Affinity Wrap Bracelet

I’m in love with wrap bracelets. They’re casual, pretty, simple and easy to wear. I realized this morning that it would be really easy to make an Affinity Bracelet into an Affinity Wrap Bracelet. I found some gorgeous gold iris Tila beads that were perfect for this experiment and got weaving.

I warped my 12″ loom with some black silk. I had a ten dent coil on the top (warped one warp thread, three spaces and the other warp thread) but it wasn’t necessary to have any coil on because the beads will set the sett of the warp.
Weaving this bracelet was very simple. I used Tila beads which have two holes instead of one. First, I picked up a bead.
I placed that bead behind my warp threads.
Then, I sewed through the bead in the front of the warp.
Next, I sewed through the second hole in the bead, behind the warp.
Finally, I sewed through the second hold in front of my warp.
Because these beads are so large, the weaving part is very fast (and fun!) I finished this just by tying off the ends of the silk and securing the bracelet with a nice little bow!

In total I think this took me about an hour, although I tend to do thirteen things at once so it was hard to tell. Another easy Mirrix project!

Learn to Weave Beads in 23 Pictures

Weaving beads really IS easy. Following are 23 pictures showing how to set-up and warp a Mirrix Loom for bead weaving without the shedding device and how to begin weaving.
Turn your clips around backwards, they will hold the warping bar while you warp. Measure to make sure your loom is even on both sides.
Place your warping bar between your clips. Make sure to press them in slightly to hold the bar securely.
Place your spring in the tray on the top of your loom. Don’t know which spring to use? Place the beads you plan on weaving on a needle and measure an inch. Then, count how many beads are in that inch. The number of beads minus one is the warp coil that will be used. For example, if you are using Delicas you would find 19 Delicas are in one inch, so you would use the 18 dent coil. There is some leeway in this, and depending on the beads you are using, it might not work out perfectly (numerically), just close. Using a smaller (lower number) coil is better than using a larger (higher number) coil.
Tie your beading thread onto the warping bar. Here, I am using C-Lon, but most beading thread will work.
Bring your warp thread down the back of the loom and under the bottom bar.
Bring your warp thread around the bottom bar and up the front of the loom.
Place your warp thread in one dent (space in the spring) and around the top of the loom. Then, bring it down the back until you hit the warping bar.
When you hit the warping bar, bring your thread around the bar and go back in the direction you just came from. This is the big warping rule: WHEN YOU HIT THE WARPING BAR, GO BACK IN THE DIRECTION YOU JUST CAME FROM. Easy, right?
Go back up the back of the loom and over the top beam. When you hit the spring, place your thread in the next dent over and continue going down the front of the loom.
When you hit the bottom beam, go around to the back of the loom and continue up the back until you hit the warping bar.
When you hit the warping bar, go back from whence you came.
Continue doing this until your piece is as wide as you want it. Then, tie off on the warping bar keeping your tension as even as you can.
Push your clips out and take hold of your warping bar.
Pull so the warping bar is down near the bottom beam.
If you are doing a thin piece, make sure you’ve warped on one side of the loom and not in the center and then balance your warping bar by tying a cord or ribbon around the other side. You could also warp another piece on the other side. We recommend warping thin pieces on one side of the loom and then balancing with a cord on the other because if you just warped in the middle, your warping bar would be unbalanced on both sides instead of just one.
Tighten your tension by turning your wing-nuts.
Begin weaving! Start your piece by tying a piece of thread to one side of the loom. You will sew in this end eventually, but it helps you begin.
Take the thread you just tied to the side of the loom and put a needle on it. Then, pick up one fewer bead than the number of warp threads you have on the front of your loom with that needle.
Place your beads behind your warp threads.
Sew through the beads in the front of the warp threads.
Keep doing this! Place the beads behind, sew through the front.
And there you are, weaving beads already.
Wasn’t that easy?

Weave-Along 7, Day One: Silk and Bead Purse

Welcome to Mirrix’s 7th Weave-Along! 





The first step to weaving this fiber and bead purse is to decide how big you want your purse to be. 


