I read about weaving more than I actually weave. There just aren't enough hours in the year. Way back in the spring of 2015, I decided to weave a pillow for my car. I had bought a full-body pillow, but the fabric had torn along the seam. I browsed the weaving books in my library, and went with a snowflake twill from page 25 of Twill Thrills. (Note: XRX now offers their Best of Weaver's series on a stitchip. This is a great way to have a digital library. I consider this seven book series essential, since each book covers a different weave structure.) I used some leftover Aunt Lydia's size 10 crochet cotton to sample.
Yes, I actually sampled! I warped the loom, threaded the pattern, and wove with different tie-ups to see what patterns I got. I wrote notes. I figured out some extra threads to make the pattern repeat flow from side to side. I planned the project. I bought the yarn (8 balls each of black and victory red). And then, I let it sit.
From time to time, I would think about this. The pillow in my car was tattered. When I drove long distances, I thought about how nice it would be to have a better cushion. But I never quite found the time to get back to the weaving.
And then, we got a snowstorm — a big snowstorm. On December 8-9 last year, we got 11 inches of snow. It was very pretty; and I knew I wasn't going anywhere. For some strange reason, I decided that day was the time to finally warp the loom.
I watched Laura Fry's The Efficient Weaver multiple times. If Laura can do something in 15 minutes, I can do it in 2 days. It probably took me a day just to wind the warp of over 600 ends, in spite of the warp being only one color. Then I needed to figure out how to beam it onto the loom with only myself in the house. I ended up using a dowel rod across a door frame (thank you, C-clamps) and setting the table loom with stand on top of towels. The weight of the loom gave me tension on the unwound warp. As I wound on, the loom surfed across the hardwood floor. Not elegant, but it worked.
Then I threaded the heddles. This particular pattern is 77 ends with another 29 spacers for a repeat of 106. This is also an advancing twill, which means the threading has sections such as "2-1-8-7-6-5," then "8-7-6-5-4," then "7-6-5-4-3-2" and so on. You can't just memorize the repeat. And I really must try dyeing heddles different colors. On eight shafts, it is not too hard to tell if a heddle is on shafts 1, 2, 7, or 8. But the middle shafts can be very tricky. I spent probably a week where I would get up in the morning, think I was ready to weave, check the shed, find a mistake, use up my mental focus for the day fixing said mistake, and then decide I would weave tomorrow. I had mis-threaded heddles. I had crossed warp threads. I had sleying errors in the reed. But, I eventually got it all set correctly.
|Brûlée explores the loom because crafting is not possible without a cat.|
The green sample is draped over the loom for reference.
And then, it sat some more.
Finally, when I drove up to Maryland Sheep and Wool last month, I took the fabric with me. I figured a few quiet days by myself in the man cave would give me a mini retreat; a chance to do some things that just don't get done at home. I spent a couple days carefully sewing the pillow together. I interwove the threads by following the weave structure. The work was slow and careful, but worth the tedium. I had it mostly done in time for the drive back.
|Using a tapestry needle to help insert a pin in just the right thread.|
Notice the warp threads have been carefully hemstitched.
|Using a blue running thread to set up a seam line.|
|The side seam runs down the middle of this motif, but careful stitching makes it hard to discern.|
|The pillow in my car. It is very fluffy right now, but will flatten over time.|
Equipment: 8-shaft 80cm/32-inch Ashford table loom with stand & stick shuttle.
Weave structure: Advancing snowflake twill, 77 ends from Bonnie Inouye "Happy Families: A Video Game for Weavers" in Twill Thrills (Sioux Falls SD: XRX Books 2004) page 25; plus another 29 ends in order 8, 3-2-1-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-8-7-6-7-8-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-1-2-3, 8.
Yarn: Aunt Lydia's size 10 crochet cotton in black and victory red
Warp length: 4 yards
Sett: 24 ends per inch
Tie-up: 1-3-3-1; if 1 is up, 2-3-4 are down, 5-6-7 are up, 8 is down.
Treadling: trom as writ
|"Right" side of the fabric. This turned out to be the side facing the floor as I wove.|
|"Wrong" side of the fabric. This was the side facing me as I wove.|
(Apologies for the way the red changes in the photographs. These were taken in different lighting conditions.)