Weaving Techniques

Weaving Techniques || Using Cartooning to Weave a Picture

Picture Weaving | The Weaving Loom

I’ve always wanted to try weaving a picture of something, but hadn’t gotten around to it until recently. I found it to be surprisingly easier then I thought it would be. The technique that I used was cartooning, which has been used for weaving pictures since Medieval Times (possibly even before that!). How cool is that?

So to cartoon, all you need to do is have an image the size of the area you’re going to weave. You can draw that image, like I did or you can use a printed image. I drew up a flower that I wanted to weave from a 17th century tapestry I had seen. For my cartooning, I taped the picture to a piece of cardboard and then used painter’s tape to stick the piece of cardboard to my frame loom.

Picture Weaving | The Weaving Loom

I then wove my top boarder in order to give my warp threads stability, then began weaving my flower image. For my flower I picked out three yarn colors to use in the pedals and three yarn colors to use for the leaves. Since my picture is pretty simple I just remembered where I wanted which color to go, but you could color in your image or mark your color choice in another way.

Picture Weaving | The Weaving Loom

I wove my colored areas using the plain weave and to avoid weaving in so many ends once I was finished, I just skipped to the next area with the yarn. So for example when I was weaving my light green and finished one leaf, I let the thread hang to the side then filled in the rest of the leaf colors. I then picked up the light green thread and ran it across the back of the warps to begin weaving the next light green area. This helped me not have as many ends to weave in.

Picture Weaving | The Weaving Loom

Another way to cartoon while weaving is to draw the image directly on your warp threads, but in the past I have found this tricky as my warp threads spin around as I weave. I also found that sometimes my marks would show a little in my finished weave, which I think most people wouldn’t notice, but it bothered me. Here is a neat article on tapestry making from The Metropolitan Museum of Art that talks in a little more detail of the history of tapestry making and how they used cartooning.

Picture Weaving | The Weaving Loom

Have you tried cartooning? And if not do you think you will? As always let me know if you have any questions, I wasn’t sure if there is more detail I should go into with this or if it’s pretty straightforward.

Want to learn more weaving techniques? here are my favorite for adding texture and interest:

If you’re new to weaving, check out my posts for beginners:

Happy Weaving!

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  • Lisa
    December 1, 2015 at 12:23 pm


    I too have fell hard for weaving but have just began. I live in the most beautiful part of the United States near the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone Park. I have many beautiful scenery photos around and I want to learn how to convert a photo to a weavable image.

    I love your videos and blog, it is incredibly helpful. Keep up the good work. I too am in the tech trades and weaving is incredibly cathartic to me. I just wish I would have started many years sooner.

    Can you direct me to, or help me with that process of converting an image to a weavable pattern.

    Thank you,

    • Kate
      December 2, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      Hi Lisa, I hand-drew my image and then used that as a pattern. You could also paint the image, if you’re so inclined. The bottom line is you want the image to be more generalized. There are also softwares that can take pictures and make them less detailed. For example if you had photoshop you could turn the picture into a pixelated image and then use that as a pattern, or even turn a picture into a sketched image. I’m sure there are other softwares out there that might do something similar to that too. I hope that helps.

  • Sara
    April 14, 2016 at 1:29 am

    Hi Kate,

    I was just wondering, when you start a new colour in the middle of a weave how do you secure the end of the yarn? Do you tie it to the warp thread? Sorry I’m new to this!



    • Kate
      April 14, 2016 at 2:01 pm

      Hi Sara, when I start a new color, I just leave 2-3 inches of yarn tail behind the weave and then weave the shape I want. When I am done I will pull the thread through the back of my weave and then cut it with another 2-3 inches of yarn tail. I later “weave” these end tails into the back of my weave. I wrote about it a little bit here http://www.theweavingloom.com/how-to-finish-a-weave/

      It has been a while since I wrote about this, so I might put together another post on it with more details. I hope this helps and thank you for the question 🙂