Weaving for a Better Life

I was in this area years ago, but was not interested in weaving yet – only the finished product.  I was gifted a beautiful jacket, purchased tablecloth sets, a lapghan, drawn by the vibrant colours and patterns.

Now I want to go back there and spend some time watching and learning what they do. They spin and dye their own yarn, and weave the cloth.

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https://www.linktv.org/shows/women-in-focus/the-art-of-weaving-textiles-for-a-better-life

I wish there was more footage of the actual weaving, but the message they bring as well is important – as tourists interested in purchasing a ‘souvenir’, we shouldn’t haggle it down to the cheapest price.  This is, after all, their livelihood, and as they said, they will never go beyond poverty if we are paying for less.

And what about all the discussions I see on the knit and crochet forums, the indignant posts about how their handmade items are worth the price, and therefore should not be questioned or counter-offered with a lower price?  So why do we shortchange the makers of those handcrafted souvenirs that we come across in our travels?

Are they not also worth the time and price?

 

Panel Blanket 

Winter came suddenly, and I realized I didn’t have a blanket in the car for those emergencies when we sit by the roadside waiting for Triple A to come, or for any other emergencies. So I had an idea to weave a blanket for the car, and a way to use up odds and ends. Since I have a 15-inch Cricket loom, I knew I would have to make several panels.

It started with the first panel … I found full skeins of six colours, and decided to start with those. After I finished, I found it too dark …

 

So then I decided to add more colours, but keeping main colours throughout …


By Panel number three, it was claimed already …

 

I just finished the fourth panel … The most problematic of them all.  
One selvage came out loose and uneven. I know the tension was off, and had to rewarp twice, and it was still a problem. I kept on, though, adjusting as I went along, and thinking that it can be fixed as I join them together.

I lay them side by side, thinking that it would be wide enough now to start joining, and the borders, would add some width to it.

 

 

 

But the boys said to add a fifth panel, so they can wrap it around them.  So on to a fifth panel.

In the meantime, I’ve been running ideas and options through my mind on how to join them together.  The most common way seems to be to use a serger to sew the edges, so they don’t unravel. I don’t have that, so it’ll have to be by hand, using the mattress stitch, or a figure 8 join.  The selvage on about three sides will need to be fixed, because of the uneven tension, so I was also thinking crochet a border around the panels first, then join. Next,  I feel I should wet-finish it first, then join, then cut. But others have said to join together first, then wet-finish.

So … Let me get this down on paper so I can see the process if it’s right …

1 – crochet a border around;

2 – join panels evenly down the length, either sew or crochet join;

3 – wet-finish;

4 – cut and trim to size;

5 – crochet a border around.

Does that sound right?  Or take out step 1, and just do the next four steps.

Any tips on what the process should be?

 

2016 SO Scarf Project: Working on the Houndstooth

The featured pattern for our group (Knit and Crochet for a Cause) is the houndstooth.

Perfect for practising the weaving pattern on the loom.  And slowly, one by one, I’ve been working on the pattern on the loom.  This is what I have come up with over the summer.

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After several scarves in the 2L 2D pattern, I wanted to try working on one with bigger ‘houndsteeth’.  So I tried doubling the colour strands on the warp – the red and white one.  It didn’t work.  It just made it thicker, or denser, but not bigger.  Well, it kind of elongated it too. lol

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Then I thought maybe a 4L 4D pattern, with a 2×2 on the weft would make a bigger houndstooth.  It didn’t work either.  Those are the orange/green/purple and black ones.  It sort of looks like a houndstooth, but it isn’t really.

After the fourth time of experimenting with the pattern, I got tired of it and mixed it up now with other combinations.  This blue and white started out with the squares pattern, then evolved into a clasped weft instead.

