Sunday, December 30, 2012

Watermelon Pattern

Here's a happy little watermelon pattern to end the year on.  I made this months ago but things have been backing up around here.  Still hoping to get caught up during break but I seem to just be making more projects instead.

I was playing around with some colors and decided they looked a lot like a watermelon. So I designed a watermelon pattern.  At first I almost didn't weave this when I realized the pink weft would peek through on the green rind side or a green weft would leave odd green dots on the pink side.  I went with the pink weft and it turned out its not too bad.  Or at least I don't think it's that bad.  I guess if no one buys it than I'll know I was wrong.  But for that to happen I have to list it, because right now no one is buying it because I am lazy and/or it's been too cold to photograph lately.

Not that that stopped me from taking pictures of the snow:
   This isn't our cactus.  It's in front of a neighbors apartment.  I had already liked the bows they stuck on it for Christmas.  The snow just made it too hard to resist getting a picture.

Here's a picture of the pattern:

I used a lighter pink at the end and made the outer seed white to mimic the fading of a watermelon slice. I used a lighter green to try and give a better transition between the flesh part and the rind.  If I was going to do it again, I would adjust the pattern so the first light green was the first green against the pink.  As shown, the dark green juts into the pink and then the next green is a light one.

Here's the pattern as I wove it:
L  P  P  P  B  P  P  P  P  P  B  B  P  P  P  G  G  S  G  G  G  G  G
  L  P W P   P  P  P B  B  P  P  P  P  P  P  S  G  G  G  G  G  G

Here's the pattern with the correction:

L  P  P  P  B  P  P  P  P  P  B  B  P  P  P  S  G  G  G  G  G  G  G
  L  P W P   P  P  P B  B  P  P  P  P  P  P  G  S  G  G  G  G  G

L = Light Pink
P = Pink
W = White
B = Blue (this is a dark navy. Black would also work but I worried it might stick out to much given the muted pink and green I had chosen)
G = Green (I used a darker, forest green.  More like the dark swirls on the outside of the rind than the green from a side view of a slice)
S = Sage (couldn't use L again for light green.  This might actually be sage color but it doesn't have to be. Just any lighter green)

So there it is.  Feel free to use or modify it as you like.  Simplified watermelon patterns don't often include the white seeds that I've noticed.  You could probably leave them off here as well. However, I feel they white really helps make it actually a watermelon, rather than a random pattern.  I think they white seeds need to be included since the weaving lacks the shape of a watermelon, so something else is needed to help convey the idea. and I'm probably over-thinking it so whatever.

New years resolution. Try and update more than once a month or at least have real content every month!  We'll see how that goes.  Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, November 26, 2012


I rather dislike doing a filler update post, but I would be more unhappy to let a month go by with no posting. So far I have had Something to post at least once a month since I started this blog.

So my update is this:  I've been busy.  lol.  To sum things up, I'm a pre-med 2 weeks from finals and I need to find a job for over the break.  Not complaining, just really busy.

In weaving news, I've been trickling out products over the semester.  Taking time to finish the ends and then photograph is another matter.  I finally got around to posting a couple things this weekend but it took it being Thanksgiving for me to find the time.  Then I discovered I'd forgotten I have two guitar straps entirely completed that I could have photographed at the same time.

So there is weaving going on.  And even a bit of sewing.  I'll continue to trickle them out as best I can.

I'm planning on attempting some more videos during Christmas break.  I want to do a series on how to make an inkle loom as well as some weaving tips I've picked up over the years.

So that's what's up.  Hopefully I'll do a real blog post next month.  For more regular, but much more mini posts, check out my Tumblr page.

I will leave you now with a picture of Eli and his giant bell.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Frayed Fibers

Most modern yarns are strong enough you could pull on them until the cows come home and they wouldn't break.  They can easily withstand as much tension as anyone would ever place upon them on an inkle loom.  I would know, as I almost always prefer a very high tension on my warps.

Well, some yarns are not so accommodating.  I'll start by saying I have completely given up on anything single ply.  If you use them as warp threads, my hat's off to you.  I find they pull themselves apart too easily and the damage is difficult to hide.

