Thursday, December 24, 2015

Greetings of the Season

From our house to yours- 

Merry Christmas, Season's Greetings, have a very Happy New Year!

It looks like 2016 is shaping up to be a year of teaching and sharing pin loom patterns and techniques... as well as having fun with new giveaways. I will be posting a number of locations where  I will be teaching-- including teaching at Convergence!!! More news on that soon. In the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Tea Cup Pincushions

We're now deep into gift giving season and I am faced with a frustrating situation. I am surrounded by loving family who don't really need anything new for Christmas. They are all independent enough and old enough to go out and get whatever it is they need or want.

Since I can't go out and buy them fabulously extravagant gifts, (I mean, its not like they would turn down a trip around the Mediterranean) I am hoping to send my best greetings of the season with something handmade and heartfelt and pretty.

This gift started with a tea cup and saucer that likely began life as part of a lovely set of china and ended with my discovery at a local thrift shop.  I found four cups and saucers and took them home in much the same spirit as a friend of mine adopts kittens. Its not that she needs more kittens, she just can't bear to leave them behind. I couldn't stand to leave the tea cups and saucers even though I had no idea what to do with them.

I did a search on uses for tea cups. Number one idea was candles, number two was pincushions. I went for the one that I could weave. After further research I found that the best stuffing for pincushions is ground walnut shells and that the easiest place to find ground walnut shells is at the pet store. They use it as bedding for reptiles.

Now all I needed was the pincushion cover.

I wanted a festive looking yarn that would match the tea cups. Since each cup has a gold handle and edging, this craft yarn by Isaac Mizrahi seemed like a good match. This is a wool/acrylic worsted weight yarn with gold accent.

I wove two 4" x 4" pin loom squares on the Zoom Loom and used a single crochet edge with slip stitch at corners to join the two layers. You could also choose to join the squares using a back stitch.

When you join them, leave an opening on one side. Turn the squares inside out. Use a piece of t-shirt to line the inside if you are going to use ground walnut shells for the pincushion. You don't have to stitch the lining, just overlap the sides and the ground walnut shells will keep the lining in place. Fill with ground walnut shells. Instead of the ground shells, you can use your choice of polyester or wool stuffing. No lining is needed with regular stuffing.

Attach the pincushion to the bottom of the teacup with adhesive. I used E6000 because it works with glass or china.

I could have stopped there, but, as an old friend used to say, "Anything worth doing is worth doing to excess." I was no longer interested in simply making a pincushion. Now I wanted to create a total teacup-sized sewing package.

Obviously a pincushion needs pins. In addition I added a selection of small spools of thread, a needle threader, a package of needles enclosed within a 2" x 2" square and either scissors or a thread cutter attached to the cup with about 18" of single chain crochet. I like the idea of a sewing set with everything you need in one place. I put the scissors on a chain because if it were me, I would totally lose the scissors the first time I used them. I'm hoping that this will bring new life to these teacups for a number of years, sitting someplace handy, not taking up too much space, ready to assist with snags and loose buttons.

Is this the best possible use for abandoned teacups? Perhaps it is, or perhaps my relatives will be getting candles next year.

Of course teacups are not the only vehicle for pincushions. There are a lot of other thrift store finds that will work as well.

My plans for these vehicles are just getting under way. I still have to figure out the best approach for including the rest of the sewing items. I will update this post with more pincushion pictures when these project are complete.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Merry Christ-moose and Happy Llama-ka

Please forgive my lame puns which are simply intended to send greetings of peace and joy of the season to everyone.

Moose and Llama are my two most recent animals. Although it is a little early for resolutions, I am making a resolution for 2016 to write out the directions for each of the 40+ animals that I've made and begin to put them in sets so that they can  be available online. Actually, the patterns and directions for the domestic animals are already available in my book, Pin Loom Weaving. This is a promise to make the rest of the animals available.

In order that (some of) the other animals don't feel left out, here is our greetings for the holiday:

Friday, December 4, 2015

Pin Loom Hooded Scarf

This idea came about because I had some interesting yarn sent to me from an ancient stash. The hooded scarf was woven on a 6" x 6" pin loom and a 4" x 6" pin loom. It could as easily be woven on a 4" x 4" pin loom, like the Zoom Loom. There are diagrams for both patterns below.

