Vermont Weaving Club: Rag Rugs

My birthday is next week and I got a little early present—a subscription to the Vermont Weaving Club! My in-laws normally get me a subscription box like FabFitFun each year but then I came across this one right before the July deadline so I signed up for that instead.

You can chose to get just the yarn and pattern or to get that and learning component for a little extra. I went for the learning version. I’ve been looking for some project kits to get me started so this sounded perfect. With the learning version you get “ a detailed weaving lesson followed by a Zoom session for show & tell and questions & answers.”. You can always drop that part if you want which is nice.

In line with my interest in upcycling, this box is a rag rug. They send you yarn for the warp (I wish it was thicker because we had to double it up) and you use fabric strips for the weft. I bought some flat sheets at the thrift store to use. It was finally cool enough to take them outside and cut them up. You’d be amazed how many particles come out of cutting up so much fabric!

I am maybe a quarter through warping the loom. It takes forever and I have to drag it out to use it and put it back before we eat meals or watch tv so I try to do the warping when my husband goes into the office. I’m paranoid something will bump it but it should be fine. It’s through the reed at least. I think it’s slightly off center and I’m debating about adding more before I get started to even it out but I’m also nervous I don’t have enough weft.

We will see! It sounds like a fun project.

Peg Loom Project #1 Table Topper

I used some thrifted yarn to make a little table topper on the peg loom. Nothing fancy and not the colors I’d chose to put together but I used up a lot of yarn! I also got a good sense of what weaving on the peg loom was like.

It was very quick and easy. I still don’t quite know how it all doesn’t fall off the warp as you advance it but I know better than to ask questions.

I wanted something to use as a buffer on a dresser that keeps making noise when we walk by because my husband keeps his bongos up there. Very niche problems.

I can see how using really thick or fluffy yarn would make a cute rug but I think it looks fine as a table runner/topper. The loops remind me of ripples on water.

I did see how much yarn it took and how much it “shrank” when it came time to take it off the loom. Making a rug must be a huge undertaking!

The loom from Michael’s worked well enough. I can see how having a solid base would be nice, it is very long and it clearly wanted to bow in the middle. It didn’t, but it didn’t feel as stable as something solid would be.

A Spinning Adventure

I saw a listing on Craigslist for a small spinning wheel at a reasonable price and got in contact. They were in Northern Virginia which mile-wise isn’t too far from Baltimore but traffic down there is bonkers. I’ve been stuck in traffic there for hours at literally 2 am.

I decided to go for it and contacted the seller and she said that she wouldn’t ship it but it was still available. She said she was free week days. We made plans for Thursday post rush hour. My car battery was dead when I went to leave and I had to take my husband’s car but somehow I got there in an hour and ten minutes which has to be a speed record. No traffic at all. Note to self—leave at 8:50 AM on a Thursday next time you need to run to NOVA.

I had mentioned I had never spun before and she said if I had time, she could show me how to work it and might have some wool to get me started. How nice is that??

I ended up staying almost 90 minutes and chatting with her and met her cute dog. She got rid of her dining room table to make room for spinning! Something my husband keeps telling me we should do with for looms/weaving. It was a lot of fun and she sent me home with the wheel and some bags of wool.

I even got to stop and pick up our favorite bánh mì at Bánh Mì D.C. Sandwich on the way back. If you think you saw me driving up 95 with a banh mi in my hand, no you didn’t. I had brought a cooler so I brought some some for dinner too and a fun pandan dessert. I even treated myself to a cà phê đá. So good!!! Why don’t we have a place like this in Baltimore??

It would have been the perfect day if my car had started! Luckily I found this place that will come to you and install your battery and it was somehow cheaper than buying a battery at the auto parts store?

I don’t quite have the hang of spinning yet but I managed to do a tiny bit and have been practicing treadling while distracted by talking, weaving squares for my temperature blanket and watching tv. I might try the drop spindle, I don’t think I’m getting the drafting quite right, it keeps being too thick. I have some drop spindles from the thrift craft store and one from a lot I won at an estate auction that included the incredible rope machine.