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*sigh* So I’ll continue with my experiments.  I asked in the weaving forums, and it seems that I need another heddle, or two, or three, and pick-up sticks (for a 2-shaft RH) to get the correct houndstooth pattern.  That’s ok … for now, I’ll stick to the 2×2 and practise some more, this time with different colour combinations …

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That should keep me busy …

Information on the Special Olympics Scarf Project can be found here.
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Learning the Clasp Weft Technique

Finally … a use for this yarn purchase … bought for National Crochet Month 2014, with thoughts of making something special with it.

But after several starts and stops in both crochet and knit, it wasn’t working up the way I liked, so I put it away.

Now that I have this loom, I now know what to do with all that yarn that I bought and couldn’t find the right project for … warp the loom with it!  So I excitedly warped the loom with a SWTC soysilk in similar colours (reddish-orange and black), left over from the Hawaiian Lace shawl.  I thought that it was a nice coincidence that these colours were so similar … or was it a coincidence?  My eyes are naturally drawn to the same or similar shades, so maybe it was not a coincidence … hmmm … must research this further.   Anyway …

After warping the loom, my brain had a momentary lapse … Instead of learning the lacy patterns, like Brooks Bouquet, or working with pick-up sticks as I had planned when I started warping the loom, what came to mind instead was … clasp weft.  And that’s what I started to do.

And it was coming along nicely, then I noticed that the right side was starting to slant up … which meant that the tension was off, and at some time, the group of ties on the right had somehow loosened.  But I was not going to unravel this and start over, so I went on.

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I tried to adjust the tension and not beating so hard, making sure to leave about a quarter inch apart between the rows.  It didn’t always work …

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I don’t know if it’s because the yarn is thin and slippery, or I was not being consistent throughout.  By this time, I just want to finish working with the yarn, so I kept on going.  I was enjoying learning the new technique, but not with this yarn.

Hopefully, the gaps will even out after it’s been wet-finished.  And if not, then it’s time well-spent learning the clasp weft …. My mind is already planning the next project with the clasp weft and three to four colours …

National Crochet Month 2015 … or Weaving

So … Can you believe that National Crochet Month came and went, and I didn’t start any major crochet projects, or worked on any crochet projects?  Well, I’ve made a hat or two, but I’m not counting that as major projects.  So maybe it’s good that they call it National Crafting Month now, instead of National Crochet Month … but I don’t recall when that changed from Crochet to Crafting …

What I’ve been working on instead is this … weaving on the loom.

I’m still on a weaving kick, with so many ideas running around my head on the colour combinations, or the patterns, even if it is just going to be plain squares again, and plain weaving.  For about a week, my fingers itched to try weaving with pick-up sticks, and maybe the Leno lace pattern, because I re-discovered the Shalimar Breathless DK and Homage yarn in the stash, and thought that maybe I could make a spring shawl with it … but I hadn’t finished what was on the loom, so I couldn’t start anything new … *sigh*

So the thought that maybe I should get another loom – maybe a 24-inch one this time – has entered my mind.  The 15-inch is a good size to work with, but I’ve also noticed that my finished products come out about an inch narrower, which is sort of an odd size width for me.  Like, it’s too wide for a scarf, but not wide enough for a shawl or a wrap, so I’ll have to make two panels and join together … *sigh*  Like I started this as a baby blanket and planned to make three three-foot panels and join together, but I forgot and warped about six-seven feet instead.  So now, maybe I should cut it into squares, trim the edges with crochet, then join together to make a baby blanket .. except I’m a little hesitant about cutting the finished woven product – will the resulting ends unravel, before I can add the crochet trim?

Since I realized that I can’t start another weaving project until I’ve finished what’s on the loom, then weaving WIPs isn’t possible then, with only one loom to work on.  Maybe that’s a good idea … We don’t want any more WIPs to add to the pile, right?

Anyway … here’s what I worked on during National (not)Crochet Month …

Purple Waves

After deciding on these colours to work with next, and keeping spring IMG_1669in mind, I excitedly warped the loom with the Noro Nobori.

