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.