Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Loomettes, making a good pin loom almost perfect

The Loomette is a vintage pin loom that has a lot to offer. Like the vintage Weave-It, it is readily available on Ebay and other online venues for very reasonable prices. It is a sturdy little wood-framed loom. The wider pin spacing means that there is more room to use variable yarns and the weaving needle won't get stuck between the pins. You can find lots of Loomettes that look as though they were never taken out of the box, in perfect condition after 60 or 70+ years. Unfortunately, there is a reason for that.

The downside with the Loomette is that, because the pins are not clustered in groups of three, it is more challenging to wind on the yarn. Each time I have done it I had to stop and think about it, I couldn't pick up an easy flow like the Weave-it or Zoom Loom.

So I decided to fix that. Now I can use my Loomettes with the same ease as my other pin looms and all it needed was a little nail polish. 

Some of the Loomettes came with two weaving bars that expand the weaving options to 17 different pieces. 

The Loomette pin pattern is slightly different than the standard Zoom Loom type pin loom. There are two less pins on the Loomette. Beginning from a slot to hold the starting end of the yarn, you follow a pattern of going around two pins, skipping one.

In order to make this easier to see, I painted white nail polish on each group of two pins that you go around for the first two layers. I marked the two pins that you go through to the third layer in green.

This pattern shows the pins that need to be marked in order to easily wind yarn onto the loom.

I have also marked the "gateway pins" to transition to the third layer.

You can see the different layers wound onto a Loomette below- making use of the marked pins.

Be aware that in the picture of Layer 2, the loom is now sideways, it returns to the starting side for Layer 3.

Original Loomette instruction patterns.
The final question is whether the Loomette is compatible with other pin looms. The woven Loomette below was so close to identical to the Zoom Loom product that I had to mark it with masking tape when I took it off the loom for fear of confusing the two.

I am certain that there are many weavers who are as comfortable winding the Loomette as any other pin loom. If you are not one of those, I hope these directions will help.

This gives me one more chance to include a plea for collaboration. If you have a couple pin looms or if you decide to pull out an extra Loomette and some nail polish, you now have the opportunity to share this craft with family and friends, and that gives you a superpower.  You now have the ability to create a baby toy or prayer shawl or other gift from your heart and hands in an incredibly short period of time through your unified work. And that becomes a gift of its own.
     Be well. Happy weaving!

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Pin Loom Flat Rat the ultimate weaving companion

Do you ever feel that your house is just too clean and tidy? ...or that you need company when you're reading? Here is the ultimate pin loom companion, the Flat Rat. Whether as flattened friend or bookmark, the Flat Rat lends an air of dissipated companionship to any environment.

 A friend pointed out a knitting pattern for a Flat Rat and it struck me that it would be even better in pin loom squares.

Think of all the uses! Not only do you have an exceptional bookmark, it makes a great coaster, giving a certain fuzzy touch to your morning coffee. Add a second Flat Rat as a tiny cup cozy and you have instant companionship- with your little friend peering up at you each time you take a sip.

And if you have kids at home, what better than a unique accessory for the play house, a Flat Rat rug.

The Pin Loom Flat Rat is super easy to make. 

1)  Weave one 4"x 4" and one 2" x 2" square in your choice of rat color.

2)  Turn the 2" x 2" in a cone, first turning in the corner so that the nose isn't TOO sharp and stitch along the edge. The triangle shape of extra cloth is laid on top of the 4"x 4" square and stitched in place. Add stuffing to the head and stitch the underside of the cone in place along the edge of the 4" x 4".

3)  Pinch in the corners of the 4" x 4" for about 1/2 inch and stitch closed to produce the little squashed feet. Add three pieces of 3/8" length of black yarn sticking out of each foot for rat claws.

4)  Crochet the ear, I used a 4.0mm hook, ch4, hdc1, skip, hdc1. Do this twice, once for each ear. This will give you little round ears with two pieces of yarn coming off of the bottom. Run the yarn into the head to place the ears. You can just ties these two yarn ends together to keep the ear in place.

5)  I used small glass beads for the eyes or you could take a few small stitches in black yarn to make the eyes.

6)  Add pink yarn for the nose. I used about three or four satin stitches up over the front of the nose.

7)  Crochet the tail, which should be the same length as the head and body, about 5". Make a chain with two pieces of yarn, the rat color and pink, stitch the tail to the back of the rat. The pink and rat color make a nice color mix for the tail.

8)  Add black whiskers by running light black yarn or light cotton yarn through the rat muzzle.

