Warp Four. Engage.

©2022 Michael Raven

Remind me (if I ever ask or should need reminding): Wool can be a difficult yarn to weave with.

I managed to get my loom warped with panel two of my shawl-like woolen cloak on the fourth attempt. It wasn’t without it’s difficulties, but I managed and I think my issues are almost entirely related to the fact that I was using a yarn of 100% wool, one that is incredibly stretchy. It is also “clingy” with the loose fibers that are part of it’s nature.

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Inkle me; so sew me

©2022 Michael Raven

I received my inkle loom this afternoon. Some assembly was required and I have to let the glue dry overnight before I can try it out, but I have to admit that I’m excited about the prospect of adding another fiber art to my experience. I hesitate to refer to it as a skill; I mean, I have yet to actually weave anything on it, how can it be a skill yet? But I am looking forward to having it become a skill.

Ashford inkle loom (photo from vendor webpage, I do not own the copyright)
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©2022 Michael Raven

seeking a unique skill
i am (sadly) still
a jack of all trades
master of none

I’m getting decent at weaving on a rigid heddle loom. Not great and I am by no means an expert, although I am still in the learning stages. I’m not sure I want to get into complex weave patterns, but I might develop an interest in those, eventually. Right now, I’m happy working on my basic technique over and over when it comes to the rigid heddle loom and not terribly interested in learning how to do tweeds or houndstooth patterns (for example). Those seem like high-maintenance, low-reward weaving patterns. Like I said, I may change my attitude over time and I really should try to at least sample some of those techniques.

Right now, I have my eye on adding an inkle loom to my collection to make borders and bands for the pieces I am working on. I have to figure out the “how” of the thing works, but I suspect I might have to come up with my own patterns after I figure it out, as I am not finding the patterns I want online or in books. There are plenty of fancy designs out there, just very few in the Celtic/Norse look that I would want to achieve. This gives me an opportunity to develop a skill like what I eventually ended up with when I was crafting shots of expresso, which is about the only skill I’ve had when I felt I was approaching “master” talent levels before I decided I was tired of being a poor barista. I want to reclaim that sense of accomplishment I had with the espresso, and playing around with weaving seems like a good space to work within (although I don’t know if I’d ever aspire or be able to reach “master” status, nor do I need to — I just want to feel like a skilled craftsperson).

I’m still deciding on the extra loom. It’s quite a bit of cash for something that seems like it could go terribly wrong very quickly.

Shawl weaving

©2022 Michael Raven

I finally got over the disasterpiece I had left on the loom for nearly a week and decided to overhaul it and make it work today.

Oh, I thought things had gone wrong with my last project, but I was given an education that I probably won’t forget right away. The shawl/cape project I had set up to do couldn’t have gone much more wrong before I even got to weaving.

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Another scarf; a postmortem

©2022 Michael Raven

I’ve finally gotten around to finishing the scarf for my second twin (above, before wet finishing). It took longer than the last for a number of reasons and, as frustrating as those reasons were, I consider them to be valuable lessons.

First, she had liked what I had done for her non-twin sister with the checkered patterns and insisted that I replicate that effect. No matter how much I tried to explain to her that using two batches of variegated thread would probably not result in that look, she insisted that I try. So I did. If you look closely, you’ll see bands of purple/blue/white that stand out in the patterns on the long edges and occasionally through the rainbow pattern. These are the colors she chose and wanted, so I worked with it as best as I was able.

That was the only the first challenge.

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One scarf done; project plans

©2022 Michael Raven

About four or five hours of work later (I didn’t keep track of it) and you have the above result. It’s been over a year since I last took up my loom and I’d only taken on two projects prior to this one. The middle child (elder twin by about 3 minutes) chose the colors (yellow warp, rainbow weft) and I think it turned out good, for my being out of practice and still an amateur. With some exceptions, I am improving on my technique, but nothing I would try to charge for.

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©2022 Michael Raven

Here is how my daughter’s scarf started to look last night. She chose the colors, which seemed to work out with this combo. I’m not so certain the other twin will be pleased when she see the colors she chose when they get woven together, but I might be wrong in my estimation. The yellow warp and rainbow weft is pretty much on par for this twin.

Obviously, this is raw weaves, on-loom. Once I take the scarf off the loom and wet-finish it, the weave will tighten up and there were be less space between the threads. I see this as practice to get myself in gear to try and do a 100% self-crafted hooded cloak, once I finish weaving the other twin’s scarf. And learn how to do some card/tablet-weaving.

I have it in mind that I will by another heddle (10-dent or 12.5-dent; my current is a 7.5-dent) to increase the thread density. Then I will weave a cotton or wool (can’t decide if I’m worth the cost of wool) bolt of black cloth to form the basis of a hand-sewn cloak. If I can manage to figure out tablet weaving, I should be able to create my own Celtic border or runework (at least around the hood, but possibly down the front flaps of the cloak). My inspiration is something I saw on Etsy while looking for jackets.

We’ll see if this is all just ambition, but I have a different mindset this round.

Peace weaving

©2022 Michael Raven

I returned to weaving tonight.

Just another scarf for one of my daughters; one of the twins. And I’ve completed that, I will do another for the other twin. Neither is anything fancy or difficult. That’s okay.

After I’m done then I will see if I can figure out tablet/card weaving so I can maybe make a Celtic knot strap for one of my guitars. Or a border for a piece of clothing I think I might try to make from scratch (a kind of cloak with an oversized hood).

It was different tonight. Instead of focusing on “just getting it done”, I opted to not care how long it took and tried to get more intimate with the process, which ended up resulting in a higher quality piece so far. I might have gotten it done tonight if I’d focused on efficiency, but I think that’s part of the problem I had last time.

Tonight, I just worried about falling into the work instead of becoming a machine.

There was a peace to be found there.

Tangled Skein | Oatmeal

I’m working on my second project with the goal of not making as many mistakes this time around and working on improving my weaving habits rather than anything fancy: warping, sleying, wrapping yarn on the shuttle, weaving, beating and getting nice-looking selvedges that aren’t too loopy or too tight. Of course, it isn’t perfect and I don’t expect to be on my second project, but I’m starting to get the feel of it; although, I do seem to keep finding new ways to make mistakes.

To keep it simple, I made another scarf and, instead of worrying about multiple yarns and colors, I kept it to a single color of yarn, oatmeal. But, to make it interesting, I went with the wool I’d picked up recently and, let me tell you, that is an experience itself. The cotton yard was a lot less stretchy than this wool and, once I had the tension cranked tight it stayed tight. With the wool, the yarn stretches and I lose tension on the warp, which makes slipping the shuttle through the shed a little more difficult. I find myself cranking the tension every ten or so minutes. My edges are tighter on the selvedges, but the lines are a little, umm, variable. But I like the look and the feel of the result and I think it’ll be a nice scarf for someone (probably end up being mine unless one of the kiddos adopts it before winter comes).

I think I’ve put in about four hours, maybe five, so far. And I am thinking another two hours or so. I want desperately to explore other things than the normal weave, but I also sense I really need to get this down before I attempt anything too complicated. And so, scarves I suspect, with be the primary product moving forward.

I’m still enjoying it, so it doesn’t look like a waste of money. I don’t know that I could do it nightly, but who knows?