How to weave on a hand loom

How to weave on a hand loom

You guys know I’ve been super curious about weaving the past couple of years (I never got a chance to tell you about my blissfully calm afternoon of Saori weaving in the midst of our moving mayhem) so I’m thrilled to have these little handmade, solid maple hand looms for the holiday collection at Fringe Supply Co. I own several frame looms and pin looms, and this design is a dream — it’s less fiddly to weave on since the sides are unobstructed. Plus it’s gorgeous. Not surprisingly, this has been one of the most popular items so far this season. When Kathy Cadigan and I were shooting the photos for the holiday catalog, she took a whole series of me using these tools. I love these images, and while the loom does come with a set of instructions, I thought a photo-rich tutorial here might be useful. Pictured in the bottom left photo above, the loom kit includes the I-shaped loom itself, the tiny shuttle, needle stick and bamboo skewer seen to the right of the loom, and the beater at the top of the photo. It also comes with a small amount of warp yarn, as pictured (although the color may vary).

Making small weavings on a loom like this is a great way to use up your scrap yarn stash. If you’re already a weaver, this is an excellent travel loom. And if you’re just curious about weaving, it’s a wonderful way to try your hand at it on a small scale. Fun for the whole family.

Step 1: Warp the loom

I don’t have photos of how to warp the hand loom, since I had done that ahead of the shoot, but it’s pretty intuitive. You simply tie or tape the end of your warp yarn (a nice sturdy, non-elastic cotton is best) at the groove in one corner — any corner will do — and then bring the yarn to the corresponding groove at the other end of the loom. Pulling it nice and taut, catch it around the back of the groove, wrapping the yarn into the adjacent groove. Then again, bring the yarn to the corresponding groove on the opposite side, catch it around the back and into the next groove, and so on. You don’t have to use the full width of the loom. If you want to do a smaller weaving, you can warp only as many grooves as you like, centering them on the loom. To tie off the warp, you can see in the top photo above that I just wound it around the top of the first and second notches at the beginning and the end to keep it secure while I weave. That will allow it to pop off later when I’m ready to remove the weaving from the loom. Same thing if I had just taped it on the back. Whatever works for you! Weaving is easygoing.

How to weave on a hand loom

Step 2: Create a “shed”

As you likely know from grade school experiments with paper plates and construction paper, weaving is under-over-under-over-under, and then on the next pass it’s over-under-over-under-over. (Whether that’s over 1 under 1 or over 2 under 2 is up to you. Experiment with it!) You can do this with a tapestry needle if you like, or by threading your weft yarn through the hole in the end of the needle stick, but it can be helpful to use the weaving tools to create a “shed” — a space between the warp threads — to pass the yarn through. The bamboo skewer is for creating a “fast shed.” Take the skewer and pick up every other warp strand — under-over-under all the way across — then push it up onto the top of the upper cross-piece of the loom, as seen in the photos, and leave it there. This creates a small gap, or shed, that’s easy to pass the needle stick through. Insert the needle stick into this tiny shed space, following the path the skewer took, and turn it on its side to widen the shed, as seen above. For the next pass, you’ll use the needle stick to pick up the opposite warps — over-under-over — then back to the fast shed created by the skewer.

How to weave on a hand loom

Step 3: Load the shuttle and begin weaving

Take a bit of your weft yarn and wind it onto the tiny shuttle as shown. You don’t want a big wad of yarn that will get stuck in the shed — just enough to make however many passes you want to make with that color. Then pass the shuttle through the shed. When changing colors, as seen here, or starting a new length of yarn, just leave the ends dangling — you can simply weave them into the back of the finished piece with a tapestry needle or your fingers. And you also don’t want to pull the weft yarn tight as you pass it back and forth each direction. Keep it loose, with a few inches between it and your previous rows, as seen above. Pulling it tight on each pass will cause the sides of your weaving to draw in. For the white roving seen in the images, I didn’t actually wind the shuttle. I just laid the end of the roving over the notch in one end of the shuttle and used that to push it through the shed.

