What you can do (slowly) with Hand painted Silk

I have been playing (slowly) with hand painted silk.  The eyeglass case, which is still on the loom, is now not wanting to be an eyeglass case.  More about that tomorrow when I take it off the loom.

To find the silk go to: http://www.mirrixlooms.com/store/silkandgoldkit24.html  That’s the big pack and best deal if you want to make a larger piece.

The first strip of silk is done.  The other, almost done, is still on the loom.  It’s hard to fail.  Use any color of our hand painted silk in any order and it will be just right.  I added a few rows of beads here and there.  The sett was 14 ends per inch, so I used size 11/0 beads.

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I crocheted this purse.  It was actually a piece I made many months ago. I had made a bunch of these, but is the only one I kept.   I added a row of magnatama beads and finished it with a braided strap.  Number of hours to make?  Who knows, but quite a lot.  I wasn’t counting.

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Now for the embroidery.  This one you might have seen before.  It probably took about sixty hours to make and my hands did get sore doing it so I had to take many breaks to do other things.  I think the creation time spanned about eight months.

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What follows are details of another embroidery I just finished.  This one took even longer.  But at some point I knew I was finished.  I have two more that are almost completed.

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And then there is the knitted scarf (a Christmas present).  Whenever I joined two colors, I tied an overhand knot and strung crystals or porcelain beads on the thread ends.  It was a great way to nicely hide those ends and add some interesting accents.

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Now back to finished the “not going to be an eyeglass case!”

Retrospective, sort of

I dug through my stash of bead woven pieces and found some surprises.  I am sure there are pieces hiding in other places, which I will post at a later date, but for now this is what I found:

I remember really enjoying weaving this piece.  I made piles of 11/0 Delica beads in colors I thought might dance well together. Then I just wove various designs with these colors.  I had twelve spaces (because there were thirteen warps) to play with.  It’s amazing how many designs one can managed with just twelve spaces and bunch of colors.  I folded the button end over and sewed it to the back of the piece to disguise the warp ends (which were tied with overhand knots).  I buried those ends under the fold.  I then made a peyote tube and attached a tube to it for the button.  The triangle (which was made with a combination of peyote and herringbone stitch) buried the other end of the bracelet since it is actually two sided.

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I combined matt finish beads with metiallic finish beads so that the individual colors stand out.

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I stuck an interesting crystal to the end of the peyote tube.

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I don’t know if I could make that triangle again, but I sure do like the look!

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This next little gem is a one wrap bracelet made with beads and crystals.  I hadn’t figured out yet that the O-ring should be covered with hand painted silk.  I like the addition of crystals on all the warp ends.  It was the start of something beautiful (the crystal and bead wrap bracelets that followed).

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Wow, this is an old one.  The loom held four warps (which surround the square beads).  The trim on the ends (three size 11/0 beads) was put on as I wove.  I then somehow crossed the interior beads, which are all strung at once.  The warp was something fairly heavy like C-Lon beading cord 135.  I don’t know why it never became a kit.  Maybe it should!

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This bracelet is similar to the one above, but the inside rows are not crossed.

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I had been making a bunch of bracelets to put on a brass cuff.  But with this one I lined the back with ultra-suede (gets rid of all those pesky warp ends in a hurry plus is very comfortable to wear).

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This next one is a variation of the affinity bracelet theme.

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This funny little guy uses a silk covered O-ring as both button and closure.  I’ll try anything once.  I might even try this again.

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You know how much I love checkerboards!

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This is my latest bracelet (I made it yesterday) and it might want to become a kit.  Bicone crystals on a hand painted silk warp.  A few knots, a few more crystals, the usual hand painted silk covered O-ring (as well as warp) and pewter button.  I think it took me an hour to weave and about twenty minutes to finish.  Fun and easy.  Should it become a kit?

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Ask Elena: Warp Coil Woes

You may have heard the terms “warp coil” and “spring” thrown around our website. Maybe you understand the references, but maybe you don’t. This post is a little primer on warp coils (or springs, they’re the same thing) including HOW TO CHOOSE WHICH WARP COIL TO USE and HOW TO MODIFY A WARP COIL TO FIT YOUR NEEDS.

WHAT IS A WARP COIL AND WHAT DOES IT DO?

