Five Reasons why you should Choose Mirrix this Summer

Here are five reasons why you should consider purchasing a Mirrix this summer:

1. Mirrix Looms are made in America. Our amazing manufacturing facility employs people with special needs and/or disabilities right in the heart of the USA in Door County, Wisconsin. Learn more about our manufacturing facility here.

You can feel good about where Mirrix Looms are made!

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2. Weaving is the perfect summertime activity. Take a seat in the shade and grab your portable Mirrix for some me-time!

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3. Mirrix has free projects with detailed instructions available to everyone! Click here to download instructions for our famous Tapestry/Bead Cuff Bracelet or our wonderful Affinity Bracelet.

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4. You can get a head start on making gifts for friends and family. We haven’t yet found anyone who hasn’t fallen in love with our newest bracelet kit!

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5. We offer FREE bead patterns to our customers! Download one today.

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Intro to Tapestry Class: Triangles and Random Geometrics

Moving right along in the Introduction to Tapestry class on CraftArtEdu, we’re ready to give triangles and random geometric patterns a try.

Triangles

We started here with another row of black soumak knots to separate sections. This version is called doubled soumak, because you go over three warps (rather than two), and then back under two.

I used a tapestry bobbin for this, maneuvering it like a big needle.

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After one final row of black weft, it was time to start the triangles. Following the general tapestry weaving rule, you need to build up the shapes that decrease in size before filling in the shapes that increase in size. (We’ll see what appears to be an exception to this rule in my next post.) That means we begin with the right-side-up triangles, then go back and make the upside down triangles that fill in the spaces.

Once again, we start by using yarn markers to mark where the bottom triangles will begin and end. But this time we wrap the markers around pairs of warps rather than just placing them between warps. The next step is to lay in the colors, all going in the same direction.

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At this point you’ll hear Claudia say:

“Insert the green weft on the left of the left tail of the left weft marker, and weave it to the left selvedge.

Insert the purple weft heading from the right of the weft marker to the right tail of the first weft marker.

The right green weft starts at the right selvedge and ends at the right tail of the weft marker.”

What this means is that you don’t weave over either of the two sets of warps that you have marked off. You weave between the markers, not within them.

Next, we weave two full passes of each color before starting to decrease at the sides to form the triangles. Eventually, you’ll have three completed triangles.

I should mention here that the green triangles are actually half equilateral triangles; I originally made my first one as a complete triangle, which was incorrect.  Here’s my correct one.

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Because I’m using a treadle, I found it easier to make each triangle individually, rather than building them all up at the same time.

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In retrospect, my triangles look taller than Claudia’s, and so I may have made a mistake in sizing them. (So don’t panic if yours look smaller; as long as they’re even and relatively smooth on the edges, you should be OK.)

When you begin filling in the black, upside down triangles, you need to start the black wefts in the opposite direction that you started the green and purple wefts. Then just start filling in the negative spaces between triangles, gradually moving outward on the warps.

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It was helpful here to remove the black marker yarns so I could better see what I was doing.
A quick note: In addition to starting in the opposite direction with these warps, you should make sure that you’re in the correct shed. This requires checking the pattern of hills and valleys in the first row of green and purple, and making sure you continue that pattern with the black.

By the way, I think I finally figured out what I was having trouble with when I was making the increases in the chevrons section. The key is to remember that the weft goes on in a zig-zag stair step, and that each warp needs to ultimately have two wefts wrapped around it before the next increase is made.

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Random Geometric Patterns

Next up are random geometrics using five colors of weft. They need to go in opposite directions, and — because they’re random — we don’t need to use weft markers.

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The next photo shows these colors after four completed passes. Notice that the wefts are still (correctly) going in opposite directions (hurray!). If they weren’t, that would probably mean that I was off by a pass somewhere; either one too many or one too few.

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Now I began creating the random shapes. You do this by bringing the wefts over into the adjacent colors’ areas. It looks like I forgot to photograph this part in progress.

I took the next photo to show you a mistake I made, in case you run into the same trouble. It happened after I’d added a blue square of color on the right hand side of my weaving. Even though I had started the blue yarn in the opposite direction of the adjacent gold yarn, I still ended up in the wrong shed at the top. When I pulled up and separated the blue thread, I could see the problem. I had begun in the wrong shed. Take a look at the very first row of blue below.

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The remedy was to unweave all of the blue and start again, this time with the correct shed open on the loom.

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Finally, another small section of the tapestry completed!

