I have a rigid heddle loom, why would I consider buying a floor loom?

I was asked this question in one of my Facebook groups. I started to type a response, then decided it would be better answered in a blog post as it's not a simple question!

It is true that the Rigid Heddle Loom is capable of a lot (even an 8 shaft pattern if you really want to) but there are many reasons why I love to have both a RHL and a floor loom. 



I wrote a series recently that compared different types of looms that you may wish to review:

The Rigid Heddle Loom

The Table Loom

The Floor Loom

Now, I said the rigid heddle loom is capable of weaving 8 shafts, but does that mean that I would actually want to? To achieve that would mean multiple heddles, multiple pick up sticks and a pretty painstaking process that would have me leaping on to my floor loom in no time. Because the floor loom is made for this, it's set up for more complex weaves, that is it's job. So, while the RHL can be utilised for more complex weaves, that doesn't mean that it's the ideal choice.



Next, the RHL has yarn size limitations. The smallest dent heddle currently available is a 15 dent by Ashford. Yes, you can still double threads or use extra heddles to increase the available sett, but that is another difference to a floor loom and a consideration if you like to weave with fine threads.

Finally, the floor loom is a full body experience. That sounds a bit weird and new age doesn't it?! But what I mean is that you are using your head (eyes to read the pattern as you weave, if you need to), your hands to throw and catch the shuttle (your body naturally sways slightly from side to side as you get into the rhythm) and your legs (as your feet move or "walk" the treadles to operate the shafts). It's actually a bit of a workout!

Because of this "full body" approach on a floor loom, you are able to operate many actions at once. And that is the real beauty of floor loom weaving, the harmony of actions that allow you to work fast to achieve sometimes quite amazing results.

Don't forget that there are pros and cons to all types of weaving and I try not to promote one over the other because I believe each weaver needs to find the right fit for their particular needs. If it seems that I am promoting the floor loom in this article, it is only within context of answering a question.

To recap, why would I buy a floor loom? 
1. Intricacy of pattern
2. Finer threads
3. Speed and efficiency

I hope this article helps you, thank you for reading!

Baby Blanket Project

I finished my baby blanket just in the nick of time, the day after my gorgeous new nephew was born. I already knew the baby was a boy and chose the colours accordingly. 



I told Nicky from Thread Collective what I wanted to weave and she recommended Venne Organic 8/2 cotton. I'm so glad I went with it, it may be a little more expensive, but for good reason! It is soft but I didn't have a single broken warp thread, it was strong and just lovely to weave with. 



I warped with the royal blue. I'm not sure why, but I started discovering errors from this point on. Too many distractions perhaps?

Error 1: I missed a part of the threading sequence in one spot. 


The fix: I had missed threading 3 heddles, so I made the missing heddles out of tapestry cotton and inserted them in place. Then, I measured out the missing warp threads, threaded through my string heddles, and weighted them over the back of the loom. Not ideal, but it worked!


The weighted threads.

Error 2: I re-sleyed the reed 3 times (yes, 3!!) because I kept missing a slot or doubling up. This was really frustrating as I just wanted to get weaving at this point. Even after the 3 re-sleys, I still ended up with one slot doubled up with threads. So, the blanket has a fault running through vertically. Rather than go back and re-sley again, I decided to just live with it!




 My idea for weaving was to experiment with the weft, initially I thought I would do one shot of turquoise and one of green. I didn't like the way that looked though. I experimented further (this is why it's always great to warp a little extra for sampling) and decided on 3.5 inch stripes of blue, alternating with 1 inch stripes of green. It has a nice balance.




Here you can really see the hearts, aren't they cute?! This is one side.


And this is the other side. Originally I had planned to back the blanket with flannelette once it was off the loom, but in the end I couldn't decide which side of blanket I liked better, so no backing. It will be a light blanket instead :) 
You can find a copy of this draft here. It is also pinned to my Weaving board on Pinterest. 