A warp coil is a spring you put at the top (or bottom if you have a bottom spring kit) of your loom to organize you warp threads. When you put the spring on the loom and you measure an inch, the number of DENTS (spaces in the spring) should equal the numbers in the name of the spring. An 18 dent spring should have about 18 dents in an inch. Easy!

warp coil

warp coil

The warp coil spaces your warp threads correctly. If you’re using larger beads, you want your warp threads to be spaced further than if you were using smaller beads. The same goes for tapestry. If you’re using thicker yarn, you want your warp threads spaced out further than with a thinner yarn.

What springs come with the loom:  8, 12, 14 and 18 dents per inch.  As you can see, this pretty much covers all your needs except when using tiny beads such as 15/0s or when weaving a wide piece with size 11/0 delicas, which work better with a 16 dent coil.

For beads: Since the springs are even measurement and the beads per inch are sometimes an odd number and because you have to factor in the thickness of the thread in between the formula is not exact.  If you don’t have the correct spring, but one that is close, and you are doing a piece that is not very wide, you can use a larger spring and squish it together in the middle and put under tension. For a wider piece (three inches or larger) you really want the correct spring.

HOW TO CHOOSE WHICH WARP COIL TO USE

How do you know what warp coil to use for bead weaving:

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.

How do I know what warp coil to use for tapestry?

This is something you have to experiment with as a tapestry weaver. For finer weft, you will want to use a warp coil with more dents per inch. For thicker weft, you will want to use a warp coil with fewer dents per inch or even warp every other dent. (For example, an 18 dent warp coil every other dent is equal to a 9 dent warp coil.)

The basic thing to remember is to make sure your warps threads aren’t showing and you must consider the warp set (how far apart your warp threads are, or what warp coil you are using), how thick your weft is and how thick your warp is. One way to determine your weft size is to put your weft in between your warp threads vertically when your loom is warped. If your weft threads are much thicker than the space between the two warp threads, then your weft is probably too thick and if your weft threads are much thinner than you know your weft is too thin.

DO I ALWAYS NEED A SPRING?

The answer is: in some cases you do not want a spring.  For example, when weaving a bead soup bracelet with lots of different size beads, the beads will set the spacing.  Also, when weaving a thin piece, you can usually skip the spring if you don’t have the correct size.

HOW TO MODIFY A WARP COIL TO FIT YOUR NEEDS

Sometimes you don’t have the right warp coil on hand. Maybe you’re making our Tapestry/Bead Cuff and you need a 10 dent spring and don’t have one, or maybe you have an 8″ Lani Loom without the shedding device and you want to weave Delicas (that loom comes with only a 14 dent spring). You can always buy new springs on our website, but you can also modify springs to fit your needs. Here’s how: (Note: as we mentioned earlier, this is only recommended for pieces thinner than three inches)

-Warp your loom like you would normally. When thinking about width, take into consideration that you’re going to change the spacing slightly by stretching or smushing your warp coil.

-Take out your measuring tape and measure an inch. Count how many dents (spaces in the spring) are in that inch and then stretch or smush your spring to make that amount of dents in an inch equal how many dents you need. For example, if you have a 12-dent spring, you will want to stretch it so there are only 10 dents in an inch, not 12. Keep stretching or smushing your spring to make sure there are the correct amount of dents in an inch over the entire width of the piece.

-Then, while holding the spring at the amount of dents you want it (remember, just in the place where you have your weaving), tighten your tension. This should secure your spring at the correct dents per inch.

warp coils

Or…

What happens if I am all ready to weave a wide piece with 11/0 delicas and I don’t have the 16 dent spring and I want to weave it this very second?  You can sacrifice your 18 dent spring.  Do the math:  For a 16 inch loom, the spring spans 13 inches and a tad.  You would need to remove 2 times 13 dents from your 18 dent spring.  26 dents.  Count 26 dents and cut at about 24 so you can create a new loop.  Or just put the 18 dent spring on the loom and stretch it so that there are 16 dents per inch.  Cut a few coils  past that to allow for a new loop at the end.

WHERE TO BUY MORE SPRINGS

Buy more springs: http://www.mirrixlooms.com/store/warpcoils.html

WHAT THE HECK IS THAT BOTTOM SPRING KIT AND DO I NEED IT?

The answer is not that simple. But there is an answer, never-the-less.

