woven rug

Perhaps you’ve already met my little childhood loom, which being tiny, though perfectly formed, has merely made me crazier to try a large weaving. Perhaps you’ve also heard of my friend Amy C Lund, the extraordinary handweaver. Amy is going to take us through the process of weaving a woollen rug on a loom in her Tiverton, Rhode Island studio. If, like me, you are mad to try even a simple bit of weaving, this will not help you calm down. It will inspire you to further heights. Hang in there.

Many years ago another weaver gave me a large quantity of wool rug yarn, some of which had become home to mice before I got it. Not having an immediate project in mind, not wanting to take the time to sort though it, I left it aside until recently, when I was clearing out corners of my studio and I had a loom set up with a bit of warp left to weave. So I gathered it all up and shook it all out.

rug-yarn

With the warming spring days I found some time to give it all a soak, and set it to dry in the sun. It was a lot more than I would need for this project, but I got a sense of how much I had and what weights. Some of the yarn was thick and some thinner, some plied and some single strands. I did not end up using the darkest blue, but decided to use the two lighter shades with some gray on an ivory ground in a pick and pick pattern.

warp

While the loom I used already had a warp set up, usually I measure out all the ground warp threads to the same lengths on a revolving warping reel or a stationary warping pegboard. The principle is that between threads wound between two points, A to B and back, become sets of 2 matching length threads. This is done for as many threads as needed for the density per inch and the width in inches of the project. The grouped threads are then chained and transferred to the loom. They are spread to the proper width and wound onto the beam. Consider the loom as a scroll from which the threads begin on the back beam, get threaded through the harnesses and tied to the front beam. As the fabric is woven it comes off the back and winds down to the front cloth roller.

harness

Each warp thread passes through the eye of a heddle (similar to threading a needle) in a harness or shaft, which will then be raised or lowered. The order the threads are threaded, as well as the order the harness groups are raised can create a multitude of patterns. The simplest pattern is to alternate every other thread through the front or back harness shaft to lift & lower odd and even threads alternately.

Once the loom is threaded and the warp ends are tied to the front beam extension apron, the cloth is ready to weave. This requires inserting the weft or filler threads.

pick and pick rug

To start weaving the rug, I created a hem or header section of a tight weave before beginning the body of the rug. For this project, I chose to weave a pick & pick weft-faced patterned rug, which means alternating 2 color yarns so that one shows more on the even shaft and the other on the odd shaft, also resulting in a structure where the weft is condensed over the warp ground threads. Here, I alternated each section color with a ground color in a repeating pattern.

finished pick & pick wool rug

There are many ways to finish a rug, with tied fringe, twisted or braided, hemmed edges folded under, or in this case I rewove each of the warp threads back up into the rug (as if in a U-turn) for a flat finish.

You see? Such appealing possibilities. I am willing a loom to come to me, and a weaving teacher like Amy along with it. We would love to live with a woollen, woven rug. Visit Amy’s gallery and studio on one of your trips to New England’s coast – until then, content yourself with seeing her gorgeous work at her site and getting a piece of your own at her shop. Thanks Amy!

simple wreath

Autumn leaves are just beginning to tumble across the grasses here. It’s been a good twenty years since I first visited this lakeshore and saw it all leafless and cold; now we watch the changes with keen interest. The mosses that dried to a deep orange have brightened green in the rains, and just a few colours are appearing. Each year as the days shorten and winds chill the air, I make a simple, tiny wreath. I’ll make one for the cottage gate very soon.

silver birch wreath

Gather together sprigs of silver birch or some other beautiful, delicate branches, still in leaf. Bend one of the pliable wands in a small circle, hold tightly, and weave more in at quarter turns, starting each new end pointing through the center of the circle to the back. Allow most of the little branches to spray out, weaving just enough to catch and keep the circle strong. Hang the little wreath with a length of ribbon on a gate, door or knob somewhere; the leaves will slowly scatter through the autumn weather. I like to tuck in berries, nuts, or cones as I come across them on walks throughout the season.

This simple wreath featured in last autumn’s newsletter. Read this autumn’s edition here.

short spring handwarmers

There’s something grounding about wearing even the smallest garment made with my own hands. Knowing how it was made! Where it came from. Connecting with a long history of people making what they need, and a simpler, slower life. Little steps into traditional skills make me courageous and deeply curious about making more and more of the things I wear and use. Here’s one of my small studies that you can take up, short sweet wrist-length handwarmers in springtime colours.

writing with handwarmers

I love handwarmers for all the things you can do while cosily wearing them. I’ve begun making some photographs on the subject.

short.seagreen.cable.left.watch.side

What do you think? Could you make a pair of cabley fingerless gloves? I learn best by looking over someone’s shoulder, so that’s how I made the tutorial movies. (Watch them in the schoolhouse, in the lefthand column.)

short.cable.heatherblue.typing

Handwarmers do add a bit of elegance to tapping away on the keyboard. I’m very happy when I get a chance to rattle away on the typewriter, the old technologies give such satisfaction.

short & sweet heather grey handwarmer kit

This heather grey is the original shade you see me working with in the movies.

spring.yarn

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winding yarn

Okay, let me show you the good old fashioned skill of winding yarn by hand. If you’ve ever admired beautiful hank of yarn but didn’t know how to wind it without some kind of contraption – or if you’ve wondered how your yarn was organised into a skein in the first place, the second part of the “Cabled Handwarmers” set, in The Knitting Series, might please you. Have a look at how I wind yarn into a ball by hand. (It’s 2.22 minutes.)

Such a meditative process. Particularly if you find yourself falling in love with spinning your own! I prefer to pull yarn from the center of a skein, so that it needn’t roll around to unravel. Then I can knit or crochet freely, with the yarn in a handbag, which makes it easy to pick up my knitting at violin lessons, at the park, on the bus, at a café. I’ll also wind yarn like this when a store-bought ball gets knotted up, or is half gone and getting a bit messy. Yarn is happiest loose ’til you’re ready to use it, without tension to stretch it, I’ve been told, and is also easier to send through the post. (Like the appleturnovershop does, naturally.) You might like to watch the other movies in the “Cabled Handwarmers” set, over at the old schoolhouse (in the column to your left).

spring.yarn

knitting preview

Things have been deceptively quiet on appleturnover lately. Behind the scenes my sweetheart and I have been working flat out, shooting four new homemade pictures for the old schoolhouse. We filmed the Knitting Series in my mother’s bright studio in Deep Cove, and like the Quilting Series, the camera looks over my shoulder as I work, to help you see, step-by-step, every method needed to cable-knit and honeycomb-stitch your own handwarmers and mittens.

There were many props to prepare, and organise, diagrams, storyboards, patterns and notes to draw up. Then we began editing (though my sweetheart is in England just now, so we are using high technology to collaborate!) returning to the intertitles that we loved using in the Quilting Series. For these movies we’ve added the dimension of animation, so another aspect of my art practice has reappeared. Lovely. We’re not drawing so much as writing on the screen, to help illustrate the old techniques clearly. As ever my work is a strange mixture of traditions and technology. I’ve designed printable patterns to take you through each step.

short & sweet heather green handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather green handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather blue handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather blue handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather pink handwarmer kit

short & sweet heather pink handwarmer kit

long & elegant smoke grey handwarmer kit

long & elegant smoke grey handwarmer kit

What do you think of the knitting preview? Watch all the tutorials, free, you’ll find them in the schoolhouse in the column to your left.