Now pull out the needle stick, use it to pick up the opposite shed, and pass the shuttle back through the other direction. Continue in that manner, building your weaving upwards as you go. The closer you get to the top of the loom, the tighter it will get. You may find you’re not able to weave right up to the very top.

How to weave on a hand loom

Step 4: Beat the weft into place

As you work, take the beater and use it to press the new rows of weft down against the bottom of the loom and each other. Whether you compress your weaving a great deal or keep it looser it entirely up to you. If you’re weaving with strips of fabric for a little rag rug trivet, say, you might want to pack them very tightly. If you’re making a wall hanging, you might choose to leave some sections loose for a different effect — it just depends what you’re going for.

Tie in long sections of fringe, test out different weaving techniques, have fun with it.

Step 5: Remove the weaving from the loom

Once you’ve woven as large an area as you want, gently remove it from the loom by either cutting the warp or popping it off the ends of the loom. Again, depending what you’re going for, you can leave a gap and tie knots along the top for inserting a piece of driftwood or a dowel for a wall hanging. Or tie the warp into knots along both ends right up against the weft, either leaving the loose ends as fringe or weaving them into the back. Or use a sewing machine and stitch along both ends, then trim or weave in the warp ends.

Et voilà. The first weaving on your beautiful little hand loom.

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In case you’re wondering, yes, the fingernails on my left hand are actually blue in these pictures. I’d had a little glove mishap doing some indigo dyeing the previous weekend. What was I dyeing? More on that later.

Someday vs. Right Away: Fair isle practice

Someday vs. Right Away: Fair isle practice

As much as I might like to fantasize about knitting an allover fair isle sweater, it’s probably more of a never than a someday. I have no doubt that if I practiced my stranded colorwork more and got more comfortable with it, I’d also get faster, and a sweater like Windermere wouldn’t seem quite so far fetched. So what better to practice on than lovely little hats like Schuyler by Jennifer Burke (free pattern) and Fjordland by Dianna Walla?

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PREVIOUSLY in Someday vs. Right Away: Small-scale Amanda alternatives

Jen Hewett Edition Three!

Jen Hewett Edition Three is now available!

The November installment of the limited-edition Jen Hewett project bags is a little behind schedule (thanks to some difficulty getting ahold of the blank bags) but I’m happy to say it’s here at last! And it’s my favorite one yet — a cool geometric print pairing the ochre from Edition Two with the near-black from Edition One. The preorders have all shipped and the remaining bags — just about 80 of them — are now available for you to order!

We also got a big box of bento bags this week, the Knit and Let Knit tote is no longer sold out, and we’ve filled in the rosewood and bone DPN’s.

ALSO: If you aren’t already following @fringesupplyco on Instagram, take a look — I’ve started doing Gift Idea of the Day posts and I’m having a ton of fun putting together the combos.

I hope you all have a wild and woolly weekend — I’d love to hear what you’re working on!

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Knit the Look: Preetma Singh’s rollneck sweater

Knit the Look: Preetma Singh's rollneck sweater

I can never see a rollneck sweater and not think of the J.Crew classic from my youth, which I coveted for all the years they kept it in the catalog and never got to have. Seeing this version on fashion editor/drummer Preetma Singh makes me want one all over again. As did the Purl Soho Pullover pattern when it was released last year. Preetma’s has ribbed cuffs, which I love and would be a no-brainer of a mod, and a punkified hem. I personally would skip that part, but you could easily emulate it with a crochet chain. Knit it in Purl Soho’s Worsted Twist Heather in the lightly mottled Ash Gray. Or — if you’re comfortable adapting a pattern to a different gauge — you could get a chunkier and more marled look like Preetma’s by holding together two strands of a fingering-weight yarn, one in light grey and the other an even lighter grey.

See Vanessa’s post for more of Preetma’s look.

