I wove a bigger thing.

To be honest, I have a lot of yarn stash. Buuuuuuuut yanno. Sometimes you need to make sure you have enough yarn. What I’m saying is I bought more yarn. It’s cheap acrylic which I bought specifically to practice with. I am not yet good at estimating how much yarn I’ll need to weave a thing, so I got a lot more than I needed but that’s okay, I’m sure I can find something to do with the left overs.

Woven shawl in yellow and purple

A pattern like this is one of the easiest “fancy” weaves you can do, it’s simply blocks of colour in the warp and blocks in the weft. When the same colours meet you get the check effect. Easy peasy, and a good way to practice doing things with yarn ends. This is a variegated yellow/white with what could be a bright purple or a dark pink, depends on the light. It looked purple in the shop.  The warp threads are, in theory, 20 strands each while the weft I just eyeballed while watching Doctor Who (I have much catching up to do, haven’t even seen a single Matt Smith episode!).

Close up of checked shawlI say the warp is 20 strands per block “in theory” because I managed to double up several times in one section of the purple. By the time I noticed I was basically too lazy to correct it so I just went with it, it was a practice piece anyway.

Couple of things I still need to work on, including avoiding loops on the edges and keeping a more even tension, but I’m warping it up again tomorrow so we’ll see how I get on. Did I mention my loom? I have a loom now. (Eeeeeeeeee).

I wove a (tiny) thing!

My loom arrived yesterday and was assembled last night with brute force and a hammer. Other tools too, I didn’t just hit everything till it gave in. Since today was my day off, I had a bit of a practice go. Most of this time was spent admiring the warp threads which were rainbow coloured and pretty. See?

Rainbow coloured warp threads on a loom

It’s a rigid heddle loom, which means the warp threads are passed through a bunch of slots in a heddle and it’s super easy to move them up and down to pass the shuttle through. All my prior weaving as been on frame looms with needles, or a super crappy little loom I got at Spotlight which was so annoying I gave up after 10 minutes. The loom is 60cm wide, which felt more like a solid shawl or wrap size than the 40cm option. The 80cm was tempting, but there’s also the issue of having somewhere to work that would fit the loom. The 60cm is perfect for the end of my cutting table.  I completely planned that and didn’t say to myself today “Wow, that was lucky”. As you can see the thing I did today was not the full width, since it was just a practice run I thought I’d try for a scarf width instead of wrap. The key words here are “try for” because what I hadn’t considered was the warp yarn being so… rubbish.

Rainbow coloured yarn fraying

I’ve a lot of this rainbow yarn on account of I went into a complete frenzy and bought about 10 balls at one point for no firm reason. That’s how you make me spend money – make things nice colours. I’m easy. I’ve had some minor issues with it just pulling apart, but I’d forgotten those obviously. The motion of the heddle passing over the yarn eventually caused it to start to fall to bits. I had one warp thread break and kept going because eh, practice run. However when two on one side just snapped I decided to end the piece rather than end up with two sad little warp threads. Therefore I have a little block of fabric which is too small to do much with, but is lovely to look at.

Rainbow toned woven patch of fabric

There’s a few skipped warps in there, but I don’t caaaaaaaaaaaare. I learned a few things even on this little bit, such as leaving longer tails for tying off, and how to maintain tension. It was a lovely afternoon I spent faffing about with the loom and of course I have about 8 million ideas running around in my head about yarn combinations and patterns and… oh. OH it’s exciting. I see dye baths in my future too…

Woven scarf

Having mastered the granny square (yes, I’m still a bit chuffed about that) I’ve been digging out all the partial balls of yarn I have left from other projects and the ones I bought with nothing in particular in mind. I do that a lot, I’m a sucker for a pretty colour. In the middle of the basket of yarn, I dug up some funky red wool I’d bought on whim. I’m also a sucker for things that are red. It’s multi thickness, very thin in some places and quite fat in other places. I tried to crochet with it, but frankly everything I did looked a bit shit. The very thin bits end up looking too loose and stringy if I used a hook for the fat bits, and if I used a middling hook, the fat bits didn’t play.

I thought it might look a bit cool if I used it to weave a scarf, but not having a loom was a bit of an issue. I do have a small square loom (one of those ones with the nails around the edge of a frame) which I could have used, but I don’t know where it is to be honest, so that was out. There’s lots of options for making looms out of other things. I pondered coat hangers, sticks and even shutting the ends in a drawer when I stumbled upon the idea of using an embroidery frame.

Embroidery frame loom

At first I considered hammering a row of nails in each roller, but it wouldn’t have worked as I was using the rollers to hold the completed work as well as the waiting to be rolled up yarn (you know what I mean). So instead I drilled a series of holes in each roller, 1cm apart. Then I cut the yarn into sections a bit longer than I wanted the scarf to be and threaded them one at a time through the holes, tying a knot to keep them in place.

Did it work? It mostly did work okay! Rolling the rollers to keep the threads tight worked as I planned, with the only issues being some slightly longer yarn which went a bit loose at the end. The hardest bit was the first rolling, which you can see above. Keeping the warp threads in order was a bit tricky, but it works fine if you take it nice and slowly.

Weaving in progress

It is, as you can see, wonky. I think this is due in part to the different thicknesses of the yarn, it was not always possible to keep it all tight and straight, but as it apparent in many of my projects, a little bit of wonky doesn’t trouble me. The chopstick is there to push the weft thread more tightly into place. Basically it’s weave a line, push into place, weave the next line, push into place… The whole thing is done in the basic Under One, Over One weave except for the places when I messed up.

Once I’d reached the end, I cut the warp threads and tied them off in pairs (having planned ahead, I had an even number of holes drilled) and then added some more yarn as a fringy bit on the end because making a fringe is the easy way out.

Finished woven scarf

It’s actually a little short, but it keeps my neck warm and that is what counts. Wonky as it is, I’m a little bit charmed by it and will wear it without too much embarrassment.

I’m planning to try out the “loom” on some other things, as soon as I fix the two holes that were too close together and ended up as one big hole – this is fine for chunky yarn but hopeless for thinner stuff. Of course thinner stuff might not work anyway as the holes are so far apart. However I have other frames I can drill holes in if I want to. Pleasingly, they are still completely usable as embroidery frames too as the fabric strips are not disturbed by the drilling.