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How to Weave a Holiday Table Runner

Christopher Granger weaves a holiday table runner.

Christopher Granger always had a passion for the visual arts but struggled to find his medium. After watching a papermaking demonstration a few years back, he was inspired to create crafts made of fiber. Unfortunately, a plumber had to be brought in for five hours to unclog the kitchen sink after his first batch of paper creations. Not one to be discouraged easily, he soon moved on to dying and weaving fibers of all kinds, as he'll show us with his holiday table runner embellished with gel bleach stamp work and fabric paints.


3/2 Perle cotton, 1,000 yards (less than 1 pound) natural or bleached for dying*
ball or skein of metallic yarn (Erdal, Glowette in Bronze)
rigid heddle, 2-4-shaft floor/table or shuttle loom
Procion MX fiber reactive dye:
- Pro 108 (Sun Yellow)
- Pro 308 (Fuchsia)
- Pro 406 (intense blue)
soda ash (sodium carbonate or washing soda)
3, 1-gallon zip top bags
mixing container for dye
measuring spoons (not used for food)
gel bleach
small disposable foam brush
two buckets
acrylic paints
rubber gloves
dust mask
iron and ironing board
Retayne - optional
*Guest recommends Halcyon green 181, 136 and gold 112 yarn in 3/2 Pearl cotton if purchasing commercially dyed yarns.


Hand Dying Yarn
Note: Omit these steps if using commercially dyed yarn.

1. Using a swift set at a one-yard circumference, wind off 400 yards of natural or bleached 3/2-perle cotton (figure A). Alternately, set two chairs back to back so that it's one yard around the chairs and loop 400 winds around the chairs.

2. Tie the two ends together and tie several choke ties around the skein to keep it from tangling. Choke ties are simply strands of yarn tied around the skein to keep it together. When finished you should have a circle of yarn (skein) tied about every 12 to 14 inches.

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for a second 400 yard skein of yarn from the 3/2 perle cotton and for a third skein of 100 yards of 3/2 cotton.

4. Prepare a soak for the yarns using one gallon of warm water and 3/4 cup sodium carbonate. Note: Safety measures should be followed per manufacturer's instructions.

5. Wet all yarns in tepid tap water and then place in the alkali soak (the sodium carbonate bath).

6. Gently squeeze the skeins to work the alkali solution through the yarns and soak for 30 to 60 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, mix dye solutions. Use approximately three tsp. of total dye for each of green skeins. For the first green solution:

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons each of yellow and blue
For the second green solution:
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons of blue
  • 1/4 teaspoon. fuschia
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of yellow

8. To mix dyes, add them in a container (not a container used for food) and slowly add water, mixing until a thick paste forms, just a few drops at a time. Use room temperature water that feels just slightly warm. Once the paste is smooth, slowly add water to create about two cups of dye solution continuing to mix. Note: DO NOT add dye to water as it will clump up and be very difficult, if not impossible, to dissolve and mix thoroughly.

9. Place one skein of the 3/2 cotton into a gallon zip closure bag and add one cup of slightly warm water–about 95 degrees F. Now add the two cups of the first green dye solution.

10. Squeeze the bag to eliminate as much air as possible and then gently massage the bag to work the dye all through the yarns (figure B).

11. Repeat for the second green 3/2 skein of yarn.

12. Massage both bags for about 20 minutes to work the yarn through. Then massage every hour or so. Let set overnight in an area that is at least 75 degrees F so that the chemical reaction to dye the yarn will occur.

13. Remove yarn from the bags and rinse until the water runs clear. Rinse in hot water for the first rinse, then rinse in tepid water for remaining rinses. Tip: For color fastness and easier rinsing add Retayne per product instructions.

14. Note: DO NOT ring yarn, gently roll the skein in a towel to remove excess water and lay flat or hang to dry (figure C).

15. Repeat for the gold yarn, using the following mix: One teaspoon of yellow and a very small amount of fuchsia. Note: A very small amount of red is required. Only use a 1/8-teaspoon of fuchsia and fill it only 1/4 full. Allow the gold/yellow solution to soak for 4 to 6 hours before rinsing.

16. Gently untie the choke ties and find where the ends are tied together. Wind yarn into balls with a swift, the back of chairs or a friends hands. Tip: A ball-winder is a real help here because it creates center pull balls.


1. Wind a warp three yards long of 119 ends from the one of the greens with a cross at the beginning. It doesn't matter which green is used for the warp. Refer to the instructions for warping that came with your loom (figure D).

2. Take this warp to the loom and thread one end per dent (or slot/hole in rigid heddle loom) in a 10-dent reed for 15 dents. Leave 11 dents open and continue sleying (putting yarn ends through reed) for 67 ends. Leave 11 ends open and then sley remaining 15 ends. Note:

  • Dent is the weaving term for the slots in the reed.
  • Sley is the term used for putting a yarn in the dent.
Note: Rigid heddle weavers will alternate between using a slot and a hole when threading the heddle/reed.

3. Wind a warp of 18 ends (three yards long) of the gold yarn.

4. Leave one empty dent on each end of the existing empty 11 dents and sley gold yarn in center nine slots.

5. Wind a warp of four ends (three yards long) of metallic yarn and sley into final four empty dents.

6. For a floor or table loom, thread the loom in a straight draw or alternately on two different shafts (figure E). This project is woven in plain weave so only two shafts are required.

7. For a rigid heddle loom, sleying and threading are the same.

8. Tie on to the back beam in groups of 10 and beam warp per instructions for your loom using paper to separate the layers.

9. Tie onto the front beam and adjust for even tension across the loom. Note: This is very important as uneven tension produces frustrating, difficult weaving.

10. Weave a header of plain weave using several strands of yarn in one pass. Once the yarns is evenly spaced weave a few picks of plain weave.

11. Now beginning weaving the runner.

  • Weave 2 inches using the second green color (different from the warp)
  • Weave 1-1/2 inch using the gold
  • Weave 56 inches using the green
  • Weave 1-1/2 inch using gold
  • Weave 2 inches of green
  • Weave a few extra picks (figure F).
Cut the table-runner from the loom and remover the header. Be careful of ends, as they will unweave until knotted.

12. Using overhand knots, tie off groups of warp threads of about 10 ends to finish the edges. Trim fringe to even lengths (about three inches) (figure G).

Bleach Printing

1. Lay the table runner out on a work surface in a well-ventilated area.

2. Poor a small amount of gel bleach into a tray. Set up two buckets with water for rinsing. In one bucket place one cup of white vinegar (for about a two gallon bucket); the other bucket should be clean water.

3. Paint the stamp with gel bleach with a disposable sponge brush until the surface is damp with bleach but not dripping wet.

4. Press stamp at desired location on the table runner. Only press for a few seconds without shifting, then remove stamp (figure H). Repeat as often as you want.

5. Immediately take the runner to the water/vinegar solution. Do not rub the bleached areas against one another or other areas of the runner. Plunge the runner into the bucket and keep swirling and moving for 90 seconds.

6. Take it out of the water/vinegar solution and plunge it into the clean water bucket and swirl for two minutes. Empty the bucket and repeat with clean clear water two more times.

7. Note: Do Not Wring the runner. Roll it between towels to remove excess water and lay it flat to dry. Iron for flatness.

8. Embellish table runner with acrylic paints (figure I).



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