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!