My piece will be just big enough to fit an iPhone and a few credit cards. If you are making this piece for another phone or for something else, you may want to make your piece a different size. 


For example, if you plan to use this for a different sized phone, measure the width of the phone and add another inch to the width of the piece.


Then, measure the height of the phone, double that, add an inch and then add two and a half inches for the flap or whatever you decide you want your flap to be.


If your phone is 3 inches wide and 5 inches tall your piece would be 4 inches wide and 13.5 inches tall including the flap. 


When you warp there should be about 10 warps in one inch. (So if your piece is 4 inches wide, you’d warp 40 warps across.)


My piece is warped 40 warps wide using a ten-dent spring. If you are using a twelve dent spring, you will warp the same amount of warps across but when you have finished warping you will loosen your tension slightly, spread your spring out where your piece is (until there are ten spaces in an inch instead of twelve) and then put tension back on the loom. This will make the twelve-dent coil act like a ten-dent coil. 


My piece will be thirteen inches long (including the flap). To accommodate this, the loom is set at about 14 inches high (measure from the bottom of one beam to the top of the other).

Now that you’ve figured out how wide and long your piece will be, it’s time to begin warping!

Have you never warped before? Don’t worry, it’s easy!

For this project we will warp for tapestry with the shedding device. We have detailed warping  instructions here: http://www.mirrixlooms.com/images/warpinginstructions/tapestry.pdf. 

If you have any questions about how wide or long your piece should be or how to do any of these steps, just ask us! Email claudia@mirrixlooms.com or elena@mirrixlooms.com.

How to wind butterflies and make upcycled wooden tapestry bobbins

Some people love weaving with yarn butterflies.
And some people (like me) don’t. 
I love wooden tapestry bobbins and I love making each one a unique piece- and I especially like using upcycled wood to make them.
So, for those of you who like yarn butterflies, here’s a video tutorial on how to make yarn butterflies:

And, here’s how I make my one of a kind tapestry bobbins, which wouldn’t suit everyone, but I love them and find them to be a pleasure to use:
Start with a piece of cast off wood. In this case, a wooden plaque (don’t use chipboard or mdf ! This needs to be hardwood)

a thrown away plaque from a garage sale

Flip it over, and draw in the rough lines for the first cuts:

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next, saw them into rough shape:

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Working on getting more definition and shaping:

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All the wooden offcuts are going to be burned in the wood burning stove in the studio in the winter- nothing’s wasted!

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When the rough saw shaping is done:

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I move over to the belt sander:

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and I do a whole bunch of sanding (very carefully)

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Did I mention that this is a really slow, meditative process? Yup.
Go slowly… and pay attention….
Then, it’s off to work with a bunch of different small sanding drums:

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and files:

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And more sanding:

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and then, I draw faces on each one, and get out my wood burning tool and draw and burn faces and the year on each one:

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Here’s a closer look:

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I just listen to what each bobbin wants, and then I draw on their faces. Some of them crack me up.

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Like the ‘Get to the Point’ guy… 3rd from the left….  I know, I am easily amused….
And, here they are, all wrapped up and ready to weave!

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I hope that the photos will all open for you!
So, happy butterflies, and happy bobbin-ing!
Happy weaving! :)

Which would you choose?

It seems a habit to collect more patterns than I can bead. I like this one. Oh but wait, what about that one in those colours? Hmm I can’t do that one, I don’t have the colours to hand. This seems a habit on occasion! And it’s reared its’ head again. There are two projects that I would really like to loom on the Mirrix. The problem is which one to get on there first! Both are very important and close to my heart.

First is a black & white portrait of my Husbands’ late parents. This is LONG overdue (thank you for being patient Husband!). I first planned to loom two portraits and have them in a spinning frame. Then I remembered a great photo of them together, that would work even better. I graphed it sometime last year – is it really that long?? – and I’m ashamed to say its not been loomed yet.

The other is a large purse of two wedding photos – my parents on one side and my late maternal grandparents on the other. Yes you read that right :) The idea came to me when I graphed the photo of my parents. I didn’t want anything plain the other side, so first tried a photo of my late grandmother. Then I remembered seeing their wedding photo in a memorial booklet! Perfect! I think my mum would really love it. By the way it’s a surprise! She’ll only find out about it when I give it to her :)

So you see the problem I have. Now, if I stopped procrastinating and cleared my large loom I could actually work on the at the same time….I think that may be the best course of action. Most of the colours in each one are the same so I’d order them all together.

