I am currently 38 weeks pregnant and feeling...well, 38 weeks pregnant. I am really excited I got these receiving blankets finished, though! They were my own design- and by "design" I mean the were more or less an experiment in waffle weave on my rigid heddle loom. I used a 60/40 cotton/hemp blend in 8/2. Turns out 8/2 is pretty darn fine, so I held it double and used my 12-dent reed on my 32" Ashford for 24 epi (sort of) but warped as a 12 epi project. This was all good and well except I had to measure out 400 ends for this warp! I don't know about you, but I usually do not think of rigid heddle projects as having 400 warp ends. Obviously they can and do.
I also held the weft double to keep everything matchy matchy. This created 12 picks per inch as I wove. I'm glad I held the weft double, I really like the way the burp cloths feel, they washed very well with a lot of texture and are very soft. Hemp is supposed to get even softer with use, so I think these are going to be really baby friendly. I cloth diaper, as well, and know a lot of the cloth diaper inserts also use hemp for its long, comfy ware and its natural antibacterial properties. But enough about hemp, let's talk about the patterns that emerged.
I had sampled on my 15" Cricket before I started these blankets. Even though I did not have a strict pattern in mind, 400 ends are a lot of ends that I did not want to waste. I discovered there was about a 15-20% shrinkage in all finished fabrics of both my single waffle weave and my double waffle weave. This was to be expected, though, with take-up and the fiber choice. I wove a two-inch header that was hemmed under when the towels were finished.
My first blanket incorporated a 2x2 waffle weave framing a 1x2 waffle weave to create a square within a square. (When I say "2x2" I mean I used my pick up stick to pick up every other 2 warp threads in the down shaft position and then two repeats of the waffle weave sequence. For a 1x2, I picked up every other warp thread in the down shed and did two repeats of the waffle weave sequence.) The 1x2 waffle weave really stands out more than I expected with this monochromatic palette. This is the blanket shown on the far left. Then, I tried a larger waffle and did a 3x3. I really like how it puffed and crinkled for a ton of texture when it was washed, but I feel as though the warp and weft floats are just shy of being too long. I think the more the cloth is washed, the less this will be an issue, but it wasn't my favorite result for something where baby fingers could get snagged. Bottom line, I liked the look but maybe the 3x3 wasn't practical for this particular purpose. (With a little color play, it could make a really nice spa cloth or pillow.) The last burp cloth was a combination of plain weave and a 1x1 waffle. I really liked how this turned out, too. The only hiccup with this pattern is that there is significantly more draw-in with the waffle weave than the plain weave, which is to be expected. But this leads to some undulation along the side of the cloth that looks a little less clean than I typically like. However, if you keep the stripes small (mine were four inches), the flux along the side is minimized and I do not think it detracted too much from the finished product.
Summary: This was a really fun exploration in waffle weave and I love the resulting cloth it made. To think, with one pick-up stick you can make such varied textures! It also is not a time-consuming technique but makes a cloth that looks a lot more complicated than what people expect from a rigid heddle. My biggest tips for creating a waffle weave is to make sure to consider the different draw-in a waffle weave can create and also to be mindful of how long a float can get, since waffle weave is nothing more than combining warp and weft floats in a pretty pattern. Also, speaking of floats, keep in mind that a weft float on the front is a warp float on the back of your cloth. Don't forget to consider the back, which can be full of surprises when you pull your project from the loom!
The blanket was woven using weft floats (which look like warp floats on the reverse of the fabric). Weft floats are when your weft thread passes over top of more than one of the warp threads at one time. As a general rule regarding floats, if you are creating something that is worn or handled a lot (like a towel or blanket) it is a good idea to keep your floats to something like an inch in size or smaller. Larger floats can get caught on things and can quickly become an annoyance if a fabric is handled frequently. I created a fabric with two stacked weft floats combined in an offset, all over pattern. I really like the affect it had on the fabric, these little oval shapes were created from the draw-in that I found to be very pleasing. The weft floats themselves were created using two pick-up sticks in the back of the loom to create faux shafts on the rigid heddle. (I actually used one pick-up stick and loops on a stick to create a string heddle as my second set of pick-ups. This was just so I did not have to keep removing a stick when weaving. It is a cool trick that I will do a tutorial on soon.)