This hooded scarf was woven from Unger Driftwood-- a two-ply yarn; one thick ply and one very thin ply that seemed to be there only to give the yarn some texture. The yarn is a medium gray with bits of color spun in at random intervals.

Please note, this pattern shows one-half of the hooded scarf. You will need to weave this pattern two times, in other words, 4) 4" x 6" rectangles and 12) 6" x 6" squares for the complete scarf.  If you are weaving with a 4" pin loom you will need to weave 42) 4" x 4" squares.

I wanted this to be a simple pattern that could be whipped up over a weekend. In order that it could be woven and assembled quickly--
  • the weaving is done with the Triple Rib Pattern (see below), which reduces the actual weaving by about 30% and
  • the scarf is joined using a mattress stitch, which you will find directions for on the Pin Loom Essentials page.

Weave the squares with a Triple Rib Pattern

The ribs are formed when you slide the needle through the warp without weaving. This produces a lump of three weft threads clustered together. This pattern can shorten up the cloth a little but it makes a nice texture, particularly for an item where you want to have some weight of cloth to keep out the cold and damp.



Triple Rib Pattern for 4" and 6" pin loom.

 1. Weave Plain
 2. Weave Plain
 3. Slide needle through threads without weaving.
 4. Weave Plain
 5. Slide needle through threads without weaving.
 6. Weave Plain
 7. Slide needle through threads without weaving.
 8. Weave Plain
 9. Weave Plain
10. Slide needle through threads without weaving.
11. Weave Plain
12. Slide needle through threads without weaving.
13. Weave Plain
14. Slide needle through threads without weaving.
15. Weave Plain
16. Weave Plain - THIS IS THE END OF THE 4" LOOM,


17. Slide needle through threads without weaving.
18. Weave Plain
19. Slide needle through threads without weaving.
20. Weave Plain
21. Slide needle through threads without weaving.
22. Weave Plain
23. Weave Plain
24. Weave Plain

Join the squares using a mattress stitch. 

If you have already checked on this joining approach, you know that this stitch allows you to very quickly join two squares. Because this is a relatively small, lightweight item, the mattress stitch, which is a lightweight stitch, seems to work very well.

Full the cloth by hand washing with a wool fiber approved product or shampoo.

I keep of bottle of sensitive style shampoo around just so that I can easily finish my pin loom items. Washing the scarf will bring about some shrinkage and will let the fibers bind together more securely. I wanted a hooded scarf that would stand up to sleet and snow and cold, wet weather and this one works beautifully.

I have come to see that the style is as old as time, people were probably wearing something a lot like this since the beginning of weaving. I am also a bit surprised that the woven squares don't particularly stand out. I realize that all of us who weave regularly on pin looms could easily pick out the joins and would know that this hooded scarf was woven on a pin loom, but I think that most people would not realize that it was pieced together. And most important to me was that it wove up very quickly, had a lovely texture that matched the yarn and was sewn up just as quick. I have now made a couple of these hooded scarves and have found them to make a usable, reasonable gift.  So as we enter the season of gift frenzy, if you are looking for a handmade gift with a twist-- not exactly a hat but more than a scarf-- perhaps this will be just perfect.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Pin Loom Tea Cozy

The tea cozy has been established as its own art form for many years, starting, I believe, at about the same time that the British picked up tea cup and knitting needles. I was convinced that pin looms could be used to make a great tea cozy but I've been too busy writing out patterns for the second pin loom weaving book to prove it.

Now that the book has finally been sent off to Stackpole Publishing, the tea cozy weaving project jumped to the top of my "to do" list. I really like the cozies that are knitted or crocheted to look like a basket of flowers or a garden. My intention was to make one that would look like a garden, with flowers scattered on green lawn, complete with buzzing bees.

I wasn't worried about the flowers because Jana Trent, of Eloomination fame, has given us the simplest, most graceful approach ever to making flowers with the Loom Bloom concept. I was concerned that since pin looms are all about the square, that I wouldn't be able to make it fit the round tea pot.But it all worked beautifully and turned out to be quite a bit easier than I expected. Here's an overview of the approach used.