The weaving draft is very easy to follow, both the threading and treadling follow repetitive, simple to memorise sequences.

The dimensions of the finished blanket are:
Width - 27.5"
Length- 44"

The approximate cost of the project:
I used almost a whole 250 gram cone for warp. For the weft, I alternated between the turquoise and green cones, using less of the green. I estimated the total cost at around $55AUD, which covers the threads, postage cost on the threads, sewing supplies and label.

What I learned:
*I don't work well with deadlines. On one hand, needing to be finished by a certain date is a good motivating factor but on the other hand, rushing causes stress and mistakes. 
*I learned that I definitely want to work with Venne organic cotton again.
*I would also like to use this draft again and I think it could be adapted to all sorts of projects. 
*I already knew this, but this project reminded me that weaving with quality threads is expensive!
*Perhaps most importantly, I learned that, once again most mistakes or errors in weaving are totally fixable if you can just find or think of a work around.

If you are interested in floor loom weaving or are a newbie floor or table loom weaver, be sure to check out my Introduction to Floor Loom Weaving course to get you up and weaving!


Make do and make a start

I thought I'd share with you a little reality check today. It is easy for us to imagine that people we see on social media, on websites, on Youtube or anywhere on the internet have it all together and their lives are pretty perfect. We imagine them to have all the things we need or that they are somehow "better" than we are - all because they have learned how to present themselves in a certain way that looks great to the rest of the world.

How does this tie in to weaving? In so many ways! How often have you wished that your loom was bigger or better? Have you gazed longingly at other weaver's beautiful pictures online and wished that you could do that too? Have you grumbled at your lack of space/time/finances to "make it all happen". 

Well, I'm here to tell you that, just like life, weaving is a journey - often long and sometimes difficult. 
When people find out that I homeschool my children and have been doing so for their entire lives, they are amazed and say things like "Well, you are an expert then!" Nothing could be further from the truth. Every day is a new start with people and needs ever changing. It's a constant process of re-evaluation and starting over. Of asking God to please help me through this day. Of learning and applying new things. 

And I think this is normal. We don't step on a plane expecting to arrive at our destination immediately. We have to be patient to get the reward!

To illustrate my point, I will show you my film studio from today.  Much of the time, I can't film in my studio space as it's a shared, walk through room.


So, I set up in our bedroom so that I could close the door. It's a bit dingy and it desperately needs a paint job, but it's a room with a door, so I'll take it.  Lets have a look at my setup.


I film with my son's Nikon D7100 and his Video MicPro microphone. The tripod is mine! The loom is mine too :D The chair was a freebie that my husband got for me when his old office building was closing down. The OttLite belongs to my husband. When I finish the video, I edit on my son's computer using his software. 

You can see that most of what I use to film videos for my Online Weaving School is borrowed and fairly basic. But, it all allows me to do what I do. I may never have a great setup, no matter how much I want it, and that is ok, I am grateful to be able to do what I do without the bells and whistles. 

I can polish my photos and videos so that they look pretty good on your computer. I get to work from home, doing what I love and spending the days with my children. Does this mean I have the perfect life? No way, it just means that I'm prepared to make do and make a start.


Today I was working on filming for my up and coming Boot Camp for Weavers course. I'm beyond excited about this, a little apprehensive, having never done something like this, but very excited. It gives me so much joy to see a new weaver get up and weaving with enthusiasm and confidence, that is what I want for all my students! There will be more information about the course as I near completion. 
How did this blog post get so long? My fingers seemed to have a mind of their own and if I don't finish up my family will be eating burned chicken tonight! If you got this far, thank you for taking the time to read.

Until next time....

Happy Weaving!

8 shaft towels and lessons learned


I was really happy to pull this fabric off the loom - only 4 towels in all, but quite a time investment!


I love that such variety can be achieved on one warp, and I approached this project rather like a study in variation. 