It is a little hard to see, but there are subtle, thick, vertical striped in the blanket created by alternating between the ivory and maize colors in the warp. I used only the maize color for the weft. You can see these colors in the fringe of the blanket. It was purposeful that it would only be a subtle striping in the blanket itself, as the colors themselves were very close in hue. The photographs below show the blanket before it was finished with washing and a close up of the final texture after finishing.
This is a stroller blanket, measuring 25x40" (with the fringe). It was woven in acrylic, so there was really no shrinkage after washing, though there was a 10% draw-in from the weaving. I have two, well, maybe three comments about the yarn choice. First, as mentioned above, I raided my mom's yarn stash and was grateful for whatever yarn she was willing to part with. I feel I got lucky, these colors turned out great together and I am very pleased with the look and feel of the blanket. That leads me to the second comment about the yarn. I do not generally use acrylic yarn for my projects. However, for baby blankets I know will get a lot of use and abuse, acrylic is a great choice. It washes and dries well, it is easy to clean, and it is very strong. I do not like the feel of some acrylic yarns, they are sometimes stiff and almost plastic feeling, but these two yarns my mom had were very soft. Very soft. And it was great, after I washed and dried this blanket...they were even softer. That leads me to my last comment about the yarn. Acrylic yarns do not "bloom" when you finish them, but these yarns did feel even softer after I washed them. The blanket also seemed to fill in a little, mostly because the yarn was allowed to relax and re-distribute itself after I took it off the loom and put it through the wash. (And I literally threw it in the wash with a bunch of other clothes and dried it on medium heat in the dryer. Like I said, I show acrylic yarns no mercy.)
I love it when something looks a little more complicated than it actually is. I had some leftover yarn from a Christmas gift I had knit and I really liked the yarn too much to leave it in my bin of discards. (Who doesn't love Malabrigo, really? Can't leave that laying around.) Even though I have been warned against weaving with single-ply for warp, I decided I'd risk it and try out a houndstooth cowl idea I had bouncing around my brain. Rigid heddles are more forgiving of single-ply and handspun yarns than their shaft counterparts (though it's not impossible to use either on a shaft-loom...if it were, there would have been centuries of naked people in history). Rigid heddle looms put yarn under less tension and often, because of the plastic heddle, are a little less abrasive to the fiber.
I warped my 15" Cricket using the full width of the heddle. I warped a 2x2 color scheme, meaning I had two teal feather warp threads then two natural warp threads all the way down the heddle. Then, with the same two colors for the weft, I had a 2x2 scheme weaving, as well. Two picks teal than two picks natural. Because there was a color change ever two picks, it was not practical to cut the thread each time, so I carried the colors. (Sometimes, if you have more than a few picks, a carry can look messy or cause a loop that can get caught on things. I found that with the 2 picks, the float carried up the side for each color change was minimal.) Tip: Choose one color on your bobbin or shuttle stick to place "in front." For me, my natural color was always the shuttle closest to my fell line. When it was not in use, I rested it either in my lap or on my woven fabric. When I was done with the teal shuttle stick I always placed it behind the natural shuttle stick before picking up and weaving with the natural color. This created a consistent look with my floats along the side of my woven fabric because the carries always overlapped each other in the same way.
I am an advocate of hemstitching fabric. Even if I plan on doing a folded hem or seam later, a hemstitch at the beginning and end of your fabric really helps hold things together when you take it off the loom. For this cowl, I ended up sewing a zigzag stitch along the hemstitch and then completely removing any fringe before folding the ends under and sewing a hem with my sewing machine. Then, with both ends neatly hemmed, I used a tapestry needle and some extra Malabrigo to seam the two hemmed ends together mattress stitch style.
I am pleased with the results. I think it was a great use of extra yarn and I had no problems with the single-ply warp.
I am on a mission to learn more about the mechanics of weaving. I really want to understand how weaving works as I am making a project. With this mission in mind, I am really enjoying Patty Graver's book, Next Steps in Weaving, which I reviewed in a post here. The first section in this book is on twill, so I thought: "Hey, that's a good place to start." I decided I wanted to sample some twill. There is no rule I know about that says you cannot make a functional sampler, so while each sample was rather large, I decided to sample different manipulations of the warp/weft relationship to make kitchen towels. I grabbed a piece of paper and Deborah Chandler's book, Learning to Weave. With her equations, I worked out how much warp I needed to make four reasonably sized kitchen towels. Without diving into the math, which perhaps would make a lovely post at a later time, I worked out that I needed five yards of warp and 288 ends to make four 20"x30" kitchen towels. I adjusted the 288 to accommodate the rosepath twill I wanted to play with, so my final end count was 285 ends. This was roughly 1,425 yards for the warp, which required about 8 balls of Knit Picks Dishie. (While typically a knitting yarn, this cotton yarn seemed perfect for a kitchen towel AND I happened to have a lot of it on hand.)
