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Last spring I took an enjoyable weaving course at the Textile Arts Center’s Manhattan outpost and walked away with a sampler/scarf that could charitably be described as ‘raver 4th Doctor’. I’d gotten a taste and  wanted to try weaving on my own. Regaining consciousness after looking up loom prices online, I reasoned weaving was one of the most ancient arts, practiced in numerous cultures without mechanical looms. Surely I should be able to make do without.

Indeed, there’s all sorts of weaving to be done sans mechanical loom! Card-weaving, backstrap weaving, stringing up a picture frame, all cheap and easy and all creating lovely textiles. Still, there was something extremely satisfying about manipulating heddles and slamming a reed down before moving on to the next row. The joy of working with this specific machinery didn’t outweigh its extremely high cost though. As the people behind the PVC Loom project point out, do you want a beautiful, expensive piece of furniture, or do you want to weave? Can’t I have both?

Turns out the answer is…sort of! If, like me, you’re handy with a power tool, below are some links to help you build your very own loom, be it tabletop or floor-loom.

 

First up is this simple table loom ‘for youngsters’ (read: girls) –

youths

 

Instructions show a clever handle mechanism controlling the shed action (‘shed’ being the space between warp threads, usually created by pushing/pulling some of them up or down simultaneously) on a simple square loom, with additional instructions for a bobbin shuttle (one that has a spool of thread within itself, instead of you having to unwind or add on thread manually). Pretty basic stuff, good for smaller pieces and simpler weaving.

Next is this similar but way more 70s Loom for Weaving Fun. 

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Again, the article shows guy hands building the loom, but only delicate lady hands using it. This is a unisex loom for your ambiguous 70s lifestyle, to weave the groovy tapestry pattern included in the article depicting a….sunset? Egg mountain beaming light out? Tidal beehive? Whatever. This loom features a regular ol’ shuttle, but includes the improvements of rollers on both ends to extend the length of what can be woven on it. It’s also got an honest-to-goodness heddle, though if you didn’t want to build one you can always buy one (they’re expensive, but not as expensive as an entire loom). Both this and the previous loom are single-heddle, meaning they’re limited in terms of fancy weaves, though certainly not in what you can make on them.

 

Here’s the action article; finally YOU get in on some of that sweet, sweet weaving cash-
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This article includes instructions to build a basic loom similar to those above, a 4-heddle table loom, floor loom, warping board, and shuttles. Obviously it requires a little extra shop work to build a complex mechanical object, but the actual techniques aren’t really that complicated. There’s a lot of careful measuring, but it’s the same sort of careful measuring, drilling, and cutting one would need to make, say, a decent birdhouse. And all birdhouses do is give lazy birds free shelter – this thing makes CLOTH, baby!

This Indian Bead Loom uses a spring instead of making you carve a million tiny notches into something:

Picture 9

 

…and this interesting ‘Fluff Rug’ loom shows an expedient way to make rag rugs:

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Popular Mechanics, the source for all these articles, is also chock full of useful tips, hints and clever ideas for makers of all sorts. It’s also full of great photos and vintage ads, if summer means ‘no reading’ for you.

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All I can think looking at this is ‘severe butt-burn’.

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The 2-color scheme! The typography! That guy’s glasses!

 

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Even the ad-copy throws in ‘apparently’ and justifies the random ‘radio picture film’ with a vaguely threatening ‘YOU’LL LIKE ‘EM’.

 

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Of late I’ve become enamored of chunky knits. Ridiculously chunky knits. Knits so chunky they become hindering, wearable sculptures.

via the V&A Museum via http://wool-rocks.com/ via http://madamebarry.tumblr.com/

Nah.                                    Getting warmer….                            YEP, that’s the stuff.

The problem is, how to create a super-bulky garment without an excess of weight? Two out of three of the above use what looks like roving – open, light, fluffy wool not spun or wound around other bits like most yarns. The downside is, being nearly raw wool, roving tends to pill, stretch, and shed more than other yarns. The last appears to be some form of fabric, which when rolled upon itself would have the structural strength to hold shape without stretching, but which very quickly becomes a stiff, heavy garment (try knitting with yarn made from t-shirts some time – it’s more suitable for floor mats and baskets than clothing. Little drape, heavy on the skin).