Sometimes a 2 or more ply yarn can be fragile.  Overall the yarn can hold up to the stress of being woven.  But the constant rubbing of shed changes, and the on again, off again tension of advancing the warp can sometimes take it's toll.

Warp Breakage

If the warp breaks altogether, it's pretty obvious you have to fix it right away.  Simply take a length of yarn and tie it in to replace the damaged area.  I would suggest making the knot as small as possible to keep a low profile.

Because it will be a small knot, it might not be very strong.  Leave the tail ends on until right before you weave the row that will include the knot.  The tail ends will be annoying during shed changes.  Still, they are better (less annoying) than your knot slipping undone because you cut the tails too short.

Warp Fraying

Sometimes only one strand of a 2 or more ply yarn will break.  If left alone, the weak spot will likely break before you get it woven in.  Rather than cut it and tie in a new segment right away, I suggest placing a bit of tape on it.  Here's why:

1.  When you tie in a new segment of yarn, you'll almost never get the tension just right.  Then you'll have one warp that's off.  If it's too tight, you're adding more stress to an already weak thread and risk pulling your knots loose.  If it's too loose, well, that's just annoying.  It can also cause bubbling in your weaving.

2.  By using tape, you might be able to prevent having to ever splice in a new segment.  The tape reinforces the weak spot until right before it is woven in.  If you can avoid knots, you lessen the risk of an uneven look to your pattern.

How to Use Tape for Warp Repair

I use packing tape because it's wider which I find easier to handle for this application.  Scotch tape is usable as well.  The tape should be clear so you can see the warp through it.  This will help you not cut the warp when you cut off the tape.

1.  Cut a length of tape long enough to cover the damaged area.

2.  Holding the offending warp out from the others, place the yarn up the middle of the tape.  At this point you should have a piece of tape still flat with the yarn running up the middle of the sticky side.

3.  Fold the tape sticky side in so that the edges line up (any hangover can be cut off so the sticky does not damage the other warps).  Do not press all of the tape flat! Only press the edges of the tape together so that it will stay in place.  The center fold, around the yarn, should have a bit of air space.

4.  Until the tape enters the working space, I leave it at step three.

5.  (Optional) Once the tape passes the heddles and enters the working space you can trim the tape down.  The picture below shows the tape after trimming.  Trim so there is barely any stuck together area.  If you cut into the air space, you will be cutting the tape off.

Reducing the flap width will make it easier to change sheds.  I wait until the area is in the working space because the tape is not as strong at this point and I do not want it to come off too early.  It's fine if you do not want to trim the tape.  The flap gets in the way when changing sheds.  It is still workable though so it's up to which feels better, less annoying shed changes with stronger tape or weakened tape that will allow you to work faster.

6.  Once the tape gets right up to the woven area, carefully cut into the air space.  You can also try to pry open the stuck together part of tape.

7.  Carefully remove the tape.  Some fiber is bound to come off, but hopefully not so much that the warp breaks.

8.  Carefully weave in the damaged area.

Here's a photo of the result after I wove in the above damaged warp:
The damaged warp was in the middle section.  It starts about an inch above the bubbled area on the left border.  

That bubbled area kind of amuses me.  I was fussing over the damaged warp which I noticed shortly after warping for the entire weaving.  All that time I didn't even notice this other damaged thread until it created that first bubble.  The bubble is one ply that broke and then got squished up the length of the other ply.  The white bits for three rows after the two bubbles shows the single ply area.  

This shows what you risk your pattern looking like if you do not catch a damaged area and smooth out the broken ply.  After I take this piece off the loom I will use tweezers to try and pull out the second ply a bit.  There will still be the white, but I like this better than having knots in my warps.

Advancing Fragile Warps

Many yarns can just be tugged and generally abused which includes getting yanked through the string heddles.  For fragile yarns, the string heddle can catch one ply and bunch it up, possibly to the point of breaking, while the other ply travels through.