I tried four different combinations with the rosepath warp. The first towel, the green one, was the traditional rosepath. I think it looks lovely. Twill is a common weaving technique in which you have a staggered overlap of weft over warp threads. In the case of a 4-shaft loom, a balanced twill would have 2/2 twill, or rather two weft threads crossing (or floating) over two warp threads. With the way my loom was warped, I was also able to do the extended pointed twill (or a zigzag) in a balanced 2/2 twill. That is the pink towel. It is actually my favorite. Both of these towels feel really thick there is really a nice balance to the pattern. No float is too long and there is a nice diagonal flow to the twill. I used almost the entire ball of Knit Picks for each of these towels, meaning each towel took a little less than 190 yards of weft thread. This yardage includes a hemstitch. In the photographs below, you can see each of these towels, front and back. And interesting feature of the twill is that if the pattern is more weft facing on the front, it will be warp facing on the back. This means if you are using different colors for the warp and weft, the back will be the inverse color pattern of the front. This was more noticeable in the rosepath twill than the extended point twill. (The front of the towel is in the top of the photograph, the back is on the bottom.)
After these two balanced twills, I decided to go crazy and do an unbalanced twill. I did a 1/3 twill where 1 weft covered three warp threads at a time. This is the brown towel. The result was charming. It is a more symmetric version of the rosepath twill in green. While the green towel had two different diamonds that emerged, the unbalanced twill had only one diamond. This towel does not feel quite as nice as the balanced twill, the threads feel a little looser, but it does not impede the usefulness of the towel. It still feels nice and thick, just maybe a little less durable. The warp/weft inversion is much more noticeable on this towel than the previous two. The front of the towel is weft facing, the back warp facing- the difference is striking.
My last towel was the reddish one. It is awful. It is almost a broken twill, but not quite. A broken twill would be if I switched the zigzag every two weft picks. I, however, decided to completely eliminate the overlap of the wefts, which left a very loose, rather ugly cloth. I would have been better to try the broken twill on this one. Also, while all of my other towels allowed one ball of Dishie to give me a towel approximately 28" in length, I used significantly less weft thread on this towel and ended up with a goofy long towel. There was very little vertical draw in for this towel. To keep this towel functional, I did not make a fringe but rather hemmed the edges rather drastically. I must say, though, this is a towel I might hide away or keep for particularly messy kitchen adventures. The pattern itself is not terrible, but the feel of the cloth is very thin. It just feels a little off. The back and the front of the towel are indiscernible, but I think it is because it is really not, by definition, a twill and does not have the same warp/weft relationship.
I am very happy with this adventure. I learned a lot about twill in this project and am definitely going to explore it more. I also learned a lot of general odds and ends about my looms functionality. Like I skipped a dent in my reed when sleying and had this lovely gap running up my weaving for all of my projects. I was using a rather thick thread (probably the upper limit) for my 12-dent reed, so it was noticeable. However, the gap has all but disappeared in the first washing of the towels. With some use and a few more washings, it will be gone completely. I also learned that I need to pay attention to my pattern. Skipping a pick is easy to do and very noticeable in the finished projects. If you catch it in time, definitely unweave and fix it. I did not notice my mistake until I took my towels off the loom, so it will have to stay. (Check it out up close in the photograph below.) I also learned I might need to leave a little more space between my towels if a plan on doing a knotted fringe, even if it's short. All's well that ends well, though, and I am very pleased with my towels.
