Thursday, October 24, 2013

House art loves pin looms... or is it vice versa?

I have always been fond of architecture, which has worked out well when weaving with pin looms. The blanket below, Minnesota Landscape, is one of my favorites.

I wove it one winter when I was commuting 35 miles each day across a very cold Minnesota landscape. Often on the way home the sun would be setting, the sky turning incredible colors, one side still light, the other side beginning to pick up the dark blues of night. Scattered across the landscape were old farmhouses and barns.  

My intention was to show the sun setting in a blaze of orange while the darkness crept in on the other side of the sky.

The challenge of showing a landscape on a blanket is that no matter which way you turn it, something is going to be upside down. I've seen blankets and quilts showing houses lots of different ways, and they all work. This has turned out to work best on a bed or folded so that just some of the buildings show when laid on a couch or chair back.

The other thing that I enjoyed about making this
blanket was that I could design and weave each building as a separate piece, then join them all together at the end. As you may notice from the pictures, I joined all the weavies by using a single crochet edge which was then whipstitched together. I find that the weight of the joining nicely matched the weight of the woven fabric.

If you have any thoughts, questions or comments, please let me know.   Meg

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pin Loom Weaving Mouse Pattern

This is the first of a series of patterns and  instructional material on using pin looms. The Weavies Mouse pattern has been around for a number of years. It has been a popular project, great for the quick creation of a stuffed mouse (catnip or stuffing filled) using one 4"x4" and two 2"x2" weavies. 

One note, the directions suggest using a Weavette loom. The directions were written shortly after the Weavette looms came out. Any of the 4"x4" and 2"x2" pin looms will work for this pattern. 

Happy weaving!  Meg


Monday, October 21, 2013

Pin looms play well with others

I end up talking with and reading about the works of people who, like me, really like small hand looms. It is easy to forget that there are a lot of great looms out there and there are many ways to combine weaving styles.  These are some examples from my blanket closet. This blanket combines pin loom weavies with cloth strips woven on a rigid heddle loom.  I like being able to make large swatches of a cloth to order, but the pin loom makes such a great product that I moved away from rigid heddle.
Heart Like A Wheel
Blue Squares

<----   Another very old piece. The intention was to float the contrasting squares on the black strips made with an inkle type loom.

The piece below combines several sizes of pin loom weavies with 12" triangles made with a Hazel Rose triloom. This is a great combination of looms because is allows you to move away from the constraint of grid patterns by building in a 90 degree rotation. 

Please let me hear about your favorite use of pin looms-- with or without the involvement of other looms.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Alpacas from alpaca fiber

I have a friend heading to a very important Alpaca gathering and auction who requested a little stuffed alpaca woven, of course, in alpaca wool. Since she was kind enough to share wool from two of her favorite animals, I had to make to little alpacas.

Here they are-- looking pretty happy, but skinny and sheared.  I added the boas on the basis that they looked a little cold.  While it might seem odd to dress up an animal, (though obviously we dress up toy animals all the time) my impression is that the actual alpaca is so wondrously goofy looking that they often end up wearing sunglasses or a hat.

Case in point  - - - >

I want to send special thanks to Bonnie Betts and Alpaca Reflections in Southern MN for the opportunity to weave with this incredible, soft fiber. I love the fact that pin looms are so small and economic that it is possible to use all sorts of exquisite yarns and fibers without blowing the budget or wasting a lot of lovely yarn.

More animals and an ark still to come.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Animals, part two.

Here are a few more woven-from-pin-loom animals.

All of these animals are made with three ingredients - woven yarn, chenille sticks for structure and stuffing.

All are made with the product of the basic four pin looms, 2" x 2", 2" x 4", 4" x 4" and 4" x 6". I know that there are more sizes and there are projects out there where I will use the 6" x 6" loom or other sizes, but most of the time, the two small squares and two small rectangles are sufficient.

This is my idea of what a mountain goat might look like.
I am pretty sure that zebra stripes don't go in those directions, but people get the idea. One of my challenges in weaving is to remember that it doesn't have to be perfect. After all, I'm doing it for the joy of it, so if I get into some sort of perfectionistic snit, I am defeating most of the purpose of weaving. The other purpose being to make some fun thing.

Having said that, I have to admit being very fond of the donkey because it seems to catch the donkey spirit.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Ark and animal inspiration

These are a few of the several pictures I've found of 19th century Noah's Ark sets. What an incredible amount of work and skill!
  They were made at a time when Sunday was such a special day that children couldn't play with normal toys, but they could play with toys that represented a story from the Bible.  The ark and animals that I am working on are all woven, but I hope that I can get a little of the same primitive and loving feeling to them. I'm afraid that the vast number of animals shown is part of what keeps pushing me to figure out how to weave more and different animals.  This effort is now being joined by my friends and coworkers. I have had a coworker request some alpacas that will be made with alpaca yarn.  Alpacas are amazingly goofy animals, I have never seen an animal that looks so much like a sock puppet.
Next challenge, weaving an ark. Its interesting how their conception of the ark differs from today's toys. I'm thinking that the bridge, the house part, was painted to look like a mansion of the time.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Animals, part one.

