Happy Weaving and Spinning Week!

I’ve recently learned from Chris, at Acton Creative, that this week is Weaving and Spinning Week!

How did I not know that?! Heaven knows, after the news of the last couple of weeks, I need something to celebrate . . .

And it seems the perfect excuse to show you what I’ve been working on since the last update.

A long time ago (May, in fact), I showed you this project of two scarves in pink and white while they were still on the loom. It’s a good example of how the weft color changes the overall look.

Let me explain a little—in weaving, the warp is made up of the long threads that are attached to the loom and are vertical when I sit facing the loom. The weft threads are the ones that come out of the shuttle as I weave and are horizontal.

In this project, one scarf is done in just two colors—rosewood and white—for both warp and weft.

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The other has those same two colors in the warp but the weft is lighter pink.

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Pretty cool, huh?

I’ve sort of been in placemat mode, too. It turns out that buyers like placemats and I like making them. I get the satisfaction of achieving a “finish” pretty quickly since each individual mat is fairly small and quick to weave up, even though the entire project may be on the loom for a while.

I did this pattern in off-white—it uses two weights of thread in both warp and weft, which creates the nice texture.

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I liked the results so much that I went ahead and did it again. The second time, I used two shades of blue. The effect is tweedy and interesting.

I keep thinking of other color combinations I could try. Maybe dark brown with the lighter-weight thread in a bright yellow-green? Or bright orange?

And, of course, I’ve made more towels. I wove the striped ones I’ve already shown you and six of these.

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And this boring-looking bunch of threads will turn into towels, too. I hope they’ll be more interesting soon!

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Some of my projects have been repeats of ones you’ve seen before. I know weavers who never, ever make the same pattern twice because they want to move on to something new. SO much to weave, so little time!

As much as I like new, I do have some favorites and I really like doing them over. (I’m the same way with books—I love re-reading my favorites, as visiting old friends, and will cycle them through my reading every few years.)

So, my weaving re-dos are more of these placemats (buyers like placemats!) I hemmed them this time, instead of leaving fringe. I like the look of the fringe better but it means the mats can’t go into the washer and they are white, after all.

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And I making more of these Christmas towels. This shot is a good demonstration, again, of how the weft color can change everything. You can see the unwoven warp on top, then, going around the front, a towel where I’m using white as weft. Underneath the loom, you can see what that same warp looks like when I used red as the weft.

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Here’s another view of the red weft and the obligatory photo of the weaver’s apprentice.

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And that’s it for this update, with many ideas percolating in my mind! Thanks for celebrating this special week with me!

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One Day, Weaving

There was a time, when I first retired, when the hours that stretched before me every day seemed endless. I was a little anxious about that—what would I do to fill my time? 

I started selling vintage linens on Etsy.

I started making candy.

I found unfinished quilts to work on and undertook new ones.

I began blogging.

I took up weaving.

My days were full and utterly my own.

Times have changed and I have some different responsibilities now. I embrace those responsibilities but they mean that I haven’t unlimited time for all those other things I did, and enjoyed. I gave some up and all get less of my full attention.

So, yesterday was super special—all I did was weave.

I didn’t do any of those other things and I didn’t work outdoors, either, because we had a day of welcome rain.

I worked on a warp that will become two scarves, pink and off-white. Not my colors at all but I had this yarn and wanted to use it. I have to change colors every 16 passes of the shuttle so the process is slowish. But the pattern is interesting, as I watch it develop.

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Then, when I’d had enough of that, I moved to the loom with the scrappy striped towels, and I finished the weaving of these! It’s actually going to end up being 4 towels and one longer runner and I’ll tell you more when they are completely finished. For a project that began as a way to empty some bobbins, I love the way these are turning out!

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And then I turned to my band loom. I need handing tabs for those striped towels and I love dragging the little loom outside when the sun shines. This time, though, I made a gazillion little mistakes and had to fuss and re-do and mess round some more, just to get this narrow, ultra-simple strip. 

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After that slog with the band loom, as an antidote, I played for awhile with a new loom. Actually, it represents the first weaving I ever did, as a child.

Did you have a potholder loom?

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A month ago or so, my blog pal, Debbie, who is a quilter and weaver, wrote about one of these looms and I knew immediately I needed one.

