Which brings me to the colors: I have to look at my yarns and see if I have the right colors and those that I do not have, I have to buy. I've had to buy various shades of brown for the dogs but for Audrey I needed some for her skin and hair. I had what I needed for her dress and the background. For these portraits, I mostly need thinner yarns, though for this one, I ended up buying two chunky yarns that were problematic later.
When I'm ready to begin weaving, I use scrap string or yarn and tape to attach the line image to my loom. It hangs behind the weaving as I create it, I just fill in the shapes based on the color blocked image on my iPad. The process gets difficult the more you fill in; this is because for each of the dogs and for Audrey, the face is most complicated and I have kept the faces in the center.
It's hard for me not to criticize my work – and I'm usually pretty harsh. I will keep my negative comments here brief, for my own mental health. That being said, I feel like the reddish-orange in her neck is not the best color. It was a yarn I already had and thought it would be okay but if I could go back, I would change it. Second, I think her eyes are not the best, only because they're very dark. Maybe if the weaving were larger, I could have put more detail into them, including some lighter areas.
As for what I like about this weaving, I think the general shape of her head and hair is good. While I wish the eyes were better, I still think the details of the face are better than I was expecting them to be – I was afraid I wouldn't be able to make the shape of her mouth or nose look like an actual nose or mouth but they turned out really well. Also, and I think this is very important, I really enjoyed making this weaving. It was challenging and I was worried she wouldn't look like a human being but she does! Not just any human being, but Audrey Horne – I do think it looks like her.
I feel good about this piece and am looking forward to the next human portrait I do. I've decided to do one of Laura Palmer next. I have her image worked out and have even started a little bit of the weaving. I'm hoping to finish it before the new show starts.
I recorded myself making this whole Audrey weaving, except for the digital work on the image and parts of me weaving in the ends on the back. The total time recorded was about 18 hours! I have put the videos up on my Youtube channel. I made them in fast forward, to save time and space, and split the whole thing into three parts. I also made one that I sped up enough to get it down to one minute of video. You can see all four videos (plus the hour or so that I did live) in this playlist on Youtube. I also have the weaving up for sale in my Etsy shop here.
I've finished another set of sample weavings for my pile weaving techniques series. This post is about two ways of making the Ghiordes Knot – a sideways version and a continuous version over a gauge. First I'll talk about the sideways Ghiordes knot which is also called Lark's Head or Cow Hitch. It wraps around one warp string instead of two like the regular and upside-down Ghiordes Knot. I like this one, it feels easy to do for me, at least when the ends point to the right. I sometimes forgot a few times how to do it the other way, with the ends pointing to the left. You have to hold the yarn differently and it feels weird as a right handed person. It makes for a nice effect though, with the yarn turning and laying to the side.
I used a thin acrylic yarn for the base weaving. For the pile on the left side, I used a bright blue chunky acrylic yarn. The right side is a purple metallic looking yarn made of nylon, acrylic, and wool. The difference between the way the two yarns fall after making the knots is interesting – the metallic yarn is thin and lays more flat but also points more to the side. The thicker yarn sticks out further of course but also looks closer to a regular Ghiordes knot, meaning it looks more like it's laying straight down. You can still somewhat see it is curving to the left but the effect is not as clear as on the yarn on the right.
The second type I did is a continuous Ghiordes knot over a gauge. I had never used a gauge before; in fact, I didn't know what a gauge was. I figured it out based on the diagram – the loops are wrapped around the gauge to keep them a uniform length. This version is done with one long piece of yarn. You can cut the loops afterward, or you can keep them in loops.
My first thoughts about this style of knot was that it felt strange and, while I understood what to do from looking at the diagram, I felt it was difficult to get the needle around the gauge without getting it tangled in the yarn from the previously-made loops. I also was afraid afterward that it might come undone. I pulled on it from different parts of the yarn and it didn't come undone and felt fairly tight so it's likely I am just worrying for nothing.
I also noticed there were visible gaps in between the knots that the next base weaving line does not fill in. It looks fine later on but it might look even better if I did the knot pattern on the opposite warps on the next line to help fill in the empty areas.