Looms-- I have been experimenting with some larger pin looms. The pieces for green background measured:
2) 4.5 x 7.5" pieces
2) 2 x 7" pieces. (These pieces could have been shorter, I wasn't sure how long a piece I needed when I wove them.)
1) 4.5 x 4.5" piece

They were woven with a very soft, scarf yarn by NOBO, a mix of nylon, rayon, acrylic and mohair. I wound the NOBO yarn on the pin loom, then used a smooth matching green worsted wool yarn to weave through.

The flowers were made using
6) 2 x 2" squares and
6) 3 x 3" squares in yellow, orange, coral, red and dark red.
The 3 bees were made using 3 squares of yellow and black yarn woven on a 2 x 2" loom.

I sewed the two 4.5 x 7.5" rectangles on each side of the 4.5 x 4.5" square, so they dropped like a curtain on each side of the tea pot. I added a 2" strip below the spout, leaving a hole for the spout to stick through and added a 2" strip to the back, running through it the handle and sewing it on one side. The other side is attached around a flower with a crocheted loop at the end of the 2" strip.



This tea cozy pattern could be reproduced using any size pin loom. 

Weave a square to be placed over the lid. Measure the distance from the edge of the square to the bottom of the tea pot, measure the distance from the spout to the handle. You now have the dimensions for each side of the tea cozy. Weave and join the squares to that approximate size. See the information on joining HERE in Pin Loom Essentials.

I decided to keep the flowers on the small side, and wove them on 2" and 3" looms. You could just as easily weave all the flowers on the standard 4" pin loom.  

To make the flowers, start by weaving the squares. Then pull on the middle vertical and horizontal threads of the square in order to make the square pucker in, turning it into a flower. Sew the flowers to the background material in green yarn, stitching the flowers in place and embellishing the middle.  This would also be a nice place to add some buttons.

If you're going to have flowers in a garden, you need to have bees. The bees are made by winding black yarn on a 2" loom for two layers, then winding on yellow yarn and weaving with yellow yarn. You now have a striped square. Fold it in half, sew and turn inside out in order to make a little black and white striped tube. Stuff the tube and close it off to make a bee. Add several loops of yellow yarn to make the bee's wings.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Update on the Prairie Points Blanket

Caroline Fylpaa, the pin loom weaver and pin loom maker of Prairie Points fame (see the original post HERE) was kind enough to send a picture of her finished blanket. Caroline noted that her Grandmother's Nine Patch with Prairie Points did well at the Beltrami City Fair and was then accepted for the Minnesota State Fair. Caroline reported that this blanket was woven in a 70/30 Targhee wool and nylon sock yarn from Montana, "beautiful and lofty." "Plus I always full a weaving project, it smooths things out... similar to blocking after knitting." 

It would have been cool to get to see Caroline peeking out from behind her creation, but I sympathize with the idea of preferring to be represented by one's work.  This blanket has finally convinced me of just how well a sock yarn works on a pin loom.

The blanket came a long way from her  beginning squares, with a 2x4" square constructed for each prairie point, woven with her own, handcrafted, adjustable weaving bar. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Pin Loom Weaving Needles revisited

One of the great challenges of pin loom weaving is that while the looms last virtually forever, they are useless without the right needle. Happily, I am here to report that there are an increasing number of good needles available to you. Keep in mind that a 4" pin loom works best with a 6" rounded tip needle. The 2" pin loom needs a needle that is about 4" long with a rounded tip.

Here is a list from my exploration of needle resources. I doubt that its complete, I hope that you will consider adding on any information you have discovered about needle availability.

1)  Replacement needles from Schacht Spindle Co., makers of the Zoom Loom. Many Zoom Loom sellers will likely have 6" weaving needles in stock or be able to get them for you.

2)  6" Trapunto needle. Trapunto is a style of quilting/fiber work that calls for a long needle with a blunt tip. This needle appears to be exactly the same dimensions as a pin loom weaving needle.  When I did a search online I found the Havel's Sewing website, which offers both trapunto needles and my next suggestion. There appear to be a number of online sources for trapunto needles.

3) Ribbon Weaving Needles. This is a set of three needles, 4", 6" and 8". I bought this set locally but they are also available from Havel's. (I do not have any kind of relationship with this business.) These needles are also available from a variety of online sources.  

