Thursday, January 1, 2009

A new fiber arts adventure

The book Intertwined has a couple of interesting woven projects using handspun, non-traditional yarns -- a scarf and a vest. Ever since I first saw them, I've been intrigued by the idea of weaving with my handspun yarns. I was curious about the way that non-traditional yarns might look in a woven fabric, and it also seemed like a good way to make small amounts of handspun go farther than with knitting.

So my Christmas wish list this year included a 24-inch Kromski Harp Loom.

Of course, it didn't quite look like this when I found it under the tree -- it took about two hours to go from looking like a box of loom parts to looking like an actual loom. Even with the instructional video, I found it pretty confusing to assemble, but eventually managed to get all the parts in the right place.

I knew I was going to be in the neighborhood of Webs a few days later, so I decided to pick up some yarn there for my first couple of projects. Yarn choice was my first weaving challenge -- with knitting, I'm generally using one yarn at a time, so I'm not used to having to envision how two different yarns will look when worked together. After a full hour in the store, I finally settled on yarn for three scarves. I've got some robin's egg blue and chocolate brown baby alpaca, a pink/brown/cream variegated to mix with pink and brown solids. And for my first project, I picked out two skeins of Cascade heather, in colors 9451 Lake Chelan and 9452 Summer Sky.

It's not exactly an adventurous combination, but it does look pretty nice.

It took quite a while to get from the empty loom to a piece of relatively even weaving, though. There's quite a lot to figure out right up front.

One thing I wish I'd figured out sooner -- which is the front of the loom, and which is the back. I managed to warp the loom backwards and had to rewind the warp to sort it all out. I'm pretty sure I won't make that mistake again!

It took me at least a couple of hours to warp the loom for a scarf, although I'm sure it will be much quicker the next time around. I had almost all of the yarn measured out when I somehow let some of it pop off the warping board, and I had to start over again. It was a little scary holding all that carefully measured and wound yarn on my hand as I tried to figure out how to attach it to the loom, but it all went on pretty smoothly (except for the fact that I attached it the wrong way around, as noted above). My daughter helped, and we managed to get all the yarn on without tangling.

Finally, it was time to wind some weft yarn onto a shuttle and start making fabric. Those first several inches were quite a mess -- wavy rows, loopy selvedges, and uneven spacing between rows. Eventually, though, the edges became straighter and the selvedges became less loopy. Still not exactly professional looking, but much improved.

I've made about three feet of passable fabric so far, and I think this scarf may actually be wearable when it's done. I'm hoping that washing it will work some magic to even everything out, the way blocking does for knitting.

After I finish weaving the yarn I bought at Webs, it'll be time to try out some handspun.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

oh,oh, oh!! I would love to hear what you think of it ... it has been in my mind's eye for quite a bit of time, that Kromski Harp Loom has. What a great gift - don't forget to blog about your new adventures!

Happy New Year !