Monthly Archives: July 2012

Tips for quick and easy heddling on Mirrix looms

I love how easy it is to warp the Mirrix looms.

I’ve found that there are a few things that can make the process of attaching the heddles go quick as a wink.

Efficient is good!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

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The first thing that I do, after I release the warping bar from the blocks and turn them around, is to slide a piece of cardboard or masonite between the layers of warp strands at the front of the loom and the back of the loom.

It sits there, in the middle, blocking the distracting view of those warp strands at the back of the loom. ๐Ÿ™‚

Then, I use a shed stick that is at least as long as the width of the loom to pick up every other warp strand.

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Then, I flip the shed stick on it’s side, with each end being supported by the shedding device blocks.

I now have 2 layers of warp strands because of this shed being open.

So, to keep the back warp strands out of view, I slide a ruler or strip of cardboard into the open shed.

Bliss! Now, I just have one set of warp strands ready for the heddles- Yay!

This makes things sooooo much easier!

I like the center brass knob of the shed changer to be as close to the exact center of the warp strands.

So, I count how many strands I need to attach to the rod, and divide that in 1/2.

I place 1/2 the heddles on 2 of my fingers, and 1/2 on the other 2 fingers.

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I loosen the heddle rod and slide it along so it’s about 2 inches/5 cm from the edge of the warp strands.

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Then, I reach behind the warp strand with a crochet hook, pluck a heddle off my fingers, and pull it behind the warp strand.

I catch both ends of the heddle loop and pop them onto the heddle bar. Slide the bar along as you go.

When I run out of the the first clump of heddles, I should be half way along the warp strands.

I work across , picking up all the strands, and attaching them to the heddle bar, then tighten up the little nut that holds the heddle bar in place.

Remove the shed stick and ruler, then rotate the heddle bar, sliding the heddles down the warp strands.

Turn the shed opener enough so the heddles open your first shed.

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Use the shed stick to pick up the warp strands that are between the warp strands that you have just heddled.

Turn it on it’s side, insert the ruler, and repeat the process.

Check to make sure that all the heddles are securely attached to the heddle rods.

When I was making the video, one little bounder escaped, which was actually a good thing.

This allowed me to show how to capture the escapee heddle and tie it back in place.

 

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Remove the shed stick and ruler and check the sheds, then attach the handle or treadle and Voila!

You’re ready to weave!

Here’s the video:

Happy Weaving! ๐Ÿ˜€

 

 

 

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Filed under Loom & looms & small loom weaving, Mirrix loom, tutorial & how to, video tutorial, weaving & handwoven

Warping Mirrix Looms with Loom Extenders

Loom extenders for the Mirrix looms are sooooooo neat!

You’ll need to make a few adjustments when you are warping the extended loom.

Your best friends when warping the extended loom: Two chairs that don’t have upholstery or cushions:

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Placeย  the chairs as far apart as possible:

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This leaves a gap that allows you to easily pass the ball of warp around the loom.

You could use 2 small tables if you would prefer, but I like the height of the chairs.

The loom is still happily very stable when it’s extended.

Amazing, isn’t it?

That’s great design for you. ๐Ÿ™‚

One of the other things that I have found while weaving on the extended loom is that the weaving can pull in on you.

So, to rectify this, take 2 rubber bands, and 2 paperclips.

Open the paperclips, fold the rubber bands around the side bars, and squeeze the shorter end of the paperclip closed.

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Hook the larger end of the paperclip through the selvedge, about a half inch below the fell line.

Make sure that the end of the paperclip is towards the back of the loom, as this makes it be less of a snaggle hazard.

Here’s the video:

Happy weaving! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Setting up loom extenders on the Mirrix loom

Normally, I tend to prefer small looms, but I have just fallen in love with usingย  loom extender bars on the Mirrix loom.

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It’s really hard to convey how tall the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ version of the Big Sister 16 inch loom is when she’s got her stilts on.

With the extenders, she is 40 inches/1 m tall.

Now, that’s tall!

This means that you can achieve lots more weaving with one warp up.

