tensioning the warp as we tied on, spreading the warp and then – wahay! – weaving. We all had the same threading (some kind of mix of straight draw and point draw I think) and a set of different lift plans to try. At the end of the day I bought my first loom, secondhand, and brought it home with me.


  4. Beth
    Jan 18, 2012 @ 14:19:17

    I don’t know anything about weaving and the lingo is even is intimidating to me. Will your students know anything at all? Is it better to learn a few definitions from a short talk or is it better to jump right in and define as you go along?


    • Restless Knitter
      Jan 18, 2012 @ 14:30:36

      I’m going by the assumption that they won’t know anything. Our guild has a yearly weaving and fiber festival that brings in knitters, crocheters, spinners, and weavers. The non-weavers may want to learn but don’t know where to start, which is what I’d like to have a workshop on. I know quite a few people start with a rigid heddle loom so thought that would be a good intro to weaving without too much cost, and rigid heddles don’t take up as much space.



  5. basicallybenita
    Jan 19, 2012 @ 08:45:09

    I teach beginning weaving classes, and I start a new weaver who knows nothing about a loom with a pre-warped loom (usually 3/2 cotton and about 10 inches wide). I take them through all of the parts of the loom demonstrating how it works and what it is called. Then I show them how to weave, discussing selvedges, treadling sequences, pattern reading, and weaving with more than one shuttle as they work their way through a set of simple structures like tabby, twill, basket weave, etc. and with a variety of yarns. My workshops last three days or about 24 hours, and they get a sampler and a scarf out of it. I can see yours being Beginning Weaving Part I and Part II. The second part showing them how to design a simple pattern, calculating yardages needed for warp and weft, then measuring and warping the loom and weaving it off.

    I have to admit, teaching beginning students is my favorite class to teach. I love it when that “light bulb” moment hits and they are all weaving at the same time. The clacking of the looms and the hum of concentration is music to my ears. And when they unroll their scarves, the awe on their faces is priceless.


  6. Elaine fw
    Jan 19, 2012 @ 14:55:50

    Hi Jill,
    Oh good, more new weavers! I recommend that you try to get two full days if possible. I do this in about 14 hours in a studio I know well, on 4-shaft floor looms. A team teacher with the same warping style is a bonus. I suggest not mixing styles in such a short class. Limit the choices. Have everything (shuttles, lease sticks, yarn) ready and all counted out. I prefer for weavers to be able to measure their own warps, but sometimes that is not possible. They need to dress the loom as part of the weaving process. The only thing I am willing to cut out is the wet finishing.
    New weavers need information (project planning, drafting) and also practice time. Allow time for them to weave without having to listen to instruction. (Bring music to play.)
    Although rigid heddle is easier to set up, the weaving usually takes longer. After getting them started, we send the weavers home with the looms, and finish up a week or so later.
    Do you have equipment? Will you be doing the teaching?
    Good luck,
    Elaine from weaving


  7. Charlene
    Jan 30, 2012 @ 02:51:01

    My learn to weave class was at a regional conference and was 3 or 3.5 days. We wound a mulit color warp designed by instructor – fibonacci stripes (5/2 cotton – scarf). We then dressed the looms (provided by a local retailer). and wove a tabby scarf. Before real weaving we picked a novelty yarn from instructor and inserted it to make the scarf more interesting – and to learn how to fix a broken warp thread). There must have been 10 of us and everyone got thru the whole process.

    I thought it was brilliant to have a finished thing with so many parts going on – we also had the chance to sample after the scarf with some twill treadlings.

    We all used 4 shaft looms.

    Good luck with converting new weavers.


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