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!

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.

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.