Getting There…

When I moved, the large table that used to be in my kitchen (bought to give lots of space for everyone’s creative endeavors) became the “work” area in the lounge. With space for my PC and the old laptop for the children (and possibly a Raspberry Pi with monitor, at some point). I also intended that my 4-shaft table loom would sit on the end. Since moving, the loom has been sat, folded and wrapped in bubbles, against the wall at the other end of the table. This week I looked at the bits and pieces scattered over the table and realised, with a little tidying, the space was enough!

The following day the loom was carefully extracted from behind a box of books and some magazine files (I’m still a little short on book cases) and put into its rightful place.





All tied up:


Removing the ties:


The castle is upright:


Adjusting the tension:


Where am I?


I felt an immense sense of calm (possibly helped by the beautiful harp and piano music I’d just discovered: “Stanze” by Ludovico Einaudi and Cecilia Chailly) as I adjusted my weaving stool, unwove a couple of picks of the existing weaving (in the process discovering that my note that I was on pick 83 of the pattern repeat was wrong, as there are only 82 picks) and started to weave away…


Hello loom, it’s nice to have you back.

Making sunsets

I’m just back from being distracted by a beautiful sunset.  I had a quick walk and tried a different location to take the pictures.  Despite not wishing to linger on my own, on a quiet footpath, for too long, I managed to take 75 photos (thank goodness for digital)!  I shan’t share all of them:






Also today I’ve been spinning and weaving in circles:



In other news, the house is sold (subject to contract and solicitors) and another house is bought (subject to the same), so I’m constantly thinking I should be clearing clutter and packing boxes, but not quite managing to commit to doing it.  I had hoped to move during the school summer holidays, but this now appears to be desperately unlikely.  So much has happened in the last few weeks, that it seems months since I was taking part in Open Studios, but in fact it was only one month ago!  Perhaps in another month I’ll have moved house!

Round and round…

On Friday I found myself designing and printing a short leaflet to advertise the up-coming Open Studios event I’m taking part in, ready to distribute at the village plant sale on Saturday.


It’s just 6 weeks and 2 days away!  Earlier this week I made a list of all the things that need doing.  I’m going to be very busy!

On Saturday I borrowed my daughter’s hoola-hoop for a little weaving.  I knew I had to finished the weaving before my daughter missed her hoop.  So, I got straight to work, warping up the hoop with cotton yarn, and weaving in ever- increasing circles.





I succeeded in my goal, and my daughter hasn’t noticed a thing.  (She hasn’t even noticed that the hoop is somewhat cleaner than it was before the weekend!)

I then progressed another project, blending (a variety of wools, seacell, trilobal nylon and bamboo) and spinning with Teeswater locks:





I think I can squeeze a few more locks onto there before I start spinning the plying thread!


This morning I woke before my alarm went off, looking at the clock and reading that it was seven I realised the inevitable and decided I needed to get up. I tried to turn the alarm clock off and was a little surprised to find I’d not set it last night.

My thoughts then ran as follows: “What needs doing? Get the children to school… pack lunch boxes… have I washed them from Friday yet? No I haven’t. How have I managed to get through a weekend and not wash them? Gosh that weekend was short! What did we do Sunday? Sunday? I don’t remember Sunday. I think today’s Sunday…”

At this point I checked my phone, and it agreed, blurrily, that it was Sunday.

I think my morning confusion may have been the lingering result of over-tiredness following a trip to Ikea and subsequent furniture building.

For a very long time my 4-shaft loom has been stored away because there hasn’t been anywhere suitable to use it. Eventually I realised that there was a space in the lounge behind the sofa, but I then couldn’t find a table the right size. I looked at the treadle kit and stand for it. But not only do I not want to use the treadles (it would still be a table loom, as there is only a one-to-one correspondence between the treadles and the shafts) but it is also incredibly expensive. I couldn’t find a table that was the right size either. The loom is around 74cm deep and nearly a metre wide, and getting a table to accommodate it, that wasn’t too big, was proving tricky. I had been considering making a table top and getting trestle legs from Ikea to make a table, but the space between the legs would be inadequate, and so my loom continued to sit, unused.