9)  As you can see in the picture below, I added rat bellies to a couple of the rats. This isn't absolutely necessary but can be a fun touch. Use a 2" x 2" in a light color, turn in the corners to make the belly somewhat oval and stitch to the underside of the rat using the body color for stitching. Don't forget to add a bellybutton by taking a couple tiny stitches in the rat body color.

So that's it. A fun project that includes assistance in keeping your place in your book while offering you beady-eyed companionship during these physically distancing times.  
Be well and happy weaving. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Windowpane lace cell phone holder plus scarves for Spring

I was originally going to call this post, "Things to weave while hanging out at home" but realized that covers everything I have ever posted. If there was ever a perfect craft for something to do while hanging out and watching TV, I think that pin loom weaving is it. So this is one more-- actually, several more ideas of fun, easy things to do that are going to turn out really nice and be fun to have as Spring emerges.

The pin loom windowpane lace pattern is a favorite of mine because of its extraordinary simplicity and speed of weaving. I used a 100" cotton fingering yarn below in order to highlight the light, airy fabric for Spring.

The first step is weaving the squares. You will need four squares in Windowpane lace pattern for the cell phone holder.

Row 1: weave plain
Row 2: (U3, O1); repeat across the row, U3.
Alternate Rows 1 and 2, through Row 14.
Row 15: weave plain
Row 16: weave plain

The lovely thing about this pattern is that for the odd rows, you just weave plain. For the even rows, you just have to weave "under three, over one" all the way across the row, ending with "under three. The last row, Row 16, is woven plain as well. This is a pattern that I can handle while I watch TV- there is no counting, there are no complex changes from row to row. Its like the simplest pattern of all time and yet it turns into this lovely, lacy cloth. 

Next step, join the four squares to make a strip of fabric. I used the double overcast stitch to join the squares because I wanted to be able to carry my cell phone in the bag I'm making, so I did not want the fabric to give way. Here is the link for instructions for the double overcast stitch located on the Pin Loom Essentials page. 

Fold the fabric over to make a bag. My cell phone is short enough that I decided to make the bag with a flap over the top. When I am actually using the bag for my cell phone I may tuck that flap inside the bag.  You may prefer to fold the fabric in two and make a slightly longer bag.

Starting at the bottom of the bag, join the two sides using a single crochet stitch. When you reach the top of the bag, continue with a crochet chain for 36 to 44", depending upon your preferred length for the strap.

Then continue with a single crochet stitch from the top to the bottom on the second side of the bag and knot it at the bottom.

That's it!  I thought about turning the bag inside out but found that my phone is chunky enough that it works better with the crochet on the outside, you may choose to do it differently.

You will notice that I mentioned scarves earlier. I do not have any scarves made yet but I do have a bunch of really nice windowpane lace squares that will shortly go into a scarf. I'm thinking that once you discover how fun it is to make this fingering weight squares, you will soon have enough for your cell phone holder plus a scarf.

When you are ready to make your scarf, check out the different joining techniques shown on the pin loom essentials page and check out this crochet joining technique used in John Mullarkey's shawl for a variety of joining ideas/techniques for your Spring Scarf.  Now, go have fun and make something glorious!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Pin Loom Mouse Sachets, also known as a Catnip Mouse

Introducing the perfect house freshener/ fun cat toy/ unforgettable bookmark or unique sachet to tuck away in a drawer or closet. Make your very own rose petal mouse, lavender mouse, catnip mouse or an "insert-your-favorite-flower-or-scent-here" mouse.

This is one of my earliest patterns. I have been making catnip mice, mouse sachets, and weird little mouse toys for many years because people love them and it is a fun and easy pattern, using one 4"x 4" square and two 2"x 2" squares. They are easy enough to make multiples for craft fairs or church fund raisers.

Consider adding extra value with embellishment such as black beads for eyes or embroidered flowers to give your mice a whole new look. I chose to leave off the stitching for the nose, I think it gives them a cleaner, more modern look.

Enjoy this old pattern and may your home be blessed with pin loom mice!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Pin Loom Patches save the day

I think its safe to say that we live in a post-patching, post-darning world. There seems to be little point in conserving clothing when it is so easy to end up with way too many outfits.

My red knit mittens are an exception to that rule. I live a cold country and good mittens are important to have and hard to find. Pin loom patches have made it possible for me to wear these perfect and almost irreplaceable mittens for several years longer than expected.

I am now rockin' three patches on the right mitten and two on the left, secure in the knowledge that I can continue to weave as many patches as needed to keep my hands toasty. 

I have been thinking about starting to add 4 x4" pin loom woven patches to a few sweaters, just for fun, but haven't had the time to work on pin loom squares for embellishment.

