Weaving

My First Weaving Project, My First Project of the New Year

Merry Fiberful X-Mas to me! One of the highlights of my Christmas was getting a rigid heddle loom. And I was so taken with my new loom I finished my first project on New Year's Day.

My first woven scarf, pre-washed & pre-trimmed. When changing colors your yarn ends just hang out until the end, when you snip them off with scissors.

I did a teensy bit of weaving in college- a rectangle big enough to be a placemat (I don't use placemats), so I'm not counting it as a project. Besides, that was a floor loom. This is a rigid heddle loom.

For those of you unfamiliar with weaving terms, a little primer. Warp threads are those that run parallel to the selvedge. Weft threads run parallel to the crosswise grain. When weaving you set up all your warp threads & weave your weft threads through them. Warp threads have to be tight enough to make the weaving process easier. Since weft threads aren't under much pressure, I believe this is why there's usually more stretch along the crosswise grain. Also, because you're not making loops & knots in your fabric, weaving is incredibly fast & uses shockingly little yarn compared to knitting or crocheting. Well, inexperienced weaver that I am feels like less yarn is used. Most everyone says weaving takes up a lot of yarn.

My new Beka rigid heddle loom, pre-warped with test strip in progress

Anyway, my loom came pre-warped, which meant I got to play with it fresh out of the box. It was really nice because I felt free to make all sorts of mistakes & not get attached to the couple inch wide strip of fabric I was making.

Gadzooks! How uneven, which is why I decided this would be my test strip.

I finished my test strip just a day or two after X-Mas, then immediately started my first real project, a scarf. To be honest I really didn't know if I was making it for myself or my boyfriend. Awhile ago I knit him a scarf & he lost it when we moved this fall. I hate knitting scarves. They go on forever. But woven scarves, my friends, are quick little beasts. Besides, I was hearing many complaints about how much he missed his old scarf. And he was the one who bought the loom for me. But wouldn't you know? I found the scarf buried in his closet soon after finishing the new scarf!

Tada! A new scarf!

Alright, it would have been a lightening quick project if I had had my warp set up properly, but for the first few feet it was much too loose & unevenly so. Finally, I got things sorted out & the weaving flew by a lot faster. But, the early uneven tension caused some ripples in the final product. The learning curve on getting your warp right is probably a lot quicker on fancier looms because they're designed to make it more even. I tell you this in case you're interested in getting a loom yourself. I highly recommend it! More on that later.

My goal was to entirely use up some of my stash yarn. Well, I hadn't calculated the yardage for my warp because I like winging things when I'm first learning. And the method for warping your loom I learned in the Craftsy Rigid Heddle Weaving course didn't work perfectly for this loom. So I really did have to wing it (I step on directions! I dig my heel into them & spit! Yeah I know, I'm like the stereotypical guy who won't ask for directions when he's lost. I probably should have done more than skimmed the included instructions).

Here you can see how bubbly & uneven things were pre-washing.

Big shocker! My scarf came out short. I should have known it would. My stash busting scarf left me with bits of stash instead of projects worth. Ah well. I'm sure they'll be easily used in future weaving projects. And the scarf is around 53″ long. That's just long enough to tie around your neck, but not long enough to do a nice double wrapping. When I was done weaving I soaked the scarf in warm water, kind of like you're supposed to do with a knitting project. Instead of blocking it though (drying it flat in the desired shape) I let it hang by the parts that were most uneven & bubbly. This helped straighten things out a lot, although it's not perfect.

The weft is a beautiful mix of bright burgundy wool/alpaca, variegated red & fuschia wool, and heathered dark burgundy wool. Brown wool yarn makes up the warp. Actually, the color combo would go perfectly with my favorite coat…

In fact, when my boyfriend saw me trying on the scarf with my burgundy coat he said my cheeks puffed up. Apparently that means I'm pleased with what I see. So if I weave him another scarf he'll let me keep this one. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of giving it to him? It is sooo warm though…

If you don't care about looms then stop reading, but if you're interested or would like to buy one yourself, read on.

My new toy is a Beka 10″ loom, which is actually designed for children. But all the reviews said good things about it & many of the reviewers were adults who had bought it for themselves. And people, it costs about half as much as the same size looms from other companies. Q bought it for me from the Woolery & I'd really recommend them. I think we purchased it on the Friday before X-Mas & it arrived that Monday, X-Mas eve. We picked the cheapest, normal shipping option too! So check out the Woolery. They have the lowest price on it to boot. And no, they're not paying me or plying me with free fiber to say this.