Then as I planned a trip to Ikea (the aim of which was to buy something to store my son’s lego, now organised into colours) I spotted a new table. 74cm deep and 125cm wide. A little wider than ideal1, and I’ll admit a little more than I’d really wanted to pay, but it had been a long time, and a table loom isn’t a cheap tool to have sitting unused. So on Friday evening a table was bought in Ikea (along with the inevitable random purchases that get you looking at the end bill in amazement) and I drove home, much, much, later than I had envisaged, with a full weekend of other commitments ahead of me.

So it was on Wednesday when I finally got around to building the table. Then I got the loom on it, thought for a few moments and decided it was time for new challenges and whipped off the old weaving (rescuing a section of completed overshot) before dusting it down and starting to plan a new project. By the evening I’d found the free pattern drafting software I’d used before (it’s called Weave Design and is available from here) dived into my stash and found some promising 4 ply yarn, done some sums on the back of an old letter, retrieved the home made warping board from its hiding place, and wound a warp of 13′ 8” tied it up in all the right places (and a few extra ones just in case) and chained it up ready for the next stage.

Thursday, was spent winding on the warp (including finding suitable paper, and then some more card when that ran out) and threading the heddles (I really believe there must be a quicker way to do this bit, it does seem to take a long time, even with under a hundred ends). Before I went to bed I tied string around the shaft pedals to stop the children playing with them (it turns out this wasn’t enough, as the children just lifted the shafts manually, without the pedals, but fortunately didn’t dislodge any of the knots holding the threads in place).

Friday I sleyed the reed (so quick compared to the heddles) and tied the warp onto the front beam, using the same method I recently used on my rigid heddle loom, wove a header, wove a little more to test the threading and then got underway…


I’ve not had much time over the last couple of days to make more progress, but I’m really enjoying having my loom back in operation. I’d barely got into spinning before I bought the table loom, so my spinning has progressed a very long way (including into fancy textured art yarns) and I now need to work out how my yarns and my loom are going to play together.

1 – It turns out the table isn’t too wide.  There are 6 inches on each side of the loom.  Just the right amount of space to bolt an anglepoise lamp on one side, clamp my swift on the other (for somewhere to store it when not in use) and to keep useful tools (like scissors and tape measure) to hand.

90 Knots!

Over the last few days I’ve rescued a warp I made a mess of during winding onto the back beam (I was rushing and the paper wasn’t wide enough). The warp has lain abandoned for at least six months, with the heddle correctly threaded, but the threads not tied onto the front beam.   I unwound it and re-wound it with fresh paper between the layers. This sounds easy but proved hard, as there is a high proportion of mohair yarn in the warp and these stuck together with glee, happily hugging the wool yarns in their embrace too. So both patience and determination was needed to unwind and re-wind the warp.   I’m not sure how successful the rescue will be, as the threads were all different lengths then finally wound on. I’m expecting some puckering when the cloth is finished.

Once rewound I used a technique for tying to the front beam I’d seen in a video from Ashford. It involves tying small groups of warp threads together with knots then using cotton thread to lash the ends onto the apron. I found this to be really straightforward and I felt it was quicker to get the tension equal across the warp. I don’t mind the usual method, but do find I spend a lot of time going back and forth, tightening knots to get all the warp at the same tension. I shall be using the lashing method again.

Then I started weaving the header. Or should I say, I tried to, but didn’t get far! I’d lift the heddle up, and all the threads moved up. I moved the heddle down, and all the threads moved down. NO SHED! Perhaps I should have sized the threads before putting on the warp (I have no idea how to do that, or what to use, something to explore for another day)!

Before abandoning the warp and cutting it off the loom I thought I’d try using a pick-up stick to help separate the shed (I think I read about doing this on Ravelry). So I threaded a spare shuttle into the warp behind the heddle, and tried with that. This was better, but it only helped for one pick out of two. I didn’t fancy hand separating the warp for the alternate picks, so decided to try using string heddles to lift the threads that should be staying up. Fortunately I had some dowel that I cut to length, then I counted my warp threads and decided I needed 89 heddles, to be certain I made 90. I wrapped the string around a conveniently sized book and cut it to make the 90 short lengths, I then tied all these over a few sessions. I told my children I needed to tie 90 knots. “90 knots!” they both chorused in unison.


