Easy Polka Dots with Hexagons

Designing with hexagons can be tricky, but it is also full of amazing surprises: This blog is about how easy it is to achieve Polka dot effects with hexagons!

Let’s start with looking at a small block of six hexagons (top left of the following graph). They are arranged in two rows, three hexagons each row. The first row has the sequence of “background, background, dot”. If you feel like dancing, you could say “skip, skip, dot”. The second row starts with a dot and has two background hexagons that follow.

Because of hexagon geometry, the dots between the rows are offset just right to make a classical Polka dot pattern.

Now you just need to repeat those “steps” within each row, and repeat those two rows, to any size you like. There you have your polka dot pattern!

To demonstrate, I made a Polka Dot Cowl in autumn colors … and did I mention that cowls are perfect medium size pin-loom projects, perfect for trying out crafting ideas … and perfect for gift giving?

The Autumn Cowl was woven on the TinyTURTLE™ Loom F-Fine sett with a yarn that is unfortunately discontinued (WEBS Camp Color Fingering, colors Audiophile and Somewhere Over the Rainbow). You can substitute any sock/fingering weight yarn or use the TinyTURTLTE™ Loom R-Regular sett with worsted weight yarns.

If you like the background plaid effect of the sample cowl, look for a yarn with “micro stripes”. Here are two examples:

Tempe Yarn’s Desert Garden is dyed with TURTLE looms in mind.

The variegated yarn on the left is Dusty Miller, on the right is Lupine. A suggestion for the dots is Desert Shades in Merlot (the “real” colors are actually more vibrant than in this photo).

Call the store for assistance at 480-557-9166 while they are updating their online shop.

In my stash I had these yarns from the Chaos Fiber Co.

The Micro-Stripe color is Birthday Party, combined with “dots” of Tonal Minis in Turquise Pop, Hot Pink, Hot Orange, and Lemon Drop. Use one or all!

The cowl measures about 21.5″ in the round and is about 9″ tall. You can easily change the size by adding/subtracting rows and repeats. The modeled cowl for example has one extra repeat, which brings it to 27″ in the round.

Here is the chart for making the cowl:

For your own Polka dot projects, and no matter which hexagons you’re using, here is a Hexagon Polka Dot Design chart for you. Print it in landscape layout for best results. If you need a larger chart, print and tape together as many copies as you need.

I hope that you enjoy this little lesson in “Designing with Hexagons”. There’s more to explore in these articles on the Handwoven/Little Looms website.

Lastly, if you are curious (like I was) about the origins of Polka dots, here is an article that I enjoyed reading about the history of polka dot patterns.

I want to thank Gale Zuckerwww.gzucker.com, on Instagram @galezucker, for her amazing ability to bring out the best of a hand-crafted item in photography, and to Josephine Ankrah, Instagram @sweetjsphn, for perfectly modeling the Polka Dot Cowl.

The TURTLEs are looking forward to seeing your Polka dot projects!

Car Coasters are a Thing!

I hope that I’m not the only person who was not aware that people use coasters for the cup holders in their cars … It took Tammy Anderson’s recent Facebook post with a picture of her newly created coasters to inspire me that woven hexagons would perfect for that purpose.

Photo credit: (c) 2023 Tammy Anderson. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

I’ve been using napkins for years, particularly during this hot summer.

Napkins no more! From now on, I will have handwoven coasters for all cup holders in my car, and just because I can, they will be seasonal!

MATERIALS: Let’s start with some autumnal coasters, woven on the Original TURTLE Loom™ R-regular sett and using Hobby Lobby’s “I Love This Cotton” in color 336 Cinnamon Cedar.

HOW TO: This is probably the most perfect beginner project with a purpose that I can think of: Just weave a hexagon … weave in the ends … DONE!

I decided to weave the ends back into the weaving, which maintains an even edging all around. The “extra threads” are barely visible and just add to the coasters ability to soak up a few more drops of condensation.

After weaving the tails back in, just clip them.

