Saturday, March 20, 2010

Next step after warping--half-hitch at beginning

Here's another set of photos of the preparation steps I show in classes.  These are pretty much the same as I use for most of my tapestries, especially on smaller frame looms.  Larger tapestries warped on the larger, vertical looms have different warping methods than the one described in the last post.  I will write about those sooner or later in this blog.  However, the half-hitch beginning steps shown below are used on my larger tapestries, as well.

These photos show the half-hitch I use at the bottom to secure the weft of the tapestry.  The same method is used at the top of the tapestry when it's completed.  This is the being shown with a larger thread than I actually use for this so that it will be easier to see in the photo.  This beginning and ending method is one I learned from Susan Maffei and Archie Brennan in a workshop.  I use this technique to secure the start of a tapestry whether I'm going to use a hem and turn it back; turn the warp ends back and stitch them down to the back of the tapestry; or use the half-Damascus warp finishing described by Peter Collingwood in The Techniques of Rug Weaving, pages 485-486--(a method similar to what Kathe Todd-Hooker calls it braiding in her book Tapestry 101, pages 85-86).  However, I don't use this method if I'm going to stitch in every-other warp thread into the channel of its partner, then clip the extending one off.  Although I don't use that finishing method often many folks do--to be able to get that warp up into the space beside the adjacent warp the weft needs to have some give to allow for that passage... the half-hitches won't allow for that.  Collingwood calls that method of warp treatment "Swedish Tapestry Edge" and shows a clear diagram for it on page 497 in the The Techniques of Rug Weaving; an online digital version of the Peter Collingwood book is at the On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving and Related Topics.
The link here  takes you to the "C" listing where you'll scroll down the page to find Collingwood, The Techniques of Rug Weaving.  The pages showing finishing techniques are in the Part 4 PDF.

As with the warping steps shown in previous photos, please bear in mind that many people do things differently--this is just my way, learned and adapted from many others, especially from Archie Brennan and Susan Maffei.

Lay the thread the half-hitches will be made with behind the first warp of the tapestry (note: I'm leaving out the first warp on the loom... that is a visual guide to use as reference for width--it is not incorporated into the tapestry and does not get included in this end finishing.  It is included in the twining and the 1/2" of header.)

Thread crosses over the warp, going from right to left, and the long end is pulled through below it, passing from back to front, between first warp and second warp.  Pull this down snugly (hold on to the tail at the left because it will slip out since nothing is holding it until the hitches begin.)
This is done twice around the warp before moving to the next warp.

The hitching thread moves to the second warp that will be used in the weaving (remember, the very first warp end is not included in these hitches), then...

Both hitches are done, as with the first warp... here the second one is about to be pulled down snugly.

End at the opposite side, making sure to leave out the edge warp that will serve as the visual guide on this side.  

The tails of the hitching thread can be woven into the first shed to be used and tucked away to the back.  At the top of the tapestry, the same half-hitches will be used and the tails of that thread can be sewn back into the body of the tapestry for a 1/2" or so to hide it.

Finally, here's a diagram of the stages of the process... please notice that each step shown represents the same warp thread, not three separate ones.


  1. I love this technique and I'm definitely going to try it--I like the idea of the weft being held in place so that it can't slip along the warp after being removed from the loom. Great!

  2. Love this and can’t wait to try. Sort of inverted soumak. But really want to know more about that last warp thread included in twining and warp header, but not the tapestry. At the end are those both removed? I tend to fold under and have been doing on the soumak line. Do you fold on half hitches? Thanks How lucky to learn from you in your blog. Thank you Tommye.

  3. Thanks, Cate! Yes, both of the side threads that are included in the half-hitch that secures the weft are removed at the end. They are included in the beginning stages of header and twining (if you use the twining) since you want them to be the same distance apart as all the other threads. They will then serve as a visual guide all along the edge (sort of like dropping a plumb line) as you weave.

    At the horizontal, yes, you certainly can use a soumak line as the fold indicator for turnback or hem at top and bottom. That's what I usually use if making a turnback for finishing.