Once these were created I threaded them under the threads that are in the slots of the heddle (the threads that shouldn’t move) and looped the heddle onto the dowelling rod.


Once I’d done the whole length and had tried it a few times, checking I’d not missed any threads or selected incorrect ones, I took a length of yarn and tied it at one end of the dowel, and then tied it at the other end of the dowel.



This is to hold the heddles onto the dowel, and to prevent the dowel from slipping out from the heddles. It looks like a handle, but I’m not using it as one.



I wove a few more picks of the header and this morning have chosen a thread to use as the warp (I did have a thread planned, but as usual have changed my mind). The secondary heddle system is working. The pickup-stick is pushing down the free moving threads (it’s threaded over the threads in the slots) and the string heddles lift up the free-moving threads (so the strings loop under the threads in the slots). I’m still getting threads sticking together and I’m having to move my hand between the layers of the shed to open it up a bit more, but this is quick and easy compared to trying to weave without the secondary heddles.


A Show

On Saturday Creating Space are having a show! I’ve been thinking about how to display my creations, and it’s not easy! Difficulties to overcome include hanging stuff on walls that are solid painted brick (I’ve decided I’m not going to), and showing a process for the things I make.

I’ve been shaking out shawls and examining skeins of handspun yarn. I’ve bought some thin ribbon that I’ll use for ties on my skeins (I’ll be rewinding them so they look neat) and I need some fabric for a table cover (I’m sure I have something suitable in my stash – at least I hope so!)

Harriette will be coming out this Saturday and will be modelling one of my shawls (probably the time travelling shawl). She’s really excited to be having an outing. However, I’m not sure she’s going to approve of travelling in the boot of my car (I’ve not told her yet).

I’ve also decided to get some photos printed, these I’ll put onto 12×12 inch cards and show them in an album with short descriptions. These photos will include flower pictures, processes and creations I no longer own. Here’s a collage of the pictures I’ve chosen.

Photo Collage

I’ll be able to pick the photos up tomorrow (I hope).  I had a minor problem when I looked through the photos I’d originally sent. I realised I’d not understood the format requirements and submitted photos of a poor quality. Fortunately I was able to phone the company in the morning and they were happy to cancel the order I’d placed online and accept a new order from me. If I’m happy with the photos when I get them tomorrow, they will probably have a customer for life!  I’ll have a busy evening tomorrow collating the photos! I feel like I’m recreating my blog, but in real life!

Goldilocks and the Three WIPs

A long time ago I spun two different dyed tops of Shetland and plied them together.  But then I didn’t really like it enough to knit with.  At the last Creating Space I took it out and discussed the options: knit it, weave it, over-dye it (I really didn’t like the colour) or spin something else to weave with it.  I decided on the last option and grabbed some blended bamboo and merino tops to see if I could spin this using the coreless core spinning technique:


However, once home I decided I quite liked the variation of colour in the Shetland yarn and didn’t want to lose that by weaving with something else, but I still didn’t fancy knitting it.


So I worked out how much yarn I had and calculated that this was enough for a woven shawl.  I warped the loom with the larger skein and I’m weaving with the shorter skein.


I have a third small skein, which is the result of plying one of the leftover singles with itself.  This is proving to be ideal to add a small amount of detail to the weaving in the form of Danish medallions (these look fiendishly complicated but turn out to be delightfully easy and I can see lots of ways to use them in my weaving…)




The third WIP is a Bouclé yarn.  I’m using BFL for the core and binder with Mohair to form the loops, all dyed with the same colours.  I’ve spun the core and I’m working on the mohair single.  So far I’m not enjoying spinning the mohair, so I’m having to do this in small doses.


So where’s Goldilocks?  Well, sometime ago I mentioned that I was running out of space on my blog, but that a larger package was too expensive.  When my account came up for renewal I emailed the company at about 9:30 one evening and asked them if there was anything they could suggest.  About fifteen minutes later I got a reply with an alternative package.  When I accepted this offer they sent me an invoice describing it as the “Goldilocks Special” account.  A few minutes later I received another invoice with a more sensible name – but I much prefer the original!

