Playful Peg Loom Weaving: A modern approach to the ancient technique of peg loom weaving, plus 17 projects to make by Stephanie Fradette

I was excited to get this ARC from Netgalley! I read a lot and regularly review books but there are rarely craft books on there.

It was a major record scratch moment when I saw this book. I had to “wish” for it and that wish was granted. I enjoyed using my peg loom recently but wasn’t sure what to make next. There aren’t too many books or patterns out there! The Facebook group is largely made up of people making rugs out of their own fleece which is not my situation at all.

This looked like a colorful, modern approach to peg loom weaving and I wasn’t disappointed.

I really appreciated the very clear photographs of the different stitches. So many books are vague and only have drawings which can be difficult to follow. I’ve actually never even encountered a book or pattern for the peg loom that had you do anything but the most basic weaves. This incorporated a lot of modern tapestry techniques which I really enjoyed. Several of the projects used weaving sticks (which are basically the peg loom without the stand) to make smaller projects which I liked. I need to get some narrower sticks!

I really liked how she organized the book into how long the projects took. I really like projects I can do while watching a movie or listening to a podcast and there is a whole section on weeknight crafting.

I am interested in learning more about the UK weaving and craft scene! This is not the first UK based less conventional weaving book I’ve come across, I also have a rag rug book by a different author that is very good and I’ve checked others out of the library. The US weaving scene seems large but I don’t see that many books coming out and not many about these more unusual smaller looms and techniques. Here Noreen Crone-Findlay seems to have basically cornered that market, her books are fine but I don’t generally see myself making any of her patterns and her videos are hit and miss. I don’t know if it is our publishing houses that aren’t putting out these books or if these types of crafts are just more popular in the UK. Here the focus really seems to be on floor looms and some rigid heddle.

The book isn’t out yet but you can pre-order it on Amazon. I normally don’t like craft books on the Kindle but this one works well in the format, I didn’t notice any formatting errors.

Vermont Weaving Club Update!

While I enjoy my guild I’m finding the greater weaving community to be a little odd! First the unprofessionalism from Sheep & Wool and now I’ve had a strange experience with Vermont Weaving Supplies that I can’t really wrap my mind around.

I should have trusted my gut when it came to the unusual set up of the club.

I was leery because subscribers don’t know what is in the box until it is too late to cancel. At $70 plus $9 shipping, it would be nice to know! New subscribers have a few days after the “reveal” to sign up and receive that box. In July it was revealed that the next box was about weaving rag rugs which I was so excited about so I took the plunge. I figured I could always cancel then sign up again after the next “reveal” if I wanted. $80 is too much for a box that I might have little use or interest in. I couldn’t wait for it to arrive a few weeks later.

In the meantime I joined the Facebook group and got members of my weaving guild to get subscriptions too so we could work on our projects together. The kit was $20 cheaper if you didn’t want the community and class aspect of it but I thought it would be helpful.

When it arrived I warped up my loom which was very tedious because both the heddles and the reed had to be double threaded because the kit contained 8/2 cotton which is pretty fine and normally used for things like towels not rag rug warp. 8/4 would be more common for a softer rag rug but I’ve been seen thicker thread and even cording used.

The subscriber Facebook group sounded great at first and I enjoyed seeing other people’s projects. Then it got weird.

On a post where another subscriber said she was getting undesired results with her project which she had downsized into a runner/placemat. An admin responded and said she should have used thicker cotton thread for the header. I chimed in and I didn’t see that in the instructions about modifications section (which included placemats) and asked for clarification because I was thinking about making something smaller too. The admin replied something that didn’t quite make sense about how this was a modification and that the directions were 14 pages long and didn’t really address the question.

I posted that I found doubling up the cotton tedious to warp on and then tricky to work with because my threads from my thrifted sheet weft kept getting caught in my warp.

The admin said that she designed the pattern to use the same cotton the towels in earlier kits did, she’s seen it used this way as an alternative to rug warp* and that every weaver is different. I replied that’s true but I think there is a reason why patterns call for certain types of warping materials, sometimes you really need something specific to get the right result. All very polite and again, this was in the supposedly “helpful” weave along group on a post another woman had written about how this cotton warp didn’t hold its shape well enough to give her the results she wanted or expected despite following the instructions and this same admin telling her she should have used something stiffer (and not included in the kit) for the header/edges.

My comments all disappeared but the woman’s post remained. I thought it must be some glitch so I posted on the same thread asking what happened and then I was banned from posting.

I was really shocked. Surely this woman knows (and basically admitted as such in her response to me) that this is atypical cotton for the project and wouldn’t be upset about someone talking about how the project was going in a group that’s sole purpose was about working on this project.

