I've always been into threads. Yarn. Bobbins. Wool... I was amazed, as a child, about the fact my grandmother could turn balls of yarn into sweaters. I learned to knit by myself with books (it was before the advent of Youtube), because it's how I learn the best, and also because my grandmother's mind left us with her astray body.
I was not her only grandchild, she had eleven. But although she didn't like much to, she knitted mostly for me. This is probably the reason why I've always been into threads, and yarn, and bobbins. And wool. Wool is love.
This is probably why the day my then boyfriend and now husband told me "Hey, why not making it a living?", I just felt like I was given the permission to be the real me, finally.
Life happened then. I was just being used to be me. I was just coming back home after learning to weave with a professionnal weaver, and life happened as a car driver into my boyfriend's motorcycle. Life turned topsy-turvy.
Days of anxiety. Weeks of hospital, arriving at 1pm, leaving at 8pm, every day. Months of pain, hope and despair, fear.
It's years now.
Life is still quite topsy-turvy.
Threads, yarns and bobbins are still not making a living. But wool is love. Even if my floor loom lies, disassembled in the attic, as we are lacking of space for it, I am working on my future dream job. I sometimes binge work on it! Knitting, sewing, weaving, tatting! I've spent as many hours into my project as a day worker, always looking for a interesting technique to improve my skills.
This how I discovered pin loom weaving.
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Step 1: There Is 'Pin Loom Weaving' and 'Pin Loom Weaving'
Actually I already knew what was a pin loom. Or at least, I thought I knew. Pin loom was that counter-intuitive to warp and weave from tiny loom.
A weaving technique you have to guess the length of yarn you will need was not for me. You can find here a detailed video on how to weave on this kind of loom. I never did.
I do another kind of pin loom weaving I discovered accidentally - I don't remember how or when. The day I saw the video was an epiphany for me. It looked so easy, so logical - and, better than everything, you weave directly from the ball of yarn. You use only the length you need. There are only four tails of yarn at the end of weaving, and there could be two if you use the same yarn for warp and weft. But actually, what really tickle my attention on this technique was the look of the finished square. There is a nice bind off all around it, absolutely perfect for pick up stitches and knit. It was like opening a hidden door I was foreboding the existence.
The videos are from LionBrand, here are the links :
The only problem was the device. The "Martha Stewart Crafts Lion Brand Yarn Knit & Weave Loom Kit" cost about 40$ (it seems to be no longer available now). It sounded quite expensive for just a plastic frame with pegs!
Eh, you know what? We own a 3D printer!!
Step 2: Designing a Plastic Frame With Pegs
Please note that I know a wooden frame would have been made quickly and easily. In fact I only have few tools and confidence into my woodworking skills, and we were the happy owners of a brand new 3D printer we just manage to use properly - I mean without obtaining a weird blob of plastic.
It would have been a good idea to think a bit before starting the design. The frame is pretty basic, there is no subtilety about it. But the the crochet tool was kind of tricky. It had to be long, thin, smooth and tough.
Be that as it may, I first thought about the frame. I wanted to be able to weave about 20cm side squares, with 1cm spaced pegs. The subsequent loom appeared to be a 24cm side frame. Too big, thus, to be printed on the 20cm bed of our 3D printer.
Step 3: Designing a Joint
I decided to cut the loom in four identical parts - quarters - in the middle of each side. I imagined and tested some joint designs and chose a joint that looks a bit like a dovetail joint. I only wanted to be sure that the final loom would endure the tension of an almost done woven square without breaking or overly distorting. The joint seemed to do the job.
I played with the dimensions of the two parts and printed some tests. I was looking for a tight fit, not too diffcult to assemble nor too easy to disassemble, as the parts were supposed to be assembled just once and never been disassembled then.
Once I had the perfect fit, I applied them to the quarter part of my loom. Note that there is one peg onto the male part of the joint. It was the only solution to keep pegs equally spaced along the side of the loom.
Step 4: Debugging
It was time to print! I looked at the printer eagerly until the end. And the first thing that happened to my quarter of pin loom was a broken peg. Like, right after taking it off the bed. Then after a further inspection, a second broken peg convinced me that my design deserved a light revision.
I first tried to print some samples with larger and larger pegs, but it was remaining too weak. So I opted for a different approach. To get the strongest little pegs possible, I decided to print them apart, layed down on the printer bed. And to nail them easily to the loom, I made holes in it. I did more samples to find the right combo diameter of pegs/diameter of hole.
Step 5: Printing and Assembling
It was time to print again!
You can find here my STL files. You will need to print :
- pegs.stl 4 times
- pin-loom-quarter.stl 3 times
- pin-loom-quarter-corner-holed 1 time. This quarter have one more hole in the corner that will be the starting point of weaving. I printed it in green.
My loom was printed in PLA.
After printing, I cut carefully the skirts and all the little bumps of PLA that could scratch yarn or block the assembly. I did no sanding at all, I just carved the surface and aretes with a cutter to smoothen the whole loom. I nailed the pegs with a medium hammer. Everything went as hoped. A pin loom was born.
Time to weave, isn't it? Yes, but the crochet tool...
