There's a reason why scarves are a fave first-time weaving project . Making a long, narrow cloth rectangle seems pretty doable. Plus, the end result is something gorgeous you can wear yourself or give away as a gift. What's not to like?
To make things even easier on yourself, we've pulled together our top tips for weaving your first scarf.
1. Keep it Simple
It's tempting to go all out and tackle a complex weave structure. Take it from us, that's not the easiest place to start. (Unless of course you streamline other parts, like avoiding very fine yarn.)
Instead, weave a straight draw — using one thread per shaft threaded in consecutive order — on a four- or eight-shaft loom. This simple threading lets you weave all sorts of different patterns or twills. Rigid heddle looms are also a great place to start.
2. Choose Yarn with Care
If your yarn isn't right, you'll have a trickier time working it on the loom. Do yourself a favor, and invest in yarns that are specially designed for weaving. You can use some knitting yarns, but make sure they've been recommended by other weavers. Be wary of space-dyed yarns. They look wonderful in the skein but need special handling to weave well.
To pick the color, choose two different shades of the same hue. Then use the darker one in the warp and the lighter in the weft. Your scarf will be gorgeous!
3. Buy Enough Yarn
Figure out the formula before you buy. A good length for a scarf warp is three yards. That gives you enough so you can weave a tiny practice scarf and have fringes at the end of the real one.
How many three-yard ends you need will depend on the right sett for your yarn and how wide you want your scarf to be. A rough-and-ready formula for the total length of warp yarn needed is scarf width x 1.1 x sett x warp length.
You'll need slightly less weft (the horizontal threads) than warp (the vertical threads). That's because you don't need to provide for the fringes and waste yarn in the weft. Plus, a scarf tends to drape better if it has slightly more ends per inch than picks per inch. It is also very easy to improvise in the weft. If you don't have quite enough yarn, just add a bold contrasting stripe at one end of the scarf.
4. Take it Slow
You're excited for the finished scarf — we get it! But remember to slow down and enjoy the process. Weaving can be extremely meditative and is a good way to practice mindfulness. Focus on each step and stay in the moment.
5. Keep Track of Your Progress
No, you don't really need to keep track of how much you have woven when you're tackling a simple scarf. But it's useful to learn how to do this now.
One trick for doing this is paper tape. Cut the tape to the length you plan to weave and mark the measurements in one-inch measurements (or whatever ones make sense for your scarf). Then pin the tape to the surface of the cloth, moving the pins up as you move the warp so that the tape doesn’t get wound onto the cloth beam.
Measuring your weaving while it's still on the loom is also a great way to compare the dimensions of the unfinished piece with a finished one. Keep notes for each project and you'll gradually learn the way fiber and weave structure interact.
6. Don’t Forget the Finish
When you cut your scarf from the loom twist the ends of the warp into a neat fringe . You'll also need to wet-finish your scarf (the process of letting it soak in water and then air dry) so your stiff fabric turns into a soft, cozy wearable scarf.
7. It’s Your First Scarf, Not Your Last
It won’t be perfect. But that’s okay! Each new project will teach you something new, and before you know it, you'll be creating all sorts of clothing in all sorts of threads, including silk. Weaving goals for sure!