First let me answer the question:  why don’t all the looms just come with a bottom spring attachment?  The reason it doesn’t is about half of Mirrix users do not want one or use one and it would get in their way.  For example, tapestry weavers who weave at the wider setts (the number of ends per inch) usually don’t use it.  However, we find that weavers who weave small format tapestry love the bottom spring kit because it helps get all those pesky threads all neatly lined up and in order.  For those folks we created the bottom spring kit with two 20 and 22 dent springs, one for the top and one for the bottom.  Usually these folks are warping with material that is about as thin as beading thread so you can see where organization on the bottom of the loom could be very helpful.  We have relied heavily on the opinion of Kathe Todd-Hooker who is the Queen of small format weaving and loves the bottom spring kit.  In fact, we made the 20/22 dent spring package to make her happy.

Now for the bead answer to this question.  If you are weaving thinner bracelets or necklaces it’s really easy to organize your warp threads at the bottom of the loom.  And since the first row of beads sets the bottom sett, once you’ve got that row in, a bottom spring has no use.  However, when weaving wider pieces and especially wider pieces using the shedding device where there are pairs of threads between beads that have to remain paired correctly, that bottoms spring kit certainly helps to keep those pairs paired correctly and the threads not crossing at the bottom.  So in the case of wider bead pieces (more than four inches) it will test your patience less if you do have the bottom spring kit.

We offer the bottom spring kit with all the springs that come with the loom as well as the one mentioned above with two 20/22 dent springs.  We al so offer the bottom spring kit with two 16 dent springs.  This is designed for those weaving wide beaded tapestries with Delica beads since the 16 dent spring for some reason works better than the 18 dent spring in this situation.

You can buy just the bottom spring kit (it’s a tray that holds the springs) and pick just the springs you want.  For example, even though the looms (except for the MiniMirrix and Lani without shedding device) come with size 8, 12, 14 and 18 dent springs, you might only be weaving size 11/0 seed beads which require the 14 dent spring.  There is no need to buy the whole set.  Just buy the bottom spring kit and that particular spring.  You can always buy others later.  But then there are those of you who might be weaving a whole range of beads or might do so and it is cheaper to buy the whole package.

In any case, before you jump in and buy a bottom spring kit, carefully think about what your weaving future might hold!

BEAD WEAVING WARP COIL CHEAT SHEET:

Delicas:

8/0- 9 per inch. Use the 8 dent spring

10/0- 14 per inch.  Use 12 dent spring

11/0- 19 per inch.  Use 18 dent spring except when doing very wide pieces, when you can use the 16 dent spring.

15/0- 25 per inch.  Use the 22 dent coil just in order to space the beads.  That is the largest coil we can make.

Seed Beads:

15/0- 24 per inch.  Use 22 dent spring.

11/0- 14 to 15 per inch (size vary slightly depending on finish and manufacturer).  Use 14 dent spring.

8/0-12 per inch.  Use 10 or 12 dent spring depending on what size warp you are using.  For example, when using the bead cord, because it is thicker, you will use the 10 dent spring. But if just weaving straight beads using beading thread as warp, you would use the 12 dent spring.

6/0-8 per inch.  Use the 6 dent spring.

New Kit in a Basket

Just for fun!  We’ve created a new kit in a basket that is both great for giving to others and to yourself! It includes: lots of beads and hand-painted silk and gold thread and tools and crystals.  You can make a variety of fiber and/or bead projects of your own design or following some of the weave-alongs we’ve already posted in this blog.


Gold thread, C-Lon cord, C-Lon beading thread, Hand-painted silk, Chenille, novelty yarn.
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11/0 seed beads, 8/0 seed beads, bead and crystal soup, mother-of-pearl buttons, glass leaves.
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Scissor, 5 inch tapestry needle, tulip beading needles.
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One gorgeous small Bolga basket.
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Price:  $150
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What is a Shedding Device?

The Mirrix Shedding Device can seem a puzzling contraption to those unfamiliar with weaving. Today, I hope to clear up what a shedding device is and why you might want one.

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The Mirrix Shedding Device

Called: Shedding Device
Not Called: Shredder, Shredding Device, Shedder

Shedding devices are devices used to lift warps in order to pass fiber or beads through them more easily. The space between the warps is called the SHED, which is where the term SHEDding device comes from.

On a Mirrix shedding device, when you change the position of the handle, the shedding device shifts position and opposite sets of warps are raised, securing your beads or weft between the warp threads. The wooden clips hold your shedding device on the loom, but also serve to hold your warping bar in place when warping your loom (and before you install the shedding device).

shedding device

By changing the position of the shedding device using the handle, you change which warp threads are raised or lowered

When weaving tapestry, if you do not use the shedding device, you must weave each piece of fiber under and over the warp threads.