I have recently discovered that pin loom weavies make great little animals! I had previously made people (dolls) as well as angels (also dolls) so it is not a major leap to realize that I could make four footed dolls as well. My plan, still under construction, is to make an ark (large purse) that will hold the variety of animals.

Making the animals is turning out to be enormously fun. Making animals is the total opposite of making a blanket. You only need a few weavies and can often complete the project in a day or two. I am giddy with immediate gratification. I know that in the long run I will need at least two of each animal. So far I have just made one of most of them, I'm too excited about how well it is going to slow down and finish a second. Going back later and making more of each species will open up the opportunity to make them better and to write down some instructions on how they go together. 

I believe that I have the beginnings of an ark-ful of animals. They include zebra, giraffe, elephant, donkey, fox, kangaroo, rhinoceros, tiger, lion, camel, goat and unicorn. I am still working on flamingo, alligator, penguin, moose, deer, and maybe a pegasus-type horse. Reading over the list, I realize that I am making more different kind of animals than are really needed in one child's toy. But they are so much fun to make. Plus as soon as I get the animals and ark completed (with pictures up to show it off) I am going to use a number of the same elements to complete a Nativity set.

Here are a few of the individual animals.

I was going to say that my favorite animal is the giraffe, but I like each one as it comes along. I am particularly fond of the rather strange looking rhino, which reminds me a little of a rhinoceros as conceived by Edward Gorey.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Love the self striping and variable scarf yarns.

Knowing that we are living in a world where most people assume that yarn is just for crochet and knitting, I get a ridiculous thrill when I carry home those same yarns and produce, not stripes or lumps of one color, but a synthesis of shades that varies from square to square, sometimes with lovely matching overtones, sometimes in wild contrast.

Having said that, the weavies below are made with a decorative yarn that includes patches of woven color. I used three layers of the Rosario Multi and then wove with the light teal cotton. These are

some experimental weavies that I am planning to make into a purse. I saw a lovely purse that was edged in leather with a tapestry insert that I would like to imitate in weavies. My plan is to weave the body out of the above squares, then probably use a suede-like light brown as edging.  I will add a drawing and later, a picture of the purse.  Right now I am just enjoying making and joining the weavies.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Blankets and afghans, big projects from little looms

Here is my confession right up front. The reason that I have woven blankets and hangings and bowls and every possible thing that I could think of in little squares of woven fabric, a.k.a. "weavies", is that I LOVE weaving on pin looms.  I believe that they represent the crack cocaine of weaving.

Weavers all secretly (or not so secretly) know that weaving is addictive. It makes you feel good. It is calming and energizing at the same time. It gives voice to creativity and allows it a concrete, whole-body expression. The downside of weaving is that it can take a lot of time and space. Pin looms are little. The most popular size is 4 inches by 4 inches. You get all the good feelings of weaving in an intense little package.The downside (or the upside, depending on how you look at it) is that you end up with lots of little squares. The projects shown below are all proof that I love weaving on pin looms.

A Victorian House
This was modeled after a house in Tucumcari, New Mexico. One of the things I love about designing with weavies is that it gives a wonderful primitive look that I like very much.

9 Square Afghan
Nine Square Afghan
The next several blankets owe their design to Amish quilts and, along with the house, were some of the earliest items I made. One of the challenges of using pin looms is joining them. If you look in the instruction books from the 40's and 50's, you will see clothing and blankets where the weaver tried to join the squares so as to make it look like a larger piece of whole cloth. It never works. You can always see the join lines. So I decided to highlight the the fact that these blankets are made from tiny pieces by incorporating colored patterns and using a joining approach that did not try to be seamless. All of these pieces, except parts of the house, were joined by using a single crochet around each weavie and then whipstitching them together.

Amish Postage Stamp Blanket
This blanket was based on a postage stamp that celebrated Amish quilts. It did not take forever to make but at the time it felt like it was going to take forever.

Diamond Square
It was only after I finished this blanket that I thought, "wow, those edges would be a great place to use a bias loom." Since then I have made some smaller throws using weavies and bias loom weavies and it worked pretty well. We can talk more about the ups and downs of the bias loom later.

 Minnesota Winter Blanket
I call it that because it took almost a whole winter to complete it and it is too large to be a afghan, its a real blanket. I recommend starting a project like this in the summer, that way by the time you are ready to start attaching all the pieces, its getting cold and you may actually want to hold it on your lap.
Dragon Blanket 
This is a picture of a blanket made for the daughter of a family who had a connection to the Renaissance Fair.  I wanted to make something slightly feminine but dragony. It was not an easy pattern to carry off. I finally accomplished it by making a full sized pattern and then just weaving squares and filling in the parts. Making a blanket like this is such an adventure. I spend about a third of the time feeling lost, pretty certain that I'd taken on an impossible task. And then, somehow, it came together and was so much fun. And it looks great! Or at least as good, though different, than I originally saw it in my head.