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!

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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.

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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!

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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?!

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.