Since our company name is “Knitting Fever” people are often surprised when I deviate from discussing that craft.
But the reality is that our company was named back in the 1970s before craft neutral names were in fashion. We’re not a “knitting” company, we’re a yarn distributor. Frankly, if it can be done with yarn and it’s not illegal, immoral, or dangerous we’d like you to be doing it with our products!
Considering I’ve seen people get rather flustered when I mention crocheting, I can imagine the double takes a post about weaving is causing!
You could argue that knitting and crocheting are at least cousins since they are done with your hands and minimal tools. Weaving is an in-law you don’t see very often.
But you have to admit it’s kind of fascinating. It’s yet another way to make fabric with our beloved fibers.
I have owned a small floor loom for about a year and a half. I stumbled my way through making a table runner by reading a book. I’ve been told it’s not bad for a first project. However, I came up with a lot of questions during the process and the book didn’t talk back.
You can imagine my delight when I found out there was a beginning weaving class starting the month after I moved to my new town. It was a chance to both get instruction and meet people in my new town!
There is an active fiber arts community here, which is very exciting. They have a weaving studio that houses about a dozen looms of various sizes, necessary tools, a lending library and even thread and yarn.
On the first day of class the teacher said it was common for knitters and crocheters to be drawn to weaving and vice versa.
The class is for both beginner and intermediate weaver, so everyone was allowed to select their own project and yarn. One woman is making linen curtains, another is making rag seat covers, and a third is making Christmas ornaments using cotton (I think she’ll have to do some sewing or quilting to finish them).
I decided to keep it simple and make a scarf using some Noro Silk Garden Sock. I was able to liberate a few balls of color #349-Burnt Orange, Wine, Greys, Taupe from the warehouse. This colorway is composed of beautiful autumnal shades that are just right for this time of year.
Project Notes—Original Plan
Scarf: 5′ x 6″ with 6″ fringe
Weave Structure: Twill 2/2
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden Sock, 2 balls (but I have more in reserve!)
Ends per inch: 10
Warp ends: 76
Since there is one teacher for six students we often have to work independently as she moves around the room.
To start shaping my project I determined my wraps per inch by wrapping the yarn around a wooden ruler. I remembered my copy of “Learning to Weave with Debbie Redding” said to do that, but I didn’t remember why or the next step. The teacher said to divide the number in half, since I was just calculating the warp. We then fudged it a bit based on the idea the Silk Garden Sock would plump up a bit when it was washed.
We decided I’d get 10 ends per inch and would use a 10 dent reed.
It seems that weaving has a lot of made-up numbers and I have to ask the teacher if there is a rule of thumb she is using or if you just get a sense for it with experience. After all, I can look at a ball of yarn and make a ballpark guess about what size needles to swatch with based on what I want to make.
After some more math I was ready to start measuring my warp. At home I have a warping board, but in class I was able to use a warping reel (above). It was fun, but I think I make a few more projects before I rush out to buy one!
I had a bit of unnecessary nail biting because I was reading my project sheet incorrectly. One line says I need 76 warp ends, but another spot says my “total warp needed” is 228.
I used an entire ball of Silk Garden Sock (I have two on hand) and got only 104 warp ends. I spent the days between classes dithering over what yarn I’d use for my weft and worrying whether I could get more of my project yarn.
Imagine my relief when the teacher said it was 228 yards for my warp! My 104 was more than enough. Since it was already on the reel, I decided to roll with it and just make a wider scarf.
The teacher selected looms for us based on the size of our project and what other people in class are making. The lady making the seat cushions is on one of the bigger looms. I was assigned to a smaller loom, which made me happy since I’m petite. A small loom looks easier to manage!
She also looked at my yarn in comparison to the 10 dent reed and suggested the fabric might end up too dense. We switched me to an 8 dent reed. My scarf is going to be considerably wider than my original plan!
Oh, you sley me
When I made my table runner at home, I had the reed in the beater and pulled my yarn through from the back to the front while I sat at the front of the loom.
In class the teacher placed the reed flat and stabilized it with clamps. I pulled the yarn from top to bottom and discovered that the sleying hook is a handy tool. It was also a little easier on my back, since I could sit (mostly) upright instead of bending over to beater level. Still, I was happy to take breaks and watch what other students were doing as they progressed from the warping board or reel to their loom.
Just as class was ending I reached the point where I was ready to start threading my heddles. I’m using a straight draw (right?! 1, 2, 3, 4) since I’m planning to weave a balanced twill. I managed to thread 12 whole heddles before class ended. I wanted to keep working, but I had to go home and feed the dogs. I can’t wait for the next class since it finally feels like I’m making progress!
Before I go any further with my threading I’m going to ask the teacher about floating selvedges. She explained a little about them during the first class, but didn’t mention how to incorporate them into our warp calculations. It sounds like it’s only two strands, so it’s not like they’ll have much impact on the math! I’m assuming I’ll just pull the last strand off the far end at this point, but want to be sure before I get much further.
I also need to ask my husband to bring my loom up to my office so I can start practicing the things I’m learning in class.
Have you done any weaving? What advice would you have for a beginner like myself?