The admin woman, Dena Gartenstein Moses, told me to message her about why she blocked me from posting. I did because I truly thought it was an error or that she wanted to help me directly and thought redirecting me would get my attention. What else could it be?

No she wanted to tell me she didn’t like my contributions to the group and that I was a problem. She said she was “sorry” the subscription “wasn’t for me”. She said I was on the only person who didn’t like the pattern and therefore I was contributing “bad energy” with my participation. She literally said she felt I was challenging her.

My comment was on a post where a woman was sharing the troubles she was having with the project! I did not start a post about issues with the project. I merely agreed and shared my experience. This woman’s response was so over the top it was nearly unbelievable.

I replied to her because I was truly confused by her reaction and she read my response and ignored me.

Adding to all this a weird, in light of this whole debacle passive aggressive, email went out to the whole subscriber list a couple hours after I was banned (but before I tried to contact her) about “community” and learning,

My learning process is not linear. I tend to start in the middle and work my way out to the edges. I absorb what interests me and ignore the rest. Over time I will circle back, gain more insight, and go deeper.

This is the approach that I have taken with the weaving clubs. Getting to bring other weavers along is a special treat. Learning about weaving happens in spirals. Concepts build on other concepts, but it is not linear. One often circles around an idea or structure a few times, each time filling in gaps, each time understanding in more depth. I have found that the best way to teach someone is to follow the thread of what they are excited about and provide education along the way in small and manageable chunks.

What’s Happening in September newsletter 9/7/22, Vermont Weaving Supplies

It seemed very pointed and was honestly a description of the exact opposite approach she took in the Facebook Group. She provided materials that weren’t well suited to the project, got upset when someone pointed out that the project would probably work better with actual rug warp (I did it in a less blunt way then I’m using here) and then banned me. She was also a little defensive with the woman who started the post about her project but I don’t think banned her because the woman, although clearly frustrated, took a more passive approach to saying that the kit didn’t work as designed.

I guess when the Vermont Weaving School means community, they mean groupies without opinions or outside knowledge.

I’m so sad I gave this company $80 and told anyone else about it. I admit I do expect a certain level of professionalism from people but this whole issue was really unexpected and escalated in a really bizarre way. How talking about a pattern in general, factual terms was warped into a bannable offense is truly beyond me. I was polite and not wrong.

I can only imagine that she knew and realized that she designed the project using the wrong materials (for whatever reason, the company also sells a better option) and was upset that anyone realized that. Maybe this person doesn’t the best temperament for moderating discussion groups around projects then? I have no clue who this woman is but this was a really outsized response to a nothing problem. I wasn’t attacking her or saying the project was bad, I didn’t ask for a refund. I said it was hard to work with and it was. Maybe the reason they don’t get bad feedback is because people know how oversensitive and ban-happy they are.

I’m really debating about not finishing the project. I spent a lot of time sourcing fabric and cutting it up for the weft and warping took a couple days but I’m really not loving the results. I might take the fabric and try it in my yet unused twining loom instead. I hate to waste all that warp though!

*I have not found this suggestion in any other rag rug book or pattern. I can see a weaver doubling it up to “make do” and use up what they have on hand but patterns normally call for thicker cotton because it is the right choice for the project for durability and structure .

Completed Temperature Blanket!

Woo! I’m excited it is done and (most) of the ends are trimmed off.

It took some planning but I ended up including my birthday this year as a square and adding some triangle squares in order for each temperature in the final row as a “guide”. I also wove three variegated “blank” squares to finish off the row. Each row is two weeks long. I would sew together a row then attach it to the next one. I marked the first square each row with a bit of pink yarn and had a safety pin through the very first square so I didn’t get confused about the direction.

Each square reflects that day’s high temperature and the colors were in 5° increments. I have seen a lot of blankets where they take the average and it makes no sense to me! That is not a reflection of any temperature you most likely actually experienced! I lived all these highs.

I was happy we got up to 100° once so I could use that color which had always been on the chart. I was less happy that we had highs in the 20s so I had to add in an unplanned color! We had a lot more 30-34° days than I had expected which was unfortunate because it was my least favorite color. I had only chose it because it seemed like it would only represent 1-2 days and hopefully would be next to the greys which were the only colors it really looked good next to. That did not happen!

***

I don’t think I will make another pin loom blanket this size. I am glad I did the project because it was fun having something little to make every day (did not miss a day!) but the yarn bin did take up a lot of room in the living room and sometimes I was just tired or didn’t feel well. It was easy enough that I felt like I should do it so I did as not to fall behind but sometimes it was a real chore.

Part of this is is that I found that the 4 inch pin loom is quick but not the quickest. I found my favorites are the 2 inch square and the bookmark loom which I found to be quicker and easier to work up. It was easy to start a square, get distracted and put it down and somehow, without touching it, it would get tangled. 4 inches is just wide enough that it was easy to make one mistake and feel like it was too far gone to want to start again. I do think during a square each day really helped me internalize how weaving works but it was a lot of squares to do!