Applications are endless, here are a few suggestions:

  • Make a set of 4-6 coasters as a great gift for someone who gave you a ride or is on the road a lot.
  • Think ahead and make stocking stuffers for friends, family members, colleagues.
  • Make those coasters in team colors, or make a set in someone’s favorite or car colors.
  • Great little something for a new driver? First car?

Start with transforming your car today

The 5-Point Ooops Story

Fellow pin-loom weaver Teresa Evans recently acquired the new Original Diamond F loom, because she wants to make Greta Holmstrom’s amazing Star Shawl from the Little Looms Fall 2023 magazine.

Teresa posted this picture, excitedly showing her sampling efforts.

“Oh, that looks pretty” I thought instantly, and then “Wait a minute … there are five points, not six! And it still looks awesome!”

I had to try it, so I “re-purposed” some diamonds from another project and made a 5-point and a 6-point star. Both work just fine, and the reason is that the flexible bias edging allows for both layouts to settle as needed!

I shared my observations with Teresa, and after a good laugh about her not-intended 5-point star, we instantly started brainstorming Christmas decorations …

What started as an “oops” is turning into a great holiday crafting opportunity.

And Abby the Tabby will make sure that Teresa is getting it right this time … for both projects, the shawl and the Christmas decorations …

Photo credits: All photos except the two-star sample picture are provided by Teresa Evans. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Little Looms Fall 2023 Magazine

Wow! The new Little Looms Fall 2023 issue has taken off to new heights. Big congrats to editor Christina Garton and her team for curating another excellent collection of small loom adventures, from rigid heddle to inkle to pin looms.

As always, each of the projects has a story, and I’d like to share some of those here.

I designed the Forest Toques with the issue’s theme in mind: “It Takes Two”. I jokingly call this project the “Toque Two”.

It’s the same hat, but depending on how you turn the hexagons when you sew them together, you get a smaller or a larger hat size.

For the model I used the Original TURTLE Loom™ R and the gorgeously beautiful and soft Noro Miyabi yarn that I discovered at a local yarn store (Farm to Needle). The same hat could also be worked on the fine sett or even the extra fine sett loom.

The story of the Phoenix Rising Shawl is about dreams coming true. Since I was a teenager I’ve wanted to express the glow of a fire in a fiber project, but I never found the right yarn for it. At the same time, I’ve for many years adored the yarns of the Hedgehog Fibres company, but many of them were a bit thin for pin-loom weaving … until Merino Aran became available. The vibrant colors for “fire” and “ashes” caught my eyes, probably because I had just shared the story of Phoenix rising from the ashes with a friend who needed some encouragement.

Sampling the yarn on multiple pin looms revealed that the Original Jewel R loom created perfect radiance, combined with “ashes” hexagons from the Original TURTLE Loom R … and the Phoenix Rising Shawl was born. Thank you, Christina, for calling it a “showstopper shawl” in the editorial!

Greta Holmstrom is occasionally test-weaving new TURTLE looms, and I think it was about two years ago when I sent her some, including a diamond or tumbling block shape. How awesome to see Greta’s Star Shawl in this Little Looms issue, combining hexagons and tumbling blocks! You can weave the shawl using the Original Diamond 2″ F and the Original TURTLE Loom F, or – if you prefer to use worsted weight yarns, use the “R- regular sett” versions of both looms.

Debbie Shelmidine was our April Travel Turtle host last year, and we mentioned then that she is a veteran pin-loom designer who has published designs in Handwoven as far back as 2008 and also in the very first Little Looms issue in 2016 before she took a design break. How precious it is to see her comeback in Little Looms Fall 2023 with the perfectly-fall Autumn Leaves Runner! Debbie wove the leaves on the Elongon™ 2″ R loom in Peaches & Cream cotton and embroidered the leaf stems … brilliantly easy and beautiful!

There is much more to the issue, of course, and you can read more about it on the Little Looms website. And if you have questions about any of the projects that you can make with TURTLE looms, please contact us any time!

PS: If you saw our ad in Little Looms Fall 2023, you’ll know that there’s still more to come … the Polka Dot Cowl.