I think I’ll start buying them slowly while I finish off what’s on the large loom. Then I can start on them. Now, you can help me by deciding which one should go on the Mirrix. The portrait is 152 wide and the purse 152 wide! The loom should be able to hold 162 warps. So, please take a vote and help me decide :) In the meantime I’ve warped for another tapestry weaving attempt. This is wider. Hopefully I can actually use it.

On that note I bid you a good night. The looming dreams have gone down a lot now :oD

Weaving Beads -It’s Easy!

There seem to be a lot of people out there who think weaving beads is difficult. The goal of this blog post is to show you that, really and truly, it isn’t.

At the bead show we just attended I demonstrated the basics of weaving beads to many people and they all seemed shocked at how easy it was. When I told people that bracelet I wore for most of the show took about an hour to make (from warping to finishing) it often came as a huge surprise.

It’s true, there are a lot of advanced bead weaving techniques that can be used on a Mirrix and a lot of stunning and complex projects that some of our customers do. BUT… there are also many, many easy projects that can be done too, and with gorgeous results. Weaving beads isn’t hard, we promise, and our goal at Mirrix Looms is to prove that to you with easy projects and lots of available instruction.

Warping
I know, I know, it seems scary. All those warp threads and springs and dents and warping bars… if you’ve never warped before it can be a little overwhelming. The truth is, though, it isn’t hard at all. Start with a thin piece and you’ll learn fast. Tie on to the warping bar, go over the top of the loom and into one space in the spring, around the front to the back and when you hit the warping bar again, go back in the direction you came from. Continue doing this until you’ve warped as wide as you want and then just tie off onto the warping bar. It really is easy and we have lots and instruction available including our great warping .pdfs!


Weaving
We talk about all kinds of bead weaving methods: The no warp-ends kit, the shedding device, combining beads and fiber… But the fact is that weaving beads at the most basic level is as easy as stringing up your beads, placing them behind your warp threads and sewing back through the other way. So easy that the other day an eight year old did it after only being shown briefly how it’s done.


Finishing Warp Ends
Nobody wants to finish their warp ends which is why we’ve come up with lots of ways to avoid that.

Try our Affinity Bracelets, our No Warp-Ends Kit or our Tapestry/Bead Cuff Bracelets for easy-finishing fun!

Have questions? Feel free to email me anytime and I can answer any bead weaving (or tapestry) related questions you have!

Working with handspun painted yarn in tapestry

My daughter-in-law spins gorgeous yarn. Which makes me very happy.
Because, sometimes a skein or two finds its way into my studio.
Recently, she spun Merino and silk and dyed it turquoise and purple, separated by short sneezes of sunshine yellow.

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I love it, and have been puzzling over how to use it in one of my new tapestries in a way that keeps the integrity of the colorway, while working across the entire width of the tapestry. Weaving narrow bands of it in vertical columns would not be a problem with maintaining the colors as units… but… horizontally- ah, well… that’s another cup of soup entirely.

I didn’t want to have the colors end up in little splats of one color arguing with another.
That meant working in short segments, weaving small blocks of each color.

I could have woven little squares of each color, with little slits that would need to be stitched or interlocked. Myech…
I sat down with my trusty little pencil and thought about this conundrum….
and came up with this:

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If I started at the left hand edge, and wove a little triangle with one length of turquoise, then, I could use the little bursts of yellow to tell me when to nip down, and start a slanting wedge of purple.
This completely worked for me! I wouldn’t have any joins to deal with, and I could work each little section of color in order, so the colorway of the yarn stays intact.
It’s a happy solution to an interesting problem!
Tapestry weaving is full of nifty little voyages of discovery :)

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My first little purple patch was not so perfect, but by the time I had woven across to the right hand side I was pleased with it.
Here’s the video:

Not quite conquered but almost there!