I am not sure if I am going to do a backing. It is a little bumpy but I think it looks fine. I washed it in the tub and then had it out on our big table outside to dry. That really pulled the squares together and gave it a uniformed look. I also don’t know how much actual heavy use it will get although the dogs love lying on it while I am working on it.

***

I have some little 2 inch squares I made with scraps from the yarn. I think I might make them into a tiny blanket for my first Cabbage Patch Doll that lives in the former craft room turned office. Right now she has a sleeping bag I made when I was around seven so maybe it’s time for an upgrade.

I have a good bit of yarn left. A few whole skeins and a pretty full ball on the go for almost all the colors. I had spent a lot of time researching the occurrence of each temperature range over the previous three years but we had an unusually cold winter and then few than usual “in between” days in the 70s, 60s, 50s, 40s than what appeared to be common in the past.

I turned some of the smaller scraps (too small to weave any size square out of) into pompoms along with other scraps from other projects. About 20 of these are from the blanket! Maybe more!

***

It’s a little weird not to have it to work on! I’m hoping to spend that time on trying some other projects. Not that it took long each day but it was hard to pick up something else to do in the evenings when I had the blanket waiting.

I did a little Tiktok of it to get a better idea of how it looks. It’s too big for any table I have!

Guild Meeting: Natural Dyes

One of the members did a little experiment with using a variety of 4/2 and 8/2 cotton or cottolin, soy milk as the “mordant” with alder cones, rhubarb leaves and avocado skin for color. She dyed the warp with blackberry tea. She also used some commercially dyed yarn for contrasting stripes. I thought it came out really well! I liked the brighter parts because the natural dye is pretty subtle.

She used the technique from Rebecca Desnos’
Botanical Colour at your Fingertips.

And one exciting thing—one of the members offered to help me learn to spin!

Landis Valley Museum Visit

I borrowed a book about tape weaving from the guild library last month and I realized the author must be localish because she talked about loom makers and tape looms in Lancaster, PA.

One of them was the Landis Valley Museum which is a living history museum in Lancaster County. We drove up on Saturday (it’s a little under 90 minutes away), picked up some banh mi and had a picnic on the grounds.

The main museum had an exhibit on the use of color by German Americans in the area over the years. It was very interesting! Lot of natural dying info and also some pottery (gaudy Cornish pottery, apparently named because it was garish!) and textiles. They had some tape on display that was contributed by the author of the book I read!

They also had a textile barn where we talked to a nice intern who told us about Quaker pirates, training oxen and a bunch other niche subculture information and facts that we love.

On display was a lot of weaving and spinning equipment and a floor tape loom. It really was a great day! Beautiful weather and friendly staff. The tinsmith and the tavern woman were great too.

In the gift shop they had so any exciting items! We bought some out of print craft books and a painted gourd and most excitingly—some tape looms! One had a big paddle and one just has the roller. My husband really wants to try to make tape on the bigger one himself. It seemed silly to buy two (I bought the smaller, second one with gift money from my dad for my birthday Friday) but they were cheaper than ones we found online and really, who knows when we might some across tape looms in person again? I’m finished with the temperature blanket and would love to do another project that doesn’t require so much space. These looms are the size of a small box.

Here is the paddle one—

It’s a little different than the ones I’ve seen before but I think it helps keep the warp from tangling. I guess we will find out!

Temperature Blanket update #5: Final Week!

I’m in the home stretch! I started the blanket on my birthday (August 19th) last year. I had found a chart that showed how make an elongated rectangle blanket with 4 inch pin loom squares that was 14 squares wide. That appealed to me because it was a clear two weeks in each row, other configurations did not have anything remotely resembling an actual week. What’s the point of a temperature blanket if you can’t get a rough idea of what day happened when?

As I got closer to August however I realized that the wording was so strange in the “pattern” that I didn’t realize that doing this didn’t give you a full year of squares. It had you ending 2-3 days early. What? What is the point? Who would do this?

I still wanted a way to show all of the colors I used like a key because again, why wouldn’t I want to make it clear what the blanket is and what the squares mean? I had a really hard time figuring out how to do that. I had thought maybe a pillow but then they might get separated. Doing something on the already seam filled back didn’t seem right.

Finally I think I have come up with a solution. I am going to make triangles of each color using my 4 inch triangle pin loom and stitch them together. Then I am going to finish up the year including my actual birthday. That gives me 8 squares made up of 16 triangles of each color used (we did get up to 100° one day!), 3 date squares and 3 empty squares (color unknown) for the final row. I can put the dates on the blank squares.

Still not sure about a backing but I think the blanket will be cute!

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?!