Armed with Carol Strickler's 8 Shaft Patterns, I warped a plain white cottolin and hemp warp. My loom has 8 shafts and 10 treadles, so I chose a draft that would fit those requirements but with maximum versatility. I can't show you a copy of the draft, as that would be a copyright infringement. If you have the book, or are interested in purchasing, the page number for this draft is 29. For the threading, I chose the rose path variation.


This was by far my favourite, I love the bold yet intricate pattern. I used a dark purple 8/2 cotton as the weft, but doubled it to make the pattern weft stand out.  This is pattern #102 in the book, and uses 8 shafts with no tabby. I was worried about draw in, because I was feeling lazy and not wanting to use a temple, but the draw in was less than expected anyway. The treadling was really easy for this pattern, compared to the others which were more complex.


#101, a change of tie up and treadling, this is actually 4 shafts and 6 treadles to allow for the tabby. If I had my time over, I would have doubled the grey 8/2 cottolin weft to accentuate the pattern. At the same time, it's nice to weave something that looks delicate an intricate. Now that it's off the loom and washed, the pattern is a little too subtle for my taste. 


#100, another change of tie up and treadling - once again, not as bold as expected and next time I would use a 5/2 cotton for weft instead of the red 8/2. I do like the effect though, the diamonds are really lovely. This one is 8 shafts and 10 treadles to include the tabby.


Exact same treadling as the red diamonds, I just changed the weft to turquoise.

What I learned about the project:
*I used a sett of 20epi - next time I would increase this as the towels are a little airier than I would like. I don't think I would increase all the way to 30, but I'd give 24-26 a go.
* I am so glad I purchased Carol Strickler's book, it could definitely keep you busy for a very long time with the variety of drafts.

The most important thing I learned:
Once the towels were washed and hanging on the line, I realised that 3 out of 4 towels had treadling errors (!) Rather than being devastated that the towels I spent so much time on are imperfect, I used it as an opportunity for reflection. Why did I make the mistakes? What could I do differently next time? I found the answer to both of these questions quickly.

I made the errors due to tiredness, lack of concentration and interruption. Using 10 treadles in a non sequential fashion requires concentration! My studio is in a shared space which is actually a family room. The children have access to me whenever they want, and the room is a walk through room with no door. Hence, the lack of concentration.

What I will do differently next time is to simplify. I do like a challenge, but in this season of my life I have realised it is better for me to weave things that are perhaps more familiar and don't require as much focus. Forcing myself to take on greater projects may just lead to frustration, and I want to enjoy both the weaving and my family. So, for now, I will choose my projects more carefully and not go overboard. As I said to my husband "If I have to wait until we are old and retired to weave just the way I want to, I'm OK with that". I consider it a great blessing that I get as much weaving time as I do. It's a great reminder to be grateful and count my blessings! 





The week in review, phew!


The week started out well and then WOOSH, I turned around and it was almost over already. A lot of weeks are like that these days. But it doesn't trouble me, as long as the week is well spent.

Autumn is well and truly upon us and the cold has crept in. This does not trouble me either, I am quite fond of cool weather and it inspires me to surround myself with fibre.




We celebrated our son's 18th birthday with much cheer and delightful dishes. I was reminded of the great blessing he is to our family, and what a fine young man he is. It is certainly bittersweet having your children grow up.


I finally launched my newest class, Rigid Heddle Garment Making! I was so thrilled to finish what had become a lengthly undertaking and I was so happy with the end project.


The response has been enthusiastic, as many students have been asking me to put this class together.



In other weaving news, this is what I have on the floor loom. The warp is plain white cottolin and hemp and I'm changing up the cotton weft colours as I go. The draft is an 8 shaft from Carol Strickler's 8 shaft pattern book. It took me ages to get going with this and I had to re-sley the reed THREE times due to silly mistakes. I'm happy to say that the weaving is all going smoothly! I'm making a set of towels.



The threading is rose path and the weaving is very much like an overshot - one pattern pick (red)...


followed by a tabby pick (white). Rather lovely!


I almost forgot, I also have a new Youtube video! The topic is a very popular one - weaver neater edges. 

