Monday, February 16, 2015

On The Loom: SeaGlass Blanket

 
As my wrists take their merry little time to heal, I've had to find other ways to keep my hands busy and my creative juices flowing without adding any extra stress to what has to be the most über busy limbs on my body. Normally when I can't knit or sew I would use the time to catch up on all my computer-related and admin duties (or at least spend hours cruising Pinterest without feeling that guilty) but I'm still computer-less (yes, still. Don't even get me started on that) and so that idea is an obvious no-go. I've tried reading a few books that I've been meaning to read but never got around to because, well, knitting and I've yet to master the art of knitting and reading at the same time, I've found that I get too...fidgety after a while. Something about idle hands... I've given up on baking when I realized that both the Mister and the Munchkin don't have as much of a sweet tooth like I do, and so the only person eating all the baked goods was me. My sweet tooth says yay, but the rest of my body screams no. Righteously so too. My metabolism isn't as young as it used to be.
 
I mentioned in the last post or so ago that I had dug out my Knitter's Loom, which I had let sit in the living room until I could figure out what kind of project I wanted to make with it. I'm still quite the beginner when it comes to weaving (as in I know absolutely nothing), and the only projects I've ever made in the past were scarves. I didn't want to keep making scarves as there's only so many one can have in their wardrobe (especially when one has several handknit shawls too to keep in rotation). After a good long search for ideas and inspiration on the internets I finally came up with a project idea.
 
I'm going to weave a blanket. Yeah...
 
 
Do I know what I'm doing? No, not really.

Am I in over my head? Probably. But hey, go big or go home. Right?

I rooted around in the stash for a while and stumbled upon a bin of Cascade 220. Aside from the handful of skeins that I was collecting to eventually knit a Missoni-inspired blanket with, I have no clue as to why I have so many single skeins of this yarn. But the assortment of colours in the bin were glorious and so I spent several hours arranging and re-arranging skeins and coming up with a bunch of colour combinations. Even though I have a fair amount of skeins in various shades of pink (no surprise there!), I decided to step away from my "usual" colour palette and go with something different. Something that my whole family will like. I'll admit that the final palette had more to do with using up single skeins than anything else but it was also one that I kept coming back to. I'm going to call it "SeaGlass".

Random tidbit: I was sorting through this bin of Cascade 220 in the Munchkin's room when this colour palette came together. Yes, I have most of my stash in his closet...he's tiny...he doesn't need the entire closet...yet. I'm going to be in trouble when he gets older and bigger though. Eep! But I've looked at the photo below several times now and I've realized that this palette is actually very similar to the one that I had picked out to decorate the Munchkin's room with! Replace the grey with a dark chocolate-y brown and voilà! You've got the kiddo's bedroom colour scheme. I had to laugh when I saw that.

Anyhoo, this is the palette for the blanket:
 
 
The top row that's featuring a grey gradient will be the warp (the strands of yarn that run lengthwise and tensioned onto the loom). The bottom row of beautiful blues, green, and yellow will be the weft (the yarn that you weave through the warp and have all the fun with). The plan in my mind is to do a gradient of greys from left to right, and then a gradient of dark to lights hues from bottom to top. Because I have so much of the dark grey and the dark blue I'm thinking of making those sections bigger than the others. We'll see how well this will work out in the end.

Here's a stroke of good luck: as I scrolling around on my tablet looking for a specific note-taking app, I had accidentally clicked on the Craftsy app. I discovered that I had purchased eons ago (and had completely forgotten about, obviously) the Rigid Heddle Weaving class taught by Angela Tong that I never watched/took! Until now, that is. I watched the course in one night. I actually learned a fair amount and am especially happy that I finally know how to calculate how much yarn is needed for the warp. When I first started weaving I had searched for this info online but came across sites that assumed that you already knew a ton about weaving in general and had thrown out numbers like no tomorrow. Knowing what I know now, turns out a lot of those numbers were for floor looms and looms that involved more than one heddle. Back then most of my scarves were a guessing game as to how long they would turn out to be and were usually made to the length of however long it was from the kitchen counter to my table. Every scarf was also a game of yarn chicken as to whether or not if I had enough yarn for the warp for a width that I was satisified with, and if I was lucky or not to either have enough leftover, be able to find a second or similar skein in the stash for the weft.

Finally getting my hands on a basic formula for calculating the warp has been not only a blessing but a confidence booster. I feel like I can now look at my stash and know right then and there if I'll have enough of one yarn for a project or at least the warp. When I did the math for this blanket I found out that there was no need to use the natural cream coloured skeins as I was going to have more than enough with the greys for the warp. I can somewhat predict just how big my final project will be - and I say "somewhat predict" because I'm not sure how confident I am in my weaving math skills just yet. The Rigid Heddle Weaving class also taught me how to measure the length as I weave, knowledge that will definitely come in handy for this project!