I read some mixed reviews of the wheel online (people seem to either love it or hate it) and the woman who sold it to me prefers a different kind but it’s cute and good size for me. I thought two treadles might work for me because I found that I liked weaving with an even amount of treadles on each side best. It’s a little weird getting the rhythm going but I think I’m getting it. I really wanted a smaller wheel because we are space crunched and the fact that this one has a handle that looks like a hand cut out and treadles that look like feet is clearly a bonus. People said it was harder to get used to but I figure if I can get it going than any other wheel will be a breeze if I get really into it.

If I really can’t get the hang of it, I can always sell it and try a different one. I think some of the women in the guild spin because they were talking about Spin in Public Day coming up. So hopefully they’d help me!

I’m not sure if I really needed a new project now but it was too good of a deal to pass up at about a third of what they are retailing for currently. The few times I’ve seen wheels used they’ve been either pretty large or in need of a lot of work.

Warping the Inkle

I picked up an inkle loom from Facebook Marketplace maybe even last fall and haven’t used it yet. It was a good deal (about a third of the retail price) and when I got there to pick it up the woman even threw in some some shuttles, yarn and a book. I didn’t have have great plans for it and knew little about it. But for some reason I had been thinking it would be fun to weave shoelaces and I knew you could do that on an inkle. At that price it seemed silly to pass it up. You never know when a deal like that might come around again. I recently lost a 8-shaft Baby Wolf with all the accessories (and bench!) at an estate auction by $60. I don’t know where we’d fit it but it still rankles.

The weaving guild has a zoom inkle session Wednesday afternoons so I joined in a couple weeks ago and talked about how I wanted to try to work up to making shoelaces. At the next in person meeting one of the members brought her new fancy inkle in for me to try out for a month. It has a handle to lift the warp! She also let me borrow some DVDs and I checked out a band book from the guild library. Trying out her loom gave me a good idea of how the inkle actually works.

At the very least I felt like I could warp up an easy strap on the inkle this morning. I used some crochet cotton because that is what the woman who sold it to me largely used. I figure I can branch out and get fancy later on. I think having learned how use a weaving board at my weaving lessons really help solidify in my mind how it worked too. The concept is pretty similar, much more similar than it is to my other looms.

Today at the inkle zoom everyone was talking about making shoelaces! Maybe I have started a trend?!

Burn Test

At yesterday’s guild meeting we did a burn test to see what “mystery” fibers were. Cotton oddly smelt a bit like burnt marshmallows. We practically made new plastic wire out of nylon.

It was a hot day but cool in the shade. I don’t know if I regularly would do a burn test to figure out what some fibers are but it was interesting to do once! Especially for blends. It was pretty accurate to the guide.

Peg Loom Weaving

I learned about peg looms when I was checking out any book from the library that contained the words “warp”, “loom” or “weaving” months ago and thought it looked interesting.

I looked on Etsy for looms and saw some nice ones but they all were a little pricy and seemed like something I could make myself if I had access to the tools. I joined a peg loom group on Facebook and liked looking at their rug projects but didn’t feel any real urgency to get a peg loom. I had so many pin looms, two under used floor looms and frame looms already!

But…I got a good coupon from Michael’s and thought I’d see what they had in the way of weaving supplies. The last time I checked specially for weaving was last fall when I was trying to buy my dad a pot holder loom—they didn’t sell one and didn’t have any real weaving supplies at all. Maybe a few circular knitting looms or a sock loom. But that’s it.

So I was a little surprised to see that now they are selling two kinds of frame looms for tapestry, some needles, a pot holder loom, not heat-safe pot holder loops, some tapestry/wall hanging weaving kits and to my real surprise, a peg loom!

What?? Peg looms definitely wouldn’t have been my guess for what Michael’s would carry. I can see the frame looms since tapestry/wall hangings seem fairly popular right now. Pot holders are classic. I would not been surprised to see a Zoom Loom knockoff. The pot holder and pin loom people seem out in force in 2022 making a ton of things. There have been cotton pot holder loop shortages! But peg looms? Even the peg loom groups aren’t very active. I found one video on Tiktok and not much on Instagram. I haven’t found a single peg loom project in the Little Looms archives.

I guess it is an easy and inexpensive product to make. With the coupon it was under $20. Will there be a rush of peg loom interest now? The store had plenty in stock as did all the other locations around me so they are out there actually on the shelves.