Soon … not yet …

Diamonds are for Weaving

Let’s welcome the Original Diamond, F, pin loom to the TURTLE loom collection!

The Original Diamond pin loom, F, creates a diamond or rhombus shape with a wide angle (60°) that in crafting is often referred to as “tumbling block”. The loom sides measure slightly over 2″, designed to work perfectly together with any other “Original” TURTLE looms.

Did you know, that it takes three diamonds to make a hexagon?

While jewel shapes go very well with hexagons and certain triangles … occasionally the new diamonds will come in handy to fill some gaps.

And then, designer Greta Holmstrom, who had been one of our test weavers for that loom, surprised recently with the news that one of her project designs using diamonds had been accepted to the Little Looms Fall 2023 magazine!

Congratulations, Greta, on your beautiful Star Shawl!

If you are looking for more inspiration, I started a Pinterest board “Diamond and Tumbling Block Ideas” with some suggestions on how to use tumbling blocks.

The new Original Diamond, F is now available in our Etsy store.

Please contact us if you have any questions!

FAQ

Q: Is the Original Diamond, F the 2″ diamond loom that the instructions for Greta’s shawl asks for?
A: Yes, it is. All “Original” TURTLE looms have a side-length of just slightly over 2″. The new Original Diamond, F is designed to work perfectly with all other “Original” TURTLE looms.

Q: Can I use the Original Diamond looms for any other designs that ask for a 2″ tumbling block?
A: Yes. Both, the bias weaving method and the yarn that you will use, will impact the final size of your woven diamond, enough to adjust for a good fit within your 2″ project.

Q: Is there a diamond loom for the regular sett?
A: Yes, there is an Original Diamond, R. It will start shipping by July 1st.

TURTLEs in Canada!

We welcome Kelowna Yarn & Needlecrafts in British Columbia, Canada, to join the group of retailers who carry TURTLE looms!

Store owner Cheryl Brown and her team offer TURTLE looms in their Kelowna store as well as online on the website.

See which looms are in stock! Look here for regular sett and fine sett looms. If the looms that you are looking for are not available, contact the store and ask if they can add your wish list to their next order.

Vineyards play a significant role in the beautiful Kelowna area, and Cheryl mentioned that it is sometimes called “Napa North”. This inspired me to celebrate Kelowna Yarn as a new TURTLE retailer with some grape-themed projects: Here are grape cluster coasters and a table runner project for you to make (and you don’t have to live in Canada to make them!

A grape cluster coaster, worked on the TinyTURTLE loom R-regular sett, makes a coaster size that is just right for a wine glass. If you follow the same pattern but use the Original TURTLE Loom™ R-regular sett, it will make a coaster for a bottle (center) .

I used Queensland Collection Costal Cotton yarn in 1034 Concord and 1042 Seaweed to make the samples. You just need one ball of those two colors to make one bottle and several glass coasters.

This grape table runner is a slightly larger project, but still easy-to-make on the Original TURTLE Loom R-regular sett.

I used The Fibre Co. Lore in shades Wise (grapes), Ambitious (leaves), and Spiritual (background) for the sample. I wet finished the table runner, but it could also be fulled.

Here are the Instructions for Both Projects

  • For a coaster, weave eight hexagons in grape color, and two hexagons for the leaves.
  • For the table runner, weave sixteen hexagons in grape color, four hexagons for the leaves, and nineteen hexagons for the background.

Use the following chart when you arrange the hexagons. Sew hexagons to hexagons together into rows first, then connect rows to rows. I used simple whipstitch and the tail ends for the sewing.

Weave in all ends. Block as desired.

These projects are beginner friendly and versatile … You can use a broad variety of yarns (cotton and wool are just examples). The same projects can be worked on the fine sett looms, and even a mix-and-match.

For more grape-spiration, check out the grape table topper in “Easy Weaving with Little Looms” 2018 and the Grape Pillow project in this blog post.

Make A Turtle!