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PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: Danielle Bernstein’s cable beanie

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Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

Two of my favorite patterns, now as kits!

Double Basketweave Cowl free knitting pattern

It’s been long enough since I published a knitting pattern here, and there are so many more people reading now than there were then, that likely a lot of you don’t even know I’ve published patterns! There are two I’m extremely fond of and have always regretted their having gotten short shrift in the photo department, plus they were never tech edited. So I’ve had them both photographed by the amazing Kathy Cadigan (modeled by Anna!) and tech edited by Ruth Garcia-Alcantud, have formatted both into neatly designed patterns, and today I’m pretty damn pleased to be re-releasing them — as knit kits! They are the Double Basketweave Cowl knit kit (above) and the Wabi Mitts knit kit (below). The cowl features Sincere Sheep’s naturally dyed Luminous wool-silk blend, and the mitts feature Habu’s beautifully slubby N-68 wool-linen blend. Both are pleasurably simple knits that yield finished items you’ll love and wear for years. And both are amazing yarns that aren’t necessarily that easy to come by, all of which is why I wanted to make them available to you as kits.

The kits themselves make marvelous gifts for knitters, of course, but these are quick enough projects there’s also still plenty of time for you to knit them up and give the finished cowl and/or mitts for the holidays, if you can stand not to keep them for yourself.

The original blog-post versions of the patterns have also been updated to match these revised editions: Double Basketweave Cowl and Wabi Mitts. And you can also find both patterns on Ravelry.

Wabi Mitts free knitting pattern

Knitalong FO No. 2: Meg Strong

Knitalong FO No. 2: Meg Strong

Knitalong panelist Meg Strong dropped by my studio yesterday so I could take the finished photos of her Amanda (in the grainy rainy-day light) and it was all I could do to let her have the sweater back after she kindly permitted me to try it on. As I told her, if I saw this sweater walking down the street, I would totally accost the wearer, ask if it was hand-knit, take a photo, text with Anna about possible pattern choices, and inadvertently launch a whole knitalong in pursuit of that sweater. So there you go!

Meg kindly answered a few questions for us all—

You were sort of playing for both teams — Team Seam and Team Seamless. You knitted the body in one piece but then worked the arms flat, right? What was your reason for not knitting the sleeves seamlessly as well?

In my early days of knitting, I would consider patterns only that were written top-down, for one reason: terrified of seaming!  After knitting many a sweater that met that one requirement, I found they all would tend to fall off my shoulders as the day wore on.  With a little research and many a discussion with knitters that had many more years experience than me, the verdict was that seamed sweaters give your garment structure.  I wanted to keep the sleeves seamed for that one reason, structure. The seam will help keep the sleeve shape with all the tugging that goes on when putting a sweater on and pulling it off.

The decision to knit the body in one piece as opposed to seaming, as the pattern dictates, was made for a few reasons. In a previous post, I explained that I tend to not be overly excited about knitting the same thing twice. So I tend to work both sleeves at the same time.  Same for left and right fronts of a cardigan. The Amanda pattern incorporates these panels of the honeycomb cable, which creates a very rigid, dense fabric.  Knowing the fabric produced would be rigid, I decided to cast on for both left and right fronts along with the back, and worked the body in one piece.  The gamble paid off — the sides are stable, due to the stitch, and the sweater body isn’t “walking” around my body.

Are you happy with your choices? Were there moments in the knitalong where you wished you’d done something the other way around?

Absolutely! Happy with every decision I made!

You’re also the first of the panelists to have attempted a shawl-collar modification, which worked out stupendously — I am totally coveting this sweater. (And it fits me perfectly!) For those like you who had cast on the button-band “tab” along with the waist ribbing, and were thus committed to a vertically knit button band, do you care to share how you did it?

First, love this method of working a button band! The first sewn button band I worked was the Linney Cardigan from Amy Christoffers. I had no idea why I was doing what I was doing, just following directions, but after I wore the sweater numerous times, I knew why that button band was sewn on. It all goes back to structure — again, all the tugging that goes on when putting on a sweater and pulling it off. That button band looks every bit as good today as it did fresh off my needles.

