Freestyle Weaving Tutorial Part 5: Soumak weaving

The most strange stat I read today: “Akismet has protected your site from 888 spam comments already” the spammers love me LOL. Please note the new page I have added, it has links to all parts of the weaving tutorial series. Well, now to business, here is the next tutorial.

Soumak weaving is an old weaving technique hailing from the near east. It is another technique that requires you to work with a needle on the looms I use. traditionally it was done on a vertical loom or a vertical “loom” with weights holding down every individual warp thread, and bundles of weft threads without shuttles or bobbins.

Soumak woven rugs are said to be more durable than normally woven ones because the warp is protected by more than one layer of weft, but not just as durable as rugs with pile. There probably were many, many variations, here I show the soumal variations I could come up with through research and trying things out.

To achieve the most simple pattern , you work raised stem stitch over the warp threads as shown. In weaving, you have to work to and fro. That means, if you have worked the stem stitch so that you always come up from under the thread in one row you have to work the opposite direction and come up over the thread in the next row. Please not that in weaving terminology, the thread used for the soumak knots should not be called weft because it is not interlaced with the warp, but I’m at a loss what else to call it.

This kind of weave is always somewhat stretchy in the weft direction. If this is undesired weave the back rows in plain weave to stabilize the fabric.


The next pattern is in fact the same, but the backside was turned into the frontside. I how how to do it because you can’t work from back and front on most loom. Other than the previous, this pattern would be mostly ruined by intermittent rows of plain weave. For embroiderers: It is done the same way as ribbed woven spiders.


This one is called counter-soumak. You work soumak stitches to and fro but always come up under (or over) the previous thread. Again, you cannot easiely add rows of plain weave in between, but yoou could add them after two rows of soumak. In some old needlework books this very technique is used to repair holes in knitted cloth.


This is a variant. Instead of going four threads forward/two threads backward as in normal soumak (or stem stitch) I went four threads forward and three threads backward, producing a broad, tightly packed stem stitch. Coming up under the previous stitch is next to impossible with this, because adjacent stitches overlap each other. On the right side, the back rows are plain weaving (almost ivisible), on the left side, there are three rows of plain weaving between the soumak rows.


As you see in this picture, soumak weaving doesn’t need to be at right angle to the warp. Just go play.
Also there sure are many more variations to it that I haven’t discovered jet.


One response to “Freestyle Weaving Tutorial Part 5: Soumak weaving

  • Treena Rowan

    Thanks for sharing – I do bracelets using the “Indian” (American native) weaving technique, and have posted them on my blog:

    My students benefit from these types of postings. They’re doing off-loom weaving on cardboard looms.


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