Our turtle mascot Charlene has been capturing the hearts of stuffed animal lovers of all ages, everywhere, and now we are making the pattern available so that you can make your own!

This pattern includes three sizes … the instructions are the same, just different looms are used.

Explore possibilities … thick or thin yarn … one color or many … medium head on a large turtle … make your turtle(s) unique! Use the “tummy” to embroider a name or date to make it extra special for the recipient.

Would you like to weave in company? Right now, during the month of May 2023, you can join us on Facebook or Ravelry for a Turtle Weave-Along! Find more information about that on the TexasGabi blog HERE.

View or download the pattern:

Earn Your Weaving Buddy Badge!

To celebrate our 6th anniversary we decided that it is time to start honoring customers who are making pretty and practical projects with their TURTLE looms. TURTLE weavers who have turned at least 100 hexagons and/or jewels into finished projects can contact us and request their Weaving Buddy badge!

Read on to see how to be eligible:

  • You have woven at least 100 hexagons and/or jewels and turned them into a finished project. This could be a single project, for example a garment or a blanket, or multiple projects that add up to at least 100 hexagons/jewels.
  • Your count may include regular and elongated hexagons of any size as well as jewels.
  • Make any project(s) you want. Use any pattern or your imagination. Use any yarn you wish.
  • Contact us when you are ready and we will discuss the details. We will ask you to send us photos that we can add to the Weaving Buddy Wall here on this site and a little info about which looms and yarns you used.
  • We will ask for your permission to post your project picture(s) here on this website on the Weaving Buddy Wall (we will set that up when we receive the first submissions).
  • Upon acceptance, we will send you a Weaving Buddy pin that we have made just for this purpose and a certificate that confirms your accomplishment.
  • We have a little over 400 badges to grant. There is no time limit … we will grant the badges until we run out.
  • We also have a small number of “honorary” badges to give to people who are dedicated TURTLE fans and deserve recognition just for that. For example, my husband will probably never weave and assemble 100 hexagons, but he got the very first badge because he patiently endures me and all the looms! If you know of a person who you think deserves an honorary badge, please contact us with your suggestion!

The certificate will mention your name and the unique badge number.

The badge is an antique die struck pin, measuring about 1 1/4″ point-to-point, with a magnetic back (it will ship with two magnets to help it hold better).

We are probably as excited about this program as you are, but that doesn’t mean that it will be perfect from the beginning! If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or contact us.

Badge design and logo © 2023 Bluebonnet Crafters, LLC. All rights reserved.
The badge is not for sale.

Customer Projects Showcase – April 2023

Spring is springing these days, isn’t it? A friend wrote me that it is sunny and warm today where she lives, and 29F and snow in the forecast for the next day. The good thing is that any weather is weaving weather! This month we have two projects, a how-to tip, and an announcement or two …

I hope that you saw my mosaic Bee Queen table topper in the new Little Looms Summer 2023? If you’re not up to making that many hexagons right now but want to “bee busy”, you could make something like Susanne Eakin’s bee hive wall hanging, using the Tiny TURTLE F … and don’t forget the adorable (PennyTURTLE) flower!

I always like when people contact me and share their weaving stories, as Linda Aprin did! Linda watched the video “Weaving with one hand” and then shared a few ideas about things that she did differently. I appreciate that she allowed me to spread the word to others who may find this useful!

Linda writes:
“Instead of clamping the loom, stabilize it with Dycem, the blue stuff in the picture. That lets you easily turn the loom. Also, instead of a clothes pin, use a clip like the one in the picture. It lets the yarn slide and helps the work flow instead of starting and stopping.”

Jane Grogan has for many years made Christmas tree ornaments for her family and friends. One year she made 30 adorable little turtles! Jane wove two TinyTURTLE R hexagons and added felted feet, head, and tail. She decorated with a little ribbon, added a hanger, and ready is a cute turtle ornament!