Normally I just shove the heddles up the warps.  One hand pulls the woven area toward me.  The other hand pushes the heddles.  When doing this the heddles are pushing up an incline as seen below:

To reduce rubbing on fragile (or sticky) warps I will used two hands.  With one hand I hold the warps in a way so they are level before and after the heddles.  The other hand then pushes the heddles back.  Normally I hold the warps flat with my right hand but I couldn't figure out how to hold the camera with my left hand.
So here my thumb is pulling down on the warps beyond the heddles.  My fingers are pressing down on the bottom shed, keeping it out of the way.  For less sticky threads, the reduction of friction is more readily visible.  The heddles will go limp as you take all tension off of them.  This reduces pilling, and therefore damage to the warps.

As ever, feel free to ask questions if I've totally confused you.  I'm hoping to make a lot of these tips and whatnot into videos but, well, time.  and camera shy.  and time.  So ya, someday.  Until then, Happy Weaving :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Faux Basketweave

This might not be a faux basket weave so much as a simple one.  My sister-in-law requested a silver belt.  I wanted to make it interesting but I was limited to yarns that included metallic silver strands.  So I decided to try doubling some of the warps.  I'm really happy with the results.  It's a subtle addition to a simple belt.  It gives the piece a more sophisticated feel.

The texture was difficult to photograph.  You'll mostly have to take my word for it.  I played with Photoshop a little and got a posterized photo which might help you see the detail better.  Or it might be worse.  dunno.  Guess you'll just have to weave your own?

The middle section is the basket weave.  The darker grey borders are a plain weave.  For the middle, I doubled every third warp.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Variegate Surprise

How quickly a variegate changes color impacts the final pattern a lot.  It can also matter how long your warp set up is as this will change where the colors lie next to each other from one warp to the next.  (this assumes a continuous warp)

Often I just let the colors do what they will.  Sometimes I don't like the results.  Other times it's great.

and sometimes it's bacon.
Blue bacon this time, so I called it Smurf bacon.  Then I realized that would be copy right infringement and I changed the description to just mentioning Smurfs.  hope that's allowable

The yarn for this was Peaches and Cream in a cone size.  I don't have the label anymore so I don't know the exact color.  The length of my warp was about probably 19 to 20 feet.  I made three 6 foot straps.  Each strap would need a couple extra inches for hems and there would have been shrinkage and waste.  The warp might have been as long as 25 feet.  I don't know anymore unfortunately.

For another strap I decided to line up the colors.  Every warp I cut the yarn and tied it back at roughly the same point in the color pattern.  I probably could have adjusted the warp length so the colors would line up, but, well, I didn't.

The length of the color change worked really well for the intended products.  It was a fluke that it turned out this way but I hope I can recreate it.  The warp was the same length as the blue one above.  The yarn was Sugar 'n Cream Naturals.  I called these ombre since that seems to be a thing now.

This last one is an example of when it didn't turn out so well.  I didn't realize at first the grey had a bit of color change to it.  I tried to rearrange the warps to lessen the white/black division but I still don't like it.  In the future I would want two separate balls and I would alter between them.  With long distance tone changes like this one you also have to be concerned with maintaining symmetry.  It's not awful but it does add work.

The grey yarn is Special Twirl dK by Stylecraft.  color - Slate 1655

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Turquoise and Brown

I like how the colors worked on this pattern.  I was expecting them to blend well, but was still surprised.  The green somehow blends when seen from a distance almost creating an illusion that the turquoise flowers are glowing.  (not sure anyone else calls them that but I think of the plus sign formation of dots as flowers)

 T T B B G G G T G G B B B B B G G T G G G B B T T 

T = Turquoise
G = Pea or Olive Green
B = Chocolate Brown

weft = Turquoise

This material is worsted weight cotton.  The turquoise is Bernat.  The brown and green are Sugar 'n Cream.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dream Catchers for Special Olympics

The August project for Artist's Helping Hands was to make dream catchers that will be given out as prizes at the Special Olympics.

I had a lot of fun making these, but it took much longer than I thought it would.  I should be better prepared if we do it again next year.

The first thing I learned was that wetting the branches didn't really help.  Just getting them bent into loops as soon as possible was best.  Leaving them outside in Texas heat while cutting more branches is not good.  So cut, bend, cut, etc.

