A few weeks ago, at the Maritime Handspinners' Retreat, I saw a cute little loom. In fact this little loom looked so tidy and straightforward, and was so reasonably priced, that I ordered one on the spot... and it arrived at my door finally on Monday morning!
Meet the Schacht Cricket Loom - a small rigid heddle loom with an 11 inch weaving surface.
Now, this isn't my first foray into the world of weaving, but it has definetly been a while since I've laid my hands on a real loom. Years ago when I went to the Gaelic College over in Cape Breton, NS, I took a short weaving course that used a very similar loom, though I can't remember the specific name of the table loom I learned on...
The model Cricket that was on display at the retreat had a beautiful handspun scarf warped and in progress... it looked so interesting, I couldn't help myself after all. Janet at the Bobbin Tree Kiosk kindly
twisted my arm encouraged me to give weaving a try again, and kindly had the loom shipped directly from Schacht to my door step for me :)
The Cricket was very easy to set up. All I needed was a screwdriver! The set-up instructions were simple to follow, and because this is a fairly basic type of loom, I was ready to start warping after only a half an hour of set-up time.
I had always heard how horrible the warping process is (for those of you who aren't familiar with weaving terms... the "Warp" is the vertical threads that are strung on the loom, they stay pulled tight while you do the weaving back and forth with the horizontal "weft") and I was expecting that I'd spend a fair bit of the day getting the warp ready to go. Not so! I watched a couple of YouTube Videos last week, and armed only with the little booklet that comes with the loom, I was able to get the thing strung in about a half an hour. I'm sure that next time I try it, I'll be done in half the time. The warping peg clamped onto my dining room table and made the stringing process quite straightforward.
The kit comes with a ball of very bright green yarn and a ball of medium blue... the blue coincidentally matched the skein of "Wild" art yarn that I made at the retreat, so I decided that this might be a good way to use it up. I'm not fond of knitting with super bulky thick-n-thin art yarns, so I thought that I should try weaving it instead. There was nothing to lose.
I forgot to take a photograph of the wild skein before I started winding it onto the shuttle. Needless to say, this yarn is very different from my usual styled handspun yarns. It was spun from a very large art batt, kindly put together with the help of Louise at the retreat. We started with some Blue wool, then added in everything from sari silk bits to mohair locks, silk noils, more wool, glitz, firestar, and every color under the rainbow! I was horrified and intrigued all at the same time as I spun this crazy batt into a thick and thin low twist single. In the end, the predominant colors were Blues and Oranges. The finished yarn was "nice"... but it just isn't "me".
And so... with the Cricket warped... I wound the art yarn onto the shuttle, and I began to weave:
I was impressed at just how well the color of the kit yarn and the handspun yarn matched together. The blue warp seemed to ground the color scheme back to blues... in spite of all the wild orangeness.
The Thick and Thin bits actually added nice texture to the woven fabric, I thought it would look all lumpy and unattractive, but it seemed to form little waves and ebbs and flows of color instead. The blue background kept the piece tied together. Even the little silk stringy bits seemed to blend in more than I would have imagined.
I've finished the scarf itself, learned how to work a hemstitch, and now the scarf is soaking in a nice warm bath. I'll try and post more photos when it has been dried and pressed. I will be interested to see how it turns out in the end. The weaving process was quite fun though... and I am anxious to get another piece of some sort set up to work at... weaving is quite fast compared to knitting it appears ;)