Once again, Meg hosts a New Year’s peek at a bunch of people’s looms!

Here are my contributions.



I counted, bundled and washed these loom-components yesterday because they stank the with stink of the former owner’s sprayable de-stinkifier.  I don’t really believe in washing heddles, but let me tell you, I had no choice.  They are drying on the sewing machine table out of the reach of the cat.


Above center: Varpapuu Kothe Nordia 8-shaft table loom with cracked floor stand, circa 1970’s, 31.5 inch weaving width . . .

. . . which is still recovering from it’s de-stinkifying ordeal by soap and water.  Those cute Finnish shuttles on the sewing machine table came with the loom as well.  Also the plastic bed-lifters.  Ah, craigslist!  I bought it the day before yesterday, now all that’s left to do is to put the shafts back together and string ‘er up.

Above right: Bergman 8-shaft countermarche.

Also known as the moveable hat shelf, as you will notice it has moved from one side of the room to the other since last January.  2012 was a year of pain and illness.  My back is not improving.  I can’t treadle this loom unless it does.


Standing inkle and Pysslingen 4-shaft table looms:

The standing inkle loom has another 20/1 linen band on it.  I made three others in 2012, maybe I will blog about them some time.

The Glimåkra table loom of last year is still incomplete.  It turned out to be surprisingly hard to find the right size of lumber for Pysslingen heddle bars, for so many reasons.  After a failure with warpy oak I scrounged the last straight pieces of some clear Douglas fir at a restoration millwork place and made the bars.  That is where I stalled out: my next step is making a jig to accomplish the precision drilling to add the hardware to the bars, and you know what?  I don’t really like to fix looms.  I’m tired of it.  I would rather weave.  That is why I decided to get the Varpapuu.  Plus, the price was right.  Plus, it has eight shafts instead of four.  And it’s wider.  And deeper.  I do still plan on finishing making the Glimåkra heddle bars, just not right away.


Today I de-rusted my warping reel and planned my first warp for the Varpapuu.  Tomorrow I will wind it and beam it.



I was wondering why taking a few en deshabille photos of my looms and looking at other people’s looms in the same condition turned out to be such a refreshing exercise last year.  Here’s what I think.  It’s hard to get a clear look at something you walk around daily, dust around weekly (Ha! Fat chance!), and the very nature of which is to be a means to an end.  When I look at my looms I see cloth or lack of it.  Easier not to look.  But you can’t not see something when you stick it in a rectangle, click the shutter, and pass it around for others to see too.  Somehow it just feels right to look at things squarely on the first day of the year.  A great idea, Meg.

Bergman 8-shaft countermarche:  The ironing hanging on it pretty much tells the story.  My Bergman has not had a warp since we moved to into this house nearly three years ago.  My hips may allow me to weave on it again someday, they may not.  C’est la vie!  (Sorry, feeling French today, I have been watching surrealist cartoons.)  The wooden pieces on the bench are components of a band loom I mean to make.

Spears rigid heddle:  Here is the end of a warp for 3 large napkins in an adaptation of Erika de Ruiter’s “Magic-Step Towels”–only the final border and a little extra are left to weave off.  I was intrigued by the idea that such a complex-looking pattern could be woven on a rigid heddle loom.  Word to the wise: just because you can weave something on a rigid heddle loom doesn’t mean you should.  This was the slowest weaving I’ve done.  Ever.  Eternity napkins.  I should bronze them.

Standing inkle:  20/1 linen band.  I would like to weave a bunch of these in different colors and designs.  I have a plan for using them together, and a lot of this vintage linen thread.

8-shaft table loom:  Fooled you!  The homemade 8-shaft table loom is GONE.  What you see below is a different loom entirely.  A few months ago I sold the old 8-shaft in just the way I had hoped–remodeled into good working order, for much less money than I paid for it, with a clear conscience, to a deserving new weaver!