The tutorial I was vaguely following showed to dip the yarn into watered-down glue as you wrap.  I would not recommend this.  It was so messy.  I was splashing glue all over myself and the couch.  After not too long, I just wrapped the yarn and then put the glue on.

I quickly realized that the yarn held itself pretty well.  Halfway around the first one I stopped applying glue at all until it was entirely wrapped.

After it dried, I decided I really didn't like the look of the wrapping.  I don't know if you can see in this picture, but to me it looked like a cast.  For all the rest, I only applied glue to the inside and I like how they turned out much more.

With glue covering all the yarn

With glue only on the inside

The beads donated by Gwen really brought these dream catchers together.  Some were wonderfully glazed a bright blue with silver writing and/or glitter.  Others were left unglazed which made them safer to be handled by younger children. 

I played around with several different yarns.  My favorite for my own style preferences was the brown fuzzy yarn.  I really like how the fibers blended with the cotton thread of the webbing, making it even more web-like.  It also looked very natural (as in, from nature) to me while still being glittery and fun.

Here they all are hanging to dry after I applied some glue to make sure the knots would hold and the wrapping would stay in place.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tricky Sticky

I like to work with a lot of novelty yarns.  While they can be a great accent they can also be a great pain in the rear.  They stick to other warps or have more elastic stretch to them.  For most situations, my answer to the problem is to crank up the tension.

I recently had a weaving remind me that sometimes the answer is opposite to that.  For yarns with long hair-like strands it's better to lower the tension as much as possible.  Then the hairs slide past each other.  If the tension is too high, they want to lock together and you feel like you are ripping the yarn apart each shed change.

For stretchy or short fiber yarns, I think the increased tension helps because the sheds will snap apart rather than being given leeway to tangle with each other.

Ya, I don't know how to explain it any better.  I guess what I'm saying is if the yarn is giving you trouble, more tension isn't always the answer.  It's a matter of trial and error, but you'll get the hang of it.

Lion brand Homespun - High tension

as high as you can, and then watch when you advance the warp that the fibers are not getting bunched up behind the heddles.  This may not make sense now, but you'll get what I'm saying once you try to work with this yarn.

Boucle (pink) and JoAnn's Angel Hair (purple)

Low tension

Once I got the tension right, this wove very smoothly.  Before that, it was a bit frustrating.  I think it's the boucle that's at fault.  It seems to have a narrow window of preferred tension, but once you find it the rest of the project will fly.

Crinkle Knitting Yarn - Low Tension

I wish I knew the brand of the yellow acrylic in this band because it was awful to work with.  I have never had an acrylic stick so much.  Thankfully I don't seem to have anymore.

Lion brand Wool-Ease weaves like a dream.  For this one I used higher tension to counter the bulk induced stickiness of the Thick and Quick (orange)

Red Heart Tiki is quite stretchy.  Even under high tension, keep an eye on it.  You can miss a warp or two for several rows.  At low tension, it's just a tangled mess.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Modern and Historical

The ladder pattern is a pretty basic inkle pattern.  It is simple but sometimes that's what's wanted.  I like how this pattern turned out.  The stark black, white and red creates a very modern art look.

 H H H H H H H R R H B B H R R H H H H H H H 

H = White
B = Black
R = Red

weft = White

I think I have more trouble writing these patterns out here than I do coming up with them.  I don't know when I stopped writing stuff down in the planning stage but it's been awhile.  I used to have a little notebook where I would count out warps and write where each color would go. Now I just kinda do it.  

I'm not sure how to help others come to the same point.  I think part of what changed for me is that I see patterns on top of backgrounds rather than the whole thing as a pattern.  This design to me is a black ladder on top of a background.  I played with the background a bit by adding red lines.  

