The Hope Vest

It has been a great privilege to tell the story of Diana and Handspun Hope in Handwoven May/June 2021. A story of “stepping up” to help widows and orphans in Rwanda. A story of building a way to live in peace, with food and shelter. And a story of reaching out to the rest of the world, through fiber.

It is our wish that the Hope Vest will encourage weavers to explore the all natural, handmade fibers from this country far away. See and feel the pride that the women in Rwanda put into their work.
You can call it a weaving adventure in may ways, filled with hope for a better life.

Handspun Hope provides three lines of beautiful yarns: Ethiopian Handspun Cotton (top left), a precious Angora and Merino Blend (top right, used for the Hope Vest), and Organic Merino Wool that comes in different weights (bottom left in worsted, bottom right in bulky) . Visit Handspun Hope online to learn more and shop these yarns.

For a limited time we are providing a digital version of the Hope Vest Project Guide free of charge, but please consider making a small donation to the Handspun Hope organization.

Weave the magic, share your thoughts!

Honey, It’s A Spring Wreath!

I happen to spot hexagons almost everywhere (and I hear you all laughing!) Therefore it is no surprise that the “beeing kind” spring theme at JoAnn Fabrics pulled me right in. A laser cut wooden honeycomb décor caught my eye: Those holes needed fabric … woven hexagons! Conveniently, JoAnn Fabrics also carries Lion Brand’s Bonbon yarn minis which are perfect for hexagon pin loom weaving, so a pack of “601 Nature”, a honeycomb wood décor, and I checked out the store minutes later.

The TinyTURTLE™ hexagon pin loom in fine-sett is the perfect weaving companion to weave the “bonbon” cotton and create hexagons that are exactly the right size to cover the hexagon shapes in the wooden template.

Feeling inspired? Read on for instructions!

I decided to only fill the full hexagon shapes on the wooden template (16).
I wove a bunch of hexagons and moved them around until I liked the looks: With the colors at hand I simulated the looks of a honey comb, and the hexagon shapes behind “leaves” would be backed with green. The pink and purples would serve as flower centers (5).

Go ahead and create your own, or follow along to make what I made!

For extra fun, I used all colors. For the honeycomb I wove:
(2) natural
(6) light yellow
(3) beige
(2) brown
Add (3) green hexagons for the leaves areas.
Use the photo to join the hexagons. Hexagons to rows first, then rows to rows will work best.

Great assembly practice, and the seams don’t have to be pretty, because they will be covered by the wooden template!

I stapled the sewn hexagon patch to the back of the wooden template.
Note: Don’t press the stapler too hard, because otherwise – even with 6mm staples – the ends may show through (if that happens, just pull the staple back with a knife carefully). You can also hot glue the hexagon patch in place.

For the flower centers I wove:
(2) pink
(1) lavender
(2) purple
Weave in the ends.

PS: There is still plenty of time to finish this project in time for Mother’s Day.
PSS: I left the wooden template untreated, but you could lacquer it or even paint it for additional effect.
PSSS: As of this writing (4/24/2021) all place & time items are 50% off at JoAnn’s.
PSSSS: I’m really done now. Thank you for reading!

Enjoy making it! Enjoy decorating with it!

Earth Day 2021

The idea started yesterday when I was reading an article by Handwoven editor Susan Horton, “WIFs for Earth Day Weaving”, with a call to plan or weave a project that’s good for the planet.

I realized that If I make one hexagon every day until Earth Day (April 22, 2021), I will have seven hexagons to make a flower table topper! I will use this post to track the daily progress on my earth friendly weaving for the week to come …

For Day 1 I raided my yarn ends bowl, which yielded just enough to make my first hexagon … the classic “Leave no ends behind” hexagon, edition 2021.

For Day 2 I decided to try a new yarn. Lion Brand features a “Sustainable Stitching” yarn collection, and I was curious to try out their “Just Hemp” (100% hemp) yarn. It is a 5-Bulky weight yarn, but it weaves up nicely into a dense fabric on the Original TURTLE Loom™ R – regular. I recommend using a locker hook for the weaving and packing after each row.

Day 3 is a recycle day, using pretty ribbons that remind of blissful chocolates.
Use a locker hook and take your time for the weaving. Skip pins as needed to accommodate the thicker ribbon.
Day 3 derailed a little bit … once I took the hexagon off the loom … it looked like a holiday ornament, so that’s what it turned into: My first holiday gift for 2021 is done.
Will have to make up a day for the Earth Day flower …

Day 4: To compensate for yesterday’s repurposed hexagon, I chose to weave two hexagons today, of different Berroco yarns: Remix Light, which has been one of my favorite, 100% recycled yarns for years, and the new Chai, which with 56% linen and 44% silk deserves to be called a sustainable yarn. Both yarns get two thumbs up for weaving on the Original TURTLE Loom in fine-sett!