These needles have a rectangular cross section, they are very strong and have a blunt, rounded tip. Their dimensions are 1/8" wide and 1/16" thick and they do easily fit through the pins when held on their side. The 4" needle works beautifully with a 2" loom. Because they are stronger than a normal pin loom, I am tempted to use them when I am working with a person new to weaving who, I fear, might bend my weaving needle. This set also offers an 8" needle which is very handy if you have a 6" pin loom or any larger loom. I have had a few weavers note that they like to use a larger needle on the 4" loom because it is easier to handle and hold on to.

4) I found all of the following needles in local big box craft stores. The dimensions are correct for weaving on pin looms but all come with sharp tips, which means that you do need to round off the tip using a file or whetstone. 

This set of three decorator needles includes one 6" needle with a pointed tip. I find the other needles too thin to be of much use.

5) This set of four upholstery needles come in 6", 8", 10" and 12" lengths. The two largest seem too unwieldy to be helpful. The 6" needle works perfectly on a 4" pin loom, once you round off the point. I normally use this 8" needle on my 6" pin loom.

6) This last entry is for the 2" pin loom.  This is a package marked Doll Needles found in the notions department. It contains five needles, but the only one that interests me is the one large 3 3/4" needle that works perfectly with the smallest pin loom.

There have been several occasions where all of the notions, including these needles, have been on sale for 50% off.  Since I am teaching classes with these looms, I often swoop in and pick up a bunch of packages.

When I started using these looms a number of years ago, there really was a sense of looking for a needle in a haystack. Now I am happy to report that we have finally have haystacks full of needles-- perfect for pin loom weaving! 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pin loom sheep carousel

Hello everybody! I hope you had a great summer!  I have not posted anything for months due to getting caught up in the process of designing new patterns and writing about them for a second book on pin loom weaving. The book should be out in another nine months or so. Yes, it takes longer to make a book than to make a baby and sometimes it feels like its a lot more trouble. After weaving and writing for months, I feel as though I just landed from a very long trip, a little dizzy and very happy to be back.

So, here is an idea that came out of the fact that thrift stores often have an enormous selection of embroidery hoops. It just seems like there should be a lot of ways to use all those cast off embroidery hoops.  This is one way, a pin loom carousel. Its intended as a mobile for a baby with the soft animals tied on with ribbon. The hoop was painted a light sky blue. It would look lovely with clouds painted on it or script written around it.

It would be possible to get much fancier with your design by getting a used baby's mobile that has a turner and music built in. Just hang the hoop on that mechanism and it will parade in a circle.

My choice was to use sheep, lambs and one dog. The sheep and dog are patterns that come from the Pin Loom Weaving book. But it would look great with any of the pin loom animals. Plus, when baby gets older, the toys can come down to be played with.* This could make a fun and thoughtful baby gift or, if you have less time, perhaps just one sheep as part of a gift decoration. 

*Keep in mind that there are chenille sticks in the design of each of these animals, so baby will need to be quite a bit older or the chenille sticks will need to be removed.  Here is a way to remove danger for a baby.

  • With the dog, just leave the chenille sticks out of the legs. 
  • With the sheep and lambs, you will need to crochet replacement legs. I would suggest making a chain in the length and color to match the original leg, then half-double crochet back up the length. Attach to the body. You will have made a floppy but workable leg.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A summer project for a winter blanket

I was cleaning out a storage area-- something I do every decade whether it needs it or not-- and found a number of old projects.

Some of these have been featured before, some not. They are all made with pin looms, two of them using square and triangle style looms. You'll notice that a couple of the blankets spotlight a house medallion. I have always liked old fashioned brownstones and was delighted to discover that I could recreate the look of brick by using three layers of mahogany yarn woven with one layer of tan.

This second blanket never quite took off. It was a little too small and after beginning a verse around the outside, I decided that I didn't like it enough to finish it, but didn't want to mess it up by removing the letters I had inserted. This is probably one of the better and more finished of my unfinished projects.

Anyhow, the point of this post is that if you have plans for a blanket for this winter, you need to consider starting NOW. 

Pin loom blankets are different than knit or crochet. They start as a bunch of small squares and rectangles, each woven independently.

This is the perfect time to start thinking about your own winter blanket. What about drafting out a simplified picture of your own favorite house as the focal point and adding a couple borders of your favorite colors?

Even if you don't want to sweat over house details in the middle of summer, you can weave up the border blocks while sitting in the back yard.

Or start by picking out some soft yarn that is going to keep you cozy this winter and weave a few squares while you're at the pool.