My modification for the shawl collar began on the sleeve joining row. For specifics, definitely take a look at my project page on Ravelry. In general, I decreased 1 stitch at each edge, every other row, until I reached the “neck shaping” directive in the pattern, then continued working the pattern as directed. The actual shawl collar grew out of the button bands. I worked the button bands up to the point that my v-neck modification began, then began to increase 1 stitch, after working the established edge stitch, until I was satisfied with the width of the shawl. For me, that was after I had increased to 31 stitches.

You mentioned to me when we were taking these pics that you realized along the way that you don’t really wear crewneck cardigans, so it’s good that the notion of a shawl-collar mod came up as we were knitting. Are you happy with how it turned out? Anything you’d do differently if you had it to do over again?

I absolutely love my Amanda! I tend to knit items for the meditative aspect of our craft and rarely knit for the challenge. For some people, knitting miles and miles of stockinette fabric absolutely drives them nuts. I, on the other hand, am in absolute bliss. For me, Amanda was a challenge knit — not from a difficulty perspective, but it’s one that required brain power that I usually don’t bring to the knitting table. I will say, however, by the time I got to the yoke, I had the chart memorized and was able to allow my brain to wander and enjoy. I have this overwhelming sense of accomplishment when I look at this sweater. Seventy-five days ago, this sweater was nothing more than yards and yards of yarn — beautiful yarn, but yarn! I am always amazed at what one can create with two sticks, some string and desire. Amazed.

Oh, to the “anything I would do differently” question: yes, how about neglecting to do the first buttonhole and mis-crossing a cable? I would like a do-over on both of those. Who has a magic wand?

And will you be cabling again anytime soon?

Ha! I treated myself to a sweater’s worth of Windham from Jill Draper Makes Stuff, and thought for sure that I would cast on today for a nice relaxing stockinette sweater. I have spent the better half of the day perusing patterns, and every one I have considered for this yarn is, you guessed it … cabled!!

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Thanks, Meg! You can see more pics of Meg’s finished sweater on her Ravelry project page. And by the way, there are two more completed shawl-collar Amandas, that I know of: Trm26 on Ravelry and @wendlandcd on Instagram (and Ravelry) — both gorgeous!

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PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: FO No. 1: Jaime Jennings

New Favorites: from Marie Wallin’s Lakeland

New Favorites: from Marie Wallin's Lakeland 2

These patterns published in July, part of Marie Wallin’s Lakeland: Collection Two, when the plaids and tweeds and windswept English countryside looked soooo appealing, but it was difficult to imagine ever donning a woolly jumper. That was then, this is now, and I’m coveting these sweaters:

TOP: Derwent is a chunky, heavily cabled, drop-shoulder cardigan-jacket, roomy enough to be worn over a plaid suit, apparently. I love the neckline in particular.

BOTTOM: I fantasize about knitting allover fair isle someday, and a two-color jobbie like Windermere is possible to imagine working into my actual wardrobe.

Now if only I could download them instantly like it’s 2014. “Dear Rowan — You don’t know me but my name is Karen, and all I want for Christmas is for every Rowan-related pattern ever to be available for individual download …”

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UNRELATED SHOP NEWS!

- Hot on the heels of Knit Wit, Pom Pom and Taproot, the second issues of both TAC and Trouvé have arrived — and they look pretty dreamy. As always, there’s a peek inside on each of their shop pages.

- The Japanese thread snips are back!

- I’ll have another small number of Fringe Supply Project Bags this week (the rest of what was meant to be my pre-Thanksgiving batch), and will be sending an alert to the shop mailing list only. So if you want to know when they’re available, make sure you’re on the list! (Sign-up box is in the upper right corner of the shop.) I expect to have one more small batch before Christmas, as will the three stockists.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Hearth Slippers