To this end, I did not put the warp on by alternating up and down sheds.  Instead I did the four border threads that way.  Then I continued with the white on the bottom shed.  As I reached the end of the bottom shed I put the four whites up and down for the other border.  Only then did I put on the rest of the top shed warps.  Then when putting the heddles on, I moved the warps so they alternated correctly.  (this depends on putting the heddles on after, rather than during, warping)

To try and be more clear, this is the order I put on the warps:

H H                                                                     H H
 H H H H H H H R R H B B H R R H H H H H H H


 B B B B B B B B B  B B B B B B B B B B

This warping style was even faster for this band

 Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y G G G Y Y Y

B = Black
Y = Yellow
weft = Yellow

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dream Catchers

The Artist's Helping Hands project this month is dream catchers.  They will be given as prizes for children competing in the Special Olympics.  For more information, check out the team forum:
There is still time to join in.  The team leader is asking for donations to be sent by September 15.

What I have discovered thus far is that I am not a basket weaver and I never will be.  On the plus side I had an excuse to cut down the crepe myrtle that I hate.  For any defenders of the plant (people around here seem to love them) note 2 things.

1 - it grows in front of the patio gate.  Not that we use the gate really but it's the principle of the matter.  There was plenty of other fence length it could have chosen.  2 - They seem to trigger my allergies the most of the plants around here. Despite traveling a lot, I've never seen them in other parts of the country.  I'm guessing they're only popular here because they're hard to kill and Texas is good at killing off most plants.

Here's what's left of the silly thing.

I managed to make about a dozen hoops/rings from this plant and from cuttings off my porch tree.  Before you go wondering that you've never heard of a porch tree, that's not a species name.  I don't know what kind of tree it is.  It grows from the crack in the cement between my porch and the neighbors.  Horrible for the patio I'm sure, but it was here when we moved in and I like the shade.

I think I learned a bit from making these.  Not anything worthy of sharing though.  Just enough to know this is not something I am likely to do often.  I think I will have to reinforce some of these with stem wire.  I'll be covering part or all of the hoop with yarn wrapping.  I'm not sure how that will work yet but I saw one tutorial where you soak the yarn in watered down white glue.  That's what I'm going to try.

Another team member, Gwen, generously agreed to trade me some beads for yarn.  She made some of the beads herself.  I'm excited to get to see them.  They should be arriving later this week.

The feathers will be what I have from when I was making cat toys.  I might use crochet thread for the webbing portion.  I hope these turn out okay.  The kids deserve to have them be nice.  I'll post again when I've got them finished.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Allergy Warning - I have cats

I make no effort to hide the fact my weavings are exposed to cats.  In fact, I actively try to throw this fact out in every way I can, without going so far as to make customers think I rub their products in cat hair.

I pick the hair out as I'm weaving.  Then again really well before photographing.  Then it sits in a cat free cabinet or closet.  When something sells I go over every inch at least twice to get any strays.  Hopefully none of my customers would even know I have cats based on the weavings they receive.

Even so, here is another warning for those that suffer severe cat allergies.  I have 2 cats in the house.  I weave in my living room where they spend half their day.

For everyone else, here's a blog of cute cat pictures.  Cause the internet can never have enough cute cats :)

Both cats love hiding inside the loom.  It's dark and cozy.

Tess loves to run off with balls of yarn when I'm not looking.  Before we got the boy kitty, she would get to drag the yarn back and forth all over the apartment.  I can't let her play with them unsupervised anymore though.  Stupid head boy kitty eats yarn, and eats it fast.

I guess I don't have that many pictures of Eli in the yarn.  Probably because he eats it.
                            (His name is short for El-ahrairah)

Here's an older picture of him covered in pink.  Somehow he managed to destroy a toy in such a way as the dye bled all over him.  We didn't notice at first because it kinda matched his fur.  Kinda wish we knew how to do this all the time and with different colors.

This picture was taken during a weaving photo shoot.  I looked over and she was being a ham, as always.  She's just so dainty.

Back when I was using a sheet on the ground for my backdrop, she would always be on top of it.  I'd turn around to get another product and there she'd be.  Then I'd have to shake all the hair off again.

Now I put the sheet over a bin.  Leaning to ground repeatedly was hurting my back.  The cats don't get on the bin as much.  There's plenty of tails or noses in the uncropped versions of my pictures though.

I brought this bag down from the closet to sort through.  I wasn't going to leave it out for very long.  This little princess said, "oh!  Thank you for leaving out this new bed." She sat there, blocking the way to the kitchen, for the rest of the afternoon.

