Hazards and Rewards of Weaving a Portrait

When you want a better photograph you snap another picture. When you want a better tapestry you take out what you’ve woven and weave it another way. I recently showed you my progress on the tapestry of my mother. (See Tapestry of the Heart.) As I viewed the tapestry in photographs I could see that the 6/1 tow linen that weaves between the rows of wool was too bright. The golden bleached linen is lovely on its own, and melts into the background on the sides of the portrait. But this bright linen draws undo attention to itself within the darker portions of the tapestry because of the stark contrast. The day after that post I undid everything back to the starting line.

Weaving a four-shaft tapestry portrait.
Take One, with golden bleached 6/1 tow linen weft threads interspersed.

Undoing a few weeks of tapestry weaving is not physically hard to do, but making the decision to undo it is hard, indeed. Since then, I have been weaving every day to get back to the point where I stopped everything. This time, I am using a different color tow linen that will make all the difference.

Wool butterflies for a tapestry portrait.
Take Two. Golden beige tow linen, as seen in the header rows, is interspersed in the weaving.
Tapestry portrait in progress.
I was able to save and reuse some of the wool butterflies from the first take.
Tapestry portrait of my mother.
Almost back to where I stopped. Besides changing the linen weft color, weaving a second time allowed me to make other improvements to the tapestry, as well.
Is that a look of approval?
Small sample of each butterfly is pinned to the picture beside my loom. I choose colors for each wool bundle in correlation to its adjacent colors, working out the colors a few steps ahead of my weaving. …Is that a look of approval?

Now, instead of golden bleached, the linen thread is a golden beige that disappears into the fabric, while holding everything together. Come to think of it, that is an apt picture of a mother’s influence.

May you know when to go back to the beginning.

Happy Weaving,

10 thoughts on “Hazards and Rewards of Weaving a Portrait

  1. Interesting that the tapestry isn’t solid heavier color wefts and that the thin linen wefts are part of the textured designs. I’ve always thought of tapestry as totally covering the warp so none of the warp shows.

    1. Hi Linda, I’m glad you brought that up. Most traditional tapestry does cover the warp completely. A few weavers have developed techniques for weaving large-scale tapestries that are not as compactly woven, which make the tapestries much lighter in weight and quicker to weave. Although mine is not a “large” tapestry, I enjoy the technique and the visual effects so much I wanted to used it for this piece. The technique I’m using is one taught by Joanne Hall.

      All the best,

  2. Having the experience of deciding to start over on a project, I can empathize with how difficult that decision was, Karen. The tapestry is evolving beautifully.

    1. Hi Annie, Whenever I have started over, I have never regretted the decision. But I always have serious hesitation before I take the plunge.

      Thank you,

  3. This looks so nice. And I really like the border stripes at the beginning, which is another thing that makes the composition.

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