I have seen many SAORI projects, and while many of them are not to my particular taste, there are quite a few that really catch my eye as something special. I mean, there is something truly wonderful in a 100% unique fabric. No two SAORI-styled weaves can ever look the same. I tend to be a rule follower. I like things organized. I like directions. I like to kind of know how something will turn out before I start. It seemed like maybe it was time I turned my habits on their head and tried something WAY outside my comfort zone. You know, let my spirit free. I decided I would use three ArtYarn skeins I had from a Yarnbox Luxe in addition to a special yarn (that clearly was not as "nice" as the ArtYarns but equally special to me) that I had picked up with my mom while on vacation. The "add-on" yarn had these fun sequins throughout that I really enjoyed but had no intention of trying to knit into anything. It's strange I even bought the yarn, I'm not usually one for bling, but that made it even more appropriate for this project.
The four yarns I was using were all very different: a merino, a mohair, a silk blend and...um...sequins. Ready, set, go! I warped my loom as free-spirited as I could, making stripes of each of my yarns as I felt, none of them the same size and in no particular order. Be free, my spirit, be free! Part of me felt a little guilty I was using such expensive yarn for this experiment, but I hushed that voice and assured myself this was a good project worth the yarn I was using. My spirit deserves nice yarn, right? With the loom warped, I made myself two makeshift cardboard stick shuttles to accompany my Schacht shuttles to accommodate all four of my yarns and I was ready to go.
I want to tell you it was a wonderful, zen-filled experience weaving this scarf. That it was a peaceful journey where I listened to my soul as I painted with yarn. I want to tell you that, but I can't. Don't get me wrong, I actually love the end result and the journey was enlightening, but this was probably one of the most stressful weaving projects to date. I don't even know where to start. Mohair is sticky. Different yarns have different elasticity. Sequins do not fit through the holes of a 12-dent rigid heddle reed very well. Abrasion is a thing. Consistent tension is a bitch. The list is longer, but I think you get the idea.
Like I said, though, the journey was enlightening. Imperfection is okay and even beautiful. I leaned so much from this project I have certainly become a better weaver for it. It will probably be a good long while before I let my spirit go again, but I am glad I did it. Even if I had to cut each sequin off the yarn on the warp thread as I went, this scarf really reminds me that you live and learn and you should always dream big. Because I wove this after the kiddos were in bed, and to remind me of the journey, I have decided to call this scarf "Midnight Meandering." One of the best parts of this project was unrolling the cloth from my front roller on my loom. It was great seeing how my weaving turned out. I had an idea of what it was going to look like, but I did not really know how it would all look together. I am not gifting this scarf to anyone, I am going to keep it. It is mine...my self expression despite frustration and a reminder that sometimes we just need to let go, even if it doesn't always work out the way we want or expect-it can still be beautiful. (And every journey really is one of a kind.)
I have decided warping a loom gets to be considered a project all on its own. Never mind I haven't actually made anything yet. I know as I gain experience the process will move faster, but this first (technically second) go at warping my 4-shaft loom was a Project with a capital "P." But it is done and it is glorious. The satisfaction I felt as I pulled each of the four shafts up and did not encounter any tangles and saw the beautiful shed created each time is beyond words. I know, I sound like a crazy lady. That is strangely okay with me.
I am making kitchen towels, in case you're wondering what all this warp is for. While I do consider warping a project, I intend to take this project further than just a beautifully warped loom. Though right now, I think it is a lovely show piece. Granted, I'm probably the only one in my house that thinks that. I think my husband would infinitely prefer kitchen towels.
I decided I would warp enough for four towels that are each (hopefully) 20x28 inch rectangles when all is said an done. I am making sure to keep copious notes as I go...they just happen to be on the back of an envelope right now. I have every intention of getting them onto something more permanent. The idea is that with each of the four towels, I can try something just a little different, so in a sense, I am making four samplers of this particular twill warping. But I am getting ahead of myself now.
Using the equations outlined in Deborah Chandler's Learning to Weave book and the guidance of creating a project using the "rosepath" twill from Pattie Graver's Next Steps in Weaving, I measured out 5 yards of warp thread and ended up with 258 warp ends. The warp end count was a slight adjustment from my original 285 ends plan. Turns out I had to make a minor change to the rosepath pattern as it was written AND I ran out of white warp yarn. Luckily, all of these adjustments were made early in the process, so no great agonies of weaving have yet been experienced. I used a 12-dent reed with 12 ends per inch (no doubling up nonsense this go around.)
