My niece has loaned me her loom on a semi-permanent basis. When she told me she was to marry the love of her life, I knew I really wanted to weave something on her loom, as a wedding gift. So, I spun some linen yarn and made a woven table runner.
Every year I participate in the “Antique Spinning Wheel Showcase” with my local spinning guild (The Aurora Colony Handspinners Guild). My antique wheel is a little flax wheel, so I generally demonstrate spinning flax. (You can see my little flax wheel pictured below).
Through the years I have accumulated many yards of handspun linen from these demonstrations. (Flax becomes linen when spun into yarn). So naturally, when considering what to weave for the wedding gift I turned to my stash of linen yarn. There was enough bleached white linen yarn for a project. My stash also contained some white handspun bamboo.
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Not really knowing how the bamboo and linen might work together, especially after washing, I wove a sample on my little pin loom. It turned out lovely with the bamboo giving the sample a beautiful luster.
Before going much further, I had to decide what to make and what design to use. A free pattern came through from Weaving Today that looked intriguing: a set of place mats designed by Suzie Lyles (owner of Eugene Textiles). I used the “Elegant Placemats” project as a starting point and decided to weave a table runner. It took a little math to expand the existing placemat pattern to a wider and longer table runner.
I warped the loom with the linen yarn at 15 ends per inch in a width of 15 inches. Using four harnesses on the loom to set up a design showing plain weave surrounding a huck lace pattern. It is a bit tricky to get the tension just right when warping a loom with linen yarn, as the linen has no give.
Once I warped the loom, I wove the first two inches in plain weave at about 12 picks per inch. I then wove the huck lace pattern until the last two inches of the project which I wove in plain weave. The woven portion of the runner was right around 35 inches long.
I hem stitched the runner with the project on the loom. When I took the table runner off the loom, I trimmed the fringe and washed the runner in very warm water. I pressed the runner with a hot iron to get it fairly dry. Then I blocked it on a towel using pins and steamed it again. Once it was blocked the edges were dampened again and steamed as it was very obvious where the pins had been inserted.
Before presenting the finished runner to my niece and her new husband it was entered in the gallery at the Northwest Regional Spinner’s Association conference where it received a blue ribbon.
Guest contributor: Spinwhiz
Spinwhiz first learned to weave in high school (a very long time ago). Since that time she has taken up a number of other fiber arts, including spinning and knitting. Her local spinning guild, the Aurora Colony Handspinners Guild is a constant source of inspiration.
Tell us a little bit about you and what you do. Do you have a blog and/or website?
Retired from the corporate world several years ago. Now I spend my time gardening and preserving the harvest in the summer and fall. My evenings are spent crafting (spinning, weaving and knitting) although more is done in the dark days of winter and early spring. No blogs or websites; although I do administer the Facebook pages for Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival as well as my spinning guild.
What inspires you to create?
Much of life is spent doing things over and over again (the dishes, the filing) with no final results. To actually make something appeals to me.
What is your earliest “art project” that you remember working on? And tell us about your current or most recent project.
I have never really thought of myself as an artist; I am more of a craftsperson. In high school I starting making beaded items on a bead loom. I still have the beaded belt that I wore to the Moratorium to end war in Vietnam.
I also was very lucky to be able to take a weaving class at my high school. The first project from that class was a handwoven belt that is still used to secure my yoga mat. Currently, I am working on several projects, but the one I am most excited about is a knitted vest. This spring I bought two pounds of gray Romney wool. I have been carding it by hand and spinning it. The pattern calls for 900 yards and I am at about 500 yards of a worsted weight 3 ply yarn. I promised myself I would not start the knitting portion until I finish the sweater that is on my needles.
How did you get started with fiber arts?
My mother always had a fiber related project going. But I think it was the whole hippie back to the land movement. In high school I helped a friend of my mother’s with a garage sale. She had a little two harness table loom from the National Recovery Act for sale. She gave it to me for helping her. Then the chance to take the class in high school came up.
Do you have a mentor? How has he or she influenced you?
I have been fortunate to be able to take classes from many great teachers. Rita Buchanan comes to mind for dying and Judith MacKenzie on the spinning end of things. Also, my time spent weaving at Ruthie’s Weaving Studio in Portland was very important. That is where I learned so much about the basics of weaving and warping a loom. My niece, Melissa Nelson also continues to mentor me in my less than stellar knitting attempts (also her employee at the Starlight Knitting Society, Hilary Holiday).
When is your most productive creative time? Is it a scheduled part of your day or week?
I primarily work on my textiles in the evening, but I find some of my most productive spinning times are spent at spinning guild get togethers or demonstrations.
How many UFOs do you think you have?
Five that I can thing of. I am sure there are more.
Do you have a dedicated space for creating? If so, what does it look like?
Most of my crafting is done in the main living space. Who needs a big screen TV when you can have an 8 harness loom instead. I do have an extra room that holds my stash, but it also serves as a root cellar in the winter (we don’t heat that room). Needless to say, it is a somewhat chaotic space.
What is your favorite storage tip for your creative supplies?
Plastic bins. Even better if you label them.
When you are in a creative mood, do you listen to music, read audiobooks, watch TV or do you prefer quiet? What kind of music, books or TV helps you work?
I watch a lot of PBS and OPB, especially mysteries. Not sure how much it helps with the crafting, but that is what I watch while knitting or spinning. For things that require more concentration (complicated weaving or knitting), I need quiet.
What are the indispensable tools and materials in your studio? How do they improve your work?
My good ole Ashford Traveler spinning wheel has been a well used tool since I bought it back in the ’80s. Not real fast, but a work horse. Also, the 8 harness loom that is on loan from my niece has really helped me stretch as a weaver. My challenge is to weave a project using all 8 harnesses every year.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
My spinning, weaving and knitting has really expanded my circle of friends. If you enjoy textiles I encourage you to join a guild (or two), go to knit nights at a local shop and/or demonstrate your craft in public. And don’t forget to enter your work in the local county or state fair or fiber festival.
Browse through all of the weaving projects and inspiration on Create Whimsy.