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.

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.

Weaving Woes

One thing I’ve noticed about weaving is how few really complete resources there are out there. I’m working on one myself as I get started on this adventure but I thought I’d share some observations.

Even lists or blog posts that are headlined “what do you need to get weaving?” are bizarrely incomplete. Why is this? Why don’t stores that sell weaving equipment have a handy list posted? They would sell more items. I ended up buying from a few different stores but would have happy to have bought it all at once and been done with it. Weaving is a very expensive hobby and if you are already going all in and buying a new loom, maybe make it easy so when it arrives, the person 100% knows that they have everything to get started.

Every step of the way in my weaving journey when I’ve thought I was ready something else popped up.

I ordered a Baby Wolf back in mid-November and was told it would arrive in early December. That got pushed to almost the new year and then again to the end of January. Totally understandable.

I went to the Red Stone Glen sale the day after Thanksgiving to get some yarn and supplies because I was expecting the Baby Wolf to arrive any day. While there I ended up buying an used older model Wolf Pup at an extreme discount because I figured the smaller size would be good for hauling in my car for lessons or events or to share with a friend or my husband. I had hoped for a used reel (the real reason I drove the hour and half there) but they didn’t have any used, just new.

I told them I was new to weaving and had ordered a Baby Wolf and wanted to get a reel after seeing someone use one instead of a warping board, a shuttle, some bobbins for the shuttle, yarn and a beginning weaving DVD. Did anyone suggest I get a bobbin winder? No! Did any list of what to get a new weaver include one? No! Did I realize I needed one when I went to wind the yarn onto my new bobbin? Yes! They aren’t cheap! But I would have bought one right then.

I did ask if the Wolf Pup needed anything that wasn’t with it and they very nicely did throw in a reed for it. But why not suggest something else a beginning weaver might not know about?

I was hoping to get my Baby Wolf and we had put up our Christmas tree where the looms would go so I basically unloaded the Wolf Pup and put it out of the way. When I was told the Baby Wolf wasn’t going to arrive until almost February, I pulled out the Wolf Pup and rewatched the DVD. In the DVD they used apron rods to warp the loom that I realized I didn’t have but normally come standard with the pup. I ordered them online.

I decided to wind some bobbins for my new shuttle and realized that…I really need a bobbin winder! Unlike my rigid heddle shuttles, I can’t really do it by hand very well. So I had to place another order from the only place I could find them in stock, an Etsy shop that makes their own. Waiting for that now. But I only realized I needed one after googling “winding bobbin for weaving tips”.

I decided to put together the reel and chain some yarn while I waited. Then I ran into the same problem I had when I was shopping for rigid heddle looms—the reel was unfinished. Now this is a $300+ reel. Why can’t it be finished? It was sold to me in person, in a generic box sight unseen so I didn’t know until I opened it up.

I live in a city and it’s winter. I can’t be using mineral spirits in my bedroom. I’m just going to put it together now and finish it in the spring. Fingers crossed that’s fine. The directions for the reel are a little vague and again, seem to assume some sort of familiarity with using a reel or assembling one. It required a lot of sanding! Someone at a weaving store could really make some extra cash if they would offer to assemble and sand all these things before they they sell them. Or for online stores to offer it as an extra service (and shipping) fee. Or you know, the companies that make them could sell them finished like every other piece of furniture I own.

I get that many people get into weaving because they have family or friends who weave. But I can’t be the only person who is doing this basically on their own or who doesn’t have a woodshop in their backyard.

I don’t think it’s gatekeeping exactly but even the “beginning” instructions and guides really expect you to be pretty familiar with what to do or have other resources. Meanwhile I can’t get the Greater Baltimore Weavers Guild to respond to my basic, polite emails.

I found this to be true even in “easier” weaving circles like the pin loom. It is assumed you know and are proficient in other yarn crafts like crochet in patterns or in videos they don’t show all the steps, just the first few and expect you to extrapolate from there. I don’t see the point in posting these patterns and videos if you aren’t going to do a good, complete job of explaining things. Luckily my husband is willing to watch the videos and try along with me which is a big help. But uploading a video on YouTube where you are blocking the loom half the time or speed up after step one is helping no one but those who already know what they are doing.

Should I have to have a woodshop or 20 year old film canisters to use as weights in order to get started weaving? I say no.

These sorts of impediments are why it is going to be difficult to continue to attract new and urban weavers.

Temperature Blanket

My husband bought me a Zoom Loom (4×4 inch pin loom) for my birthday. I think I got the hang of it on the beach yesterday and of course, ended up at Michael’s on my way home to buy yarn to make a Temperature Blanket with it.