Day 5: Feedbag ties come in handy when you need something thin and strong to tie something. But those ties also weave very well! For today’s recycle hexagon I held two strands of ties together, which creates a nice basket weave on the Original TURTLE Loom™ in fine-sett. Extra bonus for having more than one color!

For Day 6 I consulted my yarn sample basket once again, and Lion Brand’s shiny Nuboo won the “pick me!” contest. Made of sustainable 100% Lyocell (bamboo pulp), Nuboo is listed as worsted weight. However, the yarn is more on the thinner side and very smooth: It weaves up beautifully – with a great sheen and drape – on the Original TURTLE Loom™ in fine-sett.

For Day 7 I wove “plarn”, plastic yarn, a rather popular way to recycle plastic bags. About half a bag from an 8-pack of HEB hamburger buns, cut into 1/2″ strips, is sufficient to weave one hexagon on the Original TURTLE Loom™ R – regular. Take your time, weave loosely, and skip a pin or two as needed. Weave in the ends anywhere back into the hexagon and use a different yarn for sewing.

And here is the Earth Day Flower! … Table topper, wall hanging, backyard yarn bombing, …

I hope you feel inspired by the things you’ve seen. Earth friendly doesn’t mean that it has to look cheap or won’t be any fun. There is no need to suffer or miss out on anything. We have so many options these days that living earth friendly every day is very possible and does not have to be a burden.

When the Easter Bunny Steals the Elf Basket …

Remember the Efl Baskets? It only takes a few more steps to turn that pattern into an Easter bunny basket … and more …

You can never have enough baskets (particularly those that hold treats). To make your next basket, try the Elongon™ 2″ R-regular loom (because that will give you extra tippy ears). You will need about 20 yards of yarn. I used a variety of Caron Simply Soft, Caron Cakes, and Caron Latte Cakes yarns. Leftovers are awesome for this project!

Follow the instructions for the Elf Basket: Start weaving the “ear” color (I used off white), then weave the stripes in any contrasting color that you’d like. Fold two tips on opposing sites and sew them into place with just a few stitches. These sides will be the back and the front of the bunny. The remaining two sides have the tips which are now the bunny ears!

Add a pompom tail (wrap yarn around 2 fingers 20 times and tie off and trim; or use a store bought pompom). For the eyes, I used 12 mm safety eyes (or embroider, use buttons, or felt). Two leftover ends of yarn may serve as whiskers.

Adding handles is optional … Join two strands of yarn in one corner. Crochet about 25 chain stitches. Slip stitch into the next corner (on a side with a “ear”). Fasten off.

And who is this? Easter … Yoda?!

For a Yoda-style basket, weave two hexagons like for the Elf basket, and two hexagons in solid green (these will be the “face” and the back of the head). Assemble the basket as usual.

Flip and sew the tips of the solid hexagons.
Hold in the “ears” with an extra piece of yarn and shape into style. Add eyes … fill with your favorite candy … all year long!

Happy Easter!

Wings

The “Wings” shawl shown in a recent Handwoven Reader’s Gallery article comes with a special story … please allow me to share …

Fellow pin loom weaver Carolien and I like to go yarn shopping together … virtually, since we live a few thousand miles apart. Two years ago on her birthday, Carolien visited “Stephen and Penelope” in Amsterdam, and “we” bought a skein of Qing Fibre Merino Singles.

The yarn created a fabric as light as a feather, and I decided to make a shawl. When I needed a little bit more yarn, I took my inspiration from Stephen West’s love for bold colors and unusual shapes, very much stepping out of my comfort zone.

The finished shawl felt perfect. I decided to name it “Wings”, reminding of long distance friendships without borders. Wings that envelop the wearer with soft and gentle comfort. Wings that free.

It was a precious moment when I was able to show the finished shawl to Stephen during a knitting event and share the story with him. Perfectly Stephen, he did not hesitate to model the shawl. (Thank you, Stephen, you rock!)

Last not least, Wings encouraged me to enter new territory and have it professionally photographed. I’m a big fan of Gale Zucker … The way she saw Wings through her camera lens is second to none. Thank you, Gale Zucker, let this just be the beginning!

Ready to make your own Wings?

The hexagons are woven on the Elongon 2″ fine-sett TURTLE loom. The shawl requires one skein of Qing Fibre Merino Single in Cuttlefish and added accents are worked in small amounts of Chaos Fiber Co Tonal Elite Sock in Hot Green and Purple Pop (the latter is also used to crochet the border).

