You may have read an earlier post of mine when I spoke about my “urges”… Not the cheese urges but spending a Weekend with the Cochineals and the urge to dye something red. If you remember I dyed (not died) some wool red and then I spun it into yarn. Then I said I need to do fun things with it.. well that is what this weekend is about. It so happens that I finally got my loom after a long wait!!! I will be weaving (or starting to weave) my first blanket/rug (depending on how it turns out). Unlike cheese this is my first attempt and I am doing this with my daughter… (she has been awesome… only complaint she has made is why is it so big?…. and she didn’t get.. “go big or go home” since we were already home…” ) . Before I go into our experience/experiment I want to share some back story. My urges went beyond just red dye… I have been boiling or soaking all kinds of different plants and other thing to create natural dyes. Have a woad dying weekend coming and will get more into this but I wanted to share some pictures and let you know why I was so excited Friday afternoon… (just before leaving for our bunker) when …. the loom arrived.
Here is one of my experiments… I dyed and spun wool and made a hat (crochet… which I hate doing… when I die and by some horrible mistake land in hell… the devil will be waiting for me with a crochet hook asking me to crochet him an afghan). The hat my daughter is wearing is wool dyed from red cabbage (light blue/green), black bean (blue gray), and some weeds she brought me from the field next door(yellow/biege). This is also some of the first wool I spun (learning how to do this… that is why the yarn is uneven… stop judging)
I love natural dye and love the idea of our ancestors experimenting with plants, bugs, sea snails, etc. … to make colorful things. I mention all of this because I have been anxiously awaiting a loom so I can use all of the wool I have been spinning and dyeing to create something beautiful.. (or at least homemade). That hat just frustrated me… It was suppose to be a mans hat for myself… but I suck at crocheting and wasted cool wool on a girly hat… (at least my daughter liked it… so I lied and told her I made it for her.)
SO…if this hasn’t made you already leave… ( continue reading and you will see what I did with a loom… wool and… a weekend)…if you don’t want to read click like anyway… it helps my ego… and I won’t know
I ordered this loom from Etsy… (link ) This is my second attempt at purchasing a loom I ordered one from ALE Crafting Supplies on amazon. They took my money and never shipped a product… (luckily amazon refunded my money… ) … This after waiting for almost two months… When I got the refund I bought the one from Etsy and it got to me in 3 weeks. You can see it above. It is BIG… 36 feet wide (actually 36 inches… same diff…) and adjustable up to 6 feet tall. It was well made and believe it or not very easy to put together… (you now see why I am weaving something big… it would be a shame to do something small on a brand new BIG loom)
Here is what I did…please no mocking… If you see dumb things I am doing or have advice… please feel welcome to comment (if you comment you can mock a little)
Here goes… first time… One sure thought I had was that I didn’t want to warp with my own spun wool… so I bought something I thought would be a good “warp” thread…. “Warp” is the thread that goes up and down. In the last picture above you can see my first warping attempt… (wonder why it is called warp…. ) The warp I choose was no good… and broke right after the picture was taken…(I was pulling it tight). This sucks since warping is almost as bad as crocheting… and I had to start over. So
NOVICE TIP 1: Make sure the warp thread is strong…(kind of obvious if you think about it)
Here is the loom fully warped (do you say that??? I mean people that know what they are doing… do they say “fully warped”… hum if you know add a comment). You can also note that I have the weaving sword (see already much more manly than crochet)… in the loom and I have my first weft in natural grey black wool. For those who spin wool… especially if you spin like I do.. it seems to me that weaving is much more forgiving on un even thread.
WEFT or WOOF (the strings that go side to side)
NOVICE TIP 2: Do not pull tight when wefting (do you call it that… sounds even stranger if I would have said don’t pull tight when woofing…) I noticed that the outer threads tend to pull in anyways but if you pull the thread tight it will become a problem. There may be a better way to avoid the outer threads from pulling in… haven’t learned it yet (so I welcome comments… This is something I will be exploring over the next couple of weeks)
For those who don’t weave the most basic idea of weaving is the weft goes over and under every other warp thread and then back in the opposite way (if you went over when you come back you will go under) The weaving sword helps hold up and down every other thread and enables you to push a yarn shuttle through the warp. You must pull out the sword and alternate the threads with each pass… this is a pain… We found that if you placed a dowel in the thread it marked where you last passed… and you could easily see if you messed up as you alternated warps. Once you put down a weft row you need to push it onto the row below it. I didn’t have a loom comb so I used a hair pick which seemed to work really well. (for guys… a comb or brush doesn’t work… you need a hair pick)
Moving the weaving sword in and out can be somewhat tedious but I noticed that my daughter actually enjoyed this very much and she also was able to catch on very quickly. I let my 6 year old son push the weft down with the pick and he enjoyed that… (said he was going to make a “hat” for his friend… weird kid…) The entire family enjoyed the loom and weaving which surprised me. I can’t say we are anything more than novices but we definitely are learning as we do… and enjoying it.
To finish this post I want to share one more thing that I learned. I had drawn out a pattern for this rug/blanket and made the goal t0 at least get to my first Red Stripe (Cochineal wool) before the end of the weekend. I had studied a little on how to join colors mid-warp. I decided to interlock the colors. To be more precise… I wanted to interlock the gray and the red and felt that this would be very clever for a new person (see picture)
When I looked at what I had done and this picture something wasn’t right… Here is my result:
I was a bit frustrated and thought the above illustration is a myth… (can’t be me… or my workmanship) My daughter came into the room and looked at it… and then looked behind the loom…and asked why I put the red in backwards… I looked at the back and it was perfect. SO…
NOVICE TIP 3: When interlocking two colors loop the two colors behind the warp threads not in front of the threads this will give you the knot looking thing in the back and the nice line in the front.
This is all I have this weekend… (I got about 10 inches high and 36 inches wide…) I have to spin more wool…
More to COME… PROMISE