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We capped this section with another row of soumak knots. At this point I discovered that I’d run completely out of black yarn, possibly because my weaving is a little wider than it was supposed to be, or because I made my triangles too tall. So I grabbed a double strand of Orchidea wool yarn that I had on hand and substituted it in.

Next time, we’ll make the very last large section of the sampler, using freeform weaving and making a circle.

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at http://www.beadjewelry.net

On Kindness and Art

One of my favorite parts of my job is seeing what people create with our looms. From simple jewelry pieces to lavish tapestries, we constantly  see amazing and inspirational work. It’s also neat to see the creative ways people use our looms. One of my favorite innovative uses for a Mirrix is  seen in Anthony Locane’s work.

Anthony weaves with wire warp and printed metal weft, creating gorgeous and fascinating pieces.

You can read Anthony’s 2011 guest post on our blog here to learn a little more about what he does. Be sure to visit his website as well!

In October of 2012 Anthony’s studio was hit by hurricane Sandy. His looms were damaged, but even a hurricane can’t keep a Mirrix down (with a little TLC, of course)! In digging around a little, we found a NYT article about Anthony and the hurricane. If you scroll a bit, there’s a picture of one of his pieces on a Mirrix (although you can’t see the actual loom).

Fortunately, it looks like Anthony is getting everything cleaned up and his looms are currently being restored.

Recently Anthony sent Claudia and me each one of his fabulous pieces of art. We ADORE them and are so grateful for his kind gesture. Have I said before that we have the BEST customers in the world? Check them out (below)!

Thanks, Tony!

Anthony Locane

Intro to Tapestry Class: Pick and Pick Combination Plus Chevrons

This week in the CraftArtEdu Introduction to Tapestry Class I took on a combination pick and pick plus hatching technique, along with geometric chevrons.

Pick and Pick Plus Hatching and Warp Interlock

This is the first time in the class that we combine techniques to create an interesting effect.  We’ve already covered basic pick and pick, but now we’re adding the color blending technique called hatching as well as a new way to create the boundary between colors by using warp interlock.

I started out with pick and pick, using blue and black yarn. Because I started these wefts initially going in the same direction, I wove the blue yarn one extra time. This put the wefts in opposite directions, which is required for the next technique, warp interlock.

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Warp interlock is similar to weft interlock, which we used earlier in the class, except that you wrap the yarn around a shared warp, rather than around each other.

Here’s my first warp interlock, at the center of the tapestry between the blue and black weft yarns.

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We’re using this interlock to begin the next technique, which is called hatching. With hatching, you blend one color into the other using a series of partial horizontal lines. Hatching can be simple, like we’re doing in this tapestry, or it can be very complex and used to create subtle artistic effects.

Here’s my piece after several rows of even hatching with the blue and black.

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Next, we move into some pick and pick, eventually adding in some purple yarn. Notice that the black vertical lines are on different warps than they were the previous time we did pick and pick.

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After several more rows of purple, it was time to advance the weaving, which means to move it down on the loom to free up space on the warps at the top. To do this, you need to loosen the tension and then pull the warping bar on the back of the Mirrix loom upward.

In this next photo, I’ve advanced my weaving so that much of the already-completed tapestry is now facing the bottom and back of the loom.

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After advancing the weaving, it’s a good idea to check your top warp spring. I find that mine often pulls down out of its bracket while advancing and needs to be pushed back up.

Chevrons

At this point in the class it was time to make chevron shapes. I had never made these before. Although their principle is simple, I struggled a little with keeping my wefts in the proper sheds.

You start by marking the boundaries of the bottoms of the chevrons with short lengths of yarn, just like we did for slit tapestry. A note here: although the class calls for seven warps between markers (if I’m interpreting it correctly), I actually found that I needed eight warps between markers in order to have the correct number of color blocks.

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Next, you need to lay in your different colors of weft yarns in opposite directions. This is also like we did previously with slit tapestry. Just like back then, I had to watch my pattern of hills and valleys, but I can tell I’m gradually getting better at this.

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I should point out that we are technically using slit tapestry here, but instead of making blocks with straight borders, the borders will create chevron, or zig-zag, shapes. To start making them, you need to shift over by one warp with each of your colors. For me, this is where the technique got a little complicated. I’m sure I made a minor mistake here and there, but overall I was able to keep the chevron shapes looking relatively even as I went along.

Here are the first two shifts toward the right.

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And here are all of the rightward shifts completed.

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You may notice that not all of my wefts are running opposite to one another anymore, darn it…. Still, I was able to fix things enough to proceed. The next step was to start shifting back in the opposite direction for the top halves of the chevrons. And here they are.

