This scarf occupied my Cricket rigid heddle loom for about two years. I hate to admit that, but it is true. I finally finished it as a birthday present for my mom exactly two birthdays after the one I intended. It's wild how fast time can fly and how unforgiving weaving projects can be in reminding you of exactly how much time has swooshed past. This was the first project I have ever woven using Chenille, and I really loved the results. Chenille has a bad reputation for being a little fussy or difficult to weave, and while I did experience some tension issues, overall it was not a bad experience.
The colors were absolutely beautiful. I did not purchase this kit. In fact, my mom did but then decided against weaving the project. She suggested I take the yarn so it would not go to waste, so of course I did. The pattern, as written, was a little difficult to follow for a rigid heddle loom. I ended up winging it, choosing to warp in a 1-2-1 scheme where every other dent was double stuffed in a 10-dent reed. This may have been the intent of the original write-up, in which case...good. I think you may have good results, too, if you used an 8-dent reed and double stuffed every heddle. I did not try this, though, but it was my understanding the goal was for 16 epi.
I do not have a close up picture of the fringe, which a really regret, but you can crimp chenille for a really special finish. This is achieved by weaving a large section of waste yarn at the beginning and end of the fabric that is removed after wet finishing.
While the warp threads are multiple colors, with groupings of the variegated, solid orange and solid brown, the weft is all the solid brown chenille. I love how the colors shift vertically and the extra interest is added with the occasional splash of variegated thread. When the scarf first came off the loom, it was very stiff and felt a little bit like the interior of our family's 1992 minivan when I was a kid. However, using special finishing techniques for the fiber made a HUGE difference. I am posting those tips as a tutorial, it is well worth a peek if you plan on using chenille.
Bottom Line: The pattern itself was not amazing, but the colors and materials were a lot of fun, making the kit a nice choice. The color shifts in the warp are dynamic and make for a beautiful finished project. The project itself is easy to weave, as it has a plain weave structure and, once warped, is not fussy. Do consider reading up on the best ways to handle chenille on a loom if you have never used the material before.
This rug was an absolute joy to make. It took a little bit of time, as each loop had to be pulled up by hand to create the texture of this wooly floor covering, but it was meditative. The pattern itself was not complicated and it was easy to see the progression as the rug was crafted, so there was no need to stare at a pattern the entire time I worked. I had made a minor error with the colors of the warp, which I adjusted by adding a couple more warp threads...which threw off the motif ever so slightly which meant I shifted the pattern just a hair to accommodate my lack of attention while warping. However, all warping nonsense was completely my fault- the pattern is a good one.
The rug does shrink a little after it is finished, but not nearly as much as I thought it would. However, the loops themselves crinkled up on themselves eliminating my fears that toes might catch on the rug. The two images below show the rug prior to its bath; the loops are more upright. While the finished rug still has "loops," they curl down to the floor. I'm sure if someone really tried, they could get a toe stuck in there, but it would take some work.
Also, this was the first time I'd used Noro yarn. It was really beautiful and made for a very delightful texture in the final rug. The colors were also so pretty. As a variegated yarn, the color shifts in the rug are just the natural progression of the skein. As noted in the pattern, attention should be paid to where your color starts and stops as you move from one skein to the next- it can be beneficial to wind a skein in an opposing direction if it leads to less abrupt shifts between skeins. I noticed that the orange color shows a little more vibrantly in the photographs than in real life. The yarn is a little expensive, clocking in at about $18 for 100 yds, but luckily it is a really bulky yarn so only three skeins are needed to complete the rug.
Bottom Line: If you have a larger rigid heddle, this is such a great way to diversify your projects. The fact that you can make a beautiful and functional rug is really wonderful and you are sure to get compliments with this texture and design. Do be careful if you have smooth floors in your home- the finished rug is slippery on the underside!
I think my favorite part of this particular endeavor of mine was that there are so many different parts that might inspire others. With both the article and the project, it could be avocado dye, spinning different types of fibers, resist dyeing, ikat-inspired projects, or just the finished project itself that sparks someones artistic journey. I feel like it is such a lovely way to share an idea, or family of ideas, that a person can really make their own. Some projects do not always lend themselves to this kind of creative flexibility. Goodness, this journey has inspired my own creative bug in a million different directions.
I hope you are able to access the article/project and enjoy all the pages have to offer. I am proud of this work. It pushed me as a fiber artist to really learn more of the many layers that go into a finished project and really more of myself as I deepened my relationship with fiber craft.
Feeling quite proud of myself, I was creating a lovely Huck lace Brooks bouquet combo inspired by curtains. Once I got the hang of the yarn and stopped kicking myself for picking something so persnickety when I had absolutely no time for mess ups, things sailed fairly smoothly. Sneaking in between Christmas festivities, cookies and waiting until the baby was sleeping, progress was being made! A true Christmas miracle! But then...disaster struck!!! Somehow I had mis-measured my warp. That has NEVER happened to me before. I usually do the math, measure, remeasure, do the math again. Of course this was the project, though. My warp was about ten inches too short! It messed up the whole symmetry of the wrap I was trying to create. There was no going back, either, and trying to adjust the symmetry. That is difficult to do with cooperative thread, but it is near impossible with sticky thread. I cried. Not gonna lie. I was hanging by a proverbial thread.
