Marsha Smith shows you how to use different textures rather than tricky weaving techniques to create your own gorgeous handcrafted wall hanging.
Marsha Smith weaves some dreams
What you’ll need The quantities given here created a wall hanging measuring about 23cm wide x 80cm long, including tassels. The amount of materials you need may vary, depending on the size of the hanging you make and the weight of the yarn you use.
Old picture frame – a flat frame with the glass removed Pencil/ruler/hammer Approximately 50 tack nails 1 x 50g ball thin yarn, to use for loom base Variety of yarn textures and thickness, in similar tones (I used 3 x 50g balls white, 3 x 50g balls beige and 1 x 50g ball textured yarn) Approximately 24 wooden beads Tapestry needle 2m lace 2 sheets of felt (white and cream) 2m pompom ball fringe 50cm faux fur trim Piece of branch, driftwood or dowel
Steps Making your loom
On the top and bottom of the picture frame, use the ruler and pencil to measure and mark 1cm intervals, ensuring those along the top align with those on the bottom. Hammer in a nail at each mark, just far enough for it to be firmly embedded. The number of nails will depend on how wide you want the hanging to be. I used 23 nails top and bottom. To make the cords for your loom, take the thin yarn and make a large loop around the first nail, tying the yarn together away from the nail. Don’t tie a knot directly onto the nail as you won’t be able to remove it once finished. Now loop the yarn around the corresponding nail on the opposite side of the frame, then bring it back down to the next nail. Continue looping it around each nail, running it up and down the frame, until complete. Tie off onto the yarn, not around the nail. The cords should be slightly taut and not too saggy.
For this design you need 23 tassels. For each tassel, cut 7 x 80cm lengths from two or three different types of yarn. Holding the 7 strands together, fold them in half and feed the looped end over the first cord and under the second. Take the loose ends of the tassel and feed them through the loop, pull until you’ve created a knot (see pic A). Now gently pull the ends so the knot sits under the nail base and hangs down. Note: Every nail has two cords (pieces of yarn) feeding off it, therefore there is one tassel to every nail. Continue creating your fringe, one nail at a time, until you reach the end.
Add your beads
Carefully unhook one of the top cord loops from around the nail. Thread a bead onto this double strand (see pic B) and re-hook back onto the nail. Repeat. Note: Beads were only added at every second nail (see pic C). If you wish to add a second row of beads, this is the time to do it, as there is less risk of losing all your newly woven yarn later on. Simply push the second row of beads out of the way until you’re ready to incorporate them into your pattern.
Choose your first yarn and thread it onto the tapestry needle. Make sure you have a long enough piece to create the number of rows you want. Begin by tying the end of the yarn to the outside cord, just below the first row of beads. Weave the yarn over and under alternate cords, pulling it gently through until you have reached the end of your first row. Repeat the weaving process in the opposite direction just above the first row. Each time you start a new row, make sure you are weaving in the opposite formation, going under the cord when the previous row went over it, and vice versa. Be careful not to pull the yarn too tightly around the outside cords, as this will make the finished product bowed and uneven. Weave between the beads, taking the yarn behind each bead as you do so. After weaving a few rows, you’ll need to start squashing them up together – use your fingers or a fork for this. When you are ready to move onto the next yarn, you need to tie off your finished line. Hook the yarn around the back of your loom and weave it over and under a few of the cords. You may like to tie a knot, but it is not necessary. Now comes the fun part… developing your design! Think about what textures look good together and how thick you may like each band. Add in a couple of rows of lace. Try cutting a strip of faux fur and felt to make your pattern interesting and more textural. Add some pompom fringe as well. Always remember to weave in the opposite formation from the row before. The best thing about the weaving is there are no rules and the technique is simple. You may like to try other weaving techniques, such as the “soumak”, which ends up looking like a braid (there are tutorials online), but it’s not necessary for the final result. Try fluffing out some of your yarn or compacting the rows more loosely than others for varied effects.
Once the weaving reaches the top of the frame, you need to attach extra pieces of yarn to the cords that loop around each nail. This will stop your weaving from coming apart and make loops to thread your hanging wood through. Cut lengths of yarn about 15cm (one for each nail). Thread the yarn between the two cords of the nail and tie a firm knot. Make a loop and tie another knot close to the top woven edge. The remaining yarn should hang down the back. Now you can remove your final weaving from the nails. Finally, tuck any knots or loose strands away neatly on the reverse side. Now hang it and love it!