Just Some Thoughts

How Nice Does the Back Of a Weave Have To Be?

How nice does the back of a weave have to be?So how nice does the back of a weave have to be?  I have been asked this question a few times by people making wall hangings, so I thought it would be something interesting to talk about. When I first started out weaving I was trying really hard to make the back of my weave look really, really nice and clean. But as I continued weaving over the years I have thought about some things:

What is the purpose of the weave?

There is a big difference between weaving a wall hanging and weaving something like a scarf. When weaving a scarf, you’re making an item that will be worn and looked at from all sides. With a scarf, you would obviously want your thread ends super secure and as hidden as possible. But with a wall hanging, we gain some freedom with the patterns and textures that we create since they will be sitting on a wall all day.  You’re able to take more risks and make something that wouldn’t hold up to everyday handling.

How nice does the back of a weave have to be?Trying to make the back of your weave perfect can limit what you can create on the front of your weave

Some fibers, like wool roving are really hard to secure in a way that looks visually nice. There are some weaving techniques that also don’t look really pretty on the back. And what about when you are changing a lot of different colors?  Sometimes it makes more sense to just tie a knot in the back between threads. Which leads me to…

How nice does the back of a weave have to be?It takes longer to make the back look nice and can waste time and energy

Now I always recommend to do what you feel most comfortable with, and this is no exception. However, if you think about it, making the back of your weave look extremely nice does take a lot of time and energy. That is time and energy that you could be spending on your next weave. And I’m not saying you don’t have to secure your threads, because you definitely do, but securing them in a way that works but might not be the prettiest can save a lot of time.

How nice does the back of a weave have to be?Remember, this is the back we’re talking about

So those few weaves I spent so much time making look perfect in the back, guess what? No one ever looked at the back! I know it’s really obvious, but it gave me that ah-ha moment and was very freeing to know that no one cares about the back of the weave. If the weave is secure (won’t fall apart under reasonable movement) and it lays flat against the wall then it’s all good.

Since starting out, I have realized aiming for a extremely perfect back of my weaves was limiting what I could create with the front and it was eating up my time. And of course, no one was ever looking at the back!

Have you been struggling with this also? Do you strive to make the backs of your weaves very nice? Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts? I’d love to hear your opinions on this too and gain some more perspective.

Happy Weaving!

Kate

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Germaine
    August 25, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    Hi Kate, love reading your articles! Always very helpful and easy to understand. I am a relative newbie to weaving and love to read tips from other, more experienced weavers. I am somewhat of a perfectionist so when I was finishing off my first couple of wall hangings I tried to keep the back looking neat and tidy. I realized that no one is going to look at the back of a wall hanging, so as long as the yarn is secure and can’t come loose what does it matter. Keep up the great work!!!

    • Reply
      Kate
      August 26, 2016 at 2:39 pm

      Thanks for your kind words, I’m glad you’re finding my articles helpful! I agree, I think beginners have that added pressure to do everything perfect, so I’m happy to shed some light on the back. Have a great day 🙂

  • Reply
    Dréa
    August 25, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    I feel the same way! when I first started, I didn’t weave in my ends and had knots striping across the back of my weave. the only thing I cared about was weaving / experimenting more and more.

    now that I’m further along (my weaves end up in people’s homes and I teach workshops), I weave in my ends and sometimes have little knots. so it’s fairly tidy but def not anything near perfect.

    I’m glad you brought this topic up!

    • Reply
      Kate
      August 26, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      Yes, I agree, keep it tidy and secure and then move on 🙂

  • Reply
    Caroline
    August 26, 2016 at 3:48 am

    If you are hoping to sell an item, having a neat and tidy back does matter. Its not difficult, and does not take long on a small piece such as these. It does, though, tell any potential purchaser that you care about the standard of your work. It says that you don’t think doing a simple basic piece piece of weaving doesn’t matter. Its the difference between a hanging that looks like a primary school child did it, and one done by someone who cares and wants to learn a difficult craft.
    In most cases a blunt ended tapestry needle enables you to hide the ends inside the fabric, as you would with knitting and crochet. its trickier with tops or rovings, but a gradual taper off in the thickness you are using and winding the thinning end back on itself solves the problem.
    Just because you are making a very simple piece of art does not mean you can let standards slip, and a few minutes spent doing this is the difference between getting a sale or losing it. It tells the person who ends up owning it that you care about what you do. It also means you are not going to compare so badly against other weavers also doing this style of weaving. Its not so much fun if you have to be tidy, but do you really want your work to come off second best? If its important enough to take the time to do it, its important enough to do properly and if you are going to put your work out there it does not want to be second rate.

    • Reply
      Kate
      August 26, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      Hi Caroline, thanks for your thoughts. I agree it is important to have a secure and tidy back of a weave and I always instruct people to weave in the ends, which you’re correct isn’t hard to do. I just don’t want new weavers to not experiment with their weaves because the back won’t look perfect. When you look at the back of a pile weave, it isn’t too pretty, like a plain weave can look with the end threads all tucked in. Have a great day!

  • Reply
    Erin
    September 10, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    Hey Kate! Great article, and completely timely for me. I hung my first piece on my wall at home (so proud, not worried about the back) but I created my second piece for my sister, so I tried to make the back look a little nicer and a bit more secure. BUT- I realized as I was finishing the piece, I never learned how. Ha! I went to a beginning weavers workshop in February where we learned tabby, rya knots, and worked with a bit of roving, but we never really learned what we’re supposed to do with the pieces on the sides. Do you have any other articles that talk about how to hide your ends? I’m also curious about whether or not a shuttle is something I should be using. So far I have only used a weaving needle, and therefore I can only use small amounts of a particular color at a time so I end up having quite a lot of ends on the sides!

    Thank you in advance for this great blog. If you could point me in the direction of any other helpful articles, I would be so grateful!

    • Reply
      Kate
      September 12, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      Yep I have a lot of articles on finishing 😀

      At the bottom of this post I wrote about how I finish my thread from a after a soumak weave for both thin threads and roving threads http://www.theweavingloom.com/weaving-techniques-soumak-weave-notes-and-video/
      In this post I focus on just roving and show how I finish the plain weave and soumak (same finish as in the above link) http://www.theweavingloom.com/weaving-techniques-how-to-weave-roving/
      I don’t thin I shared how I finish my threads for loops (at least not that I can find), but for this I tuck the end threads under the warp string similar to roving. I do this because I found that trying to tuck the thread in the backs of the loops doesn’t hold well.

      I hope this helps! Let me know if you have more questions on this.

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