This is not your grandchild’s potholder loom! Unlike the ones you can buy now for children, which are plastic, small, and use nylon loops, this loom is sturdy metal, 12 inches across, and uses all-cotton loops.

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The end products are potholders or hot pads that are large (about 8 inches), thick and beefy, and can actually be used to handle hot dishes out of the oven without melting.

This silly loom has given me hours of fun lately. I sit on my deck with my big bag of loops. I dump the loops on the bench and root around to find colors I like. The cats come and root around, too. 

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My only complaint with this loom and its use is that the loops are expensive and come in bags that have a modest amount of a lot of colors, in one the three different colorways. One can choose either brights, pastels, or “designer” colors, which is what I chose. I ran out of the colors I liked early and have been challenged to find color combos that work with colors I like less or, in the case of this medium brown on the right, loath.*

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Today, it’s back to the other things that need to be done. The sun is shining, the weeds are growing, my mother’s summer place needs to be cleaned out and readied for sale. Our house needs to be spiffed up for company, errands must be run, chores must be checked off the list.

But, I had my day of weaving, and I know I’ll have more. And I’ll appreciate that time all the more, I suppose, because it is no longer unlimited. I hope you get a day, soon, to fully devote to something you love to do!


* The company, Harrisville Designs, does offer smaller bags of single colors but then the cost of the loops gets even more expensive.

An Embarrassment of Looms

IMG_7908My husband and I have issues with impulse control. It’s no secret.

When we discover a new hobby, we don’t tiptoe in and explore cautiously. No, we pounce with fervor, dive in head first, go hog wild.

This explains how we came by the room full of metalsmithing tools and lapidary equipment. And the piles of quilting and cross stitch supplies. And the 300 pounds of chocolate and the piles of vintage linens and the nice bikes and ice skates and snowshoes. I could go on.

So, now, it’s weaving.

We started weaving as a direct result of our impulse control issues. Neither of us knew the first thing about weaving when we saw the big, old loom at a garage sale. It was only $150 and came with a lot of stuff. We had no idea what that stuff was, or how to use any of it, but there was a lot of it, it looked really cool, and it seemed like a good deal.

And, hey, weaving sounded like fun.

So, we bought the loom, wedged it into the garage (did you know that some people put their cars in their garages?!), and a couple of years later, we took the classes in weaving I’ve told you about.

And we love weaving!

And love, as you may have experienced yourself, wreaks havoc with impulse control, which we never had much of in any case. And all this explains how, in a recent 24-hour period, we came to have six looms in our house.

Yes, six.

We have the big, old 150-dollar loom, which turns out to be incredibly idiosyncratic and difficult to weave on. We have the borrowed table loom, which I loved but wished was wider.

And now we have four other looms that we bought within 24 hours. As I said, impulse control issues.

First, we heard about some people nearby who bought two looms, years ago, for their daughter. Such thoughtful parents! But the ingrate daughter said, “I never said I wanted a loom!” and the looms went into the loft of their barn.

These folks were thrilled to sell us their counterbalance loom, as long as we took the big tapestry loom, too. We didn’t want or need a tapestry loom. We have no idea what we’ll do with a tapestry loom. But what the heck!

IMG_1846Then, the very day we bought the counterbalance loom and the tapestry loom, we heard about a garage sale an hour away. A weaver, selling all her equipment because she has decided to be a quilter (it’s just possible we aren’t they only ones with impulse control issues).

We said, we don’t need any more looms or weaving paraphernalia but let’s just go look . . .

And we came home with two more looms. One big loom, in far better shape than the first one we bought and with eight shafts or harnesses, and that pleases my husband.

IMG_1848And one for me. Not too big, not too small, just right . . .

IMG_1851And pretty, too! Made of cherry!

With these looms came lots more stuff—benches and books and shuttles and yarn and magazines and cool stuff!

The first big, old, idiosyncratic loom is back in the car-free garage and it may end up as kindling. The table loom will be returned to its owner. The tapestry loom . . . ai yi . . . who knows what will become of the tapestry loom.

And, for now, we have three looms set up in one room in our house. An embarrassment of riches, and looms, for sure.

I’d feel a lot better if I thought we weren’t the only ones with impulse control issues. Anyone out there willing to fess up?