Tag: weaving

Becoming A Weaver

Last time I wrote I shared my first weaving project and promised to come back and share the resources I used to get started weaving. I like to learn concepts by reading and techniques by illustration or video so my list below includes a combination of both.

cover of the book inventive weaving on a little loom. shows a small loom with a yellow weaving project on it as well as inset photos of 5 different weaving patterns.

I began with the book Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom by Syne Mitchell based on the recommendations of the rigid heddle weaving group on Ravelry and I am glad that I did. This book is a thorough explanation of how weaving works, the different parts of weaving structure, how to set up and use your loom for plain weave and various different patterns and how to troubleshoot issues. This is a reference that I will continue to refer back to when I try a new technique or need to refresh my memory on an old one. The book includes a number of projects at the end to introduce the techniques from the book and I have several dog-eared to come back to.

The second resource I used to get started and weave even my first swatches was Liz Gipson’s Yarnworker School. To be honest, I usually do not like to watch courses on crafting because I find they move too slowly for me – I want to see the 30 seconds of the video that demonstrate the technique and then move on with my life. But I truly enjoyed the Weaving 101 course from Liz and went on to view some of the older weave-a-long videos to learn some of the methods from those projects. The videos are to the point but not rushed and I appreciated seeing things done one way by Liz and another way by Syne in her book – it was healthy for me to see early on that there are multiple approaches and I can try them out and see what works best for me or the situation. I continue to get Liz’s newsletter and learn from her weaving geekery, and would happily enroll in future courses from her.

cover of the book weaving within reach. features a pair of hands tucking in strands of yarn on a project as well as a cup of tea, scissors, and a fluffy ball of yarn to create a cozy feel.

The second book I read was Weaving Within Reach by Anne Weil, which is written to include projects ranging from loomless to simple DIY looms to rigid heddle. It is photographed like a coffee table book, with cozy scenes around the woven objects you will create. This book covered some specific weaving structures I would like to try out on my rigid heddle loom, but on the whole is not designed to teach how to weave on that kind of loom. I bookmarked more projects in this book than the first, things like a bento bag made of twill tape or a sweet rabbit lovey made from fabric you weave and then sew into shape.

cover of intermediate SAORI clothing design. it shows a shirt made of handwoven fabric with green stripes put on a dressform in front of a fuzzy wooded background.

In looking at weaving projects on Ravelry for inspiration, I was quickly drawn to the handwoven clothing projects. I have not been able to find a ton of resources for these kind of projects, they seem to mostly come from the brains of the crafters. I did find the book Intermediate SAORI Clothing Design by Kenzo Jo helpful in learning the general principles I am after in tackling these projects on my own. The projects come sized for the 5’4″ 120lbs average Japanese woman so they won’t fit me as drafted, but they cover the geometry involved in each garment and how to plan to cut a neck hole or sew a hem, etc, so I can use the information. The garments are all simple shapes with minimal seaming so they are not hard to size up or down. I was incredibly inspired by the clothing in this book. It’s all sewn from Saori fabric, which I find incredibly beautiful. I am really hoping to make myself a handwoven tank this summer and am currently torn between going off an indie clothing pattern or designing my own based on the concepts in this book.

And that ends the recap of the resources I began my rigid heddle weaving journey with. Since then I was given a lovely little inkle loom and have begun playing with that, so there are definitely more weaving posts ahead this summer as I continue to learn this new craft. I would love to hear any resources I left out that you recommend – please share them in the comments below!

FO Friday: Plaid Scarf

a plaid scarf in white browns and pink hangs over a wooden railing

Draft: None, repeat worked out with plaidmaker.com

Yarn: The Green Line 3/8 by JaggerSpun in Alabaster, Caramel, Cinnamon, and Melon

EPI: 10

Size: 7″ x 76″

Ravelry Link: here

Started: April 18, 2020

Completed: May 1, 2020

a plaid scarf in white, browns and pink laying on weather wooden planks

I made cloth! I have wanted to weave for a long time, and even took a class on it a year ago at DFW Fiber Fest. As soon as I sat down to weave I felt a connection to the ancient art of making cloth and the generations who have done so before me, in a way that I don’t feel about spinning or knitting or sewing. When quarantine hit I decided to go for it and invest in a rigid heddle loom, something that fits into both my budget and my household. This plaid scarf is my first weaving project on my new loom and I am so very pleased with it.

