In which prayers are said…

Prayers that soaking/blocking really is magic for weaving, just like it is for knitting.

I started my first laceweight weaving project Friday night.  Shireen came over for a visit and offered to help me warp up my loom with some Malabrigo Silkpaca in “Archangel” she gave me.  Since I always find warping to be the most intimidating part of weaving, I took her up on her offer.  We moved some furniture and warped up a nice long, if narrow scarf-like piece.  It’s amazing how fast 440 yards goes!


Since she gave me two skeins of this lovely stuff, we decided I would weft with the other skein.  This meant I was free to practice without fear of making any sort of colour choices/mistakes.  So I wound the entirety of the second skein onto the bobbins for my boat shuttle (Shireen brought with her the prototype of an amazing machine that Tito made to help with that most boring of tasks) and got ready to go.



I got started with my leader yarn, and for some reason that seemed to take a LOT of yarn.  The gaps didn’t seem to want to close at all.  Once I did get them closed up, I started with my boat shuttle and words cannot express how much more enjoyable using that shuttle is, compared to the basic stick ones that come with the loom.  I had a problem with the left side of my shed…however I tied it, it seemed sorta loose and wimpy and there are a few inadvertent floats as a result.

But the bigger issue I encountered was not being able to get the weft to stay put.  I’d beat it down, and it would bounce back up.  I assumed either I was doing something wrong, or the silk in the yarn was rendering it so slippery that the threads just weren’t sticking together.  I messaged Shireen to ask her what I was doing wrong and her response was not to think of it as beating it down but rather “think of it as placing it on a line that is an equal distance from the one below it.”  I tried that, but I admit that I still wasn’t too successful.  That being said, I am fairly sure that the method I used to attach the warp to the apron bar rendered the start of the piece somewhat uneven.  I have already decided that even if it means less loom waste, I won’t be trying that method again.


So by the end of the weaving time on the weekend, this was what I had.  It’s way uneven (there are all sorts of gaps and you can see where the weft threads are actually wavy over on the right) and the edges are pretty ratty looking.  But, it’s also my first laceweight piece and I am hoping I (and it) will get better as the piece progresses.

Besides, that s$%# will totally block out, right?

Canada Day Weekend FO: Weaving Edition

I decided to take Monday off work this week and give myself a four day weekend. I figured I’d relax a little, maybe do some crafting. I had some kettle dyeing I wanted to do and I was looking to clear my wheel in anticipation of the start of Tour de Fleece this weekend. I had also hoped to work on my OTN sock design.  (See where that whole relaxing plan went a bit off the rails?)

I had not really planned on weaving this weekend at all. I warped up my loom over a month ago, using my 7.5 dpi heddle and some worsted weight yarn, but had done precious little work on it, to be honest. The reason? I was using yarn I hated and had little use for, because I was “learning/practicing”.  I had a ball of Berroco Remix that was given to me as part of a much larger group of items, and I disliked it enough that I had even had it in my destash until that day.  So I went ahead and warped up the 216 yards (grossly underestimating how many warp threads I’d actually get from it – ergo the lopsided warping!) and once the leader had been woven in, I had really gotten no further.



I mentioned to Shireen on Monday that I had not touched my loom and that my disinterest in the yarn/project was the likely reason.  She encouraged me to go home and cut the whole thing off the loom, and toss it, echoing my friend Val’s advice, some time ago, that life was too short to spend time working with fibres you don’t like. (Val’s advice pertained to spinning fibre when I was learning to spin; the message was the same in both cases!)

So I dragged out the loom and got myself set up.  I had my hands on the Cascade 220 I had planned to use as weft and wound some onto the shuttle, all the while thinking, “I’ll just do a few passes to get myself used to it again.” Well, that didn’t work half as well as you might think. First, I hated to waste the yarn, even if it was yarn I didn’t like. Worse, I had forgotten just how terrible I was at weaving. This was only my second project and the edges were awful – to use Shireen’s expression, “they looked like the cats chewed on them”. And I could not bear to warp up the loom using something pretty, only to waste it. So I forged ahead and completed the piece. It really only was a few hours at that point.


The thing that amazes me the most: soaking is to weaving as blocking is to knitting.  It’s quite surprising to see the threads fluff up and the gaps fill in…and to see so much of the unevenness disappear.


I did discover one thing.  There is a reason that you overlap weft threads when ending one and starting a new one – if you don’t, you get holes/gaps in the fabric.  Oops.  Lesson learned.  Better to learn that on this piece than on something that I’ll be sad about having that sort of flaw.

Overall, it actually came out fine.  51.5″ long without the fringe by not quite 12″ wide.  I told Chase it might make a nice coffee table runner, or at least I now knew how to go about making one and about how much yarn I’d need.

Next onto the loom….a toss up between some Malabrigo sock, a skein of Tanis Fiber Arts laceweight and some Malabrigo Silkpaca lace in Archangel.

World’s Craftiest Weekend

It’s always fun and relaxing to spend the majority of the weekend crafting, but those full weekends come along far less often than I might like.  Getting to spend half that weekend with like-minded friends?  That happens even less often again.

Saturday saw all sorts of fun things, including spinning, knitting, weaving and dyeing.

Weaving…where shall I start?  First off, I blame Shireen, The Enabler.  She has been posting some of the most beautiful FO shots since acquiring her 20″ Ashford Knitters Loom about a month ago, and she has been regaling me with tales of how quickly these lovely items are going from skeins to wearable items.  I have a rather substantial number of single skeins of sock yarn and Kim at indigodragonfly has also been telling me for a long time that a great way to use some of these up is to get a loom, but I wasn’t sure weaving would be my thing.

Then, Shireen brought the loom over on Saturday and let me weave some of her leader, so as not to spoil her actual project.  I have to say that while I am sure that producing really nice clean looking edges and such takes some practice, the motions of weaving in and of itself really is pretty easy and the little bit I did led me to believe it could almost be as “zen” an activity as spinning.  (Disclaimer: I may be somewhat delusional!)

She has enabled me into looking seriously at acquiring a loom…so much so that I got a line on a second hand one by posting on Ravelry to see if someone had one to destash.  I will know more next weekend.

Shireen showed up at my place like she was moving in…there was the aforementioned loom, and wonderful Indian food, and decadent chocolate birthday cake for Leslie, but she also brought with her an entire set up for dyeing yarn.  I had a skein of yarn that I got in a swap that I was very unhappy with and I decided to overdye it to see if I could improve it.  I won’t mention the dyer name because it’s irrelevant and seems kinda uncool.  As it was, it took me a while to reconcile myself to doing it as it feels rather like defacing someone else’s art, but I digress.

The photo made it look pretty nice, if not insanely bright.  It was at least enticing enough to make me want to claim it in a Ravelry swap.

Original Skein

Original Skein

What was not clear in this photo was that the yellow-y lime sections had navy blue “smudged” over them, almost like the navy bled and stuck to the lime, rendering it sort of “dirty looking”.  I figured that perhaps overdyeing the skein with some blue might render the lime colour a darker green and I was right.  I kettle dyed the skein in a Crock Pot, using Jacquard acid dyes in a mixture of Sapphire and Turquoise (I didn’t bother to measure as I knew it wasn’t a recipe I’d ever need again).  I let it simmer away until the entire dye bath was exhausted, and hung it to dry.  Sunday morning, this was the result.

The "After" Shot

The “After” Shot

I still don’t love it, per se…but I sure like it a whole lot better.  Perhaps I’ll knit socks out of it, and then if I don’t love the colourway knit up, I’ll overdye the socks to make them even more green.  We shall see.