After I was done crying, I tried to figure out what to do next. Change the pattern, right? That was the only logical thing. So, instead of making a large wrap, I'd made a small poncho that did not require the same symmetry. Presto change-o, the project was saved! Granted, it wasn't what I really wanted, but like I said, the end result was still quite pleasing.
If you are interested in making your own version of this woven lace poncho, or perhaps creating the intended wrap version of this project, the pattern is available in the most recent issue of Handwoven; the 40th Anniversary September/October 2019 issue.
The scarf itself was a combination of plain weave clasped weft and overshot. The clasped weft was between the dark green and dark brown cotton colors, as you can see in both the picture of the warp threads and the weaving. I did not want such a stark straight line of color down the side of the scarf, so I tried keeping the blend of clasped weft organic, never passing more than an inch on either side of the color change in the warp, but allowing the clasped weft to fall in different places as the scarf progressed. Perhaps a straight color line would have been better? I like the back and forth play, but I can see peoples' tastes leaning for a cleaner line, too.
The overshot was throughout the solid green portion of the scarf, creating subtle diamonds in the scarf body. The scarf was finished with a twisted fringe (which looked AMAZING with the American Maid cotton).
If you are interested in the pattern for this scarf, is is available in the Loom Theory scarf collection for rigid heddle looms linked earlier in this post. The ebook clocks in at $12.99, which is not bad considering the number of quality patterns it contains. There are a total of seven different scarf patterns. And even if this scarf does not strike your fancy, if you enjoy rigid heddle weaving, you should check out this book. Every scarf in the collection is designed with a specific, curated yarn by a different artist and the end result is a beautiful and diverse collection of both aesthetics and skills. I think there actually might be something in there for every type of rigid heddle weaver. I'm going to try my hand at Tammy Bast's "Rambling Rosepath." I had no idea you could do that on a rigid heddle loom!
This project was woven on an Ashford, 32" rigid heddle using two 12.5-dent reeds to create a fine gauge cloth. I used the wonderful Vale yarn from Brooklyn Tweed...I love Brooklyn Tweed. Vale is their lace weight yarn.
The wrap itself features a lovely Spanish lace, which adds the slightest texture to either end. You have to be dedicated to hand-manipulated techniques to tackle Spanish lace in lace weight yarn. It takes a long time. Also, while I absolutely love Brooklyn Tweed, they create yarns with the knitter in mind, not the weaver. Vale is lovely, but it is sticky and stretchy. Sticky and stretchy are not your friends when you are weaving. Particularly when you are weaving persnickety little lace waves with over 400 ends to contend with. Perhaps a different yarn choice would have been wise, but, as I've mentioned, I just love Brooklyn Tweed. In fact, I think the yarn of this piece deserves its own photo. Here it is.
Such nice yarn. How could I say no? I couldn't.
I was nine months pregnant when I started this project and my baby was born the day the project and pattern were due. Ha! But I saw that one coming, so I got it done a little early. You can see my rather sizable belly intruding on the loom in one of the photos below. However, even with my let's-get-ahead-of-this-baby-being-born planning, it was a definite crunch to get finished. Not only was there the delicate lacework, but I also did a twisted fringe. I really like the look of a twisted fringe, I think it keeps the wrap looking very clean and neat, even after a few uses. I guess it has a more formal looking finish to me that is not inherently fragile. The down side to a twisted fringe is that it, too, takes a while to complete. And I did little bundles. Why did I do little bundles? I thought I was going to lose my mind by the end of it.
At the end of the day, though, I was really very pleased with how this project turned out. And while it was not the first project to hit the presses, it was the first project I had submitted that was accepted to a major publication. It will always have a special place in my heart because of that. I still feel like a sloppy amateur trying to keep up with great fiber artists, but this project got me one step closer to believing that one day I will be able to count myself among the inspiring in the fiber world. I really hope people like the wrap and that perhaps someone out there is crazy enough to create their own version of my vision. That would be the greatest honor of all.
And just for fun, I thought I would share with you some of the work that went in to the pattern that found its way into Spin Off. This project started with fluff. I spun three different yarns to create, what I hoped to be a tweedy look for the cowl. It was fun, I used three different preps of fiber, as well. There was a beautiful art batt with a mix of fiber from Purple Lamb, there was combed top, and there was roving. The color palette was warm, with a lot of orange. To give it a little punch, I used some blue.
This project was designed for a rigid heddle. It is a plain weave, so it is very friendly for even the most novice weaver. I like using rigid heddle looms with my handspun yarn, it is much more forgiving. There is less tension and the the plastic reed is less abrasive.
I used my Ashford, 32" loom, but I certainly did not need so much room. To be honest, I just really like that loom. I find the reed size is really nice, it gives me a really even beat. My 15" loom is more practical in size for a lot of my projects, but for some reason, with that loom, I always have one hand that wants to pull the reed more than the other one. Using two hands to pull my reed always feels a little more natural to me, but I have to switch to a one hand pull when I use my smaller loom to remedy my own fault of unevenness.
I really liked the look and feel of then final cloth. It was fun to create the cowl, which has its own secret pocket to stash cash when traveling. I hope, if you have a chance, you can take a look at the project in Spin Off. Maybe even create your own Traveler's Cowl. I would love to hear your thoughts or see your own projects!
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.