Thursday, March 19, 2015

March 19: Weaving update

So, I thought it might be interesting to show you my weaving so far. These swatches are not masterpieces by any stretch of the imagination, but there's something satisfying about the first finished objects in any craft, even if they are practically the dictionary definition of raggle-taggle. (Not that that's stopping me from using them as coasters!)

Basic info:
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label (DK weight) in Sand and Grape
Heddle: 8-dent (supplied in the Cricket kit; generally intended for use with worsted-weight yarns)
Warp ends: 4 Sand / 10 Grape / 10 Sand / 10 Grape / 4 Sand

Swatch #1:
Beating too hard after every pick meant that this was a very tight weave and didn't really show off the plaid at all. It was late when I started; I was sitting on the floor with the loom at an odd angle; I had a really intense mystery show on in the back ground. I think those things might all have contributed to this. 

If you look at the edges you can see how loopy the weft is, and how uneven the edges are. This is my widest swatch, at 4.5". I didn't leave long enough ends, so finishing with knots was a challenge. BUT: it's fabric!

Swatch #2:
This is the one that I'm most pleased with, actually. The fringe leaves a bit to be desired, but for a first time out with hemstitching, I'm pretty pleased. (I used this tutorial.) I wasn't beating so hard, so you actually get a sense of the plaid. And my edges are much more even. This measures 4.25" across.

Swatch #3:
I don't know if I'd give this full "third time's a charm" status, but I definitely felt a better sense of flow with this. Still working on tension issues, but generally more consistent across the board. Measures 4" across and about 12" long (shown folded in half). Thought about using it to sew up a little pouch...might still do that. Maybe.

Things I learned:
Unlike in knitting, where you wash your finished object in cold water, in weaving you wash in hot water with a harsher soap, because you actually want to encourage the threads to "full out" – blooming and even felting a bit. (Side note: The first time I saw "full out" in reference to weaving I thought it was a typo for "fill out." It wasn't until I made the connection to fulling – treating knitting fabric with hot water, soap and agitation – that I figured it out.) This helps fill in what can be a very open weave. This makes me think that maybe superwash wool isn't the best choice for weaving, as it's been treated so that it's less likely to full.

Also, loom waste: it's significant! People talk about weaving as a way to work through your stash quickly, and they aren't exaggerating. If you're used to eking out every last inch of yarn from your skein for just-one-more knit stitch, intentionally leaving long ends when warping feels odd – but not as odd as trimming them at the end feels. One look at those skew-whiff knots on Swatch #1 was enough to convince me that the waste is worth it. I can definitely see this as a way to work through some of my sock yarn stash and I'm already thinking about Christmas scarves for 2015.

Weaving in ends is going to take some practice. I'm finding it hard to make them look...intentional.

Finally, I need a resource book. I found a copy of Weaving for Beginners at the library, but it's focussed more toward table and floor looms; the chapter on rigid heddle looms is rather perfunctory. Any recommendations?

Things I want:
- 10- and 12-dent heddles 
- a shuttle with a bobbin
- a good rigid heddle resource book 

What's next:
Having gone quick-and-dirty for my first outing with the Cricket, I decided I was up for something a little more challenging, so on the weekend I used the yarn that came with the kit to warp up a 60" warp for a table runner. It's a very Easter-y purple and green worsted (a brand I'm not familiar with); I'm using Rowan Fine Yarn Worsted from my stash for the weft. So far so good:

I'm still trying to work on tension, especially on the sides, and on weaving in my ends neatly. I'm trying not to worry too much about colour-fastness and the fulling process – I'll cross that bridge if I come to it. I'm not sure, but I suspect this project might be the weaving equivalent of a beginner's garter-stitch scarf.

I'll let you know how it turns out. Any questions? Suggestions for resources? Tips and tricks? Let me know!


  1. Please keep blogging about your progress - I just bought a table loom at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival and I'm hoping to set it up this weekend. Your tips have been really useful and thanks for that link to the hemstitching.

  2. Please keep blogging about your progress - I just bought a table loom at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival and I'm hoping to set it up this weekend. Your tips have been really useful and thanks for that link to the hemstitching.

  3. This is really cool progress to see. Weaving is the one textile craft I haven't ventured into, yet, and it's nice to experience the learning process vicariously through someone else. The plaid pattern looks really tricky, but I like it a lot, and I love seeing the progress from a first wonky swatch to some more grown-up looking ones. I'm really excited to see your first finished bigger piece, too.

  4. ooh, that's so interesting to see how it's going, your easter table runner looks awesome so far! I love the plaid mug rug, and it's interesting to hear about how weaving does wonders for whittling down the stash.... my stash is overflowing yet somehow I still bought 8 skeins of yarn last night.... sigh.


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