So yes, a very busy week indeed with lots happening.

I have two new projects in the planning stages. One will be my next Etsy pattern (speaking of Etsy - my sales passed 400 this week and continue to climb!), the other will be a new online class with a difference. You will have to wait and see what the "difference" is, I have a lot of work to do before I reveal more details!

I hope you have had a great week, rich with blessings, family, good health and of course, a good dose of weaving!








Which loom to buy, part 3 - the Floor Loom

It's hard to know where to start the discussion on floor looms for a few reasons. There are many, many types of floor looms available from many different loom companies. Out of the three types of looms I have discussed in this series, a floor loom is the one that requires the most research on the part of the buyer to ensure the right loom is purchased.


There are 3 main types of floor loom available -
* Countermarch
*Counterbalance
*Jack

I'm not going to go into the specifics of each loom here, (my Introduction to Floor Loom Weaving course does that) but there are obvious differences between each one that should affect your decision making. 

Lets have a look firstly at the benefits of a floor loom in general:
*Complex patterns can be achieved
*There are many choices for how many shafts, with many looms having upgrades to more shafts later.
*They are large and sturdy pieces of equipment
*They can take long warps and most looms have the ability to install a second warp beam for even longer warps.
*You can weave fast because your feet are operating the treadles, which in turn operate the shafts and there is no need to set the shuttle down in between picks.
*There are many resources available for floor loom weaving, in the form of books, online classes and face to face classes.
*Materials and parts and generally readily available.
*There are so many choices, from a basic 4 shaft to a computerised loom (depends on your budget!)



And, the negatives:
*Many floor looms are large and heavy, so not portable
*Depending on the loom, it can take up a lot of space - so you need to have room to house the loom as well as clearance space so that you can move around the loom for warping etc.
*A floor loom can be very expensive.
*The warping/threading process can be hard on your back.
*Warping is a long process, it takes a while to get used to this fact!



Would I recommend buying a secondhand floor loom? 
Yes and no! If you already have a working knowledge of floor looms so that you can make an educated decision, then absolutely look for a secondhand loom, which can literally save you thousands of dollars.
BUT...
If you are completely new to floor loom weaving, have never used one and are not familiar with the parts and what they do, I would be very cautious about buying secondhand. Many people sell looms from a deceased estate or similar and they really know nothing about weaving or looms - even whether it is in working order. This can actually work in your favour if you are educated because the vendor may sell cheaply, not understanding the value of what they are selling!

When looking at a second hand loom ask yourself - 
*Does it have all the necessary parts? If not, what is the make of the loom? Are these still made? Am I going to be able to get replacement parts? If the loom is in pieces - when was it last put together? Am I able to put it together? If the reed is rusty, am I confident that I can return it to it's former glory? Am I going to regret this purchase because I have not researched enough? And, so on!

A great way to buy second hand can be through a weaving guild. The loom will generally have been well cared for and in use. The seller may be willing to give you a lesson on setting up. You can try it out before you buy in many cases. They will know the history of the loom. 

Try not to be impatient, wait for the right loom at the right price.

The best advice I can give to someone who is in the market for a new or used loom is DO YOUR RESEARCH! Talk to people, read articles, get advice.

I hope this series has helped you to understand more about different types of looms.

For more on floor loom weaving, check out my free Youtube videos:






Until next time, Happy Weaving!




Anzac biscuit recipe


This recipe was passed down from my husband's Grandmother. There are many Anzac biscuit recipes but I really like this one, and I love to think of my husband's Gran baking these in a warm kitchen on a wood stove.