Examining a young lady’s giant knit rugs, her ‘raw material’ looked like giant, soft rope - rope made from roving. Of course! A slight felting of the roving, especially wound into ‘yarn’, would give structural stability without losing the fluffiness that gives roving bulkiness without bulk! Looking into methods of felting roving, I came across this:

Whaaaaaa….what is this magical device? Where can I get a giant version?!!? Why can’t I stop watching these videos? Aside from being a neat little tool, I found the videos’ aesthetic hypnotizing.

The well-manicured but bare hands!
japanese felting- poking

The bubble lettering backed by pastel!
japanese felting - braider rolling

The soothing background music, reminiscent of Lionel Richie played on MIDI keyboard! (You’ll…have to watch the video.)

The COLORS! (Well, pink isn’t my thing but imagine this in different shades of blue or green!)
japanese felting - braider

japanese felting - braider CU

 

In this tutorial, you’re shown how to make a tiny decorative cake.

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japanese felting - tiny cake

Why you would need a tiny felt cake is beyond me, but the information’s there if you need it. After falling down the rabbit hole of  Japanese felt crafting YouTube videos, I found….THIS:

japanese felting - creepy unfinished face

While this looks like a kawaii version of the cover of ‘Pet Sematary’, it’s from a full video tutorial of someone making their own cat in felt form. Unintentional freakiness ensues.

japanese felting - cat stick japanese felting - cat stick embarassed

I couldn’t decide which of the wire body shots cracked me up more, so here’s both.

japanese felting - headless cat

Headless cat on a table.

japanese felting - cat butt

Is that…..

japanese felting - cat butt

Yes, that is a needle-felted cat anus. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d type. Perhaps someone who reads kanji characters can explain why there’s a music note at the end?

I also couldn’t decide which side-by-side comparison shot was my favorite, so again, here’s both:
japanese felting - cat expressions

See, on the one hand, this one has a completely disembodied cat head and a shared expression of confused fear.
japanese felting - cat expressions

On the other hand, this one has wall-eyed staring in super-close-up.
japanese felting - cat staaaaare

SUPER CLOSE-UPPPPPP.

The company that makes the neat little rope device has many adorable video tutorials, including this more stereotypic one wherein a squeaky cartoon cat walks you through the steps:

japanese felting - cat bands?

Their main website also has patterns for these lil’ charmers (Full title: “The Twin Hamanaka wool felt that it is mew about time when it”.)

kawaii kitties

Enjoy!

 

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A while back I made some stuffed toys of all the vowels excluding the letter Y…why, I am not sure. If I made them again I’d probably make all the eyes from small buttons or cut pieces of felt instead of sewing them on, or perhaps I’d have used a thicker stitch or thread to make them pop.

They turned out pretty close to the initial sketch:
y gets left out

AEIOU not Y

Clearly the A is my favorite – who could be mad looking at that face full of joy?
AE

For some reason I looks like broccoli.
EI

OU

Sad Y

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I am pleased as punch to see my AIM project published in issue #197 of ‘The World of Cross Stitching’, a UK-based publication.

world of cross stitch magazine_2012small

Sure, they could have used my proper alias or listed my website, but why quibble about basic journalistic details like that when my work’s in such excellent company? Part of the article ‘From Mundane to Magic’, I’m featured alongside Emily Roose of ‘The Sketchy Pixel’ and Mr. X Stitch himself, Jamie Chalmers! Eeeee!

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Whoa, people on Tumblr seem to have found me. Hello all! Thank you for the many clicks and shares; they are appreciated and help validate hours spent repeatedly poking at an increasingly unwieldy pile of fabric.

I have some cross-stitchy news to share in the near future (here defined as ‘whenever I can figure out the proper CSS formatting for the thing I am attempting to do’), so stay tuned. In the meantime, please enjoy this video tutorial on tuning a glass harp.

(It veers into experimental territory around the 3:40 mark.)

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