Follow this chart to layout and assemble your “Wings” shawl:

The observant weaver will notice that the design includes four half hexagons … do not worry, by the time you will get to weaving those … you will find the instructions right here on this blog!

Happy birthday, Carolien!

The Lozenges Scarf – A Bias Study Project

If you have that one skein of precious, beautiful worsted weight yarn, here is a project suggestion for you … You can use the bias fabric feature, as it is described in the article “Designing with Hexagons: Basic Concepts”, to stretch your one skein supply and make a cool scarf on your TexaTURTLE loom!

Here is how it goes: Weave up your skein into hexagons, then watch the following video that shows you how to connect hexagons on the bias for maximum stretch:

The Lozenges Scarf as shown is made of 14 TexaTURTLE hexagons and results in a scarf that is about 80″ long, unstretched. You can adjust the length by using more or fewer hexagons.

Wear your scarf wrapped twice or three times for volume, open as “duster” accessory, double for a warming and decorative effect.

You can use different TURTLE looms and yarns, too … the first Lozenges Scarf was actually featured by Cocoa Bear in the Little Looms Holiday 2020 magazine. That scarf was woven on the TinyTURTLE fine-sett loom, using sock yarn.

Struggling with joining hexagons? This project is great “first time” joining exercise that is as easy as it can get. Watch stitch-by-stitch instructions here:

Go ahead and give the Lozenges Scarf a try! Easy to make, lots to learn, fun to enjoy.

TURTLE customer Lynne B. made this TexaTURTLE scarf earlier this year (see her comments below). While the joining direction for her hexagons is random, the scarf turned out to be lovely! And … don’t miss those humongous pompoms! Brava, Lynne!
(photos posted with permission)

Thank you, Lynne for sharing!

Lozenges Scarf, wrapped around a tree, showing stretched and un-stretched hexagons.

Hearts! … or How To Tame Bias Woven Squares

It’s the time of the year where it’s cold outside and warm, pink, and red everywhere else. Valentine’s Day is approaching! While it’s still about a month to go, this is the time to start crafting for it!

In this blog we will take a look at “shaping fabric”. Bias fabric can be tricky to understand, but if we master its properties, we can put those special features to work and make beautiful things … like hearts!

We are going to make a little Heart Wall Accent. Instructions are below, but if you prefer, you can watch this how-to video:

We used the new Square 2″ fine-sett loom for this project. However, the instructions will work for any square loom of any size that allows you to weave the continuous-strand bias weaving method.

SUPPLIES
One square makes one heart. A Square 2″ fine-sett woven motif needs 2.7 yards of any sock/fingering weight yarn. We used Scheepjes Catona in colors 114, 222, and 238. Have some extra yardage for the hanger and the optional tassel.
The base (holding 3 hearts) is about 2.5″ wide and 9″ tall. We used chicken wire ribbon, but you can also use felt, fabric, wood, or any other material of your liking.

MAKE A HEART

Weave one square and take it off the loom. Have one yarn end facing up/away from you, the other one to the right.

Hold the center of the square down, then slide the yarn end that is facing away from you towards the center.

This will gather the fabric of the top half together.

Secure the gathered fabric with a few stitches in the back of the heart.

Stretch the sides of the remaining square to round the sides into a heart shape.
The “shaping” will work for most yarns. If your yarn slides or bounces back, block/stiffen it after completing the heart.

Gently pull the other yarn end to round the sides of the heart.

Slide in the fabric on the other side to match both sides.

Secure the tail, weave in and clip the end.

Your heart is now ready to use. Keep the remaining tail to attach the heart to a base, or use it as a hanger if you want to use the heart the way it is.

Optionally you can use your Square loom to make a tassel . We used 15 wraps of yarn. Tie it at the top loop, clip the bottom loop. Wrap and secure the tassel head and clip the ends even. Done! If needed, the video shows the making in more detail.

ASSEMBLY
For the base, cut a 9″ piece of chicken wire and carefully bend the ends.
Use three strands of yarn to make a hanger (you can also use a piece of ribbon or make a string using crochet, lucet, or any other craft of your liking).
Attach the tassel to the bottom of the wall accent.
Enjoy!

The hearts can be used for many other crafts: Make Valentine’s cards, for example. Or applique them to a pillow. Stiffen them and make a hearts mobile!

Happy Valentine’s Day … every day!

“No Stress” 2021 Patchwork Project

What a year 2020 has turned out to be! I don’t think any of us had a clue when we started our “No-Stress” 2020 Patchwork Project last year as to how much we would need that “no stress” aspect for our crafts!

But here we are, at the beginning of a new year. Those of you who participated in last year’s project and those who have been watching the progress from the sideline have indicated a clear “Let’s do it again”!