I ended up really enjoying watching my video of me doing the continuous version. I know I worry too much about not doing things well enough, in all areas of my life including my crafting, but watching it makes me think maybe I have it down better than I thought I did. I will definitely use these techniques again in future weavings.
I made separate videos for these two types. You can watch the videos below:
I have been wanting to learn more about weaving, including history and techniques, so I ordered a few used books online and one of them is Jean Wilson's The Pile Weaves: Twenty-Six Techniques and How to Do Them which I bought online on Amazon. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to follow along with the book and learn each of the pile weaving techniques. I'm going to write about my experiences in this series here, as well as post videos of me doing the techniques on Youtube. First up is the Ghiordes Knot. I am doing them in one long but thin sampler – each technique will be separated by plain weaving in between using a thicker yarn than what I will use for the technique portion. I have so far managed to use about half of my vertical space for four sample portions so I expect to have about three and a half 'weavings' at the end of this project.
The Ghiordes Knot is also called Rya. That is what I see it called most often online among other weavers. Wilson says this is the most commonly used pile technique used in weaving and I think she's correct even today (the book was published in 1974). As I said, on social media, I see weavers mention rya and one other technique mentioned in this book (picked-up loops) but I have never seen any of the others talked about. I don't know if these others are used but not referred to online, if they are truly uncommonly used, or if I'm not following the weavers who use them. I will do some searching online for other weavers using these other techniques as I go through each one.
The diagrams for the Ghiordes Knot show five different ways to do this knot – the regular way, upside-down, continuously over a gauge, sideways, and a double loop version. I have used two of these before (regular and upside-down) but for the sake of consistency and for practice, I went ahead and used all the types in the sample.
So in my first sample I used regular Ghiordes on the left side in one yarn (a red/gray/black thin acrylic) and the upside-down version on the right side in a different yarn (a red yarn, probably acrylic, I don't have the information on this yarn anymore). The base weaving is a medium gray yarn (also is probably acrylic). After doing four rows this way (with a row of plain weave in between each pile row) I did the reverse with the yarns – I used the thin red/gray/black yarn on the right in the upside-down way and the all red yarn on the left in the right-side-up way. I did this because I could see that the upside-down appeared fuller, like it was sticking out more. But I wasn't sure if this was due to the size difference of the yarn or if it was due to the different way of making the knot.
Having switched the yarns, I feel the different appearance is because of the way of making the knot. The pile on the right is still sticking out further than the pile on the left, even though both sides have both types of yarn. I would think they would even out if it were because of the different yarns.
As for my feelings on this type of knotting, I don't really like doing the upside-down version. It feels wrong somehow, almost uncomfortable in the way I move my hands to do it. Maybe that's just because I learned the other way first. I also get confused about this way and have ever since I learned you can do it upside-down because I forget which way to pull the ends – up or down. For some reason, it just hasn't clicked for me but watching myself do it, the pattern is clear – my hand comes in underneath to pull the ends down through the loop for the regular version and my hands comes in from above to pull the ends up in the upside-down version. So, since the regular version hangs down and the upside-down version sticks up a bit, the rule is: Underneath and down hangs down and above and up sticks up. It makes sense now but I sometimes have trouble with right and left and other directional things in other everyday situations so I wouldn't be surprised if I still have trouble remembering the rule for this.
I feel this is a good start in my quest to learning more about weaving. I want to get a lot of practice in and learn as much as I can. I am also reading some books that are about weaving in a more general sense, though they also have information about techniques in them. But right now I am in the history section of one of them and am finding it very interesting. I will probably post my thoughts on that in a later post though.
Here is a video I made of me doing both these types of Ghiordes Knot and below that is a gallery with a few more photos of my sample weaving:
I'm starting a series of blog posts here on tools I use in making my art. First up is a set of posts on the looms I currently have. I'll be talking about where I got each one, any tutorials from others I've used or advice I may have for using it, what I like and dislike about it, and some photos of them, in use and not. Later on I hope to get into the history of each tool and how they were used and created in the past but for now this series will focus on what I use and why. I hope this series will be helpful for anyone looking to purchase craft supplies and tools. There are so many businesses, big and small, making and selling tools today that it can be hard to decide who to go to – I know it took me a long time to decide what looms to buy! If there are any tools or supplies you would be interested in hearing about, please contact me and I'll see if I can write something up about it!