Like I said, it's a child's loom, so it's not as slick as the popular Cricket rigid heddle loom. This means that instead of winding your warp & finished weaving around a fancy roller, you manually unwrap the warp from a block of wood & slide your weaving through some wooden sticks. Not difficult, just not as smooth. Remember what i said earlier about tension problems? This block & the lack of rollers can make things uneven. But, I actually like the super simplistic design because it would be so easy to replicate if I wanted to make a loom myself (I have grand plans of one day learning more than really basic wood working so I can build myself furniture & spinning wheels, yes, multiple spinning wheels, & bookshelves, lots of bookshelves). Now go buy a loom so I'm not the only beginner lurking about this corner of the internet! I want to see your pretty projects!

Contemplative Q

 

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21 thoughts on “My First Weaving Project, My First Project of the New Year

  1. That turned out great! I’ve only tried weaving a few times but it’s amazing how fast it goes. Maybe I should take it up again…

  2. I used to weave in college, but that was on a much larger and more complicated loom that just frustrated me! I haven’t felt the urge to weave ever since, but gosh darn it if your gorgeous scarf doesn’t make me want to reconsider! I think it looks fantastic, character and all 🙂

  3. You are going to have to make more for this man. What a perfect model!!!!! The colors you chose for the scarf are wonderful and what a lucky guy to receive such a great piece.

  4. I can see why you haven’t made things for him before-what with all the sewists perving his pics (for every one that comments about it there are 9 that are too embarrassed to mention the perving) 😄 I know nothing about looms but if you’re into it you should check out nikidesu (if you aren’t already) who seems to me a master at all manner of arcana including dyeing, weaving and making her own pigments and dyes. I am into knitting machines tho’. One day I’ll own one..

    • Oh wow I hadn’t seen that blog before. Thanks! Mmm, I’d love a knitting machine too. Actually, I’d like a whole fiber studio with a floor loom, many sewing machines, spinning wheels & some sheep out back. With alpaca bunnies too. The only thing about knitting machines is there is a learning curve. I’ve only used them a couple of times (years ago) & the teacher said it’s very common for everyone to have lots of dropped stitches at the edges. And we were using nice, fancy metal machines. I’d imagine the problem might be worse on lower end, plastic machines.

  5. The ripples look kinda awesome. Thought you did them on purpose. I bought a Cricket at a Steampunk convention, just because it looked fun. I really like it and it’s very easy. I, too, think it uses less yarn. Have you tried spinning? I’m trying out a drop spindle soon (before I invest in a spinning wheel). Love love love the colors.

    • Thanks! It’s nice when mistakes look intentional. I have done some spinning- years ago on an actual wheel. Now I have a support spindle, which is much easier on my back than the DIY drop spindle I had. I’m also interested in getting a Mother Marion kick spindle, which is kinda sorta like a cross between a spinning wheel & a supported spindle in that you kick a fat but small wheel instead of twirling with your fingers.

  6. I think you did an amazing first project. I have considered weaving; in fact, I was going to buy a Cricket loom, but then I read the instructions for warping it and changed my mind. I realized that as gorgeous as hand-woven items are, and as creative as weavers get to be, I would be bored out of my mind with weaving. I bought a spinning wheel instead. (From The Woolery. :D)

    • Oh my gosh I would LOVE a spinning wheel. I can’t wait to see your first handspuns come flying off the wheel! My boyfriend also got me a support spindle for x-mas/my birthday & it’s been nice to slowly make handspun again, but now I’m looking at the Mother Marion kick spindles. But as for weaving being boring, I haven’t found it to be so, but I am still on my newbie, everything-is-new-so-therefore-fun high. And there are a lot of patterns you can do with rigid heddle weaving when you incorporate pick up sticks & second heddles, so it doesn’t all have to be the same back & forth plain weave motions. Warping your loom isn’t bad with worsted weight yarn- as with this scarf. But I just warped a rug with crochet weight cotton & geez that felt like it took ages. It’s kind of like knitting stockinette to me- boring & basic but not so bad if you have something to concentrate on like a movie in the background. And I find that once the hard part is over, the actual weaving can fly by & be a bit mesmerizing.

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