Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Finding pin loom needles

Many of the pin looms that people are happily using today were manufactured fifty or sixty years ago. These little looms don't really wear out. But its not enough to have a pin loom, you also need a needle that is skinny enough to fit between the pins and long enough to span the width of the loom with enough needle left over to pull through. That means that for a 2" loom you need a 4" needle, for a 4" wide loom, you need a 6" needle, and a 6" loom needs an 8" needle.

There seem to be several good sources of pin loom needles. If you know about other sources, please let me know and I will list them here.

 Lacis lists a Weave-it Needle, "A 6" straight shaft needle with yarn eye and blunt end specifically designed for the popular weaving boards." These appears to be the same as the needles that were originally packaged with the loom.  It is interesting to note that the price of these needles has dropped. When I checked on them several years ago, the price was around $7.00 each. More recently I saw it priced at around $3.00. But don't count on my report, the prices may change regularly.

The newest resource for 6" and 4" needles has come about courtesy of the Zoom Loom. It appears that some Schact distributors also have Zoom Loom replacement needles available.

If you search for Upholstery Needle Set, you will find a number of retailers selling a set of 4 sharp pointed needles, 6" 8" 10" and 12" with large eyes that will work for pin looms. Price is in the neighborhood of $5 or $6.00 plus shipping. In addition to finding them online, Hancock Fabrics often carries the set in their upholstery department. These needles do need to have their points rounded off so they don't split the yarn.
 I also have to recommend the 5" Susan Bates Weaving Needle. This needle does not work well with the pin looms, it is a little too thick and short. However, it works great for joining squares and other weaving tasks. It is available at a variety of craft stores and the cost is low. Considering how precious the 6" weaving needles can be, this needle can substitute for all the other uses where a good yarn needle is needed. It has a nice rounded point and a very large eye.

I haven't mentioned anything about tapestry needles on the basis that they are readily available. I haven't mentioned 4" needles for the 2" pin loom because I am not aware of any sources.  Please let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions for resources. It will help us all move toward a state of bliss.

An update: a friend pointed out that there are 4" doll needles that, with a little work, can serve as a weaving needle for any of the 2" wide looms. She noted seeing 4" needles at Hobby Lobby-- I think they are available at any doll related or large craft store. The needle needs to have its point rounded off. I find the doll needles to be a little too thin and therefor prone to bend. But the doll needles do offer another weaving option. MS

2nd update on 4" needles: (Actually 3.75" needles that work really well for 2" wide looms.) I recently purchased a package of five assorted Dritz doll needles. Four of them are of minimal interest but the largest looks just like the needle that came with my 2" x 2" Weave-it loom except that this needle is sharp. I rounded it off pretty effectively using a whetstone.  These packages of needles are widely available at national hobby stores.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Drafting a Sunshine and Shadow pin loom blanket

If one of the upsides of pin loom weavies is that you get a perfect little piece of cloth with selvedge all the way around, one of the frustrations with pin looms weavies is that you have a bunch of little pieces of cloth that you have to figure out something to do with. And the world only needs so many mug rugs. If you look at a lot of the old patterns-- you can find the original old pattern books from the at eLoomaNation-- you will see that the authors spent a lot of time trying to turn the woven squares into larger pieces of seamless looking cloth, with limited success.

Weavies Sunshine and Shadow

So here is an opposite plan, draft out a Sunshine and Shadow pattern. This pattern, also known as Trip Around the World, is perfect for pin looms. Each square, each color, stands in contrast to the ones beside it. And drafting the pattern is almost as much fun as a coloring book, more if you were never a very good colorer (I could never produce that incredibly even crayon texture like my cousin, Debbie).

My most recent crush is on FREE graphics program called PicPick. Its very easy to use while offering some rather sophisticated features. For example, you can make very complex arrows, example to the left, which I love to do. More to the point, I can pick a color from an endless color scale and, using the little paint can thingy, drop it on to a square, the perfect coloring book! 

Below are some ideas for Sunshine and Shadow blankets as well as an empty grid for an 11 x 11 square blanket, which works out to a blanket of about 45" x 45".

Amish style Sunshine and Shadow with borders.

 You can also try out the larger illustration of a blanket, it has 19 by 19 squares (361 total weavies!) which makes a blanket about 6½ foot square. I got a little carried away with the deep borders, but they look so good. Those heavy borders of teal and red also contradict what I was saying above about the difficulty of using weavies to make a solid piece of cloth. To me, joining the squares becomes the equivalent of the pattern made with quilting. So here are some ideas for pin loom blankets that you can take and make even better by reimagining them with your colors and approaches in mind.

Sunshine and Shadow with 20's colors and style                                      Blues, Reds, Yellows Sunshine and Shadow
Blank template with lots of space around it to add borders.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Primitive Pin Loom Raven

We are definitely into late autumn weather in Minnesota. The leaves have lost their color and are mostly on the ground. The winds picks everything up, whirls it around a few times and scatters all the leaf piles into leaf drifts. None of this seems to faze the ravens and crows. They seem to be made for this season, flying with abandon on the wind.

I love that raven spirit and am working to create a proper woven raven. I am planning to put together the design details as soon as I get them worked out and written down.This particular raven has answered a number, though not quite all, the questions I had about how to weave a raven.

I think that the shape of the beak is about as good as its going to get. The beak probably needs to slide a little higher on the head-- crows and ravens don't really have much of a forehead. And a proper raven needs to have longer, more defined tail feathers. I am also trying to figure out a simpler way to make it. This particular model stands about 8½" tall and 9½" from head to tail. It is made with 2) 2x6" weavies, 3) 2x4" weavies, 4) 4x6" weavies, and 7) 2x2" weavies. That's a lot of yarn in one bird!

I hope the winds of autumn are blowing your way... toward a great Thanksgiving.  If you have any thoughts about raven design, particularly thoughts about how to put together a proper tail, please let me know.   thanks MS

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Halloween

This little bird is the first in a new series of experimental crows and ravens. Although I named it a crow for the sake of the the Halloween greetings, I think it will more likely end up representing the blackbird end of the spectrum.