Yield: About 30 medium sized biscuits

Gran's Anzac biscuits

Golden and crunch, easy to make and delicious to munch on!
prep time: 12 MINScook time: 15 MINStotal time: 27 mins

ingredients:

Ingredients
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1.5 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 170 grams (6oz) butter
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 3 tablespoons boiling water

instructions

Method
  1. Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Melt the butter and syrup together.
  3. In a cup, pour the boiling water over the bicarb soda and mix.
  4. Pour water and soda mix into butter mixture.
  5. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well.
  6. Use a dessertspoon to portion out the dough onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Leave room for spreading in between biscuits.
  7. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes at 160 degrees (C) or 320 (F) 
  8. Allow to cool on tray until firm enough to move to a baking rack.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Which loom to buy, part 2, The Table Loom

The table loom is often purchased by either rigid heddle weavers on brand new weavers who want to experience working with multi shafts but don't wish to commit to a floor loom.

My second loom purchase was an Ashford 8 shaft table loom. My back issues at the time were very troublesome and I didn't want to invest in a floor loom only to find I couldn't use it. It was a great decision for me at that time.



The table loom is a perfect loom to progress into floor loom weaving - I am grateful for my time on the table loom for this reason, I picked up the floor loom very quickly because I gained a good understanding of multi shaft weaving first. 

Lets look first at the benefits of a table loom:
* Portability. A lot of teachers use them for teaching, as they can fold up the loom (with the weaving still on it!), pack it into a bag and pop it in the car.
*Versatility. Table looms are available from 4 shafts right up to 16 shafts (Ashford make a 16 shaft), making your pattern possibilities huge!
*The levers are easy to learn. You operate the levers (which operate the shafts), throw your pick, place the shuttle down, then beat. Your brain and body don't have to cope with co-ordinating too much.
*My table loom had a swinging beater, which was really easy to use and I liked the action of it.
*The perfect learning tool. I already mentioned this, but it's a stand out feature for me. If I had moved straight to a floor loom I may have found it overwhelming, but the table loom was an excellent preparation.
*They are affordable. Some may not agree with me on this point, but when you compare the price of a floor loom you will see what I mean. My table loom cost approximately a third of the price of my floor loom!
*They are upgradable. You can buy a stand and you can also add treadles, making it more like a floor loom. Many table looms can be bought as a 4 shaft with the ability to upgrade to 8 shafts later on.

Now for a few of the not so positives (just my opinion!):
*It can be difficult to get a good, tight tension for throwing the shuttle. My boat shuttle took a lot of dives through the warp when I had my table loom.
*Moving heddles around can be a bit of a pain. For my loom, I had to collapse the castle and take each individual shaft out to arrange or move heddles. I found this time consuming and a little annoying.
*A table loom doesn't have the strength of a floor loom. It's excellent for scarves, towels, blankets etc but maybe not the best for say, a floor rug.
*When warping, it can be a little tricky to get around. Because my loom didn't have a stand, I had to warp at the kitchen table. The loom was quite big (it was an 80cm) and I found it challenging to find the right positions for both the loom and me so that my back wasn't compromised.
*It can be hard to find information on getting started on a table loom - when I started there was very little help available so there was a lot of figuring out to do. However, a lot of floor loom weaving information is very helpful for a table loom as well.
*The weaving is slower. Because the levers are hand operated, you have to put the shuttle down in between beats.

I have a number of free videos relevant to the table loom, it sure is a popular topic! 





And if you have already taken the leap and own a table loom, my Introduction to Floor Loom Weaving Course is very relevant to you.

I hope this post has helped you. Next time, we will discuss the floor loom.

*I did not receive sponsorship or payment from any companies for this post. Any mention of specific companies or brands are purely my opinion and my desire to share products I use and love.

Table loom, rigid heddle loom, floor loom?

It is so hard to choose a loom when you are brand new to weaving! Without a doubt, the "which loom?" question is the one I get the most. And while I can't tell you which loom is the perfect one for your individual circumstances, I can tell you a little about different types and their advantages/disadvantages.

Lets start with the humble hero that I recommend most often for absolute beginners:

THE RIGID HEDDLE LOOM



The little champion of the weaving world! That is how I think of this humble loom anyway. I believe it's thanks to this loom we have seen such an enthusiastic resurgence in weaving. 