Pysslingen 4-shaft table loom:  I had decided that if I ever bought another table loom, it would have to be an older Glimåkra because no other kind was worth the trouble.  I did not really think I would find one.  Then I did.  This loom has never been warped or even fully assembled.  It is essentially a brand new 35-year-old loom . . . without heddle sticks.  The original owner stashed them somewhere years ago and wasn’t able to find them when she put the loom up for sale.  Pre-milled lumber doesn’t come in the right size for replacements, and Glimåkra no longer stocks parts for this loom (its successor the Victoria has metal shaft bars), so at the moment I am in heddle stick limbo.  I might get an email telling me that the former owner has found them in her basement the same way she found the reed and cords and heddles a week after I bought her loom, or I might just get help from someone with a table saw.

Happy winding, warping, and weaving in 2012!

A Heaping Pile o’

December 20, 2011

-yarn.  Yes, I am throwing away a skein of 100% wool yarn.  Hard to say what kind.  It came from an animal, I know that much.  You can tell that much just by looking at it.

And now you will be asking how it is I retained such a fine thing to throw away for so long, thrower-awayer that I am!  (No, no.  Don’t try to stop me.)  Two reasons.  First, it is 500% harder for me to get rid of something entrusted to me in a touching faith that I will love it and use it than something I got myself.  Second, I really, really wanted to make it into a doily.  And give it to someone.  Perhaps just leave it someplace unobtrusive in their house to find later–a little Christmas surprise from the angels.

This isn’t the only yarn I am throwing away, but it is the best.  And that’s really saying something, since it came in one of those “I found this bag of yarn at a yard sale and I know you like yarn so here you go” bags of yarn.  About half the yarns in the bag were exuberantly textured hand-spuns stiff with lanolin and unidentifiable particles which may once have been alive.  The rest were less-valuable machine spun yarns that only appear spun by monkeys.  It’s hard to guess what their original owner may have had in mind, but I’m pretty certain they are leftovers from that part of 1970’s when people were making woven-and-macrame wall hangings on hoops, because you know there is simply no conversation-starter like poop on a hoop.

Halloween Countdown: 0 days!

Happy Halloween


Halloween Countdown: 1 day

This is the fabric that started it all.  Everything: me thinking about my nieces and costumes, the whole project.  A Goodwill remnant of flaming rose velour!

I lied.  This is my favorite garment, not the chiton.

The chiton required more ingenuity, but this took more time.  Probably something to do with my need to hem things by hand.

What can I say?  I was brought up that way!  I don’t always give in to the hand-hemming compulsion, but I always feel I ought to give in.  In this case the fabric was much too pretty to crush and stretch with seam lines, and much too fuzzy to use with the blind-hemming foot on my machine.  Did you know here is a lot of hand-hemming in a nearly circular cape?

There is.

Halloween Countdown: 2 days

Perhaps it’s time to explain that I meant to make more boys-type outfits, but the medieval hat on the right is as far as I got.  I left my planned Robin Hood tunic and velvet tabard and trailing black and silver villain-cape for last, but by the time I finished the garment you will see tomorrow, I REALLY wanted to be done and get everything to my nieces.  I told myself I can sew the other boys’ things and send them later; maybe I will.  My sisters loved to play Robin Hood when they were little, darn it.  I even had all the fabrics.

The blue velvet hat is made of trimmings from a curtain from the ever-popular As Is bin at IKEA.  I used the same pattern that produced the Viking Girl Outfit: Simplicity 8004.  Heavy duty interfacing for stiffness, blind-hemmed partial lining for the brim.  I found the hawk feather on a walk a couple of days before I shipped The Box.  It’s the first I’ve found.  I love hawks.

The conical princess hat is from the same set of cross-dyed taffeta curtains as the queeny wizard robe.  1” fake fur trim from the fabric store.  Floaty ribbon streamers.

Aaand the mob caps.  Let me just tell you, a lined mob cap is a fussier lot of sewing than it looks!  I had all the round things out of my kitchen cupoards, trying to find the right combination of circles to trace for cutting lines and casing seams: trays, mixing bowls, pizza pans, pot lids. . .  Like the eyelet apron, my sister tells me the exotic-ness of the mob caps made them immediately interesting to my nieces.

The wire tinsel tiara was from my own costume box, and the black thing behind it is a boughten witch’s hat.  Which just about covers it, don’t you think?

