A Spinners Milestone: Weaving with Handspun Yarn

I have been spinning yarn since 2005. My first experience with the luxury of working with natural fibers was after winning a gift certificate to Evelise’s Yarn Shop at the Berrien County Youth Fair . An Afghan that I had crocheted with acrylic yarn won Reserved Grand Champion.  With the gift certificate I bought my first designer yarn, a black cotton, and a pattern for a beaded crochet handbag. The bag was a success and I was in love.

learning-to-spin

My first bag made with fancy commercial cotton yarn. Still sparkling after 16 years.

 

Unfortunately I could not afford to buy more natural yarns. I was over the cheapo acrylic and so I stopped crocheting. At college the following year I gained new hope of acquiring “good” yarn when a professor at my university did a show and tell with spinning equipment. I became fixed on the idea of spinning my own yarn.

Online I ordered a kit that came with a book , Spin It by  Lee Raven and 1oz of roving. The book had instructions on how to make a spindle out of a CD. With a pencil, CD, and the small bit of sliver I became a spinner. Shortly afterwards I learned to knit.

spinit-book

The book that started it all.

I knitted a lot of lace shawls with my handspun. I love making them but that was all I would do with my yarn.  After a while I had way more yarn than projects I wanted to knit up. I kind of got bored.

For the longest time (12 years!) I was so afraid that my yarn wouldn’t be strong enough to weave with, especially my cotton. It was only safe to crochet with it.

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Crochet shawl made from hanspun cotton dyed with tumeric. The pattern is Moondrop by Lori Carlson published in Interweave crochet Winter 2016

A few years ago I had crocheted a ruffled throw with my natural colored cotton  See it here that I wasn’t all that happy with. I just kept crocheting in a round until I had used up all of the different colors of cotton in my stash. After a while it started to come apart  where I doubled the stitch count. I decided that I had nothing to lose by unraveling the throw to reuse the yarn for weaving.

I warped random colors on my Leclerc Dorothy table loom that I bought in my college days. With a simple plain weave I slowly but surely realized that my worries were unfounded. Without any special treatment I was able to weave an eclectic little scarf. Oh the new possibilities!

This week I met a new milestone. I am now using my handspun to weave!

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Finished handspun, handwoven natural colored cotton scarf. I’m in love!

Not wanting to lose momentum I decided to unravel a shawl I knit from handspun wool. I alternated a painted handspun with a natural gray that proved to be scratchy against my skin. The pattern was just mindless, uninspired blah. I wouldn’t miss it. Finding a darker grey rambouillet yarn in my handspun stash that was nice and soft  I began warping my Dick Blick Art Craft table loom. Sadly the loom sat untouched for 6 years. I found it at a garage sale in Amish country for $125 and thought it was too fine of a machine to pass up.

So far so good. I am looking forward to doing more with my handspun.

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Handspun wool weaving in progress. I am using stick shuttles because they give me more weaving space on a table loom.

 

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Here I Go Again: Still Weaving

So, now I’m dusting all of my weaving supplies off again. It’s been a long time. I really haven’t used the inkle loom I bought as a college student since I was in college. Sad, sad, sad. Welp, here I go again.

I had so much fun weaving the strap for my new drawstring backpack that I decided to wind  a warp and get weaving. I had been meaning to try out the pattern that came with Jacquetta Nesbitt’s Supplementary warp patterning video lesson so I copied the pattern down and wound a warp with #10 crochet cotton. The technique was still fresh in my memory since it is the same method that I was using to weave the Lithuanian sashes. I love picking up and dropping threads while watching the pattern emerge.  Oh, and that swiping sound the beater makes when I secure the weft thread to lock the pattern in, like music.

 

It’s a work in progress. The yarn I used makes a band only half the width of the sample on the tutorial due to my yarn choice. It is only 1.5inches wide. But hey, who cares? I’m having fun. Lately I’ve been wearing my inkle bands as hair-ties just as an excuse to have them out.

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card woven band as a hair-tie

 

A few days later I thought, well my Kromski Harp Rigid Heddle loom is looking kind of lonely since I cut the bag strap off of it. I saw this as a perfect opportunity for an experiment. I decided to try one of my favorite plain weaves, houndstooth, using (gasp) acrylic knitting yarn. Not caring much about what would happen I didn’t bother overspinning the yarn. Plastic, gah. Every since I learned to spin yarn I have been a total snob against acrylic. I didn’t want to risk ruining my good stuff on an experiment (I have struggle with warping my loom in the past), so there. The rigid heddle loom is great for projects when you can’t afford a lot of loom waste. You can keep weaving all the way to the end of the warp, no problem.

Any how, I think the scarf patterning looks nice. I would use this color combo again. The acrylic made a very dense and stiff fabric. I’m kind of on the fence as to whether I will like wearing it.

The Send-Off Sash

Earlier this month my brother-in-law was deployed to Afghanistan with the US Air Force. I decided to weave him a keepsake sash as a parting gift. The project went together nicely. The weaving technique used is called supplementary warp patterning.