So, let me get started with a post about my smallest loom from the 4M Weaving Loom Kit.
This was the first loom I bought and I got it in 2015 on Amazon. You can find the kit here for $11.85 as of today which is only a few cents more than what I paid for it. What I wanted out of my first loom was something cheap to try the craft out on. I had seen tutorials on making cardboard looms which is a perfectly fine choice for someone looking to try it out but personally I wanted a tiny bit more than that, something that I felt might last for several weavings at least and I feared a cardboard one would start to bend.
As I said in the previous paragraph, this kit is meant for children - the packaging and instructions make that clear but also the loom and tools are made of pastel plastic. I personally don't mind the colors, (I actually like them a lot. I enjoy pastels) but I understand that might put some people off. I don't know if the colors of the tools vary box to box so I will describe what mine look like. I would guess that they do vary because the picture on the front of the box on Amazon shows the opposite colors on the loom and tools than what I received.
The loom is pink and very small – 6.5 inches by 8 inches. If you're like me though and are looking for a small loom, this is fine. I wanted something that wouldn't use up too much yarn if I decided I didn't enjoy weaving. It's turned out to be a perfect size for me to try out weaving first and today I still use it to make mini weavings and accessories like ornaments and jewelry. The loom is cute and also works fine at the things it needs to do – the teeth stick out from the bottom to hold the warp string on, it has cut outs on the sides to tie off the warp, and the back is cut out to allow easy access to the back.
The weaving comb is also small and mine is light blue. It is 2 inches wide at the bottom, less than 1 inch at the thinnest part of the handle, and just a bit over 1 inch at the upper part of the handle. Again, even though it is small, it does the job fine. It is made of plastic and has rounded edges, even the teeth are rounded. I like this aspect of it because it moves next to the yarn smoothly so I never have to worry about it catching on the yarn. I still use this comb even though I have a bigger one now, sometimes I go for it specifically because of the rounded edge or its small size.
The needle this kit came with is also light blue. It is longer than the other needles I had at the time, about 5 or 6 inches. It was made similarly to the comb - smooth plastic and round edges. I used this needle for a long time and loved it until it broke. The eye snapped; I assume it was just from months of wear and tear on the thin plastic. It was a perfect needle for me until then so I'm still happy with it overall but if you are thinking of buying this kit and see yourself using the needle for a long time, I would make sure to have a back-up needle on hand. I had to order a new one and in the meantime use another needle that was shorter than what I prefer to use.
The shuttle is light blue just like the needle and comb and made of the same rounded plastic. It is about 4.25 inches long. I don't use the shuttle, however; I tried using it once and didn't like the feel of it. I prefer to use a needle. So I can't attest to this shuttle's usefulness.
The kit comes with several colors of yarn on flat bobbins and a small bundle of string for warp. The yarn is not fancy but it works for experiments with technique or for instructing children on how to weave. Someone who is familiar with nicer yarn may not enjoy using it though.
The instructions that the kit provides directions which are easy to understand. It explains how to warp the loom, how to weave with either a needle or a shuttle, and how to complete a couple projects. It has a small section on the “Weaving History”, although it is light on the details but gives an idea of the importance of textiles. The instructions are all very simple but this is a kid's kit, after all. Still, it is a good start.
Overall, I think this is a nice kit for a beginner, whether an adult or a child. Especially if you, like me, wanted to try the craft without spending a lot of money on something you might not enjoy. I ended up loving it but if I hadn't, I would only have spent around $11 instead of a nicer but more expensive kit. Not that I can't appreciate good kits put together by crafters with really nice looms and yarns. I might have started out with that but if you're looking for something much less expensive, I would recommend this kit.
In my next post in this series, I'll describe the second loom I bought which is much, much larger than this little one.
I finally finished some weavings that were laying on my desk about a week ago. They were nearly finished but needed rods attached. I put them in my shop and posted links to them on my Tumblr but haven't had a chance to post about them here. I also finished two weavings this past week and put them in my shop and I'm pretty excited about them.