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By using the shedding device, you can lift half of your warp threads all at the same time, so instead of weaving over and under, you can just place your weft (the thread you are using) between the raised and lowered warp threads.

shedding device

The shedding device is attached to the warp threads with heddles. These heddles pull up on the correct warp threads when the shedding device is engaged.

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The shedding device engaged in one direction, picking up half the warp threads.

When weaving beads with the shedding device, you string up a row of beads and then place them between the raised and lowered warp threads. Then you change the position of the shedding device, securing those beads between the warp threads.

bead weaving

bead weaving

On a Mirrix Loom, using the shedding device is recommended for tapestry weaving as it makes the process much faster and easier. For combining beads and fiber, a shedding device is also very useful. For beads, both the traditional bead weaving method of placing your beads behind your warp threads and then sewing through and the method using the shedding device and placing the beads between raised and lowered warp threads work. The method using the shedding device takes a little more time to set up, but once you get the hang of it it’s a fast and fun way to weave beads!

Do you still have questions about the Mirrix shedding device? Ask in the comments!

2012 Holiday Gift Guide

A Mirrix Loom, accessory kit or package is the perfect gift for any crafter. Get someone you love started weaving beads and tapestry, or supplement their addiction with beautiful extras.

Here is our 2012 Holiday Gift Guide:

For the Newbie

Bead Loom, Kit and Class Package

loom, class, kit starter package

Perfect for the beginner: a Mini Mirrix Loom, a beaded bracelet kit and an online class. It’s a fantastic deal, too!
What crafter wouldn’t want this in her (or his!) stocking?

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Tapestry/Bead Cuff Loom Starter Package

tapestry/bead cuff loom starter kit

Know someone who has been coveting a tapestry/bead cuff bracelet? They can make their own with this beginner’s tapestry kit. Choose a loom and learn to weave!

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For The Bead Obsessed

Precious Metal Bracelet Kit

precious metals kit

This stunning beaded bracelet kit comes with precious metal beads and a beautiful mother-of-pearl clasp. It’s classy and it’s beautiful. Indulge the beader in your life!

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Navajo Bead and Crystal Bracelet Kit

navajo beaded bracelet kit

This stunning beaded bracelet is perfect for any level beader. They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but crystals and beads are a close second.

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For The Fiber Junkie

Tapestry Kit in a Basket

tapestry kit in a basket

A gorgeous Fair Trade Bulga Basket, Navajo wool warp and 39 different colors of tapestry yarn? Perfect for any weaver in your life!

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For The Mirrix Fanatic

Loom Stand

stand

Do you know a Mirrix fanatic? You can spot one fairly easily. She (he) has three looms. Or eight. She ( he) stores one in her (his) car, three in the studio and can be found sitting on beaches, at campsites or on a boat with a Mirrix in front of her (him). She’s (he’s) already got the loom, now help her (him) accessorize with a gorgeous Mirrix loom stand.

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Add-on Treadle

treadle

The Mirrix lover in your life wants to weave faster and easier. Help out by purchasing the beautiful and functional Mirrix treadle. It can be used with or without the loom stand.

New Online Tapestry Course

Our tapestry course at Craftsy was a huge success (and if you haven’t seen it yet, now is the time to since it’s selling from $14.95.  Six hours of instruction for $14.95 is really inexpensive.  Check it out here:  http://www.craftsy.com/class/Bead-and-Tapestry-Cuffs/78.

 

If you want to read about someone else’s experience with this class, please check out this fabulous blog:

http://www.mirrixlooms.com/socialmarketforacraftsycourse.html.

But right now we are working on another online class, this one for craftartedu.org.  This one is straight tapestry.  It’s done in a different format.  Lots of photos and voice overs and possible some videos thrown in here and there.  It’s designed such that it can be endless updated and changed, which I love.  But right now I have to survive the voice overs, which are taken a huge amount of time.  We plan on having this launched on Nov. 15th.  The kits that go with the class are available now on our website:  ooms.com/store/craftartedutapestrykit.html.  Here is a picture of the kit wool/mohair yarn, a 100 gram tube of Navajo wool warp, twill binding tape and velcro for finishing.  