a plaid scarf in white, browns and pink laying on weather wooden planks

One thing I struggled with on this project was keeping an even number of PPI aka picks her inch, or how close together my weft threads are. You can see it in the above picture and the first one – the color blocks are much longer at one end of the scarf than the other. I was trying to match visually, but learned that method can be unreliable when done under tension. For my next project I will try to match based on my untensioned work.

a plaid scarf in white browns and pink hangs over a wooden railing, billowing out in a breeze

Overall I am so pleased with how easy it was to make this project. I was able to get an idea in my mind and turn it into cloth in just a couple weeks. For my next project I am torn between dishcloths (truly, my long-term weaving dream) or fabric to sew a simple top for myself. I am currently leaning towards the latter, thinking I will raid my leftovers and make a Saori-style scrappy fabric.

Next week I’ll share a bit about the resources I used to become a weaver. I definitely could not have done it without help! Have you taken up a new quarantine craft? Tell me about it in the comments below!

DFW Fiber Fest Recap

I am very lucky that my job affords me the opportunity to attend a lot of fiber events, but one experience I’ve never had is going to a big event as a yarn civilian. So, when I saw the teacher line-up for this year’s Dallas-Fort Worth Fiber Festival I decided to take the plunge and sign up. I had a full weekend of classes (7 of them!) and managed to sneak in some marketplace time as well. Here’s some of what I learned during this lovely weekend.

These are my swatches from Knitting for Speed and Efficiency with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (bottom) and My Aching Wrists with Carson Demers (top). In the former class I learned a ton about the history of knitting before we talked about how we can improve our personal knitting rate. It was interesting to take at this particular time in my life as a sick person, because the disability community talks a lot about not measuring our worth in productivity and my brain was really trying to figure out how to hold onto an interest in knitting quickly with not feeling like it reflected on me. I learned that I knit 28 stitches per minute, which is mid to top of the average range for North American knitters: 10-40 stitches per minute. We talked about a very efficient way to knit if we’re willing to learn a new technique, as well as ways to increase speed in our current knitting style. You can’t really practice both, you have to pick one, and I’m still undecided which I’ll do when I’m done with one of my current projects and am ready to take on a speed-practice one.

I put these swatches together for the picture because they both show the same tendency – when I start practicing a new knitting technique my gauge gets smaller. I am a very loose knitter, often needing to go down 3 needle sizes to get gauge, and I finally learned why in Carson’s class. When I make a stitch I do so on the shaft of the needle, so my stitches are the diameter of two of the needle size, not one like it would be if I formed the stitch on the tip. I don’t have a problem with being a loose knitter so I’m not sure if I’ll attempt to change this practice of mine, but it is nice to understand why I have to knit on such tiny needles.

I also took my first two weaving classes this weekend – Knitting for Weavers with Deborah Jarchow and Saori Weaving with Kathy Utts. Above are my samples from the former class. It was such a great set up – there were half a dozen different types of beginner looms in the class. We each warped the one in front of us and wove a sample on it, and then moved around the room and tried out other looms we were interested in. It is amazing how different the models can feel in your hands, and how tiny style differences make using it harder or easier for your body. During the entire time we were warping I was thinking how glad I was that I took a class and didn’t just buy a loom, because this activity was not for me. And then the moment we started weaving, as I saw cloth being created in front of me, I had such a visceral reaction – I was part of an ancient textile art, sisters with the Goddess Arachne. Now that the fumes have worn off I’m still not sure I’ll take it up as a hobby, I don’t know if I have the mental energy to properly learn a new kind of making, but I also don’t know if the siren call will overwhelm my senses at some point.

My favorite class experience was definitely Saori weaving. I love everything about the philosophy – it is about creating imperfect art and knowing ourselves in the process. Sitting at that loom felt so good, as did playing with techniques and making up my own. The Saori way is to machine wash your weavings, which puts fear in my stomach but I am going to do anyway to really go through the process. After that is done, I cannot wait to hang this piece that I love in my office. It’s definitely not in my budget to buy a Saori loom anytime soon, but I may visit the local studio and take some more classes.

I can’t believe it, but I didn’t take any pictures while I was there! So just imagine a picture of a great marketplace full of interesting vendors. I also really liked the hotel/conference center set up – they’re across the street from each other and right next to a bunch of restaurants. My favorite was Nosh and Bottle, a deli/market. I had one of the best sandwiches of my life there and will definitely eat there again next time I’m in Dallas. Maybe for next year’s show? If so, hopefully I can convince some of my knitting group to come with me!