The woven text is DH (His Initials) 14 (deployment year) ZIJAKERY (The acronym they use for the children Jadin, Zion, Keyin, Rylen) 2 paw prints (their cast Wiley and Tiny) and MH (My sister’s initials)

The send-off sash on the loom. Almost finished

The send-off sash on the loom. Almost finished

Send-off Sash just cut off the loom

Send-off Sash just cut off the loom

ZIJAKERY is an acronym my sister made up for their children Jadin, Zion, Keyin, Rylen

ZIJAKERY is an acronym my sister made up for their children Jadin, Zion, Keyin, Rylen

Completed Send-off Sash. The ends are machine stitched into a point and unraveled for a neat fringe finish

Completed Send-off Sash. The ends are machine stitched into a point and unraveled for a neat fringe finish

Send-off Sash. I added a blue linen backing to make it more durable and a hook for utility

Send-off Sash. I added a blue linen backing to make it more durable and a hook for utility

See You Soon!

DAvin Deployment

Just Married: Keepsake Wedding Sash

Not, me. A dear friend got married yesterday. I wanted to make a gift for the couple and thought well why not weave them a keepsake wedding sash.

I have been learning about weaving Lithuanian sashes with my friend, Donna for the last few months. While I love the supplementary warp patterning technique I am still learning to merge my design asthetic with the traditional Lithuanian colors and patterns.

Perle cotton thread used for the warp. The dark blue will be used for the background

Perle cotton thread used for the warp. The dark blue will be used for the background

I am very fortunate to have someone that can help me translate my ideas in to a finished project. In this case we came up with an original floral motif and modified traditional heart motif to separate the names. The letters are all Donna’s original charts.

Part of the charted design

Part of the charted design

This book is written entirely in Lithuanian but thankfully has lots of pictures

This book is written entirely in Lithuanian but thankfully has lots of pictures

 

The book where we found inspiration for the heart motif between the names and waves (snakes) to underline them

Inside the book Lietuvos Etnologija where we found inspiration for the heart motif between the names and waves (snakes) to underline them

None of the books we have for this technique have letter charts included. In fact most books we use for reference are scholarly works written to document this nearly lost baltic sash weaving tradition. We have to redraft or transfer every pattern from pictures in the books.  I chose a dark background color instead of the traditional light neutral background for this project. For some reason bright colors on a dark background excite me in a weaving.

Frame loom ready to weave

Frame loom ready to weave

Weaving the original floral design.

Weaving the original floral design.

The sash turned out really nice although it departs from tradition in pattern motifs and color. Weaving took  about 20 hours  not including designing, creating the charts and dressing the loom.

Time consuming but I have to say I enjoyed every bit of the process.

The finished wedding sash

The finished wedding sash. It took me more than 20 hours to weave

 

Weaving Senovinis: The gifts of crafting in public

It’s been a few months now since I began crafting in public at my local library on Sunday afternoons. I work on different projects. Spinning (people especially love to see the spinning wheel at work), braiding, piecework, knitting or whatever I can stuff in a basket.

It is so fun to talk to people who see me working. Many are reminded of someone who used to craft or are just wondering what the heck I am doing. Occasionally I  will meet someone who likes to make things or has tried it in  the past.

No matter the reason, it is always a blessing to engage people about the joy of crafting.

The first time at the library I met an awesome woman and now dear friend whom I later found to be from Lithuania. Her craft of choice is weaving traditional Lithuanian narrow bands and sashes. She learned from her teenaged cousin while living in a concentration camp. In all her days here in the States, now in her 70s, she has not met another weaver that uses her method.

Traditional Lithuanian Weaving

Traditional Lithuanian Weaving by my friend

I had tried the technique in my college days using an older Supplementary Warp weaving video by Jacquetta Nisbet. On sale Here. I made the small sample on an inkle loom and left it at that.

Supplementary Warp Weave Video

Supplementary Warp Weave Video

Well when I saw my friend’s work I was inspired to revisit the technique. It is beautiful! I have found no other technique that can produce the kind of dimension that hand-picked weaving produces. She offered to teach me to weave in her way using a traditional frame loom and string heddles and sticks to manipulate the treads. There are very distinctive patterns that are used. So far my favorites are the tulip and the tree.

To add the different colors we tie them on in one continuous loop

The 1st weaving uses orange to make the pattern and two shades of green silky perle cotton for a border. To add the different colors we tie them on in one continuous loop

1st weaving sample. We use a picture frame as a loom!

1st weaving sample. We use a picture frame as a loom! We use a charted pattern to keep track of when to pick-up the colored pattern threads.

Tulip pattern weaving. (You can see the finished 1st sample to the left)

Tulip pattern weaving. (You can see the finished 1st sample to the left)

Traditional frame loom.

Traditional frame loom.

Tulip pattern detail

Lithuanian Tulip pattern detail

Tree pattern draft and woven sample

Tree pattern draft and woven sample

It’s so clever and fun to do. We often weave until after midnight. The time just flies when you’re have a good time. I can’t wait to fully explore this technique.