I have always loved plaid and tartan patterns. I tried to knit one once and while it works… it is a pain! The color changes mean you have to make many tiny balls of yarn at the point of each stripe. They get tangled, you have to weave all those ends at the end of the project. And after all that, it doesn’t even look that great. Plaid really does need to be woven.
Obstacle 1: Learning
I’ve been fascinated by looms and very fine weaving, but Oh So intimidated. Knitting needles or a crochet hook, I get, but a loom is almost heavy machinery. Floor looms can be huge! I’m more afraid of breaking it than I am of injury, nevertheless, it is nerve wracking to sit in front of one for the first time. At the very least, I didn’t want to learn by guess-work. I wanted someone to teach me.
I got a small portion of my wish granted at a Wool Festival. I stopped at one of the local artisans, working on her craft whilst selling her wares to admire. I asked if I could ask questions and right away she stood up and said “Sit! I’ll teach you!”
I learned a whole new vocabulary in a short time. While the set up on the machine seems intricate at first, the process of actually weaving was actually quite relaxing! So match faster than knitting, and easy! Anyone could do it.
I loved it!
Obstacle 2: The Loom Debate
So I started looking at looms and recommendations. There are so many different types, sizes, and methods. One method uses cards with holes in it. Formal looms come in multiple sizes for varying widths of finished projects. The upfront cost even for a small lap loom is enough to give pause. But I really want to get a floor loom because I want to be able to make blankets without having to sew them together. Other than I don’t know where to put it in my tiny house, I feel like I need to prove my interest a little more in order to spend that chunk of change.
From what I read online, though, ANYONE can weave with just about ANYTHING. You can weave with a couple of sticks or with a picture frame or even with some cardboard with notches cut into it. It can actually a great kid project! I’ve had friends who work in nursing homes teach it to their patrons with a lot of success as well.
As a test, I set up a DIY loom in my room all the way across my multi-purpose space. My system here is two dining room chairs, a piece of card stock, drinking straws, and a fork.
This test project has been GREAT!
I learned how to read a weaving draft (pattern) and translate tie-ups to a manual process. Hand weaving is more time consuming that using a machine. I have to count and lift the right threads individually for every row individually in order to pass the shuttle (ball of yarn) through the opening. A machine would have a much more simple process- repeatable with very little effort.
Obstacle 3: Reading a Weaving Draft Incorrectly
Hand weaving does give more control. You can see I couldn’t figure out the diamond pattern initially and ended up with zig zags. Had I started on a loom, I wouldn’t have been able to fix the pattern without re-doing all my weft threading (the long ones).
Obstacle 4: DIY-Loom Recalled to It’s Purpose
I did have to take the project/ loom down before it was finished because I needed the dining room chairs for a dinner party. (Doh!) I cut the threads that were wound around the back of the chairs and separated them out, making sure the order didn’t get messed up. Then I created loops and tied them onto wooden dowels. When I can get back to this project, I should be able to stretch it back out and take up where I left off.
The Final Verdict
All in all, I really enjoyed the process! I plan to save up for a real loom and maybe take more lessons in the near future. I’ll probably search Craig’s List first when I’m ready to pull the trigger. Oh!
I look forward to being able to crank out gifts faster. Scarves, blankets, hand towels. A loom opens up a whole world of possibilities. Especially since it is so much faster than my very slow knitting.
What about you?
What are your favorite textiles or patterns?
What have you tried to DIY instead of purchase? (How’d it go?!)