Tools Day: Magnets

I am trying a new thing–magnets. Little magnets hold a cartoon in place behind my small tapestry. The magnets need to be strong so the cartoon does not shift. Yet, I want to be able to adjust or to completely remove the cartoon easily.

Small tapestry woven from the back, line by line.
Small tapestry is woven from the back, line by line. Three strands of Fåro wool are blended for the weft.

I have noticed other tapestry weavers using small rare earth magnets for this purpose, so I decided to give it a try. “Steve, do we have any rare earth magnets on hand?,” I asked. Steve went out to the garage, and came back with these. Perfect! Finally, a use for the magnets he had salvaged from worn out electric toothbrushes over the years!

Magnets for holding a cartoon behind a small tapestry weaving.
Magnets, salvaged from worn-out electric toothbrushes, give an extremely tight grasp for holding a cartoon behind a small tapestry.
Magnets hold the cartoon behind the weaving. Old toothbrush magnets!
With magnets in place, it is easy to raise the cartoon to ink the warp at strategic points, and then to let the cartoon drop out of the way while weaving. The tight toothbrush magnets keep the cartoon from shifting out of place.
Bridge under construction... Small tapestry.
Bridge under construction…

May you know what to discard and what to keep.

Until next time,

11 thoughts on “Tools Day: Magnets

  1. As Karen’s husband, I would like to point out that it is very satisfying that my wife has thanked me for salvaging the magnets from worn out electric toothbrushes. As I have salvaged them over the years, I must have misunderstood her often-said comments. I guess she really must have shared my vision for repurposed toothbrush magnets after all.

  2. I’m enjoying the comments as much as your wonderful post (and gorgeous work in progress!). I believe that Steve is cut from the same cloth as my husband!!!

  3. Hi,
    I just came across your beautiful work and I’m wondering what kind of loom you use for your tapestry weaving? Or do you have any suggestions on any to try? I’d love to be able to attempt tapestry weaving and the loom you use looks quite nice.
    Thank you very much for inspiring me.

    1. Hi Anne,

      What a pleasant way to start my day! Thank you for the warm greeting.

      The loom in this post is one my husband made for me, since I wanted one small enough to use while traveling. The loom I use that is a little larger is the Freja Tapestry Frame, lap size, from Glimakra USA.

      If you type in “Freja” in the search bar at the top of this page you can see some views of my Freja loom. There are other popular tapestry looms, but I like the Freja because it is simple, has a great tensioning device, and it is wood. I’m partial to the look and feel of wood.

      Happy weaving,

  4. Hi Karen,
    Thank you so much for answering my question.

    I rather agree with you about the look and feel of wood looms and that is partially why I think I was drawn to your work. I will definitely look into the Freja looms and see what they are all about. I’m hoping that they might be good enough for a beginner like me and easy enough to transport. I really like what you have done with your weaving on them and also the one that your husband made for you. You are a very lucky gal !!!

    I’ve got my work cut out for me I think as I’m also trying to figure out what type of warping material would be good and the type of yarn to use for the weaving. I’m hoping to study your work more so as to get off on the right foot. I’m not too familiar with all the coned yarn I see that is out there but I’m sure I’ll find something. If only there were small tapestry kits to also learn from.

    Well, thank you again for being so kind and helping me out. I certainly enjoy your creations and envy you quite a bit. You have given me a lot of inspiration and I look forward to seeing more of your beautiful things.

    Take care,

    1. Anne, I learned beginning tapestry weaving from Joanne Hall. If you ever have a chance to take a class or workshop from her, I recommend it.

      I use 12/6 cotton seine twine for the warp. (This is commonly used as rug warp, especially for Swedish rag rugs.) I warp the frame at about 10 ends per inch.
      For the weft, I use three strands of Fåro wool. This is a fine wool in a wide range of beautiful colors. Three strands of wool yarn have the advantage of packing well, and of giving you possibilities for shading by combining colors. I purchase most of my yarn, including the 12/6 cotton and the Fåro wool, from Glimakra USA. Because of the cost, I started with only a few colors, and have added colors a few at a time. A skein of Fåro wool will last a very long time for these purposes. It’s like starting with a box of 8 Crayola crayons even though we would love to have the Ultimate Crayon Bucket with 200 crayons! 🙂

      Keep in touch. I’d love to hear about your progress!

  5. Karen,
    I’m not familiar with Joanne Hall but I will look her up and see what I can about her. I do know that so far I have learned quite a bit already from your blog.
    Thanks for sharing what type of warp and weft material you use. That is very helpful to me and I love your crayon reference. New crayons are always so much fun aren’t they? 🙂
    I’ll look at Glimakra site and see what they offer seeing as I’m interested in one of those Freja looms. I just might have to start a wishlist. Hopefully I’ll soon be able to get myself started and thank you again for helping me out today. You have been so very, very kind. 🙂

  6. Hello Karen,

    I am interested in the width of the rare earth magnets you used. I am weaving a 22” wide tapestry using a Shannock upright loom. As you mentioned, I want magnets that are strong enough to hold the cartoon to the weaving, but not so strong that I cannot move the cartoon if I need to…Your husband reclaimed some from electric toothbrushes, but I wondered how large or small they were. I used some bar magnets and they are TOO strong! Any advice you can give would be very much appreciated 🙂 Take care! Jenny

    1. Hi Jenny, I don’t have those magnets any more. I found other ways to hold my cartoon that I like better. For my small frame tapestry looms I use a slat the goes the full width of the loom and slip it under the cartoon under the warp ends and over the sides of the loom. For my countermarch floor loom I use a long warping slat suspended from the cradle with a string on each side that is attached to a rubber band. The rubber band keeps the slat snug behind the cartoon.

      I hope that gives you some ideas.

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