October 2019 Newsletter
This month we have a new yarn company collaboration; Darn Good Yarn! I have been super excited about this, as Darn Good Yarn was one of the first yarn companies I was introduced to when I began my textile arts journey.
This project combines many elements and colors into one cohesive piece, and was definitely an exercise in “going with the flow.” As I was weaving I ran into a few issues that I ended up “rolling with” and I am thrilled with how the finished project turned out. This bag is made using Darn Good Yarn Chiffon Ribbon and Sport Weight Silk Yarn, both made from reclaimed silk. This autumnal color palette is perfect for the season, reflecting the blue skies and bold colors of the changing leaves.
Finished Size: 10″ X 7″ (plus fringe)
Weave Structure: Plain weave
Yarn: Darn Good Yarn Chiffon Ribbon Ombre Pack, Bonfire, Super Bulky, reclaimed sari silk (80 yards per pack); Darn Good Yarn Sport Weight Silk Yarn, Caribbean Current, sport weight, reclaimed silk, (200 yds per skein)
Equipment: School Loom, 3-in-1 Magic Stick, Tapestry Beater, Incredible Rope Machine
EPI: about 6
Warping: Warp the School Loom full width with the Sport Weight Silk Yarn using moderate tension. Note: singles yarn can be fragile, so take care in the warping process.
Weaving: In plain weave begin with 6 picks of Sport Weight Silk Yarn, then 2 picks of orange sari silk, leaving the ends hanging out the right edge by 12″. This will form the fringe at the bottom of the bag.
Alternate picks of the sport weight yarn (SW) and sari silk ribbon (R) in the following pattern: 2 picks SW, 2 picks Orange R, 2 picks SW, 2 picks Orange R, 2 picks SW, 2 picks Orange R, 2 picks SW, 2 picks Yellow R. Repeat this for approximately 14″. Weave 6 picks of SW.
Finishing: Remove the fabric from the loom by snipping pairs of warp threads, and tying double knots to secure the top of the weaving. then, fold the bag “wrong sides” together with the fringe at the bottom of the bag. Using the Sport Weight Silk, whip stitch along this edge to close, and then straight stitch (by hand) along the bottom. (Fringe side)
Because I experience a massive amount of draw in for the first few rows, I used this as a design feature. I lined up the fringe side of the bag so it was even, and sewed it up, leaving an overhanging flap on the top edge. I folded the top edge down, and used a blanket stitch to tack it down. I attached a decorative button on the flap.
Strap: Using the Incredible Rope Machine make three 6-foot-long ropes; two with yellow chiffon ribbon, and one with Sport Weight Silk. Braid these ropes together. Adjust the strap height to a comfortable place on the body and hand sew into place.
I trimmed up the fringe so that it was even, and then ended with a light steam press.
Weaving on a little loom is satisfying and can yield instant gratification. However, every now and then, small projects can be more challenging than expected. This project was full of “learning moments” and I wanted to pass these nuggets of wisdom along.
Variable weights of weft yarn causing tension issues
As I was weaving, I was running into significant draw-in. This is unusual for me, so I was particularly perplexed as to why. I then realized that the weaver’s angle I was using when placing my weft, needed to be different when switching from the chiffon ribbon to the sport weight yarn. The thicker ribbon yarn was causing my sides to pull in substantially until I got a handle on it. All I had to do was use more of an angle with the thicker yarn.
Working with a delicate warp
Normally I would steer people away from a delicate warp. However, upon inspection, the yarn had enough strength, and because I wasn’t weaving with a lot of tension it seemed sufficiently strong. Also, this silk yarn didn’t stretch, which is characteristic of silk yarn. This is why I warped the loom with moderate tension. After weaving half of the project, the friction of the pick-up sticks used to make the shed started wearing down the warp threads. This is also due to the lack of stretch in the yarn. Doubling up the yarn would have added strength, but also some bulk. The take-away here it that it’s important to remember the stress that warp threads are under when choosing the yarn.
Fixing broken warp threads
I had not one, not two, but three warp threads break during weaving. One thing to note: on a frame loom when one warp thread breaks it’s actually two because they are joined at the top of the loom by a loop.
To fix these broken threads, I took a length of warp yarn, folded it in half, and placed it around the tooth that was missing the warp threads. Using a t-pin, I secured it into the work about 1″ below the broken warp threads. Then, keeping tension on the replacement warp yarn, I wrapped the ends around the t-pin. I continued weaving as normal. Once the project was woven, I removed the t-pins, wove in the ends, and trimmed the tails.
Sometimes when sewing handwoven fabric, it wants to move around while you’re working. Normally I would use sewing pins to stabilize my fabric when sewing it together, however two layers of this thick fabric wouldn’t accommodate a pin. I improvised, and used thick binder clips along the edge to keep everything in place. This worked perfectly!
I hope you find these tips and tricks helpful when working on your own frame loom projects!