Now I did have some issues putting it together. One set of instructions labeled “how to assemble” had you hammering the screws in while the inside of the label said to screw them. I did screw them right away before I noticed the second set of contradictory instructions on the label because it only made sense but that was odd. The second issue was the one of the feet would not stay screwed on so I ended up using some all-purpose silicone glue I had around to attach and secure the foot. If I really love peg loom weaving I can always upgrade to a fancier homemade version, especially if I figure out the difference between them and this one.

The instructions on the label were pretty bare bones (I’m really not sure why there was a separate Xerox copy looking instructions included—they were wrong and the instructions printed on the back of the label were fine) but they were clear about the assembly, there was some modest weaving tips about leaving space, not pulling tightly and how to finish off the piece and even a illustration showing how to make a lark’s head knot for fringe and tassels. More than I’ve seen in some Little Looms rigid heddle and pin loom projects to be honest! No project ideas beyond the rug(?) photograph on the label.

I used a technique similar to direct warping my rigid heddle by using the warping pegs from those looms, placed the length I wanted apart then I wrapped them the same number of pegs I wanted to use and cut one end. Then I used a needle to thread the pegs on the loom. I thought I was very clever figuring that out (I see people on the peg loom FB group talking about how tedious the warping is and measuring out each warp individually ) but then I opened up the peg loom and stick weaving book I got from the library and saw this illustration showing exactly what I had just done:

Ha! At least it was validating. I don’t see a lot of projects in the book that I’d want to make but it is the only peg loom and stick weaving book I can find. Even Little Looms magazine and other books about small looms or weaving pretty much ignores peg looms and weaving sticks.

I’m just practicing with some scrap yarn I didn’t end up using for my temperature blanket and the warp (which I don’t think anyone will really see) is some random thrifted yarn but it’s kind of a fun process. Very quick even with this relatively thin sport weight yarn. I can imagine it would be extremely quick with fabric strips or very thick yarn. Thicker yarn would probably be a better choice for how chunky the pegs are. Or maybe doubling the yarn? I don’t really like working with two strands at once so I didn’t bother.

The process of lifting the sticks to slide the yarn weaving onto the warp seemed counter intuitive to me (I wanted to pull the yarn over the sticks, not just lift them up) but obviously it works!

My husband asked what you can make on the peg loom that’s different or unique than other methods and I honestly don’t know. If I had to guess the loom came about as away to quickly weave up scrap yarn for rugs and mats. It has to be faster than hand braiding, the loom itself is easy to make and fairly collapsible, no sewing needed and you can use pretty much anything you can wrap around the pegs.

It’s a little bulkier than pin loom weaving but just as mindless to do while watching tv or a movie. Or weaving while your husband is washing dishes and you’re chatting.

Little Looms Magazine Fall 2022

I really do want to like this magazine but I’m not convinced anyone is actually editing the patterns. Or else they are written only for people who have already completed very similar projects.

I’ve been working on my temperature blanket (one month to go!) and I’m stitching the squares together by hand because I couldn’t find good instructions on making a crocheted or other border. I had really wanted a sort of stained glass effect but in the interest of time, I abandoned that idea.

So I was excited to see a stained glass pin loom blanket in the latest issue of Little Looms.

Gabi van Tassell’s pattern has some resources for weaving triangles, finishing off crochet and crochet glossary (all webpages) but doesn’t have any illustrations or info about the actual stitches she wants you to make. It’s strange that they think you won’t know what crochet abbreviations are but expect you to know how to crochet any stitches and connect them into a woven piece.

Later in the magazine they give you an illustration of how to do a French knot. How do they decide what people know?

I was going to re-up my subscription but I don’t think I will. There are a ton of cute ideas but the directions are written so strangely. I guess it stands out as a recipe writer but they don’t seem to value clarity. This is not the first time I’ve had my hopes dashed by this magazine.

New Triangle Loom!

I had two triangle pin looms that have the pins spaced evenly along all three sides. Some times they are called “bias” looms.

They are fine but I found using using them a lot more tedious than my Zoom Loom or bookmark loom. You need to use a crochet hook or a small locker hook to weave, similar to how “turtle looms” work. I find this kind of bulky and awkward. Part of what I like about pin looms is that it’s easy and I can do it without paying a lot of attention. The bias looms weren’t difficult once I got the hang of it but they are more hands on. You have to hook the yarn just so or it will fall off or get caught. It’s easy to grab or snag the wrong strand as well. I wish there was a better tool to use rather than trying to adapt tools from other crafts.

