Learning to Weave

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Another fabulous way to play with fiber!

In February, I took a weaving class at the awesome Longmont Yarn Shoppe. This was a great way to experiment because they provided us with looms to use for the class. That way, if you didn’t like it you haven’t spent a fortune on equipment. Considering how expensive looms can be (compared to, say, knitting needles!), this was a huge plus. As it turns out, I LOVE weaving. Apparently, my brain is just warped enough to grasp it!

A quick overview of my first few weaving projects.

First Project: Alpaca Scarf

My first project, started in class and completed at home, was an alpaca scarf. We used DK weight yarn warped at 8 epi and did 8 ppi for the weft. It worked up so quickly! It was incredibly satisfying to start and complete a project so fast. I was also really in love with the resulting fabric. Oh, wow… so light and airy yet so very incredibly warm. Funny how such small things will set you on the obsession path. 🙂

Project 2: Color Sample Scarf

My second project was, perhaps, a bit ambitious! I began with 11 colors of Twizzle Foot by Mountain Colors. After warping the loom, I decided I didn’t like the color plan. Additionally, I warped it on an 8 dent for some crazy reason. So, 4 hours later, I had rewarped with a 12 dent and switched out 3 colors of the Twizzle Foot with 3 different yarns and colors.

So, with 11 colors and 4 different yarns, I proceeded. Goodness, what a learning curve! Three of the yarns were “sticky” rustic wools, one was a merino single ply, and the rest were the wool/silk blend. Each, as you can imagine, behaved differently on the loom. The wools were grabby and held good tension. The merino singles got fuzzy very quickly (it was slightly thicker than the other yarns and the 12 dent was just a tad too small) and probably wasn’t the best choice for a warp thread. The wool/silk blend was smooth, but I had a hard time maintaining tension with it because of the nylon, I think.

Overall, I really got to see how different yarns worked for weaving. I was mostly happy with the results, although I think I would have not had such a large section of the variegated merino singles yarn in the warp. This project was also a fabulous way to see the interplay of colors. It was kinda like doing a color gamp, but without the planning. 🙂

Third (MINI) Project: Yarn Option Sample

I really went crazy with this sample. As you can see from the larger image, I was testing several yarn weights and types. Specifically, I used 2 colors of Shibui Rain, 2 colors of Berroco Medina, some funky Crystal Palace Party, and some Berroco Regatta. Individually, they each presented some unique challenges for me as a novice knitter! Together, they presented other challenges, primarily because of the significant differences in yarn sizes.

I’d have to say that the most challenging was the Party. It is 100% nylon and stretched like crazy. OMG. I couldn’t keep good tension on that yarn in the warp. Using it for the weft wasn’t as bad, but it was so slippery! But, it looks cool in the fabric!

I really loved working with the Regatta – a 100% cotton tape yarn that has the appearance of being woven. I had more control over it as a warp. As a weft thread, it was challenging to keep a consistent beat as the yarn really wanted to scrunch up (is that a technical term?!?) Together, where they cross, it gave a really interesting pattern.

Overall, I loved mixing different widths, but I’ll have to practice more and get a better technique for dealing with mixed yarn weights. That being said, it took me 5 times longer to warp this than to weave it. The experience convinced me to get a small tapestry loom to do some sampling (see project 5, below).

Project 4: Poncho

For my fourth project, I used Sublime’s Eden, a wool/cotton DK weight yarn. Things went fairly smoothly for this project, if you don’t count the lack of a plan or broken warp threads!

I began just by using the yarn (a 5 color cake) as it came. So, the first half of my poncho is heavy on the red and pink and lighter on the other three colors. But, it was an experiment and I really wanted to see what would happen. Success! I now know.

The colors in the cake are not a gradient. Instead, it is basically 5 colors tacked onto each other. So, the places where they were connected were easy ‘break points.’ In fact, 2 of my warp thread broke where the colors were joined. I was going to fix them, but decided to use it as a ‘design feature’ instead. LOL. For the first half of this project – another plain weave structure – I also took the opportunity to continue improving my selvage and also learn the hem stitch.

I expect more challenges with part 2. Specifically, getting the sizes of each piece to match up since I’m going to sew them together for a poncho. 🙂 I won’t, however, be experiencing warp thread breakage!

As for color plans – I was busy doing the math for that and, after a false start where I was in an alternate universe where a yard is 48 inches (see the image of that math, above), I think I’ve figured out how many picks I can do of each color. Now I just have to decide what order to put those picks in! Stay tuned.

Fifth (MINI) Project: Alpaca Sample

Sample using 3 colors of DK weight alpaca yarn. One of the three is a two ply (2 colors) wrapped in a smoother, smaller 3rd strand of a third color. I’m still trying to figure out how I might combine these to come up with 5 unique scarf patterns (for gifts!). This is the same yarn I used for my first project. I have 1800 yards of gloriously soft, warm yarn to work with! So exciting!!

Are you just learning to weave? If so, I’d love to hear about your experiences! Please share in the comment section.

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