An Introduction to Tapestry Weaving: Vocabulary and Best Practices

25 August 2021
By Janna Maria Vallee
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Tapestry weaving is the slow, methodical and intimate art of weaving pictures. The weaver’s woven pictures can be representational or abstract, with varying degrees of detail depending on their setup.

My foray into tapestry weaving began in 2008 when I first entered Capilano University’s Textile Art diploma program (sadly, no longer offered). It was the first kind of weaving that was introduced to students, most likely because it is the perfect hands-on way to conceptualize the idea of, and the relationship between, warp and weft.

All kinds of weaving require these two sets of yarns: Warp is under tension and dresses the loom, and weft travels over and under a specific number of warp yarns depending on the pattern you’re following. There are hundreds of different ways to weave with warp and weft, but the simplest is called “plain weave,” or “tabby.” Tabby involves the weft going over one warp and then under the next, continuing this sequence until it is time to turn around and layer another line (or “pick”) of weft on top, going over and under the opposite warps as the last pick. Within the realm of tabby there are endless approaches. One such method is tapestry weaving.

image description: the author of the article, holding a very small tapestry weaving project

The author with a tiny tapestry. Stay tuned for a series of tutorials from her on how to make a tiny tapestry of your own.

All images used courtesy of Janna Maria Vallee.

About Janna Maria Vallee

Janna Maria Vallee is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily within the media of botanical dyeing and tapestry weaving. In 2008 Janna attended Capilano University’s Textile Art diploma program and in 2013 graduated with distinction with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Concordia University’s Fibres and Material Practices program (Montreal, Quebec.)In 2016 Janna returned with her family to the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia and in 2018, as her son entered kindergarten, launched Everlea Yarn, a specialty shop offering naturally dyed yarns for knitting and weaving, tapestry weaving supplies and knitting kits.

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