They come in a variety of sizes, are lightweight and portable, are much more affordable than table or floor looms, are customisable by adding a stand and extra heddles, plus they are simple enough for beginners to get up and weaving quickly. The ability to direct warp means you don't need a warping board to get started. Threading is straight forward and easy. There is very little yarn wastage. You can adapt the loom to weave tapestries.You can even weave 8 shaft patterns on this loom (I've seen it done, but I don't intend to do it myself - waaay too much work for me!)



That all sounds great right? Surely there must be some drawbacks to this loom? 
Well, there are limitations to the rigid heddle loom. The tension, for example, is not like a floor or table loom. Weaving is slower, as you need to put your shuttle down after each pick in order to beat. I mentioned that you can weave up to 8 shafts, but it would take a lot of patience and mucking around that would have me personally reaching for my floor loom in a jiffy (though I realise that not everyone has that luxury!) 
I don't really think of these things as negatives, the rigid heddle loom has too much going for it to warrant any real criticism. What I have listed above are more differences as opposed to negatives.




Want to know more about the rigid heddle loom? You may wish to watch my free Rigid Heddle Loom/Table Loom Comparison video. I also have a huge range of videos for rigid heddle weavers or those interested in starting out on my Youtube channel, so be sure to watch, like and subscribe to ensure you don't miss new videos.

I also have a big range of rigid heddle weaving classes available on my Online Weaving School, I recommend you taking a look!

I hope this article has been helpful to you, next time I will discuss table looms!

*I did not receive sponsorship or payment from any companies for this post. Any mention of specific companies or brands are purely my opinion and my desire to share products I use and love.

Zucchini Bread recipe

Many years ago, my sister in law used to make this bread. It was in the days when the zucchinis from the garden were plentiful and Autumn weather had set in. Baking this bread always brings back very fond memories of that time for me.


Yield: 2 loaves

Veronica's Zucchini Bread

prep time: 15 MINScook time: 1 hourtotal time: 1 hours and 15 mins
Moist and delicious loaf, wonderful eaten warm with butter.

ingredients:

Ingredients
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups caster sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sunflower oil
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda (baking soda)
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional)

instructions:

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (350 Fahrenheit)
  2. Grease and line with baking paper 2 x 14cm x 22cm (5.5" x 8.5") bread loaf tins. 
  3.  Beat eggs until they become pale in colour and fluffy in consistency.
  4. Add the sugar, oil and vanilla. Beat until thick.
  5.  Stir in the grated zucchini
  6.  Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate soda, salt and cinnamon into the wet ingredients. Fold the ingredients together.
  7.  Fold in walnuts, if using.
  8. Pour equal amounts into the 2 tins. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow to sit in tins for 5 minutes before turning out onto a baking rack to cool. Lovely to eat warm or cool.
Created using The Recipes Generator

The sugar content is quite high (though, remember you are making two loaves, not one) and I can imagine that you can substitute or even just reduce the amount, as it is quite sweet anyway. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

Towels just for moi!

 I recently completed a project that I undertook just for me. Most of my weaving is for classes, patterns or customers, so to set aside the time to weave something for myself was pretty special!


As you may already know, I make bread for my family. I use kitchen towels to cover the rising dough and to cover the finished loaves as they cool. Perfect! Bread towels were what I needed!



I warped with 22/2 cottolin in natural with a red cotton stripe to accent.


Then I decided on M & W threading and some 2/2 twill variations.


I changed up the colour for each new towel so that some have bold patterns and others subtle.


For this one I changed both the colours and the treadling for a feature border.


To finish off, a little embroidery.


I am very happy with my new set of towels. Being hand woven with quality yarn, I know these will last many years in my kitchen.


How about you? Do you find that you're always weaving or making for someone other than yourself? Perhaps you want to follow my lead and put aside some time to make something special just for you!

I have a rigid heddle loom, why would I consider buying a floor loom?

I was asked this question in one of my Facebook groups. I started to type a response, then decided it would be better answered in a blog po...