(I’m working on some really fun stuff with my Big Sister Stiltie! So, stay tuned!)

My husband bought me the components for the extenders at the place he buys parts for our ancient tractor, so I didn’t have instructions on how to do this.

So, I had to figure it out for myself.

I found that there are a few tricks that make the set up easier when adding the loom extenders to your Mirrix loom.

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First, lift the top of the loom off the side rails and set aside.

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Unscrew the thumbscrews from the threaded rods, and screw them onto the extension rods.

I screwed them on so they were 5 inches/12.5 cm from the top end of the extensions.

Put the washers back on top of the thumbscrews.

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Screw the coupler to the top of the loom rod.

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Hot tip: Place the end ofย  a tape measure inside the coupler so you can watch to see that you have screwed it on so it is half way onto the lower rod.

I had my doubts about how stable this was going to be, because the coupler seemed wobbly to me.

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But, I went ahead, and screwed the extension rod in anyhow….

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And, then, when I tightened it up by hand, I was amazed at how it was suddenly rock solid!

WHEEE!

This is good!

Wobbly bad!

Solid- GOOD!!!

Repeat for the other side…

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Measure to be sure you have everything square, and put the top half of your loom back on.

Stand back in amazement at your loomie on stilts! Wowsa!

The best part is that the loom is still miraculously stable and works perfectly.

I find that resting it against the edge of the desk and having the lower edge sitting in my lap is the most comfortable way to weave with the extensions on.

Also, weaving standing up works well.

Having the stand for it would be sublime.

I made a video of the ‘putting it together’ process:

Happy weaving! ๐Ÿ˜€

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Cheap and Cheerful alternatives for tapestry bobbins

Tapestry bobbins have aย  mystique around them andย  they can be expensive.

But, what do you do if you need a lot of tapestry bobbins and have a limited budget?

Well… you improvise.

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First you analyse, then you upcycle!

After all… a tapestry bobbin is a yarn delivery device.

What does it need to do?

It needs to hold yarn in a way that allows you to pass it through a fairly small shed.

It should have a tip that will allow you to tap your weft yarn into place.

It needs to be able to hang from the tapestry while it’s parked.

So…. there are things that will work quite nicely for you as you feed your piggybank, but weave your tapestries in the meantime.

I make my own quirky, but perfect for me tapestry bobbins from upcycled wood: Link to post

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Recently, I noticed that one of my fave bobbins looks a lot like a little spoon…

and of course, that started me thinking…

would a little coffee spoon work as a tapestry bobbin?

It seemed rather outrageous….

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So, I took a little orphaned silver coffee spoon that had been in a box of sandbox toys that I bought for my grandson at a garage sale, and hammered the poor thing flat.

It works BEAUTIFULLY as a tapestry bobbin!

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This made me think…. hmmm…. metal spoon…. hmmmm…. ~metal bobbins~…. hmmmmmm….

So, what about a 4 inch nail with a bead on the end?ย  Would that work?

Yup. Wash it well first, and if the tip is snaggy, sand it smooth or file with a nail file.

You could paint it if you want, or coat it with a clear gel just to ensure that it won’t discolor your yarn.

Stuff a bit of tissue into the opening of the bead to secure it.

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I learned about using bamboo forks as bobbins on Ravelry.

I like them!

But, I have found that they work much better if you stick a bead on the end.

Squish the tines of the fork into the bead center and you’re set to weave.

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I love tatting, and used to carve tatting shuttles.

I’ve discovered that my Little Bird shuttles work beautifully as tapestry bobbins.ย  Whodathunkit?ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

So, be creative and think outside the box when you are contemplating tapestry bobbins.

I mean, really… spoons and forks?

Yes!

If you are willing to experiment, you’ll find all kinds of things that will work really well in your weaving!

Here’s a video that I made about cheap and cheerful alternatives for tapestry bobbins:

Happy weaving! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Sketching Swatching and Sampling are such valuable weaving tools

I am working hard on a new tapestry. It’s inching along, as tapestry does, when you are in focused mode.

