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 .

Mini Project, Mini Blanket

I had been making little 2×2 inch squares with scraps from my temperature blanket the whole year. I didn’t know what to do with them but I thought why not make a doll blanket?

This is my first and favorite Cabbage Patch Kid from when I was a kid. My grandpop gave her to me and made her the cotton cord necklace she is wearing. My mom made the nightgown she had wearing and a matching one for me.

She lives in a chair in my craft room turned husband’s office and I figured she could use a little blanket.

I did a random order, no temperature tracking! It’s a little silly to make my old doll a blanket but why not? It was a tiny project. I don’t know any children or I’d make more!

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!

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.

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?!

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.

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.