I had seen people crocheting or knitting these blankets—the idea is that you stitch one row every day reflecting the temperature—but not weaving. With good reason—I don’t have a frame loom big enough for 365 rows nor do I want to tie one up for that long. It would work on a rigid heddle but again, it would be tying up the loom for a whole year. But why not a pin loom? I’ve made quilts before so piecing together little 4×4 squares sounds reasonable.

I’m going to have the first block be my birthday (August 19th) because I don’t want to wait until January and it was less than two weeks ago so it will be easy to catch up.

I love color so I decided to have yarn for every five degrees which I think will be more my style than bigger groupings. I saw a woman on Tiktok that did like 30° ranges! Why? Half her blanket was the same. I think having shorter ranges will end up using about the same amount of yarn.

I used the slightly annoying and tedious Temperature Blanket tool (I suggest you add all the extra rows you need before inputting any data) to look up the highs and lows of each day from August 19, 2020 to August 19, 2021 to get an idea of what amount of yarn to get. A 4×4 pin loom uses a little under 8 yards but I rounded it up to 10 to account for mistakes and any variations.

I ended up with 3 skeins of yarn for the most popular temperature ranges, 2 for some ranges that were right on the edge (some ranges had about 25 days in them and that was the upper end of what I could get from one 280 yard skein) and just one for the very highest and some of the lowest temperatures. For some of the ranges I did get a coordinating variegated yarn just for fun. The yardage on those were only 183 so I had to get extra of one just to be safe.

I’m using Loop’s & Threads Impeccable acrylic yarn (I think it’s Michael’s brand) because I wanted something easily washed, easy to find and didn’t have the dye lot issues natural yarns would have. It is advertised as a blanket yarn so it should be fine. With a coupon it ended up being under $3/skein for most of the yarns. The variegated was the same price for about 3/4 as much. I saw some people who used it with pin looms to make baby blankets so hopefully it will be fine.

I don’t have a huge table inside that ready accessible so I took all the yarn outside and figured out the order.

Of course there will be some intermingling but I wanted to make sure the colors that would most likely be together looked okay together. I went with what color felt like the temperature to me without fixating on “blue for cold, red for warm”. I wish I had some green in there but I didn’t end up liking any of them when I was at the store. I wanted to stick to one brand for continuity.

I did get some orange, yellow and a bright variegated I didn’t end up loving with the the other colors so I’ll have to find another use for them.

I used post-it notes and pinned them to each color. I then wound the most commonly used colors for right now into cakes and refastened the post-its to the cakes.

I used the site Time and Date to see what the high (and low) was each day. I’m only using the high. I saw some people using the high and low twisted together or using the average but using the high felt right. That’s the temperature I notice most often since it happens during the day when I’m awake! I am tracking the lows just in case I needed it for some reason.

I have a note book set up to track the temperature and I created a little reference board of all the yarn for a quick reference.

I’m not sure how I am going to stitch them together yet so I’m leaving long tails.

Getting Started in Rigid Heddle Weaving: Handy Supplies

When I started weaving I didn’t realized how many little extras you needed beyond the loom and some yarn. I guess this will be a running list but so far I’ve found I needed:

  • Kraft paper or warping sticks slightly smaller than the size of your loom’s weaving length. Easy to find online from Amazon, Etsy stores or the Woolery. I used this 30 inch craft paper for my 32 inch Kromski Warp Forte but vastly prefer the Kromski warping sticks.
  • Weights for weighing down broken warps. I made one using a small plastic cube and some coins but Ashford sells some that are weights attached to a hook that look promising.
  • T-pins. Easy to find on Amazon or any craft or sewing store. Used to secure a new warp after a breakage in the fabric.
  • Extra shuttles the size of your loom. Makes using multiple weft colors easier. If you have a large loom, smaller ones for smaller projects are ideal.
  • A stand for any loom over around 24 inches.
  • Something to weight down your loom/stand when indirect warping. A bag of yarn and some small Kettlebells worked but you need something or it wants to move.
  • A table wider than your loom with a “lip” large enough to clamp your loom to if you don’t have a stand. A surprising number of our tables do not meet this requirement.
  • A second small table or even a chair to attach the peg to for indirect warping. It needs to have a wide enough edge that you can clamp a peg onto it. Tables without much of a “lip” do not work.
  • Cones of yarn. Not 100% necessary but they do generally work out cheaper than buying even the same yarn in smaller quantities. You Warping takes a lot of yarn. I’ve had good luck finding them on clearance and even at our local SCRAP, a thrift store for craft supplies that’s in several cities. You can use pretty much any yarn for weft but warps need strong yarn which often means pricier wool, cotton and linen.
  • Knitting or other counter. I use a very basic one from Clover. It’s great for keeping track of how much of each color you are using in your warp or weft.
  • Thick rubber bands to connect your heddle to where you are trying the yarn on when indirect warping. I use these.