Judging from the math and my plan outline, I will need to weave 3 separate panels to create this blanket. Although if I had a warping board I probably could have tried weaving one continuous panel rather than needing to break it up. After warping the loom up for the second panel I now know of the desire to have a warping board - the constant walking back and forth between the loom and warping peg almost killed me!

I was planning on finishing the ends with a hemstitch and a tiny fringe, but in my excitement to get going on this project I had completely forgotten all about my plan and didn't leave a long enough tail to sew in a hemstitch. I had also advanced the cloth beam enough that I wasn't sure if I could go back, loosen what I've already woven and sew in the hemstitch. So the new plan is to have a tiny braided fringe instead. Not a big deal and it won't affect the project at all, but I was pretty excited at trying my hand at hemstitching. From the very beginning when I first tried out weaving I've always wanted to try hemstitching but could never find a good enough video tutorial. Written instructions just didn't cut it for my visual learner ways and found that the photo tutorials in some weaving books weren't thorough enough to show me how the stitch worked. I'm thinking that after I finish this blanket I will have to weave a few samplers and give hemstitching a go then.

As of today I have finished two out of the three panels needed for the blanket. I was so hoping that the colours would watch up across the width of the blanket but when I laid out the two panels I noticed that the colours indeed, did not match up. I think I got a little carried away with the weaving in the first panel AND I think my number tracking was shoddy because there are a few sections that are a little longer than they should be compared to the numbers that I had calculated for what each section length is to be. Oops! I left it though. This might bug me later but I have to remind myself that this is my first time weaving something to a game plan and my first time weaving such a big project. This blanket is just one giant learning curve in which I really am learning a lot. Weaving itself is just such a soothing activity and I absolutely love watching the colours and how the weaving works up.
 
I'm also extremely proud of my edges and how even they look to me. I'm a little nervous about sewing the panels up but again have to remind myself that this is a learning project and doesn't have to be 100% pure perfection. Yet. I do have plans to weave another blanket but will have to double check the stash to see if I have anything that will work with my vision and if not, what I have to work with. I simply refuse to dip into or break up my sweater quantities, and will either have to double up or rent/buy a finer reed to use with my fingering weight yarns.
 
A teeny tiny part of me is happy that I've been forced to venture into other creative outlets other than knitting to keep the creative juices and inspiration flowing. I've been wanting to dip my toes into other artsy pursuits in order to keep the brain fresh, gain a different perspective, and get the idea machine going but you know...knitting. Not being able to knit has prevented procrastination (ok, sort of) and project abandonment (when it's not knitting because I prefer knitting over everything else). Working on a different art form has definitely made me think and see yarn in a different way. I'm still waiting for that wave of inspiration to hit, but so far I'm having fun working a totally new project and in a different craft than I'm used to. It's an added bonus that I'm getting to use up forgotten stash too. I simply can't wait to get this blanket finished!
 
I'm hoping to avoid having to buy yarn and would rather use stash for future projects. I'm sure I'll probably give in eventually and buy yarn as there are some weaving techniques and ideas that I want to try out, like pick up sticks and soumak, and make things like placemats and maybe cushions (I'm being so practical, I know!). Have you tried weaving before or are you a weaver? What have you made? Let's chat!
 
 

11 comments:

  1. whoa, that is so impressive!! And your edges do look great, really clean and neat. I haven't tried weaving before, but I've seen some stunning projects on ravelry on instagram, I understand the appeal!

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    1. Thanks Julie! Even though I'm only weaving on a tiny rigid heddle loom, I can see the allure of the much larger floor looms...I'm just glad that I don't have the floor space (or the wallet) to indulge in getting one! ;)

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  2. I've never woven, but your blanket looks AMAZING so far!!! I love love love the colour scheme. I also really admire how you're handling your forced break from knitting - much more gracefully than I! You're a great role model for patience and letting creativity out in new ways.

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    1. Thanks Sarah! Although I'm SO far from being a patient person! I think the need to keep busy (and yet still avoid having to deal with organizing the house and getting it ready for spring) is what's driving me at this point. But I'm running out of crafty things to do that aren't wrist-intensive.

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  3. Absolutely gorgeous!! Beautiful work, and I love the color palette, too!

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  4. Looks great! I've never tried weaving before, only knitting. I absolutely love the color palette you're using - very soothing. Can't wait to see the finished piece.

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    1. Thanks! Weaving truly is a soothing craft...and great for stash busting! ;)

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  5. That blanket is looking wonderful! Such great colors, and your work is so tight. (As in even, balanced, etc., not tense!)

    I've barely dipped my toes into weaving, having just purchased a hand loom to play on. But I see it in my future...

    Have fun with this! I'm glad you've found another way to stay inspired and making, even if knitting is off the table for a while.

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    1. Thanks! :) I've barely dipped my toes into weaving too...I've been checking out books from my public library on weaving on a rigid heddle loom and am wanting to try my hand at weaving up a sampler to try out all the different "patterns". Good luck with your venture into weaving!!

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  6. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with extra information? It is extremely helpful for me. how to wear a blanket scarf

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