Part of the reason I got the 4 inch triangle loom was to be able to make designs pairing it with my Zoom Loom squares. I quickly realized that they didn’t quite fit together right. The Zoom Loom is three (sort of four, depending on how you count) layers and the bias loom was only two or one depending on the technique. Unless I was using very thick yarn, it gave a much more “lacy” look to the triangles than the Zoom Loom squares. It didn’t look quite right when you held them up to the squares I made on the Zoom Loom. I really wanted to be able to use the same yarn for both looms for a project and get a uniform look. I don’t have a square bias loom and didn’t really want one.

Oddly it was tricky to find a triangle loom with the 3 pin set up. Dewberry has some but the shipping was pretty high. I poked around and a lot of people talked about using Wunderwag Looms. I was hesitant because they don’t have a website and aren’t on Etsy. You just email them and they send you the details. I debated about it and finally emailed them and it went fine! He replied right away with a list of products and shipping prices. He offered a discount if you buy a set of three so I did that. I figured I probably would want a larger and smaller one eventually so why not save on shipping? They shipped and arrived super quickly.

Unlike the other looms I saw they were made out of clear plastic. They have numbers on all three sides to make it clear how and where to warp and weave. My only quibbles is that the instructions show a fully warped and woven triangle. I would have liked a break down of each layer like how the Zoom Loom instructions are. It’s color coded but it’s a little tricky to see. He also included some written instructions. I also think I would have preferred solid plastic rather than clear, it is a little distracting to see my fingers, the floor and the rest of the yarn through the loom.

I love how the triangles look. They are the perfect thickness and size to pair with my Zoom Loom woven squares which is exactly what I wanted!

It’s a little tricky at the top and around the hypotenuse where there is a lot of tight overlapping but it works up quickly. I really like the 3-pin method so it’s worth a little struggle. Using the crochet hook was a lot more tedious than this.

Pin Loom Bookmarks Part 2

I’ve shared a few bookmarks here but I’ve really been making them a lot lately! They are so quick to make and so satisfying. Since they are so narrow there is no real room for anything to get tangled. I’ve done over 290 temperature blanket squares and you’d be surprised how often I put it down for a second and the yarn mysteriously knots itself or something gets pulled funny.

I filmed my self warping and then weaving a bookmark and uploaded it to TikTok. It takes about 15 minutes total. It’s a great way to use the slightly stiff but cute variegated yarn I thrifted a number of weeks ago. I can’t imagine wanting to wear anything from the yarn but it makes a bookmark that is pretty flat and thick. Any yarn works but soft yarn does yield a floppier bookmark.

I’ve been washing them then air drying them on a drying cloth from Aldi outside when it’s sunny. It’s really interesting to see what patterns form. I’ve done squares with some of the same yarn (or the same yarn but a different colorway) and they end up looking totally different than the bookmark—like the green/orange below striped as a bookmark and almost made a plaid but was much more abstract as a 2 inch square. I also have that yarn in purple and blue shades for the temperature blanket and it looks very different, much less geometric and even, as a 4 inch square.

I’m not sure if I am going to make tassels or maybe attach something else to them. Maybe buttons? A flower made using my vintage daisy loom? More pompoms? Or leave them be?

It’s funny how much fun I have making them (I think I am up to around SIXTY) because despite reading over 200 books a year, I rarely read a physical book and when I do, I’m an awful dogearer.

Warped Weavers Meeting & Auction

I went to my first meeting of the Warped Weavers! It wasn’t too hard to get to. It was fun to meet people in person, I did the one Zoom but I was away and then had appointments on the other days they had it.

They have a huge library of books! It was also their auction day so I ended up with a rug shuttle, a couple of books and some yarn for under $20. Not too shabby.

I had thought it was the last meeting for the summer but I think they have one more in June. This meeting they shared their “stash busting” projects which was a lot of fun. So creative! One woman shared some info about lucets which was nice. My husband had gotten both of us one but we were kind of at a loss. She had used a latchet lucet to make cord to make pot holders and coiled containers.

Looking forward to the next meeting! I made some bookmarks out of scrap yarn while I was there but no one else brought something to work on.