What?  Don't I belong here?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Monster Cuffs

I made a pair of cuff bracelets for my wife.  You know what she said?  They need googly eyes and teeth.  Really?

So now I have monster cuffs in my shop.  They make me giggle the entire time I'm making them, photographing them and creating the listings.  They're just so silly.

For the first couple, I used regular felt for the teeth.  I sewed the edges down so it wouldn't fray.

Since making the green ones, I discovered stiff felt.  I'm the type to overdo things so they won't come undone.  So I double the stiff felt and glue them together with gorilla glue.

I glue the eyes on with hot glue.  I had trouble a couple times with this glue.  I've melted the eyes more than once.  One had a finger-printed blobby spot I had to cut off where it had squished out onto the button.  And then there's always the annoying stringyness of this glue.

However, I tried switching to gorilla glue and it didn't work well.  It didn't set quickly enough.  I was also much more concerned with glue seeping out from under the eye.  Gorilla glue dries an ugly yellowish-white color that would be very noticeable.  So now I'm back to hot glue.

The teeth are just sewn on wherever I can fit them around the yarn loops.  For this one I tried a different tooth pattern.

In the future I am considering things like wings and horns but I haven't figured them out yet.  I also want to make vampire fangs but they don't work with the loop closures.

This guy is my favorite.  He reminds me of a Muppet.

My wife doesn't like to talk about my weaving very much, but then she keeps giving me these great ideas.  I think she's working against herself. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ping Pong Pattern

This pattern has nothing to do with the game.  I just titled it that way because that's what the main novelty yarn in this pattern is called.

Anyone who's followed my work can see I love working with lots of different yarns.  My favorite part of weaving is the way colors and textures are drawn together and play off each other.  So when the yarn itself is already fascinating, I just can't resist.

Often I find myself wanting to repeat a pattern in a different color.  However, it never happens.  I start down another project, thinking I'll get back to the other pattern but then I get distracted by other things.

Well, I finally did it.  I had three sets of colors picked out.  I only made two of them because I was aiming for a guitar strap width.  The first was way too wide.  The second was kinda wide.  For the third, I gave up and dropped the brown.

Here's the pattern in maroon and green:
Here's the pattern how I think of it:

4G 3M 2B 10M 3B 1G 1B (1M) repeat in reverse
( ) denotes middle warp, not repeated

G = Green = Forest Green
Sensations, Angel Hair (Jo-Ann's)
22% Wool, 50% Acrylic, 28% Nylon

B = Brown = Mocha Madness
Bernat, Ping Pong
73% Acrylic, 27% Nylon

M = Maroon = ?
Probably RedHeart
100% Acrylic

Weft = Maroon

Here's the pattern in a more standard format:
G  G  M  M  B  M   M  M  M  M  B  G  M  G  B  M  M  M  M  M   B  M  M  G  G
  G  G  M   B  M  M  M  M  M   B  B  B   B   B  B  M  M   M  M  M  B  M   G  G

Here's the pattern in yellow and purple:
I love how very different this band looks, yet when directly compared to the above it's obvious they're the same.

The pattern is the same except the large yellow section is only 8 warps, not 10.  I was trying to reduce the width to make it a guitar strap.  I think it was a lucky happenstance.  The brighter color should be skinnier to be the same weight in the pattern.  Any wider and it might have overpowered the purple edging.

width of maroon = 2 3/4 inches
width of yellow = 2 1/2 inches
width of blue = 2 inches

The last band I made in this series did end up being a guitar strap.  It's much skinnier than the ones above.  I really love the blue and orange together.  I still think they'd look great with the brown too.  Who knows, maybe I'll make this pattern again someday.  For now other projects are calling.

3O, 1R, 2O, 22B, 2O, 1R, 3O
Weft = Blue

B = Blue = Medium Navy
100% Acrylic

O = Orange = Copper
Caron, Bliss
60% Acrylic, 40% Nylon

R = Rust
Aunt Lydia's Heavy Rug Yarn
75% Rayon, 25% Cotton