Step 6: The Crochet Tool
I tried to mimic the crochet tool you can see in the LionBrand videos, but because of the small printing surface, I had to make it in two parts. I was sceptical while designing, even more after printing. It looked so much like a poor device that I didn't even glue the two parts together. I still joined the STL file, if you are curious.
I, for my part, immediatly set it aside and, in the hurry to try my new loom, I just had the brilliant idea to bend the tip of a thin knitting needle. This looked perfect! Now, it is time to weave!
Step 7: Weaving!
To weave, I just followed the videos. You made it once, you get the hang of it. The first two squares were about finding the right amount of fiber. Because of the space I chose to use between the pegs, I had to use several threads of yarn to make a decent square with some "body". Depending of the thickness of the yarn, I use between 2 and 6 threads. The ideal amount in my opinion is 3 strands of DK (like DROPS Karisma). I needed to feel in my hands what quantity worked well, and I tried to get that feeling for warp and weft of each square. Then, my only concern was about colors.
I dived into my stash of old school, ugly, lablelless balls of yarn, and made boxes by color. I had only one rule when weaving for this project : use only one color for the group of thread composing the warp/weft, or not too contrasting colors.
Weaving those squares is a great memory for me. First, I chose the colors for warp and weft, with a little universe in my mind. I then warped the loom with the first color, and finally I looked the colors mixing together while weaving. It is comtemplative and very concrete at the same time, the perfect combo for me. One square is done in half an hour after a bit of training. Finished squares carry all the vibrations I felt when thinking of my universe of colors. It is very difficult for me to stop touching them, watching them, comparing the choices I made for this or that square... I find it irresistibly fascinating.
In the beginning, I was weaving only for colors. As the pile was growing, I wondered what I would do with them, became instantly insane and decided to make a huge blanket of 144 squares (12 x 12), joined with a knitted border.
When I had the 144 squares I wanted, I washed all of them, then spread them on the floor to arrange them. I made some piles to keep them in order and grabbed my knitting needles.
I've taken some notes in a Ravelry project.
Step 8: Joining the Blanket Together
I used an off-white yarn to join all the squares, DROPS Eskimo, color 01. It is an inexpensive pure, thick wool, perfect to knit around the squares.
First, I assembled in long stripes of twelve squares the piles I had made after arranging. I unfortunately have no picture about the joining, but I have detailed notes. Here they are :
This method will allow you to join and bind off at the same time.
With 6.5mm needles and DROPS Eskimo, pick up and knit 21 stitches along one side of a square. Knit 5 rows. You have now 6 rows (or 3 ridges) of garter stitch, with right side facing you. Take the square to join and place it ahead of your work, wrong side facing you. In other word, the two squares are right sides together. Insert your right needle into the first bound off stitch from the square to join, then into the first stitch on your left needle. Knit one stitch through the two stitches, the one from your knitting then the one from the square to join. You got one stitch on your right needle.
Repeat : *Insert your right needle into the next bound off stitch from the square to join, then into the first stitch on your left needle. Knitone stitch through the two stitches. There are 2 stitches on your right needle. Pass the first stitch over the stitch you just worked. There is one stitch on right needle*.
Repeat from * to * until there is only one stitch remaining on the right needle. Cut the yarn, pass the end into the loop and pull to secure.
Join the twelve square of one stripe into a long stripe, do it for the twelve stripes. Then, do the same to join the stripes together. Pick up 21 stitches per square and 3 per garter stitch border (one stitch per ridge), which makes 285 stitches to pick up along one stripe.
I also added a border of 6 ridges of garter stitch (12 rows) around the whole blanket.
Step 9: Adding a Lining
Because this project wasn't enormous enough, I decided to line it with some white polar fleece. I have no picture about it either, and this time I don't have any notes. I remember I attached it to the blanket with several points, back to back, taken into the seam allowance of the polar fleece. I did a blanket stitch all around the polar fleece and pick it up when binding off the knitted border to finish the joining.
And then the blanket was done.
Step 10: Numbers and Some Words of Conclusion
The blanket is really huge, it's a 240 cm x 240 cm square. It is also very heavy. When joining the whole blanket together I broke my circular needle (Takumi Combo Needle set) three times because of the weight. I does glue well back, which is interesting to know. The 144 squares weigh 4 kilogrames (28 grames per square), and I used 35 balls of DROPS Eskimo, which adds 1.750 kg. I had 5 meters of polar fleece I almost used entirely, so let's say itadds another 1.25 kg. I never weighed the finished blanket because it is so bulky I can barely carry it in my arms. By the way, it cannot be washed in our washing machine : it doesn't fit in it!
This blanket is actually too big, too heavy to be really practical, but it is made with yarns I have saved for such a long time, yarns that have seen more moves than me, yarns older than me, or yarn that were once itchy sweaters, ugly yarns no one else than me would ever want to knit with, lost yarns, forgotten yarns. Together they sing, they interact, they keep us warm. Because it's wool. And wool is love, even when life is topsy-turvy, whatever the reason.
I hope to not sound too strange, my first language is french. I learned a bit of english at school, but the most I know comes from internet andknitting... I am aware that my vocabulary is quite restricted. Also this is my first Instructable, any constructive criticism is welcome.
Grand Prize in the