Here is a picture of the sampler you will weave for this class:  

You will learn a bunch of techniques in this class including: slit tapestry; weft interlock; warp interlock; weaving in opposite directions; geometrical shapes; hatching; shading; making organic shapes; dotting.  You will be armed with all the techniques you need to go on to the next stage:  designing and creating a tapestry.

Advanced Tapestry Techniques

Lesson 10 of the Craftsy Bead & Tapestry Cuff class teaches advanced tapestry techniques. Upon first viewing it, I felt as if I’d been suddenly thrown into the deep end of the pool. After many slow and steady lessons, this class uses frequent new terms and I must admit, unfortunately does not always employ the best photography. The techniques themselves are not really all that difficult but if it is one’s first time attempting them, I am certain that you will need to watch multiple times before catching on. The thirty-second rewind feature is useful although I found I required more than just the quick thirty seconds to review certain sections. (I cannot speak for everyone’s experience however it seems that the Craftsy platform does not always allow for smooth rewinding and fast forwarding although this could perhaps just be a problem with my own computer.) My criticism of the photography concerns the bad angles that are sometimes used and the need for more close ups. As Claudia does admit however, if you are seriously interested in learning more about tapestry, any of the many books available at www.mirrixlooms.com will provide the necessary depth that is beyond the scope of this class. I’ve purchased Kirsten Glasbrook’s classic and look forward to diving into it as soon as I’ve completed this course.


Pick and Pick

          

                                                    Wavy Lines & Lazy Lines

Minor concerns aside, I seriously love the results of “pick and pick” or what I prefer to call simply vertical striping. The beauty of these advanced techniques is that suddenly the whole process of weaving becomes quite clear in a novel way. Of course, if you weave in one shed with one color and the following shed in another, you will get vertical stripes. Two passes with one color followed by two passes with a second color will yield horizontal stripes. Brilliant. For me, the term “lazy line” seems a little too close to “wavy line.” (And why not just call it “diagonal line” which is what it is?) And if anyone can explain the difference to me between hatching and shading, I’m all ears. Also, those special situations when the edge warps are lowered are a little confusing but once again I’m sure a little more experience will clear this up.
 

                                                        Finished on the loom

                                                         Weaving two at a time!

                                                           

Well, as they say, practice makes perfect and I’m more than willing. My first cuff has attracted so much attention that I’m afraid I’ve already overextended myself gift-wise. This should keep me busy for quite some time.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be weaving tapestry cuffs.

xxx, Karen
 

Ain’t No Stopping Me Now

I’ve said it before but these Mirrix Loom bracelets really do weave themselves. After years of painstaking pattern-following, row-by-row stitch count knitting, what a pleasure it is to obtain such instant gratification. In less time than it takes to watch an episode of Law & Order, another bracelet is woven and finished off. The only problem, if you could call it that, is what to do with all the resulting bracelets. (Another random note: I once started making handmade herbal soap as a hobby. Well, it was so much fun that I wound up with far more soap than I could ever use. The upshot: a fairly successful cottage industry with customers that included Bed, Bath & Beyond and HomeGoods. It nearly killed me though. Not again, please.)

 

Using the shedding device, admittedly, takes a little getting used to. At first I couldn’t figure out how to keep the shed open. Only after several rewinds of the video did I catch on to the fact that the black part of the handle must actually wind around the bar, hugging it, to keep the shed open. Duh. Also, I’m still not entirely happy with how my bead rows are sitting- not quite even and a little wobbly for sure. I must be doing something wrong or else I prefer the other method of sewing the row in as it seems more secure. Oh well, good to know that I’m not exactly an expert at this yet ;)


The finishing…well, let’s see…the glue is a little messy. Be sparing. I would definitely use clothes pins or clamps to temporarily hold the three layers of tapestry, brass cuff and ultrasuede together while the glue dries. And while I enjoy the Zen-like process of sewing the three bead picot edge around the perimeter of the piece, I would definitely set aside some quiet time for this, and don’t plan it for too late an hour. It’s a little tedious for sure but the results, you must admit, are spectacular.

                                                            Freshly cut off the loom

 

                                                 Backside before being trimmed & glued

Backside after being trimmed & glued
 
Clamped while glue dries

 After beading
 
 The finished bracelet
 
Lookin’ good!
 

I think they’ll fit perfectly in several Christmas stockings, don’t you? Who will be the recipients of your Mirrix weavings this year?

 
xxx, Karen