Undoing a bendy scarf

About four years ago, I decided to knit myself a striped cotton scarf. Carrying the three colours up the sides was a lot of fun and I was loving how it was coming together. Then I put it down one day and noticed it had developed a curve!

Obviously this was something to do with carrying the colours and one side had developed a much tighter edge than the other. Incrementally this had caused my scarf to curve.

With great sadness I began to unpick it…

Jump to a recent tidy up where I found the half unpicked project languishing in a bag. It was a sad sight. Three balls of unravelled scarf and a big tangle of yarn leading to the considerable amount yet to be unpicked.

the stripey scarf in blue, green and purple

Unpicking three colours is not so much fun, but I’ve been quietly doing bits and I’m almost done now. Once finished I think I’m going to use those balls to warp my loom and see if I can’t do an enjoyably stripey scarf that way!!

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A knitter’s love of chunky yarns

A few weeks back my mum was talking about making herself a sort of ‘knee-warmer’ to keep her problem knee warm and I suggested she might use some chunky yarn I unearthed recently. It seemed like a good idea because it’ll knit up fast and be warm.

The funny thing was that she has many a set of needles, but none intended for 14ply. In contrast, when I went hunting through my needles I found no less than 5 sets!

So some of my needles are on agistment at her place (well not really but I do love that word) while she designs her knee warmer.

Why do I love the big yarns? Partly because they are quick to knit and that’s great for scarfs, but also they often have such a pluffy, lush texture.

Now that I’m weaving they aren’t featuring as often, though I did put one on the loom recently. It was something like good-planning that could do this because, in anticipation of my continued love of large yarns, I got a large dent reed when I bought extras last year!

The forgotten yarn stash

As I mentioned at the very start of this blog I’m a long-time knitter, but I got tired of how long knitting took. Not because I don’t love knitting, but because I was mostly weaving for charities, my inability to wear wool limiting the scope of knitting for myself.

This meant I did have a small stash of yarn when I started weaving. What I hadn’t realised is that I had quite a few more stash balls hiding in a bag next to my couch! Well, it’s mostly part-balls and mostly 12ply, but there were some lovely red mohair leftovers and unused balls of a nice blue cotton too. Oh, and some ribbon yarn.

I possibly shouldn’t be quite so excited, but they are such different yarns to my more recently accrued stash there are new possibilities for trying things. That mohair is already on my mind…

Returning to the plain weave

Since I started in on the xmas presents at the end of last year, most of what I’ve woven have been fiddly things; 4 shaft patterns, double weave and loops.  Then tablet/card weaving came into the picture and, while not fiddly as such, it has certainly given the brain some exercise!

So, after reacquainting myself with my yarn stash, I decided it was time to do some good old plain weave.

You know, I’d actually forgotten how fast you can weave a scarf? Before I knew it I was at the hemstitching point! It was also very relaxing and my mind happily drifted as I wove.

Must make a note to myself to do a plain weave project in between double weave etc, so I can relax and enjoy the weaving. Not that double weave etc were too stressful, but you have to pay so much attention to what you’re doing. This was like knitting garter stitch (I’m sure you knitters know what I mean)!

The funny thing about this project was that it took me as long to finish as to weave. That was because I added some of that fringe-like, fluffy yarn that was all the rage a few years back for knitters and it took forever to free the fringe-like bits from the web. Still, it looks pretty much how I hoped it would. Now I just need to give it a bath.

And I’m going to predict that the next project will be plain weave too.

Because looms are herd animals

My obsession with weaving – let’s call it what it is! – coincided nicely with the local spinners and weavers having an open day at their association. So I popped in to watch people weave on different looms and to have a go before I went and bought the one I had my eye on.

The woman whose loom I sat at for a while, was answering my question about what is a good size to start with in the rigid heddle looms when she explained that it didn’t really matter because looms are herd animals, so every weaver ends up with more than one! I thought that was hilarious.

Given how many sets of knitting needles I’ve collected in my knitting life, it didn’t surprise me at all to be told it applied to weaving accoutrements too. So far, I’m too entertained by the capacity of my loom to have an eye on anything bigger/smaller/fancier, but I can imagine the day when maybe, just maybe, I’ll upsize to a table loom. Probably not a floor loom – they just seem like too much work!

I may live to laugh at myself over that statement, ey?

Because I always start big (and repent later)

Now, if you read the post on how I chose my loom then you might think I’m a bit nuts. As a friend put it:

You wanted to make scarfs – which you already do – and ended up taking up weaving. In the space of a week.

Yes. Okay, so I might be a bit nuts when it comes to crafts. For example, my second knitting project ever was a long-sleeved, calf length knitted coat. It was so big that I used it as a blanket during the latter stages of knitting it. (But Mr Kaffe Fassett does know how to catch a knitter’s eye – see image above from the book Gorgeous Knits.)

So I can’t deny that I like to jump in, boots’n’all and just try everything. Usually all at once.

Though coat example might lead you to wonder why went from a project like that to knitting scarfs.

Simple answer is, I can’t wear animal fibres near my skin. Acrylics are less of a problem but still a problem, and for a long time cotton was hard to get in any colour not meant for children too young to go “yuk” at it.

Bamboo improved things, but tends to split. Ditto silk + expensive.

So, for some time now, I have bought yummy wools and knitted them for other people. This is still fun, but knitting is slooooowwww and, as years passed, I lost the desire to spend so much time on each project. Thus the looking for a faster way to make scarfs. Which led to the loom.

The other thing you’ll realise if you read the blog (assuming fromthiscloth turns out how I hope) is that, I may have only taken a week to decide to start weaving, but that was a week of overdosing on YouTube videos and sites about looms and weaving.

[Part of deciding to blog was realising I needed to order all the info I’d learnt in such a short time. I learn best through explaining things to others = blogging it.]

In case I’m misleading anyone into thinking I have craft learning superpowers (I’m picturing a knitted cape, are you?) I should mention that, I didn’t come to weaving from a place of 100% ignorance. As a sew-er, I know cloth and, as a seed-bead-er, I know (tiny) looms.

That left a mountain of stuff to learn, but it was a start.

What is weaving?

All woven things, whether it’s hair in a plait…drawing of a french braid

drawing of a kitted fabric

 

…wool yarn in a jumper…

 

 

…or metal rings in a chainmaille shirt…

close up of a basic chainmaille weave

…have one thing in common; they are created by passing something through/under/around something else, in a way that holds both somethings in place.

It’s that last part that really matters, because if the materials don’t hold together in the weave then you have a disaster.

In cloth the materials are usually woven by passing each thread under and over other threads like this:

drawing of plain weaveAnd they hold together in the cloth because they are sandwiched between each other, though if you’ve ever cut silk or rayon fabrics you’ll know smooth threads will try to escape the moment you give them a chance!

 

The other thing all weaving has in common is that, the end product of any type of weaving is affected by the thickness of the materials woven, how tightly woven they are and the materials used.  This is as true of cloth that comes off your loom as it is of the wicker basket a basket weaver makes.