So the first few weavings below are the ones I finished from my desk:
The first one above is an orange weaving that I started a long time ago, I actually worked on it when I was still streaming on Twitch (which, by the way, I will hopefully be doing again very soon!!). You can see it here in my shop. The middle one is a tiny weaving that I think is very cute - it's here in my shop. Finally, the last one is a calming blue, green, and cream weaving which is also small but not as tiny as the middle one. It's right here in my Etsy.
And as I said, I also have put up two other weavings recently.
The first is a natural looking weaving with browns and some green and blue. The blue is actually recycled denim yarn from Wool and the Gang which I love. This weaving is in my Etsy shop here.
The second weaving is one I really like even though it is so simple. It is based on the vault jumpsuits from the video game series Fallout. This one is referring to the 111 on the back of the Vault 111 suits in Fallout 4. You can find this weaving in my Etsy shop here. It was fun making this one even though it only uses two colors which I'm not really used to. I'd like to make more with different vault numbers. I might do 101 next for the vault that the player character emerges from in Fallout 3. Or 108, which is also a vault in Fallout 3 and is one of my favorite areas in that game.
This is a 4 inch hoop in which I embroidered a portrait of a character from the video game Fallout 4 called Nick Valentine. Nick is a companion character in the game and I am hoping to make a series of these, making portraits of all the companions.
For anyone who hasn't played the game, Nick is a 'synth', or synthetic human. He is from the second generation of synths which are clearly robots but have human-like features. Parts of Nick's neck and face have been ripped off to reveal metal parts and wires inside. I tried to get not only his face correct but also the wires and things inside his neck. I worked only with black, white, and gray threads since his face is grayish and I thought it suited him. I used bright yellow for his eyes since they are glowing yellow in the game.
This was a difficult embroidery for me to do because of all the details, especially in his neck, but also because I've never done a real human portrait before. I made a Log Lady from Twin Peaks but she had a very simple face. This one I wanted to be as detailed as I could get it. I think I did a pretty good job with it and I'm excited to do the next one. I've decided I'm going to make Piper Wright next.
In trying to get back into a crafting routine and in a way, restart my business, I have decided to change my focus. I was mainly focused on weaving for a long time, with the occasional embroidery. I've decided to switch that a bit, with more embroidery. More importantly, I want to do more fanart which is the reason for more embroidery - weaving for me is usually abstract, outside of my pet portraits. I have done one Skyrim related weaving and I will post about it here and may do more like it soon.
Overall, I just want to do more fanart and I don't have much of an interest in embroidering flowers and whatnot, honestly. I want to do characters and maybe some symbols or themes. I love video games and some television shows and I want to show my appreciation for them through my art.
Weaving is still very interesting and enjoyable for me and I won't stop making my abstract wall hangings. It will be less frequent though.
So that is what you can expect to see in the coming weeks, on here, on my Tumblr, and in my Etsy shop. I'm looking forward to making new things!!
I've been having some trouble working and updating lately. I have made a few things that I added to the shop but I haven't put anything here in a while, but really I haven't been working as much. I just haven't been able to get myself to work like I was before. I'm trying to get back into it but it's difficult. I have depression and anxiety and obviously these things affect my ability to work and make things. I hope to really get back into the swing of things soon.
I put up a new weaving just now. This is a brown, cream, and gold weaving.
I made it on a loom I made out of an old canvas (I didn't really make it, it was just a canvas with a hole in it so I tore off the canvas part and used the frame.)
I also recently tried to make the tiniest weaving I could make. I found another old canvas, this time a mini one with burlap on it. I knew I'd never use it so I removed the burlap and used some embroidery thread as warp. I had a hard time with it, haha. But I managed to make one very small weaving on it.
I updated the website today - I added subsections to Weaving and Embroidery so the different things I do in those categories have their own pages. I also added some photos to my wall hangings, woven accessories and my embroidered bags pages.
I had to take a break from streaming (and crafting in general, to be honest) for health reasons but I am feeling better and hope to start again soon.
Christine, artist and maker