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Pretty cool, eh? I figure it’s not bad for my first attempt. After the last row, I went back and made sure all of the yarns were in the same shed so that I’ll be properly set up for the next technique. Stay tuned for my next post to find out where it takes us.

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at http://www.beadjewelry.net.

Intro to Tapestry Class: Slit Tapestry Technique

My journey through the CraftArtEdu Introduction to Tapestry Class continues. You might recall from my weft interlock post that I mentioned a different color-block technique that results in open slits in the tapestry. That technique is called slit tapestry, and it’s the topic of my post today.

We’re making five color blocks with straight, vertical boundaries which are the slits. You start by using short pieces of yarn to mark the edges of the color blocks. Next, you weave-in a warp yarn for each color block. My yarns were all between about three feet and five feet long, although the five footers tend to be a little too long for my bobbins. (You can see the type of bobbin I’m using in this post.)

When I wove  the initial rows, I initially left the short ends of each weft sticking out the front of the tapestry.

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I then needed to push those short ends to the back of the tapestry. When you do this, keep on eye on your pattern of hills and valleys to make sure you cover the warps that need covering.

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From this point on, you just need to weave each color back and forth to build up the blocks. It’s a simple technique, but you need to watch your tension at each turn to make sure the slits that you’re creating aren’t too tight, which makes a hole in your tapestry, or too loose, which creates excess bulk.

After the first few rows, I recommend going back and making sure that your blocks are going to be the correct size. You can do this by counting the number of warps covered by a given color; that number needs to match the number of warps that you originally counted between markers. (Those markers useful, but I still found myself making one block too short and the next one too long at first.)

Because the wefts don’t interact with each other in slit tapestry, you can build up blocks of color one at a time. I chose that approach because it was faster than weaving single rows of colors all the way across, especially because I can change sheds very quickly with my treadle. Here are my first two completed blocks.

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Notice that the vertical line between colors is straight and doesn’t have the slight zig-zag look of weft interlock.

For this sampler, we need a total of 16 half passes of each color. If you lose your place, you can pull that weft up and space out the rows so that you can count them, as shown below with the purple weft.

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And here are all five blocks of split tapestry complete.

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The final step for this section of the sampler was to cap off the color blocks with a pass of black warp. I used the same length of warp that I used for the last color block on the far right. However, if you’re in the same shed that I was in at this point, you can’t just weave the black across, because you’ll be in the wrong shed. To get around this, I gently crossed the weft behind the warps to the selvedge before weaving back (across the tops of the color blocks) in the opposite direction. This method is called looping behind, and you can learn more about it in Kathe Todd-Hooker’s book Line in Tapestry.

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Finally, here’s what the completed section looks like.

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The borders between the color blocks are actual slits that you can pass your finger through, kind of like button holes. When you use them for larger areas, it’s a good idea to go back and stitch them closed. For these small blocks, they should be fine as-is because they won’t pull open.

The sampler is starting to get really vibrant, isn’t it?

That’s all for this post. Next time I’ll try the technique called hatching, combined with pick and pick and something called warp interlock. It sounds complicated, but the effect will be well worth it. See you then!

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at http://www.beadjewelry.net.

Intro to Tapestry Class: Pick and Pick and Soumak Knots

For this post I tackle two techniques in the CraftArtEdu Introduction to Tapestry Class: pick and pick and soumak knots.

Pick and Pick

Pick and pick is a method you’ll hear about a lot. It creates beautiful, narrow vertical stripes in your tapestry. Up until now, I’ve been a bit confused about how to handle the edges, but this part of the class cleared it up for me. The key is to remember that there are two different scenarios for the edges. In one, the first weft yarn goes under a raised warp, and in the second, it goes under a lowered warp. In the first situation, you simply weave the yarn back, allowing it to hook around the previous weft. In the second situation, you need to wrap the weft around the outermost warp twice before weaving. Whichever scenario you begin with, you’ll end up switching back and forth between the two as you go along.

Here’s what my first completed turn looked like, at the beginning of the third row.

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I was in a different shed when I started than Claudia is in the class, so I needed to use the second scenario, where you wrap the weft around the warp twice (she uses the first scenario). You make these wraps from the outside in. Another way to think of it is that you wrap around the warp once, and then pass behind the two warps at the edge before you begin weaving the row.

You need to watch your tension with these wraps to keep the edge of the tapestry as neat as possible. I find it easier to maintain an even edge if I hold onto the first wrap with my fingers while weaving across.