Rigid Heddle Project 3: Rainbow Shawl

I learned from my last project that the Lion Brand Mandala yarn (this it it in Gnome) is slightly stretching and really pulled the rod you wrap the yarn around toward the heddle on one side. The Kromski came with a “warp helper” to hold it in place but it’s only on one side.

I asked on the rigid heddle group on Facebook and they suggested rubber bands. I had seen this on this post but I didn’t have the issue with the cotton yarn on my first project so I didn’t focus on it. It really was helpful!

This time I made a subtle raised stripe by going through the same slot multiple times and only pulling one strand through the eye (or whatever that is called). It was very easy and I liked the effect. I used most of one cake for the weft and most of a second for the warp.

I did run into trouble with this one when a warp snapped toward the end. It appeared to have a knot in it that unraveled. I think I did notice it when warping but I wasn’t thinking it would make that much of a difference. I was wrong! I think the tension and constant going over it when beating down my rows was too much .

Something I’ve noticed in the rigid heddle and general weaving community is the assumption you have so many other random times hanging about. Giant-sized Kraft paper springs to mind. Virtually no instructions said you needed something between the yarn or why but you do need something.

In this case, when I googled what to do when a warp string breaks, I kept coming across the suggestion to put fishing weights in a old film canister. What?? It’s not the 1990s and I live in a city. I’m not keeping random fishing weights around. I ended up weighing the warp down with a Sugarfina plastic box from candy and coins. It worked fine but I am tempted just to buy the ones I see Ashford selling. Basically you weave in a new piece of warp and then hang it from the back and weight it down so it stays in place.

The directions I found have you anchoring it with T-pins which I also didn’t have on hand and had to order. I think I might write a post about the extras I’ve needed so far. I haven’t even done that much weaving!

The knotted together rope on the apron of the loom from last time’s accident was fine, just a little lumpy in that part for the beginning. Not a huge deal but I’d like to replace it soon, I might ride out to that yarn store that carried some weaving items and see if they carry it.

Getting Started in Rigid Heddle Weaving: Picking A Loom

I ended up with a small amount of money from my mom’s estate as a gift from my dad. She was a crafter so I thought she would appreciate me taking some of it to start a new hobby.

I was all into rigid heddle weaving research. I requested books from the library, started researching looms, joined Facebook groups despite loathing Facebook. I was ready!

Then I realized that there were no places near Baltimore City where I live that really have any supplies for any sort of weaving at all, much less rigid heddle weaving. Oddly, there is a yarn store across town that has giant floor looms for rent in a studio but they don’t have any smaller weaving items at all. I actually found that store to be very cliquish and didn’t really want to buy from them but I would have if they had anything!

If not locally, where do I buy my loom and supplies?

I soon realized that the yarn store I wandered into on a deserted main street about 5 years ago on a trip to Kentucky after visiting a small candy factory where I bought a rug hooking kit that took me until this spring to actually make, is a big name in loom shopping and weaving. Who knew? So I decided to order from the Woolery. They were so nice when we visited I figured they could get all my money.

But what loom do I buy? I soon found out that there isn’t as much information about looms and weaving as you would think. Many, many, possibly most websites and forums seem to assume that you already know how to weave and what you are doing when you are picking out a loom. Real comparisons were rare.

I quickly realized that the big names in Rigid Heddle Looms were my old friend Schacht, Ashford and Kromski. Schacht is US based but Ashford is based in New Zealand and Kromski in Poland. The availability of each seems roughly the same. I did notice that the stores that carried a small amount of rigid heddle items in my start did only carry the Schacht and the Ashford but I’m not sure if that is true nationally.

Schacht has a loom called “Cricket” that apparently was aimed at children initially but adults took to it as well. It seems like most of the focus at least at first in rigid heddle looms was for play or for sampling weaves that you would then make on your more complicated multishaft tabletop or floor looms. Then people started enjoying it for what it was and focusing on the rigid heddle loom for actual projects and becoming primarily rigid heddle loom weavers vs floor or tabletop weavers who dabbled in the rigid heddle. I got this impression from the plethora of “you know what, I actually like it” and slightly and oddly apologetic message board, website and blog posts about the RHL and the fact that there are very few books explicitly on weaving rigid heddle looms.