Halloween Countdown: 3 days

The skirt was a women’s eight-gore skirt with a hidden side zip at Goodwill–so full and cheap I couldn’t resist, even though I could see it might be some trouble to cut it down.  First I cut off the fitted waistband.  That was easy.  The hard part was picking out the many criss-crossing layers of serged seams securing the zipper For The Ages.  I sewed up the side where the zipper had been and added a top casing from wide black bias tape to hold a new elastic waistband.  The skirt is ankle-length on my older niece, just the way the gypsies wore them.

The child’s peasant top and the wool/polyamide and velvet embroidered vest were both eBay finds.  I think the vest is darling.  I had a thing for vests when I was little.  I badly wanted the kinds worn by cowgirls and organ grinders’ monkeys.  Here, even the back is nice; have a look:

Were you fixated on any particular category of clothing in grade school?  I never did get the vest of my childhood dreams, though I did get a very nice weskit when I was 13 or so.

Halloween Countdown: 4 days

Two below-the-knee tutus purchased on eBay.  Again I must excuse my camera.  The pink one is a nicer rose color in person.

The real costume is the leafy skirt.  It can worn pixie-like over a plain leotard, or over skirts like these for flower fairies.  The waist band is satin blanket binding stiffened with fusible interfacing in the middle section.  The leaves are made from a remnant of polyester double-knit.  I fused two pieces together with a middle layer of “Heat-n-Bond Lite” to bulk it up to the right spongy stiffness, traced and cut leaf shapes, stitched them to the waistband.  Beforehand I had cut and arranged random lengths of translucent light green ribbon to go underneath the leaves.

None of this is botany, certainly, but I was thinking of sepals when I added the curls of dark green wire-edged ribbon on top of the leaves, sewed the ends to points (Fray Check stabilizes the the raw edges), and tipped them with faceted plastic beads of dew.   Finally I stitched the waistband shut finished it off with beaded ribbon trim.  It ties like a sash behind.

Halloween Countdown: 5 days

In assembling this costume box I was determined to avoid the tyrannical pinks of little-girldom: pepto, hot pink, and my own particular emetics (my tenderest years were spent in the 1980’s) the urply-purply “jewel-tones” of the family: fuchsia and orchid.  The easiest way to avoid overused pinks is  to avoid all pinks, but then I thought, that’s silly.  As foolish to fear pink as pimp it.   I would much rather rehabilitate pink, promote diversity of pinkness!  What about coral?  What about salmon, raspberry, and rose?  Should they suffer for the sins of candy-floss?

Which is my preface to telling you the photos are over-saturated, the fabric is actually a very pale shell pink.  Spotting this material at the fabric store–its partial translucency and interesting drape–was what made me decide to try making a classical garment of some kind.  As it turned out, a modified chiton.

It can be worn belted:

Or unbelted:

I thought of making up a muslin to make sure my idea of how to accomplish the garment I had in mind would work, but was too impatient.  Anyhow the fabric was only something like $2 a yard.

Two pieces of fabric went into the construction, front piece wider than back for a drapey front neckline.  Graduated hem, two casings at each shoulder with stitched-in pull cords made from matching bias tape, and a tiny bit of shaping of the back neckline.  Everything worked as I’d hoped except the curve I cut into the back neck.  Once the hem was turned it made the neck hole too large.  I made a box pleat in back to fix this.

It’s off center!  Know how it is when you measure two, three, four times, and still end up somehow not getting your tuck in quite the right place?

Despite its straying pleat and pinkness, this is probably my favorite of the garments I made for my nieces.

Halloween Countdown: 6 days

First I drew up a pattern for a very full bell-shaped gored skirt and sewed it in blue-grey taffeta.  Then I fashioned the overskirt from some geriatric ruffled nylon curtains (Goodwill).  A piece of coordinating sheer polyester yardage, hemmed on the raw edges, makes a sparkly night-sky wrap.  The skirts are worn over a crinoline and a light blue leotard.


I had some material to work up into a bow or a rosette for the center of the waist, but I forgot about it until the day I was packing the box, so it didn’t happen.  Here’s the back of the overskirt.  You can see how it’s a bit poufier than the front because of the way the curtains were made.