If you have added patches to anything- out of need or for adornment, send me a picture to add to this post. My email is at the bottom of the right hand column. 

Monday, February 10, 2020

A Pin Loom Valentine UFO

There are a bunch of ways to turn pin loom squares into hearts, this is one simple way.  Take three squares and join them, turn down the four top corners to make a more heart-like shape and outline the shape with a line of single crochet in a coordinated color.

I had an idea about making a blanket of hearts, joined with a neutral square at the top of each heart. My plan was to connect them in the neutral color and leave the holes open so that the hearts would sort of float in the blanket.

Here is my problem, I went too far. I found too many different colors, made it too random and then one day when I laid it out, I realized that I didn't like it. And now I'm stuck and don't know how to get unstuck. I like them too much to throw them away but not enough to finish the project.

This heart blanket was an idea that I was going to include in my first book, Pin Loom Weaving. But I lost heart and stuffed them away in a bag until now... and find myself just as stuck as I was when I squirreled them away.

Take three squares and join them, turn down the four top corners to make a more heart-like shape and smooth and outline the shape with a line of single crochet in a coordinated color. 

This is the corner that comes closest to the finished idea. My plan was to connect them in the same taupe/gold color and leave the holes open so that the hearts would sort of float in the blanket.

So this is where I am. With a pile of hearts and a project two-thirds done but no heart to continue. I would love to be able to figure out something else to do with the squares, that would be a great way to reconcile the work I've already done.

Considering that we are coming up quickly to Valentine's Day I am very open to any suggestions that people might have about how to get unstuck or what to do with all these fricking squares.

This is not my only UFO ever, but it is really bugging me because the project is exactly balanced between "interesting" and "meh".

If you've ever struggled with this or if you have any thoughts about what I should do, please leave a comment. 

I may be reworking them into a cat bed. 

Saturday, February 1, 2020

A Dragon Blanket is evidence that you can weave most anything with pin looms

I've been doing some cleaning up on my hard drive and came across pictures from my Dragon Blanket project, also mentioned in a 2013 post on blankets and afghans. This was a gift to a young couple for their new baby. Since the couple was deeply into the Renaissance Festival, I wanted to make something that would be specific to them and their child. I went for a larger  blanket, this one measures about 38" x 46" so that it would be usable for longer time.

This project turned out to be a lot more challenging than I expected. I knew that I wanted to make a relatively friendly looking dragon. After making a few sketches, the only way that I could figure out how to create the blanket was by making a life sized pattern for it. That way I could break down the different colors and parts and just weave each part separately.

The large grid of squares is what I used to re-scale my plan from a smaller sketch. The pictures show different stages of dragon building. I used 4"x 6" and 6"x 6" squares for the background in order to give it a contrasting texture from the smaller squares that make up the dragon body. As with a number of projects that I've woven/constructed over the years, there were a number of times when I decided that I had made a terrible mistake and that this project was definitely not going to work out. That's usually a good time for me to take a break.

But it finally did work out and it was a lot of fun to do-- though challenging enough I have felt absolutely no need to try to do it again. My only regret is that I did not manage to get a better, less fuzzy picture of the completed blanket and I didn't get a picture of blanket with baby.

I need to remember that for next time.  MS

Monday, January 20, 2020

New Ideas for Old Jars... plus pin loom squares

Even though I believe that everything is better with pin loom squares, the primary focus of this post is some gift (or self-gift) ideas for using old pint jars. These pint jars came from local thrift shops where they often call out to me to be taken home and re-purposed. These ideas also make great craft fair items or items for fund raisers.

Sewing Kit

This is the only item that actually makes the  use of the pin loom square, turning it into an always available pin cushion.  Now you have an emergency kit of safety pins and other sewing necessities safely located where they won't get lost behind the dresser or in the back of a drawer.

Journal Jar

This is a collection of about 60 pieces of paper, each printed with a question to elicit some self reflection and perhaps a journal entry. The questions are folded over in matchbook fashion so that you can open them up one at a time and then fold them up again for later use.

This has proved to be a great gift for junior high and high school age people. If I want to give something more, like for a graduation gift, I will include a really nice blank journal with some cash in it.

Gratitude, Blessing or Worry Jar

This is my newest approach for using pint jars. I wanted a place to write down a prayer or worry, someplace that I could (hopefully) write it down and let it go. I found a bunch of wooden spools, these are not vintage, they came in a package of 12 from a craft shop, and I taped a strip of pretty homemade paper to each spool. Then I can write down whatever it is that I have to say and roll it up on the spool. I wrapped each with yarn for a little color-- since yarn is something that I have a lot of.