We mentioned last year that any loom is ok, but this year I want to put more emphasis on that: I will have two “no stress” patchwork projects to work on, one on the Original TURTLE Loom™ in regular and fine-sett, and one on a Schacht Zoom loom, as an example for “any other loom”.

Let’s review what this project is all about:
This is a pin loom project that carries on throughout the year. Work on it as time allows, but without stress or frustration.

  • Keep it simple and flexible, because … life happens!
  • The idea is to weave motifs and sew them together into a project as you go (see project ideas below).
  • Use sample/swatch weavies, leftover weavies from other projects, or weave one in a pretty yarn that you like.
  • Use any loom you like. I do suggest, though, to just use one loom size, because that makes it easy to add to your project as you go. Examples: I will use the original 4″ hexagon looms in both, the “regular”and “fine sett”, because they create the same size hexagons. I also will use a Schacht Zoom loom for a second project, as an example for a non-hexagon loom.
  • Weave as time allows, until December 31, 2021. Maybe one a day, but most likely less, because there will be busy times throughout the year when there’s just no time to weave.
  • Start late (you don’t have to start January 1st), end early (if you reach a point where you like the project and the year is not over, just consider it done).
  • (Optional) Keep notes in a little notebook, but keep it simple: Date, material, optional brief comments (for example for a special occasion). With or without writing down notes, the patchwork project will have stories to tell!
  • (Optional) Take a picture once a month to record progress throughout the year.
  • Unless you know what you want to make, start with the first motif in the middle and work around that center. This way, the resulting project is determined by how many weavies are woven. That will make it “no stress with guaranteed success”: Just make one motif, the 2021 project will be a coaster. If you make some, it may be a trivet, shawl, or table runner. If you go crazy and make 2 or more every day … here is your king size bed cover!

At the end of the year you will have a project that you can call your 2021 Patchwork Project and that you can be proud of, no matter what it turns out to be. Take a look at some of the projects from 2020:

Will you join in this year? You can follow along here on the blog, or in the Facebook Pin Loom Weaving Support Group, or in the Ravelry “Looms to Go” group.

The Squares are Coming!

We are happy to announce that the new Square 2″ fine-sett loom is now available.
The new Square 2″ fine-sett loom is a perfect companion to the Elongon™ 2″ fine-sett hexagon.
Learn more about this new loom in our launch video:

The new Square has the same pin spacing as the tips of the Elongon 2″ fine-sett. This means that the squares result in a very similar fabric that will match nicely when both shapes are used in one project.

The pins are thinner than the hexagon looms (but without beeing too thin), to allow to work more comfortably in a tight space.

The beginning pins are marked with lines like on the hexagon looms. The widest point of the square has a convenient, wider space between the pins that will allow you to weave comfortably to the last row.

The weaving is easy: Just start weaving bias, as if to begin weaving a hexagon, until you “run out of space”. Lock the weaving with one last woven row, and the square is done.
Not sure how it works? The following video shows how to weave a Bias Square:

The Square 2″ loom kit is now available at our Etsy shop.

Not sure what to do with such a loom? We invite you to explore the possibilities with a table topper pattern and a free worksheet.

The 5th Fiber Gift of Christmas

If you have heard of the phrase “The 12 Fiber Gifts of Christmas” you most likely heard it from The Woolery, a company who has been serving the needs of fiber artists for over 30 years. During the holiday season, the Woolery features a different fiber related product each week for 12 weeks.

Our Original TURTLE Loom™ for worsted weight yarn is the 5th Fiber Gift of the 2020 season!

While the special is over, the Woolery continues to offer the Original TURTLE Loom kit. Here’s where you can find it at the Woolery. Click here to see the kit at THE WOOLERY.

The Woolery does not only have a scrumptious selection of weaving equipment and accessories, but they also offer a great variety of not-so-typical yarns.

I could not resist to make … a basket (!) with one of their yarns, the Cestari Mt. Vernon.

I hope you will find it entertaining and useful to watch me make an Elf Basket in this new project video:

I am a big fan of Handspun Hope yarns, whose 100% Organic Merino wool was the Woolery’s 4th Fiber Gift of Christmas this year! I quickly grabbed some Rich Salvi and Voca Peach from my stash and made another Elf Basket …

Inspired? The Woolery carries Handspun Hope 100% Merino Yarn in many colors!

DON’T MISS! Learn more about the 12 Fiber Gifts and enter weekly to win the fiber product of that week on the Woolery website: FOLLOW THE 12 FIBER GIFTS OF CHRISTMAS

RAFFLE TIME: Here is the link to enter the raffle for this week’s Woolery Giveaway (you can win an Original TURTLE Loom kit): ENTER THE RAFFLE