Wherever you start, you're going to end up with a great blanket this winter in seemingly no time because so much of it was accomplished over lazy summer days. 

  Hope you have a great 4th of July! 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Letter from camp, I mean, Fiber Conference

Dear Mom and Dad and Everyone who may have wondered where I wandered off to...

 I have been weaving furiously to prepare for the Midwest Fiber Conference, currently underway at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. I am going to be sharing a booth with Marcella Edmund, a fiber and pin loom artist!

While this may be great for me, I have totally abandoned the many pin loom weavers out there with whom I have been corresponding.  So this is not an excuse, but is an explanation of where I have been and a promise to return soon with new ideas and new posts.

ps. This is one of the items, along with a bunch of books to sell, that I am taking up to the Midwest Weaver's Conference.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Endless scarves

Scarves are everywhere and pin loom infinity scarves can serve as an endless source of gifts and accessories. Plus, infinity scarves provide a great vehicle for weaving with variable yarns like the Mochi yarns.

Instead of crocheted or knitted lumps of color, the pin loom allows a fusion of colors; blending, muting, amplifying one another in unexpected ways. The challenge of weaving with variable yarns is to pick a length of yarn that does not include the entire rainbow. As you may remember from experimenting with paints or markers when you were young, if you mix them all together, you get a mud color.

All of the squares in this scarf project came from one skein of Mini Mochi yarn.

Just as there is no end of colors that work for a scarf, there is no end of yarn types or weights that will work. This infinity scarf, still in process, was woven with Mini Mochi fingering yarn, which produced light, somewhat lacy squares.

If you are looking for thoughts about how to complete your Infinity Scarf, check out Infinity Squared - designed and woven by Constance Hall.

I think that her choice of crocheted border sets off the weaving beautifully.

Ms. Hall's design is just one of the many Zoom Loom/Pin Loom patterns available through Schacht Spindle-- Zoom Loom Resources. Check them all out HERE.  

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Pin loom sheep declare Spring is here

This is Minnesota, so the grass isn't up yet and the weather isn't all that warm. But the Fiber Festivals will be sending out schedules very soon and the pin loom sheep are getting ready for a great year.

People have asked about the genesis of the pin loom sheep. Below is my fanciful representation of pin loom sheep being born, moving slowly from woven pelts, acquiring their little pointy heads, and then legs and ears.

These sheep are all destined for craft shows. This would be a great week to share a sheep or two in an Easter or May Day basket. Complete directions for making a Spring Pin Loom Sheep are located in Pin Loom Weaving - 40 Projects for Tiny Hand Looms.  Have a happy Spring!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Postage Stamp Quilt Blanket

This blanket was intended as a tribute to a classic Amish quilt with a special note of thanks to the U.S. Post Office.

In 2001 the U.S. Post office issued this series of stamps commemorating the Amish quilt.  I thought that they were all incredible but was particularly drawn to the quilt that reflects a very "pin loom" flavor.

Over the next nine months or so I wove and constructed my Postage Stamp Blanket. As with the Amish Bars blanket, they are not lined or quilted, the weigh of the woven fabric is quite warm enough without extra layers.

This blanket is close to six foot square.

Here is the beginning of those middle squares, made with one 4"x 4" square and topped with two light blue squares, whip stitched in place.

The blanket was made with 2" x 2" squares, 2" x 4" squares, 4" x 4" squares, 2" x 6" squares, 4" x 6" squares, and 6" x 6" squares. Most of those looms were Weavette Looms, which came out with all six sizes.

It uses three shades of green for the 2" line around the 9 square design, 3 shades blue plus a slate blue and a very dark navy blue. Plus the red.

All of the woven pieces in the blanket were finished with a single crochet edge in the same color, then whip stitched to join. You might notice that the small squares above do not have a crochet edge, that was so that they would sit within the dimensions of the 4" x 4" square.

Below the middle panel is finished, I'm working on the panels to the right and left.

When a blanket gets this big it is amazing how many rectangles are needed for the border!

           A just-finished blanket. The edging is a line of half double crochet in navy.

This is a later pattern for the blanket with a few proposed color variations.  This Amish pattern lends itself to a number of colorways.

Have fun with this. If anyone decides to make a new version of the blanket, I would love to see the results!  MS