The thing I was fearing the most is over…at least partly! A a participant in the Social market for a Mirrix, we have to post a YouTube video every two weeks. I had NEVER posted a video, let alone a recording of myself! But yesterday I decided to grab the bull by the horns and go for it. I was worried about not making it long enough (i.e. more than 2 minutes) but it actually turned out longer than I had anticipated – close to 11! I cut out a little to shorten it – according to YouTube it was going to take at least two hours to upload!

Anyway here is the result.

Yes that’s really the same person speaking in both sections. My voice seems to have had a mind of its’ own last night :) Sorry about the quality. As said this is my first time recording a video. Hopefully by the end I will be better and more confident. But otherwise I hope the content is of interest. If there is something you would like to see, please let me know and I will try to oblige.

For now I have to head to bed, tomorrow is work. I also need to decide what project to get onto the loom after I’m done weaving this sample. I’ve still got the shedding device and yarn setup on there. I think I may try out some patterning in weaving the it it off and. Just keep as something to look at. There is a particular project I want to really make a start on, but need to buy the beads for it – about 35-40 colours in total I think. I have a little of some of them but they’re being used on other loomings. I may start buying slowly to replenish stock then I can start. It’s quite a…large project but is a very exciting one. Hopefully I can begin on it soon.

I bid you a good night and good Monday!

A pin a stick and a loop of string to open sheds

If you have a loom that doesn’t have a shedding device, picking up the warp strands for every row you weave can be a tedious process.
I like to use a stick,  a pin and a loop of string to open the sheds. It’s a huge time saver!
I’ve made a video tutorial on how to do this for narrow bands, but this technique also works on wider pieces, too.

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Pick up every other warp strand with a weaving stick (even a popsicle/craft stick or a paint stick will work).
Push that stick up to the top of the loom.

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Now, use a knitting needle to pick up  the ~remaining~ warp strands, to open the second shed.
You’ll be going over the strands that you went under in the first shed, and under the ‘overs’.

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Take a loop of string (in this case, I used 2 string heddles from one of my inkle looms held together for more strength, and to make it easier to see in the video) through the open shed.

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Pick up the end of the loop with a kilt pin, and then lift the loop strings between each warp strand onto the pin.

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Take the second end of the loop up onto the pin, and close it.
Adjust the length of each section of the loop.
And, Voila! you now have a handy, dandy way of opening both sheds!

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Here’s a pic of the shuttles that I make by upcycling old rulers and bits of decorative trim:

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HOT TIP that I mentioned in the video: If you use a file folder as the separator/background thingie between the front and back of your loom, you can use the pocket of the file folder to park your shuttle and beading needle when you’re not weaving.
And, here’s the video tutorial:

Happy Weaving!
Noreen

Those weft ends

In tatting, it is advised you hide the thread ends as you work, rather than wait till the end. In looming, the same can be applied. It doesn’t necessarily make it faster, but there is something laborious about weaving in those weft ends you’ve decided to leave till last!

Now, I always tell myself this time I’ll weave them in as I go along. Problem is I never follow through! I think with the next bracelet I will do just that. It’s only a few mins here and there, so makes no difference doing it during rather than after the looming.

On that note, I had to weave in the weft ends of the bracelet that was on the loom. I settled on a simple brick stitch edging so that the pattern stays centre of attention. It’s odd how colours can really make a pattern. I did this previously in black and white. I think I prefer this colour scheme by a mile!

There was a bit of ‘pull & pray’. But not too many as I split some warps. Nonetheless at least i tried it. I think will definitely use that method at least once in future. Fireline may be a better thread to consider for warps in that case.

Today (read tonight), I managed to try the shedding device again, with just thread this time round. I was advised to try it with thread and the occasional line of beads. So far I’ve only used thread – DMC Perle. It’s nice and simple, quite relaxing actually :) You just have to remember to have the ends at the back of the work, and to change the shed after each pass through.

I had to face my fear and do a video. It turned out to be about 10 minutes long, eek!! I’m hoping to upload it to YouTube tomorrow. Hopefully there’s something watchable in there lol!

Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your day. I’m off to bed to dream about looms – I seem to do that nowadays! :)