T-Shirt Rug #3: Chrismukkah Edition

As I mentioned before I joined the Lancaster Guild. They have a pretty large, active group and a newsletter called Woolgathering which has interviews with members, some informational articles, calendars and a bunch of other weaving and spinning updates. Some of the group has been growing and harvesting flax!

I noticed they are having a virtual holiday gathering and having a pot holder contest. There are three categories:

  • Made on a traditional potholder loom
  • Made on a traditional potholder loom with a holiday design
  • Your choice (quilted, continuous weave, braided, whatever)

My husband and I both had the same idea—make a novelty sized pot holder rug with my giant pot holder loom! I’m not sure if it was they had in mind but why not. Since my husband is Jewish, we celebrate both holidays so I thought it would be fun to make a Hanukkah themed one.

I went to a large Goodwill out in the county and really lucked out, they had 3 XL plain bright blue shirts, a bunch of white ones with minimal writing and some large blue shirts that basically matched. It was about $16 for 7 shirts. I cut them up (inside because it was cold!) and luckily the next day was sunny so I weaved them right up.

I was making an apple crumb cake and was able to weave the whole rug in the 55 minutes it took to bake. I think I’m going to do the cutting and weaving separately next time I make a rug again. Doing it in one day is very tempting but it’s actually pretty physical and tiring. It takes me a lot longer to cut out the strips than it does to weave. Weaving it is a lot of leaning over and stretching. I wish I had an easel I could prop the loom up on. It’s very large and heavy, I barely can balance it on our huge outdoor table.

I wove the rug alternating blue and white for the warp and alternating double rows of blue and white for the weft. Then to really make it look like a pot holder, I looped in the inner part of a plastic embroidery hoop like you would with a real pot holder to hang it up.

I think it’s super cute! I hope a novelty sized pot holder is okay as an entry. I don’t have to submit it until around Thanksgiving so I can always change my mind. I need to figure out how to photograph it so the scale is more obvious. Below it is fresh from the loom.

I even have some big loops left! I’ve also been saving all the cut up sleeves and smaller extra scraps from all the rugs and have the ton. I’m not sure what to do with them yet. They aren’t big enough for the rug unless I chain them together and I think that would be too lumpy. I have seen people weave rugs with pot holder loops with a floor loom so that might be worth looking into.

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!

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.

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.

T-Shirt Rug #2

I went to Savers on discount Monday and bought some t-shirts and a long jersey dress (you can see it in the rug, it’s the pink print) and cut it up to make this rug. I think it came out really well! The edges are a little cleaner, I think the trick is to pick loops that are exactly the same stretchiness. Slightly less stretchy is okay but you don’t want any one that is more than any of the others.

Each rug takes a lot of loops! My neighbor gave me some old shirts which will help. I need to get on people’s radar that I’m looking for them.

I also think it is easier to do the cutting on a different day than the weaving. It’s a lot of leaning over.

Upcycled T-Shirt Rug

I saw plans for making a giant potholder loom to make rugs with and really liked the idea. I think every culture makes rag rugs of some kind and has for hundreds of years. Making giant loops out of old t-shirts sounded very aligned with my love of reducing waste and weaving.

The only problem is that we don’t really have many tools or a workbench. We don’t have the space here in the city (we are at bursting with these looms!) and neither of us has a ton of interest in constructing anything so it isn’t a priority. None of our friends build things either!

I tried posting on my neighborhood Facebook group and got one taker who works at the local lutherie but then he ghosted me. Then he contacted me again after I updated my post saying I still was looking for someone. I responded and still haven’t heard back. I also emailed our local tool library and the maker space asking if any instructors did side projects or if they had any suggestions and didn’t get an answer.

During all that, I crowdsourced suggestions for finding someone to do some easy, reasonably priced woodworking online and someone suggested cold contacting random people selling homemade furniture on Facebook Marketplace. I sent out a couple messages and one guy who had posted some simple wooden boxes he makes messaged me back.

He had no idea what I was talking about but was game. I sent him some directions and Youtube videos. We did lots of messaging and then last week on a really foggy, misty night I picked them up.

I got him to make me one really big one (48×43 inches) and one still big but a little smaller at 38×28 inches.

They are both a little rustic (I said it was fine to make them out of scrap wood) but I think they will do the trick. He showed me the workshed he built himself out of scrap wood and he was very nice and helped me (in the rain!) attach the larger loom to the roof of my car when it wouldn’t fit. It was so close, I really thought it would fit. I have a Toyota Matrix and have hauled some massive items in there!

One weird coincidence— it turned out we graduated from the same high school, two years apart! No wonder people say the whole Baltimore area is one small town. I knew the names of some of the people he mentioned once we figured out we attended at the same time but we didn’t know each other. Our school wasn’t huge (I think there were 220 in my graduating class) but pulled from a large area and he lived in the opposite direction.

It was funny because during the whole searching for someone who has tools and a workbench I kept thinking that every dad I knew growing up had this set up and that I bet a lot of the guys from my very blue-collar/working-class high school must be those dads now. And I was right! I literally hired that guy.

It was also a little unexpected because neither of us live *that* close to where we grew up–he is in a different county and I live in the city limits (in high school half our block was in the city and half in the county and I went to a county school) on the complete opposite side. I had only mentioned high school because I hadn’t taken the bridge I had to cross over since I was in high school and was making awkward small talk.

He made me promise three times to send him a picture of a final project and told me he was happy to make me anything else. I might get him to make me a square one. If you are in the Baltimore area and want a box or planter or large loom made, I have a guy!

The day after I picked it up was super sunny and nice so I cut up some old t-shirts into loops and got to weaving on the smaller loom. Boy was that a workout! I think if I really get into making these I need to get an easel. I had it flat on our picnic table and it was a lot of bending over. My fitness tracker thought I did a very long exercise routine which I guess I did.

I was a little worried the nails wouldn’t be strong enough but one survived the 40-minute journey home over the bridge strapped to the roof of the Matrix and I made one on the smaller (still huge) and it was fine. He told me if I needed him to make any adjustments to let him know so if that changes, that’s an option.

I made a tiktok weaving it that has had 4.5k views which is unexpected because I don’t have many followers! It was fun making the rug and now I have to figure out how to source t-shirts to cut up.