I found that I had an over abundance of KnitPick's "Dishie" cotton yarn in my stash, which is what led to this project in the first place. Because these skeins are designed for knitting and not weaving, I had to make quite a few bundles of warp threads as each ball ran out. This was a blessing in disguise, though. Having these smaller bundles allowed me to work in small batches as I sleyed the reed. This turned out to be crucial as it was inevitable that every time I decided to work on my loom, there was a toddler emergency that followed. Small bundles meant I did not have to worry about destroying my cross and tangling my warp threads. (This was my first time using my warp board my husband made for me. Until now, I had been using the direct warping method with a peg. Granted, this is not that terrible when you are just using a rigid heddle- I think overall the projects tend to be smaller. But, it turns out this warping board is crazy easy to use and much more conducive to small children and pets being about the place. I'm not sure I'll ever go back to the direct peg method.)
I am so excited to get to weaving on my loom. I really appreciate the labor of love it takes to even get to where weaving is possible. So far, so good. Let's keep our fingers crossed that once I start with the weft thread, things still work out as I intend. You know what they say about good intentions, though.
You know, I wasn't sure where to put this post because technically I haven't made this project. But I have decided to label my husband as an extension of myself in this regard, and since the project was done for me, I think it is fair to put it on my project page. Now that that has been cleared up to everyone's satisfaction, let me give you the tiny bit of back story that led up to this amazing project.
I want to get more into weaving as a craft. I have my rigid heddle, which I love and have by no means exhausted, but I also wanted to get involved in some larger projects with different pattern options. With this in mind, my husband and I started shopping around for a loom. It was not long before we discovered purchasing a loom is very expensive business. It was a fact we already had bouncing around in the backs of our heads, but the point wasn't driven home until we actually intended to buy one.
It makes sense they are expensive, in some respects, since many looms are really gorgeous pieces of handcrafted furniture that double as a crafting device. But it is hard to justify spending that much money on something I do not yet know if I will even enjoy in the long term. We don't have thousands of dollars to drop on something that might prove a passing fancy. (My mother is notorious for buying gobs of crafting gear only to find that it is not a craft she is passionate about. Needless to say, there is a lot of dusty stain glass equipment, ceramics gear, every cross stitch thread color imaginable, garment design aides...and none of it is going anywhere because she is adamant she loves it all. I think there was a valuable lesson for me in the craft hoarding.) Long story short, I sadly decided that perhaps a larger loom would just have to wait until it was realistically in our financial reach. It made me sad, but it felt like the responsible thing to do.
Well, my wonderful husband did not let the issue rest. He went on a search for something that was affordable for us. In his internet meanderings, he came across a book called Building a 4-shaft PVC Loom, by David Holly which I've linked to its webpage. (It is available as a $10.00 Nook Book.) My husband bought the book and built the loom for my birthday. How awesome is that?
Now, my birthday was Monday and I haven't yet had the chance to try out this neat table top loom, but this weekend has a nice chunk of time carved out for that purpose. (Plus we need to find a better place than the living room floor for this PVC creation.) It has all the functionality of a wooden table top loom, but only cost a little over $250 to make. I watched the whole process as my husband (aided by our two toddlers armed with toy hammers) put the loom together. I must say, it really has given me a deeper understanding of the mechanics behind this style loom and familiarized me with much of the terminology that I probably would have been lazy about learning had I just bought a manufactured loom. This is a 4-shaft jack style loom with pulls on the top. The only parts not purchased at our home improvement store were the reed, special rope and the heddles. (All of these parts were easily available from The Woolery. I think they are popular parts for loom restoration.) The weaving width is 24", which is a perfectly good place to start for me. It gives me almost ten additional inches over my rigid heddle.
My husband did say there were a few errors in the book. It is a self-published how-to, so keeping that in mind, it is still a wonderful resource and great that Mr. Holly shared is idea with the world. (However, if you plan to make one yourself, make sure you've packed some patience in your tool bag.) My husband also made some small modifications of his own. Working only on weekends and impeded frequently by the helping hands of our kids, this loom only took 2.5 weekends to make. I am so excited to get my first project warped and ready to go! What a special birthday present this was. I know it will keep my satisfied and learning tons for at least a few years. And maybe by then I'll have enough money squirreled away that I can buy whatever floor loom my heart desires. One can only hope. :-)
Do you ever have an obnoxious bundle of yarn in your stash? You know, the kind of yarn that was bought for a specific project that left too much behind...and it's yarn you are never going to use again? I felt this kind of a dismay at a collection of bulky weight wool yarns that were occupying a bin in my closet. Did I have to count these as part of my stash? I felt like they were unfairly counting against me, taking up space and not bringing my fiber joy. What I needed was one of those stash busting projects, so here is what I came up with. I was going to make a little cover for my favorite mugs. They are lovely mugs, but they do not have handles and get quite hot on the outside when you pour tea in them. They were in desperate need of a mug hug.
