Last but not least

A little while ago I said my bamboo shawl was finally finished and off the loom.  It took another week or two, but I eventually tackled trimming the fringe (I can thoroughly recommend checked table-cloths for this activity, with a towel on the item to hold it still while cutting).


I then asked my Mum to be my photographer (thank you Mum!) while we stood outside in the surprisingly mild January sunshine.  As you can see in the first picture, the start and the end of the shawl are at a very different gauge.  However, I’ll never wear it like this.  As you can see in the second picture, the difference doesn’t matter.


I really like the way that the fabric drapes.  It’s lovely and soft.  However, the bamboo is very slippery and for a future project I would like to combine it with wool for a more stable fabric.

I know that you are now in shock – three finished objects all in a row (ok, I know one wasn’t really mine)!  Don’t worry, normal service will be resumed with only WIPs and UFOs for quite a while!

A finished object

Now here’s a rarity on here.  A finished object.  Well, at the moment it’s an almost finished object as I need to trim the fringe, but close enough!

Last night I did the last few picks, hemstitched and removed from the loom a shawl made from bamboo sock yarn.  Today I tided up some ends and washed/finished it.  This is the first proper project I’ve made on my 16” rigid heddle loom.  And as a first project here are some things I’ve learnt:

  • Don’t be too ambitious.  A first project should be quite short, a scarf or a cushion cover perhaps.  As a first project it’s likely that the gauge of the weaving will change (on this shawl there’s a noticeable difference in the number of picks I was working at the start of the piece and the number at the end).  I, however, ignored this advice (it’s in all the books) and put a warp on for a long shawl.  When I removed the shawl from the loom, I was shocked just how long it is.
  • Despite the fact that weaving is fairly quick, I can still take well over a year to finish a piece.
  • I should place markers as I go, so I know how long the piece is and can make a sensible decision on when to start the end border design (if that’s what I’m doing).  In the end I sort of guessed at how much was still on the back roller (knowing the length of the paper wound onto the roller helped a bit here).
  • Placing paper into the front roller (as the finished weaving is wound on) really improves the tension and makes subsequent weaving easier.  However, once the weaving is finished (i.e. washed), there’s no noticeable difference – but it does look better on the loom.
  • Sampling is a good idea.  If I’d sampled the pattern I was planning, I may have chosen to work the leno in a different way (there are some very long threads in the leno section that are quite likely to catch).
  • A dessert spoon is just the right weight to use when repairing a broken warp end.  It’s also the perfect shape!
  • Make better notes.  In fact make much, much better notes and also take lots of photos, just in case.  Here are my notes, written in my weaving book (yes, that’s really all I wrote down):

shawl notes

  • Some things I should have written down:
    1. Length of warp
    2. How many ends of warp
    3. The DPI of the reed/heddle
    4. Notes on the yarns (including composition and washing instructions – keeping the ball band would do)
    5. Which yarn I’d used for the hemstitching (e.g. warp or weft)
    6. Both the number of picks and ends that the hemstitching is over (a photo would also be helpful here)
    7. How long the section of weaving was before the first leno section (at least I’d noted the number of picks)
    8. Kept a photo of the leno work (and printed it out for easy reference).

I’m sure there are other things I have learnt and more things I should have written down, I may add to the list later.

In the meantime I bet you’d like to see a picture of my shawl?  Well, as soon as I’ve finished the ends, found some sunshine (hmmm, it’s 4 days to the shortest day of the year…) and made a decision on whether to drape the shawl gracefully over a chair or model it myself (which will require finding a photographer) I’ll post up a photo…