BUT… I found myself feeling really stuck when I finished one section, and couldn’t move forward onto the next section.

So, I fell back on my ultimate design tool.

I got out my sketchbooks and aquarelles (watercolor pencils), and did the thing that my drawing master back in my art school days drilled into me: Sketch, sketch, sketch!

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He also drilled into his students that it is essential to carry your sketchbook or notebook with you ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE, and to sketch every single day.

AND, even more important: Don’t worry about making ‘good’ sketches.

Just catch thoughts, dreams, words, and other fleeting moments on the paper and let them build a vocabulary for you.

The part of the tapestry that had me flummoxed is a child’s costume.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it, until I worked my way through a bunch of really rough, ‘thinking on paper’ sketches.

That took me through the roadblock to the ‘AHA’….

And I knew that I needed to move onto sampling and swatching.

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I set up my 8 inch Lani Mirrix loom with a ‘no warp ends’ warp, using ‘S’ hooks… in the video, I show some pointers about this setup.

As a professional designer, I cannot underestimate the importance of swatches andย  sampling.

I am always amazed by knitters and crocheters who skip this foundation aspect of the creative process!

So much is revealed in the swatching and sampling stages of creation.

AND… something else that is a huge bonus- so often, the sampling and swatching will reveal that there is something new to explore!

(Which of course, leads back to the sketching…) !

Even though the feeling stuck part of working on this tapestry really stank while I was in it, I ended up feeling really grateful for being forced to move back to basic problem solving techniques.

Why? Because I am now inspired to explore soumak weaving, which I have not done before.

I am fascinated and intrigued…. there will be more about this!

In the mean time, here’s the video about sketching, sampling and swatching.

And, even though I don’t normally like to show pieces while they are in progress, I did do a little ‘reveal’ of the new tapestry.

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A slightly Saori vest for the Jazz fest

My husband is a Jazz musician, so, for the Jazz Festival, I wanted to weave him a new vest…. (last year, I wove him a new shirt).

I started weaving the vest in April, (LINK to post) so you would think that I could have gotten it done for the end of June, right?

Well…. I did…. but…. Oh my! I was scrambling at the end to get it done so he could do this:

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It began here in April:

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I started out weaving the narrow bands for his vest on my vintage Structo loom.

I was freeformie Saori-ing and then thought that I should check with Jim to see if he wanted it more sedate…

and he voted for not going wild, but keeping it plain and simple.

I enjoyed weaving the narrow fabric on the Structo, but knew that it wouldn’t be enough for the vest,

so, I wove some inkle bands on my Mirrix Loom:

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(The red band became part of a prayer flag and an inkle doll.)

I was juggling a lot of deadlines and projects and suddenly, the Jazz Festival was upon us!

EEEP!ย  I realized, once I started cutting out his vest, that I didn’t have enough fabric! eegads and little fish!

I madly warped up my Saori loom… on… you guessed it… the afternoon of Jim’s gig (blush)

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Holy honkinhaleujah! my feet and hands were FLYING as I wove up the rest of his vest fabric! yikes!

It only has the border on one side because of the way I was piecing it into the vest.

I managed to get the fabric washed, dried and the machine stitching done….

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but ending up doing the hand stitching as we drove in to the city for the concert.

Which was sold out and was great!

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And so was the gig the next day with his other trio:

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Blush…. I didn’t get the buttons, buttonholes and back belt done for a couple of days, when he had his next gig:

But… here he is, with his buttons and buttonholes in place!

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and the belt on the back…. right over the freeformie, Saori weaving- I couldn’t resist sneaking it in ๐Ÿ˜€

(and my friend, Arwen, who has fab design sense, said she liked that bit the best ๐Ÿ™‚ )

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He likes it and says it’s very comfortable to wear.

This is essential, because, if it isn’t comfortable, there’s no way he’ll wear it to perform in.

I’m happy.ย  ๐Ÿ˜€ย  It was a frantic rush at the end, but it was worth it for my Honeybunny ๐Ÿ™‚

I used Simplicity #2741 as the pattern for this vest.

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