For some time, I've been wanting to try a heavier weight yarn on my rigid heddle loom. I decided this was the perfect opportunity- it was a quick way to use up some of this yarn I had long ago fell out of love while gaining some experience on my little loom. I looked up which heddle size would be most appropriate for my yarn, and it landed right in between the 5 dent and the 8 dent heddles. Because my end goal was to felt the fabric I created, I thought perhaps a 5 dent would allow more space for a successful felting. So, long story a little less long, I went with the 5 dent.
Then, because it was a small project and why not, I wanted to do a houndstooth design. That can be created by alternating colors in a 2x2 fashion in both the warp and the weft. (You can do other number than a 2x2, but that is the most basic combination that should yield a houndstooth.) I warped 8 inches across the center of my heddle with alternating blue and brown yarn. Then, I used the same blue and brown for the weft. Well, I did not get a houndstooth at all. Instead, I got a nice wavy line in alternating colors. I think perhaps my warp threads were too far apart to make the pattern work, and as such, I got a weft facing project. That means my weft yarn essentially hid my warp yarn, making it impossible to get a houndstooth appearance. No worries, though, this was all an experiment anyway. I am thinking if I try this again (since I still have too much of this yarn left over to be happy) I will try the 8-dent reed and see if my theory is correct.
If you are looking at the above photos and wondering what color this thing actually was, the one on the top left is the most accurate depiction of the true colors. The other two show off the fabric quite nicely, but I took them under the light in the kitchen, which is awfully yellow and makes for strange results in pictures. With the fabric done, though, I moved on to phase 2- felting. I threw my yard 8 x 36" swatch of fabric in the wash on hot and then dried it on high heat. I repeated this process twice. I got a fairly nice felting, but honestly, it could have been better. I took some pictures from the side so the thickening would be obvious. The fabric cut without fraying, but I did not trust it to stay that way.
Because I did not trust the edges not to fray on the top and bottom, I took some more of this distasteful yarn in yet another color (what was I thinking when I bought so much of this stuff) and simply wrapped the edges in a chunky stitch. Using this as an opportunity to also create a way to fasten this mug hug around my mug, I left tails with the yellow yarn to use to tie the mug hug closed. I debated using buttons with this, and I might see what that is like on the next little hug, but for this first one, I thought I'd keep it pure. This was a pure stash bust, no other materials allowed.
However, the way it fastens allows me to use this little hug on a mug that has a handle, so that's cool. At the end of the day, I'd say this is an ugly little mug hug...but it's ugly in a cute, homey kind of way. I am debating seeing what would happen if I felted it again, what that would do to the stitching on the top is intriguing to me. But then I figure it might naturally felt itself with all of the moisture and heat of many cups of tea. This project was fast and I am proud of myself for finding a use for that yarn. Waste not, want not. I am pretty sure my mom used to say that a lot when I was growing up.
And now, it's time for a cup of tea.
I think the most important discussion here would be to talk about what exactly a "color gamp" is. When I first heard the term, my reaction was huh? It is really quite simple, though, and is a great tool for anyone in the fiber arts. When you weave, there is a relationship between the color of your warp and the color of your weft. Unlike when you use paint, the colors of the warp and weft do not mix. They create what can be referred to as an optical blend. Think of it as tiny little pixels all butted up next to one another. You can pick out the individual hues, but step back, and they start to blend together.
This blend is really important as you plan your projects. Are you making kitchen towels? Would that blue color you chose for the weft look better on green warp or an orange warp? What would the difference be? Does it make any difference at all? That is where a color gamp comes in. A color gamp is a sampler, or a study in color, that you weave. It can be referenced again and again and is a very handy thing to have in your workspace. There are some really beautiful color gamps out there, and you can play around with patterns and colors. It's worth a google image search to see the lovely gamps people have created. However, for my little rigid heddle loom, I chose to follow the instructions of Inventive Weaving book by Syne Mitchell for a traditional color gamp in pure hues.