This next photo shows what the edge looks like after completing that turn and lightly beating the yarn.

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The next row gets woven from the same side, in the same direction, as the previous row. But this one uses the other scenario. That means that the magenta yarn hooks around the orange yarn to make its turn before being woven back. It seems strange that this weft doesn’t wrap around the edge warp, but that allows you to keep the stripes aligned properly.

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At this point, things are coming along nicely, and you can start to see the vertical stripes forming.

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For the class sampler you need to complete four rows of each color. Here’s what my tapestry looked like at that stage.

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Next, we switch to a different shade of orange. It looks like I grabbed the wrong orange for my first four rows, so I’ll have the darker orange above the lighter, rather than the other way around.

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And that completes the pick and pick.

Soumak Knots

Next up is soumak knotting, which will be used to divide sections of the sampler. For this technique you use a closed shed, just like we did with twining in the header.

Before closing my shed, I wove one row of black weft, left to right.

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Notice that I made sure the yarn in this first woven row passed behind the last two warps, because those are the first two warps you need to wrap around to begin the soumak knots. Once again, because I was in a different shed than Claudia (whom I’m probably driving nuts with this behavior), this is somewhat different from what you’ll see in the class.

To make the soumak knots, you go over two warps and then come back around the second warp. Here’s what the knots look like before you beat them down. (I usually slide mine down as I go along.)

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My first completed row of soumak knots, all slid down, looked like this:

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When you go back in the opposite direction for a second row, you go behind two warps and come around one – the opposite of the first row. The lines in this row will be a little shorter than the lines in the first row. They’ll also have a contrasting angle, which creates a chevron pattern.

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Here are both rows of soumak, completed.

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The soumak makes a contrasty textural border against the bright colors below it.

Stay tuned for my next post, when I’ll give the slit tapestry technique a spin.

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at http://www.beadjewelry.net.

Intro to Tapestry Class: Weft Interlock

Today I continue my journey through the CraftArtEdu Introduction to Tapestry Class with a technique called weft interlock. It’s used for making blocks of color without leaving open slits in the tapestry fabric. This was my first attempt at weft interlock, so I was a little nervous getting started — but I think it turned out beautifully.

The first step is to mark the spaces between warps where your color blocks will begin and end. These markers are crucial for helping you decide where to begin and end weft yarns of adjacent colors. I followed Claudia’s approach and used pieces of black yarn as markers. In our sampler, the color blocks are all of equal size, and so the markers are equally spaced.

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Next, a separate length of weft needs to be woven in for each color. This means a total of five lengths of yarn.  I used three in green and two in dark yellow. Importantly, they’re all woven in the same direction.

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Because the color blocks will be relatively small, the lengths of these weft yarns are all short enough that you don’t need to use butterflies or bobbins.

What’s also different here from when we made wavy lines is that our weft yarns are all woven for short distances across, rather than traveling all the way from one side of the tapestry to the other. This means that you need to use your fingers to select the warps that you want to weave through, before sliding in the yarn. In the next photo, I’ve selected the warps under which I’ll be weaving a green yarn.

(A quick note for anyone else taking the class: You may be selecting either four or five warps, depending on where you are and which shed you’re in when you begin. I think I started in a different shed than Claudia starts with in the class.)

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I actually found this very first row of wefts to be the most challenging. Because you’re leaving the end of each yarn on the front side of the loom, you occasionally end up with two side by side warps that both look bare. One of them will not really be bare, because it will be covered when you weave back in the opposite direction. However, I really had to slow down and check each warp to make sure I was creating a pattern of hill, valley, hill, valley, etc., all the way across (a hill is a weft over a warp, and a valley is a weft under a warp).

After weaving that first row of all five weft yarns, it’s time to change sheds and then go back and weave each weft in the opposite direction. To begin the “interlock,” you wrap each weft around the end of the previous weft in the row.

Here’s what my weaving looked like with the second row complete.

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When you weave back in the other direction again, the interlocks between wefts are complete.

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In this next photo, I’ve completed four rows of weft interlock. I pulled a couple of the weft ends out of the way so you can better see what the interlock join looks like between colors.

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Finally, here’s what my completed blocks of color look like.

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I love the look of this technique because the borders where the colors come together form vertical lines of tiny zig zags. They have a very Navajo look and appear so much more “woven” than when you make lines with slits (which also often need sewing up).

Next up in the Introduction to Tapestry Techniques class, we’ll try some vertical lines using pick and pick.

Chris Franchetti Michaels is a bestselling craft book author and designer. Visit her blog at http://www.beadjewelry.net.