While doing this pieced together ragtag research I realized that most if not all of the Schacht and Ashford looms are sold unfinished. No thank you. When I get something I’m spending hundreds of dollars on I do not want to have to wax or stain it myself. This might not be true of you but I’m just not doing it. I know this about myself. It would be a real barrier to ever getting that thing out of the box and doing anything with it. It took years for me to do that rug hooking kit because I didn’t know what I was doing and I was worried it didn’t have enough yarn if I messed up.

Kromski it is! I did a cursory check to make sure the company hasn’t been mired in some sort of scandal and it came up clean. It also came with the most accessories of the looms as far as I could tell. The back doubles as a warping board to help you measure and prepare your yarn, a peg to help warp, shuttles to hold your yarn and a pick-up-stick to create designs as well as the basic heddle. The newest Kromski Harp Forte also came (unexpectedly!) with a double heddle block which allows you to use two heddles for more intricate designs and which used to be something you’d have to buy separately. I also liked that the Kromski was all metal and wood–no plastic cranks or pieces like Schacht and Ashford.

Now what size loom to do I get? Again, I found virtually no good, concrete aimed at complete novice weavers information.

Since the width is set, you can’t make anything wider than your loom without having to make it twice and stitching it together somehow. So a lot of scarves, narrow wraps, table runners and towels for your smaller 16 or 20 inch looms. The 8 inch is obviously even more limiting. Larger looms can make anything the smaller looms can but can also make wider items like blankets, wide wraps and even ponchos, wider fabric to cut to make bags, pillow cases, curtains etc. The loom mechanics are basically the same in both, the larger ones are just bigger. I couldn’t find a consensus on what was better for beginners and why. I had to rely heavily on the very good and detailed reviews people left on the looms on the Woolery site (I bet they are so good because so many people are in the same position I am of not being about find anything out online or in books and having to wing it). They were mostly pretty evenly divided between people who love the near lap capabilities of the smaller 16 inch looms and those who deeply wished they had bought a larger loom because they love it so much and don’t want to be stuck making scarves forever. A lot of the negative comments about the larger looms was how wide it was to weave on. I think, in my early 40s, I am on the younger side of weavers I’ve come across and the weight/mechanics of reaching 16 inches on either side of me isn’t an issue the way it might be for someone with more limited mobility.

All of the looms are fairly expensive and it is a huge leap of faith to pick one out, sight unseen and then be stuck with your choice. I ended up getting the 32 inch Kromski Harp Forte in Walnut. The walnut was in stock, a tiny bit more than a light wood version that seemed more common but beautiful. It really looks like a piece of furniture and a real piece of equipment. It was more expensive than getting a smaller loom but when you are already spending a few hundred dollars, the difference of about $50 wasn’t enough to sway me to go smaller. My thought was that if I ever wanted to make anything bigger (which I thought I’d might) I’d need the larger loom but I could also make anything of any smaller width I’d want on it. It does fold in half (even if you have a project on it) so while it is set up it takes up a fair amount of room but can be stored easily. Another plus is that if I want a smaller loom in the future, the outlay for that will be less than it would be to upgrade to a larger loom

The downside of the 24 or 32 inch loom is that you really need a huge table or stand to use it. I did get the stand and the too expensive storage bag which you can clip the stand to for storage and travel. Normally I think I would resist getting the bag but it does seem handy and as I said, I am buying this with money from my mom’s estate so I really felt like I could get whatever would make my experience a little more pleasant. I also bought the matching walnut heddles in the other available sizes in a moment of madness and thinking that I have a lot of yarn in various sizes that the heddle it came with can’t handle as you vary your heddle size to reflect the thickness of the yarn you are using–thick yarn–small number heddle.

What they don’t tell you– When you go to warp (string up) your loom before you can make anything you need flat craft paper or warping sticks to keep your yarn from getting bunched up on the back of your loom. I did not know this! No video I watched about picking a loom or supplies you need mentioned this and I watched dozens. You need plain craft paper about the width of your loom or wooden sticks (also the width of your loom) to get started. I don’t know about you but I don’t have rolls of random craft paper in my house or flat paper bags I can cut up just on hand. I couldn’t find it at Staples, Joann Fabrics or Michaels and we already know my local yarn stores don’t have much of anything. Order the paper or the sticks. I had to order some paper on Amazon (I can use the leftovers for steamed crabs) and then when I read that it is easier to warp alone using the sticks, I ordered two sets of them (not cheap!) from the Woolery. I have watched a video of someone using mini blinds as sticks but that sounds like a pain too. Do yourself a favor and order this when you get your loom so you’re not waiting to get started like I am.