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.
Christine, artist and maker