How to weave inkle bands on Mirrix looms Part One

I love weaving inkle (warp face) bands.
I use  in dollmaking:

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Link to purchase pattern for Inkle dolls: Inkle Dolls
And, they are wonderful for trimming handwoven clothing:

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Link to post that shows how to shape inkle bands to make a yoke or other shaped pieces of garments: Warp pulling
Over the years,  I have also made hat bands, book marks, all kinds of jewelry, key fobs,  vests, bags, bag handles, the garters for the men’s kilt hose for my son’s wedding, shawls, freeform pieces that combine inkle weaving, knitting, embroidery, spool knitting and crochet, as well as rugs.
Yep. I love inkle weaving.
So, as I have been exploring the possibilities of weaving with my Mirrix looms, I had to give inkle weaving a try.
I found that it was quite challenging at first. But, I don’t give up easily :)
I ended up spending waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more hours than I should have, experimenting and obsessing over making inkle bands on the Mirrix.
Well… I finally succeeded.
Since it was so challenging, I figured that I should share what I have learned, so that other intrepid inkle weavers can leap right in, without all the trial,  error and frogging that I went through!
There are definitely tricks to weaving inkle bands on the Mirrix looms, and I have made 4 videos to share those tricks.
Here’s part one of the video:

Here is the draft for the bands that I wove in the videos:

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To read the draft: Each square represents one warp strand.
You can check your warping by looking at each shed to see that it has the same number of strands, in the order that they appear in the line.
You will be  putting a total of 8 green strands on, followed by 4 orange strands, 3 sets of  (1 orange, 1 green) for a total of 6 strands, then 4 orange strands and ending with 8 green strands.
At the top and bottom of the loom, you’ll see the full count of warp strands.
At the warping bar, the 2 sheds will be separated into their correct (we hope!) configuration for each shed.
The chart will give you bands like this:

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The upper band is the band on the right hand side of the loom in videos 2 – 4.
I only used the center of the draft for it, without the green border strands.
The yarn is Lion Brand Cotton.

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Setting up the loom for inkle bands is different than normal warping.
You need to have the warping bar at the front of the loom.

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Tie the green yarn onto the warping bar and take it up and around the loom, just the same as if the warping bar was in the back.

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You will need to cut the warp strand of color 1 to tie on color 2 at the warping bar, for EVERY color change.
WHAT?!?!?!
Yes. really.
It sounds insane, but this is the biggest key to making the whole inkle thing work on the Mirrix loom.
Trust me. You ~can~ twist your yarns around each other, and are welcome to, I’m sure, if that would make you happy….
BUT…. the quickest, easiest way to have problem free warping for inkle is to cut those little darlin’s and tie the knots between the colors.

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Yay! Warped!  Insert the spring rod into the spring to keep the warp strands locked into their notches.
This is sooooooooooo important!  (yep… voice of ‘oops’ experience here :( )
And in Part 2…. it’s on to the heddles.
I have a nifty, super friendly way of using a crochet hook and weaving stick to make the heddling process go like a breeze.
That’s coming up next…. so stay tuned! :)
Happy Weaving,
Noreen

How to weave Leno Lace on the Mirrix loom

I am fascinated by exploring all  the different things that I can do with Mirrix looms.
While I am involved in this four month long co-creation with Mirrix looms, I am going to be  looking at what I can and can’t do with the Mirrix looms.
  (Guess what I am NO GOOD at? Bead weaving on the Mirrix!
Yep. All my bead weaving has been off loom and I am TERRIBLE at bead weaving on the loom. 
That one came as a surprise…  ah well… we shall see if that changes! )
In my previous blog post, LINK, I showed how I set up my Lani Mirrix loom, using the ‘No Warp Ends’ warping technique. 

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There are several advantages in setting up your Mirrix loom for the ‘No Warp Ends’ technique:
It allows you to sample different weaving techniques quickly and efficiently.
You won’t waste time OR yarn when using the ‘No Warp Ends’ technique.
I love that!
Because the ‘No Warp Ends’ warping technique precludes using a shedding device, it is perfect for weaving techniques that are hand manipulated, like: LENO lace! Yay!
I think that Leno lace is the bee’s knees. 
It’s kind of a miniature version of the ancient technique of twisting fibers, called, Sprang.

You do this nifty twist thing, and tadah! You get a  bonus free row that is cheerfully waiting for you, gratis! Whee!

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Leno can seem a little challenging at first, so I figured that a video  tutorial is a good idea.
Here it is:

Happy Weaving!
:)

A slightly different approach to the ‘No Warp Ends’ technique

I hate wasting yarn… so I really don’t like loom waste – who wants to toss their yarn in the trash? Really :)
That’s why I love Claudia Chase’s ‘No Warp Ends’ technique for the Mirrix  looms.