The Noro Nobori is a chunky yarn, and is a cotton-wool-silk mix.  I say mix, and not blend, because the wool and silk is wrapped around the cotton strip, which is about a quarter inch wide.  I wanted to see what effect the variegated or self-striping yarn would have as the warp, and a solid colour as the weft.  It also ran thick and thin, so I thought that would add some more texture to the piece.

Then … this happened …. **gasp**

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First one thread snapped as I pulled … then another …  oh my …

The only good thing I can say to that is thankfully, it happened at the beginning, and I was only about an inch into weaving.

So I took it apart and off the loom, and this time used the purple Cascade Superwash as the warp.  The Noro will have to be used as the weft.  Yes, all those lengths of yarn were wound separately onto the shuttle, and woven in.  Yes, I had a million ends sticking out in the back *sigh*

But I was liking the effect of the white cotton showing up in between the wool and silk around it.  And one advantage of working with lengths of yarn?  I could choose the sequence of the colour changes and switch it around.  I did try to match the colours at the beginning and ends of the lengths, but after a while, I didn’t know what the original colour sequence was, so I just picked up one length when I was done and continued on with it, keeping as close as I could to a gradual change in colours.

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And the finished piece … it was a good size, about 7-ft long, and 10 inches wide.  I wanted it wider, but I didn’t have enough yarn to warp a full 15 inches.

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But the effect of the white cotton showing up intermittently through the colours is nice.  Plus, it covers up the spots where the tension went off, and the lines started to get wavy … the white pulls it all together as part of the pattern. Wasn’t that smart of the yarn?

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Next up is to learn how to hem-stitch the edge for the finishing.  Or I’m going to end up with fringes on all the scarves and runners and whatever else I work on.  I was going to do it here, but forgot in the excitement of finishing the weave.  I think you’re supposed to hemstitch while it’s still on the loom, not after you’ve taken it off, right?

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I haven’t wet-finished it yet, I’ll do that later.  Do we have to wet-finish all the pieces?  or only those that we think might need a little ‘fix’?   I don’t know if the Noro will fluff out.  The thick-thin texture didn’t really show up – maybe I was beating it too close together.  I should remember to leave about a quarter inch space in between the weft threads for the next time.  And if it doesn’t drape well to use as a scarf or wrap, then I’ll use it as a table runner.

The other ball of Noro Nobori is waiting for me.  I didn’t use it on this, because even though the tags said it was the same lot and colour number, there were more pinks to it than purples.  So that will be another piece – a scarf or wrap again, maybe wider, and a little more looser.  That’s okay … these are all experiments and practice … and practice makes perfect!

Pulling Towards Spring

What to make next?

When I am close to finishing off a piece on the loom, my thoughts turn to the next weaving project, and what new technique or colours I want to work with.  There were too many things I wanted to work on – and those knit and crochet WIPs were still in the back of my mind – you know, if I sat down to it like I’m doing with this weaving, it would probably have been done already, right?  But I was still on this weaving momentum …

These two purple balls of yarn had been sitting in the stash for some time now.  My sister wanted a purple cowl/wrap last year, but when I started to work on it, the colours and the patterns weren’t working for me.  (Yes, she did get her cowl, in a dark amethyst yarn instead).  So these were frogged and were waiting for a project to suit it.  I recently got the darker plum-looking balls beside it, thinking that I could combine the two.  Then there was this Noro Nobori hanks that were also sitting there.  Hmmm …

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Fresh off the red houndstooth scarf, I wanted to work on the pattern again, but this time with more than two colours.  It can be done, right?  And these are the colours that I came up with, and I was thinking that it would make a nice gradient scarf or wrap, if I had enough to make it wider, and if I can get the pattern right.  The last time I tried to make a gradient colours scarf, it didn’t work.  It still came out nice, but not what I was aiming for.  Then I came across one ball of Jojoland’s Rhythm, which would tie in all those colours, right?  Hmmmm …. that could work …

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In the end, I went with the purples, looking forward to the spring.  The other palette was more of autumn/fall, which I will still work on, because I like autumn colours, but these colours were pulling me toward spring.

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So purples it is …