ETA April 30, 2023: Jane saw your comments! She provided a pattern – with template for the body – for you all to make your own adorable turtle ornaments. Leave a shoutout thank you in the comments section of this post if you plan to make some turtles! Here is the pattern for you:

That said, there is a “Turtle Weave-Along” coming up this May! The WAL will be from May 1-23, and ALL turtle makers will be welcome. More details will become available shortly on the TexasGabi blog.

One more announcement … I’d like to invite you to come back and read our blog on April 19 (hint, hint … signing up on the right to be notified about new blogs will make it real easy). We will celebrate our 6th TURTLE anniversary with launching a Weaving Buddy program … see you then!

(Photo credits: All project photos are by their respective project owners. Used with permission. All rights reserved.)

Humble Beginnings of “Summer and Winter” Weaving

I owe you several blogs, for example an update on the 2023 temperature blanket, the next customer projects showcase, more info for the Garment WAL, but how do I explain this blog? … You can call it a confession of an addict.

Fellow pin-loom weaver Glorian posted a picture of the cutest little purse that she discovered at a thrift store, and she added that she bought it because it reminded her of pin-loom weaving.

A closer look at this stunning little treasure revealed that it is a “summer and winter” pattern, something that has enchanted “big loom” weavers for centuries.

What is “Summer and Winter”?

Weavezine explains it well … “Summer and Winter is a block weave. This means that you can create designs by building up blocks of pattern against a background cloth. Summer and Winter uses four warp threads for each unit of design. These four threads comprise both tie-down and pattern threads.”

On occasion it had crossed my mind to see how such complex patterns like “summer and winter” do on pin looms. Glorian’s post however made me decide to try it out “right now”.

This blog summarizes very humble beginnings. Unlike my usual blogs, this is more a WIP notebook. I hope that sharing my ideas and observations may inspire others to try it out as well, and that together we may bring this beautiful pattern approach to the smallest of looms.

How I Wove my “Summer and Winter” Sample

Block patterns require 4 warps. To achieve that I wove two hexagons on top of each other: The first hexagon is in the pattern colors rose and lavender, the next hexagon on top of that is in the “background” color gray. I used the TexaTURTLE R-regular loom to have enough space in the center for one framed flower. I used DK weight yarn to make it easier to move the threads between layers (I used Yarnspirations Caron Little Crafties, which proved to be perfect for the job). For both hexagons, I wove the first part in rounds as usual, to establish the “warped” centers of the hexagons.

Sorry, no pattern … I counted the threads on the picture and tried to get as close as possible. There is enough space for one framed flower, and I added some sidebars.

Each row is woven twice. First, using the pattern color thread, I worked the pattern by bringing the threads from the underlying hexagon to the top and wove a regular plain weave for each patterned area. Each second weave is done with the “background” color … filling in the background, and diving down under any pattern threads to proceed with a plain weave there for the areas where the background should not be visible.

This picture shows on the finished piece how the threads have switched layers during the weaving.

“Further Research Required” …

The sample is merely a proof of concept, a lot can be improved. For example:

  • Proper “over/under” needs to be worked out, particularly when changing colors.
  • Pattern writing and charting options need to be explored.
  • For the next samples, simpler patterns than a flower in a wavy frame will help to better understand the mechanics.

A Few More Thoughts

  • If you are a knitter, you may know the concept of double knitting or reversible colorwork, where you knit two layers of fabric in different colors, and switch the colors between the layers to work reversible patterns. The knowledge that you may have from this knitting approach may come in handy for “summer and winter” weaving.
  • This method will work well on square or rectangle pin looms. When weaving, use any traditional warp/weft method (wind the warp only before you weave). Just wind the warp threads to get ready to weave. I suggest to weave 2 rows of plain weave before starting any patterns.
  • Usage: Because this method requires a lot of concentration and patience, it is unlikely to expect a lot of people making king-size blanketsl However, as the sample shows, just one simple weavie can be a welcome treat. It’s a great learning experience, and … any “summer and winter” project will certainly make people wonder how you made it!
  • If you like the pattern but don’t want to deal with a complicated weaving pattern … you can always embroider it!

Did you enjoy reading this very different type of blog? Leave a comment below!