It would be possible to have different colors of yarn for different thoughts, but I didn't think of that before I started. A lot of the papers rolled on the spools are still blank, they were done for the purpose of demonstration.  But I'm going to start over and see if I can add a note on a worry that I need to let go of, or consider something I'm thankful for, each day.

One more sewing kit...

I know that this isn't a brand new idea, but it has been so fun to take a lovely old sugar bowl and repurpose it as a hidden sewing kit. And do you notice how well the upside down pin loom pin cushion works? Oh yeah.

I know that I can't repurpose every piece of glass, china and crockery that flows into the thrift stores but it sure is fun to save a few.

If you have any thoughts about other favorite purposes for thrift shop finds, please consider sharing them with me and the other Pin Loom Weaving readers. I would so appreciate it.  Thanks. MS

Monday, January 13, 2020

Pin Loom Table Runner

In an effort to make a fresh start in 2020, I have been working to clear out some of the stuff in my dining room. I rediscovered this cool table runner that I made a number of years ago when we first got our black dining room table. I wanted something that I could throw in the middle of the table that reflected the Craftsman colors in our house and could be used as a gaming board. I hesitate to call it a table "runner" since it is not long and skinny, but don't know what else to call it. Maybe, table mat? Table quilt? I have no idea.

The table runner/mat measures 24" x 24". It makes a really nice checkers/chess board but it works just as well as a mat for any game. I wanted the red squares to stand out so I edged each 2" x 2" square with single crochet in its own color and then whip stitched the squares together in black. The green strips are made from three 2" x 6" pieces, single crocheted around the whole strip in its own color, with a second single crochet edge in warm brown. The end squares are 4" x 4"s, edged in brown. Then the whole piece got another edge of half double crochet in tan. If I were making it again, I would probably do that final outside edging also in single crochet, because I think it would balance the colors better.

This would be a super easy pattern to modify to work with other color schemes. And while I was wed to the idea of making a chessboard, you could make it thinner and longer and turn it into an actual table runner... with matching table mats! Enjoy and happy weaving!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Pin loom weaving with Scrubby Yarn

Happy New Year!
This has been a great day for me because I learned something new. No. It was even better than that because I learned that I had been completely wrong about an earlier assumption that stalled me out for a couple years, and then I learned I was wrong.

I have to confess that I spent a number of years thinking that it was not possible to use Scrubby yarn on a pin loom. If you haven't seen this product, it is a 100% polyester yarn that is made for making dishcloths or scrubbies. It has a fringe of twisted yarns that makes it very effective for washing and scrubbing dishes and it doesn't hold bacteria easily.

Because of the multitude of twists and fringe in the yarn, I was convinced that I couldn't weave with it, and I found that thought to be very frustrating.

I was so convinced that I couldn't weave with it that I only tried weaving with one layer of the scrubby yarn, adding a single crocheted edge to the planned dishcloth. I created something that was so ugly that it could possibly cause flashbacks to the 70's.  I am going to share it with you below, I feel that I should take responsibility for at least some of my embarrassing creations.

The point of this confessional is that it took me about THREE YEARS to get over assuming that I already knew the answer and just sit down and  try weaving with Scrubby yarn at which point I found out that it weaves up beautifully. I wove the 6"x 6" square on the right earlier today and it makes a supple, thick cloth with a lovely pattern and its going to make a great dishcloth (and who knows how many other uses?)

Once I got started weaving with the Scrubby yarn it was hard to stop. I decided to make a flower scrubby, which is a stack of 4"x 4" squares, each turned into a flower and then stacked to become and really cute, handy pot scrubber. You can see all the directions for making the woven scrubby HERE/

I wove four 4"x 4" squares for the scrubby (but only used three of them). They came out with a great plaid look. I wove one larger, 6"x 6" square to use as a flat dishcloth. The yarn is not super easy to weave, you can run in to problems with the loops. Whenever I had problems pulling my needle and yarn through the weaving, I stopped, found the yarn loop that was holding it back (which was easy because it was straightened out, not curly) and cut it. That didn't hurt the cloth at all.

I ended up using three 4"x 4" squares and weaving one 2"x 2" for the Scrubby flower. I added a short crocheted chain, using two ends of Scrubby yarn, to make a handle for it. The Scrubby flower came out really well but it is so fuzzy that it does not photograph very well.

So here is the first thing that I've learned in 2020. I am going to try diligently not to make assumptions, get frustrated and then give up. I am going to work to keep an open mind and spent this year exploring ways to make brand new mistakes.  I hope that 2020 offers you many opportunities to try new things, too.  Margaret Stump