Learning a New Skill on Christmas Day

On Christmas day (nearly 3 weeks ago!) I was very lucky to be able to spend the early morning and the end of the day with my children, but have a few clear hours to myself in the middle of the day.

Last year we had the same arrangement, so I had a cycle ride and watched Doctor Who.  This year I decided to learn a new skill.  Buoyed up with Christmas Cheer and on a sugar high from the Turkish Delight I decided to learn to warp up and weave on my new Inkle Loom.

I got the loom on the table and took off the side.  I emptied out my “weaving” yarn stash and chose a couple of yarns.  Then, with my book open at the right page, I started warping up.

Part way through my first attempt I realised that the yarn was supposed to go through the heddles, so I undid the warp and started again.  At the end of the second attempt I was happy and put the side back on.


However, I quickly realised there was no way I could select both sets of threads independently.  I’d managed to put the heddles onto the wrong warp threads.  So I carefully unwound the warp and warped up a third time.

By now I’d got a reasonably rhythm going.  On the second warping attempt I’d added drawing pins by the first peg to hold warp threads when switching colours. I’d also discovered that the tension bar would move, so I needed to keep an eye on it while warping and move it back if necessary.  Finally, I’d realised that putting the heddles over my left wrist, ready for use, made the process much quicker.


This time I got it right:


I wove a small header with waste yarn (this is normal practice with a table loom, but I don’t know if it is with an inkle loom).  Then I switched to using the same yarn as for the warp.  I don’t have a belt shuttle (which incorporates a bevelled edge for beating the weft), so I used a small stick shuttle to carry the weft and a metal ruler with a bevelled edge for the beater.

I haven’t had any time since Christmas to continue with the weaving, but I’m hoping to make this into a belt (I don’t like leather belts and struggle to find alternatives, so this is a perfect first inkle project).


It was lovely getting to know the loom.  By each peg I discovered a pencilled label, giving the order the warp should go on.


Learning a new skill was a great way to spend some of Christmas day!

… on a One Horse Open Sleigh!

Perhaps it’s because we are racing towards Christmas (last week of term and it’s turning into a very hectic week), or that there were model sleighs in Home Sense on Monday (and by “model” I mean huge pieces of furniture you could sit in and cost as much as a new spinning wheel!), but I keep thinking this looks like a sleigh:


Anyway, I’m now the exceptionally happy and proud owner of an inkle loom!  It’s a very robust loom and quite large (in size it seems to be somewhere between the floor and table versions).  It’s been used for tablet weaving, so it should be a very versatile loom.  And look, the side comes off and the previous owner has been very thoughtful and threaded it up to show the longest path!


My fingers are itching to start using this, but I have so many projects on the go, it’ll be Christmas before I get there (which as I have the children in the morning and then the rest of the day to myself – for chilling out and doing what I want – I suspect that really will be the case)!

Anyway, tonight’s task is to dye some yarn and fibre to include in craft kits as a present for the children… so I should get back to it!

An Introduction and 3 Finished Objects!

Firstly, I’d like to introduce Harriette.  She’s my new assistant and will be modelling finished articles on my blog.  Within hours of starting her new job she was demanding a new hand-sewn skirt – so I suspect she may be trouble!!!  Anyway, here she is modelling the first of my finished objects (and also the new skirt):


This is the Purple Paradise shawl I started weaving in March with hand-spun yarns for both the warp and the weft.  It came off the loom in May.  I’ve finished it off by making a twisted fringe from the warp-ends.  Here I am starting to use the twisted fringe maker on the shawl:


The second finished object is also being modelled by Harriette:


This is a Mobius cowl knitted from my first core-spun yarn.

Finally, I have finished spinning the “Bowties are Cool” Doctor Who inspired yarn.  This isn’t being modelled by Harriette as she objected to juggling the three large skeins.  So instead I’ve draped them on the back of a chair.  However, I hope this gives an idea of the scale of this yarn, which is fairly light (being core-spun) but very bulky:


It’s been a nice few days finishing off knitting, weaving and spinning.  But as you’ve probably noticed I still have lots of active projects I really must get on with (though I’m very tempted to immediately cast on a shawl with the bowties yarn)!