I bought a loom! I know, none of us has heard me say that for several months…but I have been ‘looming’ away, and after getting bored of doing straight weaving, decided I wanted to learn some new techniques. I could have booked myself in for lessons at the local Handweavers Studio, but due to a lack of cash and time to commit to a term of teaching, I decided to go the Craftsy route.
Of the classes on offer, I looked at what I was available, as well as what I thought would be most useful to me. I have now got some experience weaving, and I wanted something that would challenge me slightly. The two candidates were “Rigid Heddle Weaving: Beyond the Basics” and “Simply Stunning Scarves“, both by Deborah Jarcow. I went for the scarves, as the other class produced a table runner – an item I have absolutely no use for.
Weaving Simply Stunning Scarves – Part One
The majority of my learning up to this point has been via YouTube – Ashford has some particularly good tutorials on their channel. I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks, but after watching the first lesson of Simply Stunning Scarves, I was feeling a lot more confident about weaving. The first lesson contains the introduction, which was super useful as a fledgling weaver; Deborah provides you with tips on what to keep in a weaving tool-kit, and I will make this up soon.
There are four scarves that you are walked through – along the way, tips on how to avoid or correct common mistakes such as an incorrect warping pattern and so on.
The Actual Weaving Process
I’ve so far woven one scarf of the four patterns given in the class. I’ve learned some key lessons so far that are not explicitly included, but useful nonetheless! The first scarf that is taught is an “Open-Weave Felted Scarf”. The key word here is ‘felted’.
“Duh” Lesson One: Know Your Yarn….and make sure it’s suitable for purpose.
As I was ‘playing’, I decided to get out some stash yarn and have a go with whatever was in the Trunk. I pulled out an enormous ball of Hayfield Bonus Aran, and decided that with a high proportion of wool (80%), this would suit my purpose. I didn’t think much more beyond that, and wove the scarf.
Then it came to the felting. Having assumed it would felt because of the wool content, I spent a long time at the sink with boiling water, a washboard of sorts and my scarf. No luck. At this point, I decided to check the properties of the yarn. Which was superwash.
“No fear,” I thought, “as long as I just stick it under enough heat and agitation, it’ll felt…you always have to be so careful with wool, after all…”
Two and a half hours after being put in the roughest wash cycle in my washing machine at 90C, the scarf was resolutely unfelted. This yarn is indestructible.
“Duh” Lesson Two: Know Your Yarn…and make sure it’s suitable for purpose
I could have moved on to the next scarf in the lesson, which is a thick and thin item. However, I wanted to make sure I had a good example of each scarf to take away from each lesson, so I decided to try the Open Weave Felted Scarf again. This time, I took some Namolio yarn out of my stash and decided to use that. This yarn felts almost as soon as you look at it (meant in the best way possible), so I knew it would be perfect for this scarf.
I warped up the loom (making a couple of mistakes along the way – never fear, I knew how to fix them because I’d just been taught!) and started winding the warp onto the back beam. You have to put an enormous amount of tension on the warp threads for this; without enough tension, the weaving becomes very uneven.
Namolio, while gorgeous, is not the most robust yarn. The spinning is quite loose, and it is a two ply yarn. If one of your plies should happen to be slightly weak and snap as a result of the tension you are putting it under, odds are the yarn will snap in that place. I had nearly finished winding the yarn on the loom, and…snap.
There was a lot of swearing. I had the choice of snapping the corresponding warp thread on the other side and pretending it was a deliberate feature….or simply unwinding it and replacing that one missing thread.
I went for the latter action, and many hours later was ready to go. It was now 1 am, and I decided I needed to do some weaving before going to bed. Three inches down, I put it all away and went to bed.
By the way, replacing a broken warp on a yarn that practically felts when you look at it is no fun. Balance, as it turns out, is important.
I haven’t done any other work on this yet, as I’ve had a meeting with the lovely Yarn in the City girls today, been writing up my thoughts on Harry Potter (join the readalong here!) and have been getting the cars sorted out. I’m hoping I will be able to sit down slightly later and just Get Things Done.
In the meantime, look forward to more weaving action soon! I can’t wait to share the completed Namolio scarf with you…
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