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The one thing that I wasn’t keen on was using paper clips to be the holders for the yarn ends, so I thought about it and mulled it over.
Hmmmm….  I use ‘S’ hooks all the time to hang things and connect them, but I have never used them on a loom.
This called for some experimenting.
I don’t know about you…. but, I have a tendency to start with a really complicated plan, and have to do a lot of trial and errors to get to the elegant and simple final version.
I was thinking about all kinds of ways of making harnesses to hold the bars for the ‘s’ hooks…. oh my!
I also figured that I wanted to use both sides of the loom while setting up for this technique.
I had woven two affinity bracelets at the same time- one on the front of the loom, and one on the back, so this seemed to stick in my mind as ‘the way to go’.
Well… I twiddled and fiddled, and threw away the whole overly elaborate harness idea, and ended up using 4 loops of double sided velcro to hold the bars to the upper and lower edges of the loom.
That was a  big breakthrough- talk about a simple way to do this! Yay!~
And, I am really pleased with the final method that I came up with- it really works for me!

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Here is the video, showing how I warp the Mirrix Lani using the ‘No Warp Ends’ technique, with ‘S’ hooks:

Happy Weaving!
Noreen

Saved warp thread

I my last blog post, I talked about two projects that I rally want to loom, and how I couldn’t choose which to do first. Someone then suggested I could get them both on the loom. There are two options for this. Firstly, I could loom one, then advance the completed weaving and then loom the other. secondly, I could warp as usual and push the warping bar all the way down. Then I would be free to use both sides of the loom simultaneously. The latter sounded more like what would be the suitable method.

Now, the two projects are 152 and 162 beads wide. I don’t want to jump in at the deep end, as it’s crucial for me to get them absolutely right. With that in mind, I decided to try out this way of using the loom before proceeding with the portrait and purse. I warped as usual, then pushed the warping bar as far down as I could. It doesn’t quite fit underneath the loom so it juts out slightly at an angle.

I encountered no problems in warping and moving the warping bar. I then loomed two rows at top and bottom of the warps for the (two) projects that would go on the back. There was no need to do this for the front project, as the coil was enough to space the warps. I did add a line of beads on the front of the bottom bar, but found I couldn’t quite place the warps in it once I had moved the warping bar downwards. However, this can be very effective in spacing the warps towards the bottom of the loom, if you don’t have the bottom spring kit. Thank you to the person who suggested it to me (you know who you are).

multiple - spacing

As you can see I am able to work on three projects at the same time. Without the extra warping bar kit, a substantial amount of warping thread is used for warping. This is one way to reduce this warp wastage, as long as the warp colour chosen matches what you plan to loom. So, a little forward planning helps. As I often like to (or inevitably) work on several projects, this makes things easier for me – I don’t have to keep swapping looms to work on each, and my thread doesn’t go to waste.

Multiple - purse

multiple - bracelets

So, I think this could be something I use again in the future if I have multiple projects that can fit on the Mirrix at the same time. For now, I have the two bracelets at the back, and the front of a photo purse to complete. Some warp cutting is necessary for the bracelet on the left, but I may leave that till the front project is all loomed. I’ll make up my mind as I go along.

I’m off to nurse my cold and get some sleep. Hopefully I can do some more tomorrow evening. The purse (front) takes some time to set everything up – more than 26 colours need to be laid out on bead mats, in a particular order. It’s a little boring but needs must! Sweet beady dreams!

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! :)

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:

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

Mirrix Workshop in Edmonds Washington

Back from Edmonds Washington where we held a Mirrix Workshop at Semantics gallery.  Nothing like being surrounded by gorgeous artwork for inspiration!

That’s me below fixing something.
My brother modeling with a couple of Mirrix Looms
Claudia teaching.
Concentration.  Concentration.  Concentration.
Someone is smiling!
 
That’s Larry in the doorway. He owns Semantics Gallery: www.semanticsartgallery.com
 
Why is Debbie smiling?  Because she’s looking at all those woven rows of beads.   Success!
 
Claudia:  bird’s eye view!
 
 

My Workshop Results

We had a follow-up workshop with Lisa and Nancy.  Thought you might want to see what Lisa produced.

Amazing!  This is being woven using the shedding device.  The piece is as wide as one can get on the 12 inch loom.  It is woven using Delicas and the standard Mirrix heddles.  It’s perfect.

And then there is Franc again who once again decided to take up weaving.  This time he’s working on the ipod kit. Or maybe he’s destroying it, but we won’t tell him that.

Then he discovered the mini mirrix but there was no warp on it, so he didn’t get much weaving done.