Another skill I was interested in learning when making this color gamp was weaving a fine cloth on my rigid heddle. For practical reasons, the heddles on rigid heddle looms can only go down to 16 ends per inch and many stop at 12 ends per inch. Does this mean an artist on a rigid heddle loom cannot achieve the look/feel of garment fabric? No, of course not. Brilliant weavers out there came up with a clever and quick fix- use two heddles. Then, with two 12 ends per inch heddles, you can achieve a 24 ends per inch fabric.
There are resources out there that will show you what thread needs to go where in a two-heddle plain weave configuration. When threading the two heddles, you will end up with one thread in each hole of both heddles and three threads in each slot.
This project is small and works up very quickly. Threading the heddles probably took the longest, as you end up with 360 ends that all need to go in their particular places. Then, you do have to keep in mind that you have 20 colors that will need to be wound on to your shuttle stick. There are only eleven passes of each color, but you still have to stop and start a lot. I haven't yet washed my little beauty. I'm a little nervous. But really, I think it will look even better once it gets a good wash and I iron it out. This is a tool I am very glad I took the time to make.
And all of the colors make me smile to look at, so regardless of how much a use it as a tool in color theory, it makes me happy.
Happy New Year, everyone! It is officially 2017 and I have very high hopes of this being a fabulous knitting year. I always like to take some time to reflect, however, on knitting I've accomplished over the last year. Perhaps the greatest learning moments come from my most blundered of blunders. The biggest blunder I had in 2016 actually happened to be a weaving opposed to knitting project. To say it was a misadventure may be putting it lightly. Is sure was something, I'll tell you about it here.
For Christmas this year, I decided I wanted to up my handmade gift item count. Then I went a little crazy making hats and matching mittens for my sister. Because I was making her handmade gifts, I thought it would be nice to make something for her husband as well. I saw this neat idea of making a Morse code scarf on my rigid heddle loom. The basic idea is that you use the stripes you weave in the scarf to represent dots and dashes. In that way, you can write out a hidden message of sorts on the scarf. I was excited about this idea for a number of reasons: First, it would work up faster than a knitted scarf. Second, I could really personalize it for Mark, my sister's husband. Third, I could choose very masculine colors and the scarf would look great.
I had my plan all sorted out. The next step was to think of what to write out in Morse code. To that end, I contacted my sister to see what she thought would be good for the scarf. At this crucial juncture, my project became doomed. My sister calls her husband "Mark Bear," so she thought it would be great if it said that. Accepting the nickname, I plunged forward, planning and warping appropriate dots and dashes. A little ways in to the project, my husband checked in on me. I had casually told him about the plan previously, but with the scarf well underway, he was more interested in the details. When he asked what it said, I told him. He gave me a funny look and then laughed.
"That's the weirdest thing for you to give your brother-in-law," he commented.
And with a sinking feeling, I knew he was kind of right. The scarf wasn't from my sister, it was from me. Putting a pet name on a handmade scarf was a strange choice when the giver was Mark's sister-in-law. The only way the petname would really work was if I intended to make it for my sister to give to her husband. I was too far along, though. There was no chance of unweaving what I had done and no time to start again, so I decided to just put the weirdness out of my mind and continue forward.
Then, the next catastrophe- I had somehow gotten two of the warp threads crossed when I was threading my loom and the last letter in "MARK BEAR" was an N instead of an R when read in Morse code. I was officially making a scarf that read "MARK BEAN." What?! Okay, this was still salvageable. I would just never mention it was a scarf with a hidden Morse code message. Mark would never know and it was a pretty striped pattern.
Feeling like this scarf was a little bit of a disaster, I continued the back and forth of the weaving...until the scarf was about two and a half feet long and I ran out of yarn. I am not one to use obscenities, but I'm pretty sure one slipped out as my yarn dwindled to an end. Deep breathing, right? I have no idea how I got my calculations so wrong, but I could always buy more yarn. It was the beginning of Decemeber, but the retailer where I got the yarn earlier in the year was prompt and there was still time for me to finish.
Except the color had been discontinued.
I sat there in disbelief for a good thirty minutes just staring at the 2.5 foot swath of frabric in front of me. Then I decided to call it. This project was dead. We would buy Mark a nice bottle of whiskey instead.
And that is how this scarf came to be my froggiest of frogged projects in 2016.