My First Woven Bag

I’ve recently been interested in learning more about weaving, and last month my mom helped  that interest along by giving me a rigid heddle weaving loom as a birthday gift.  I’ve enjoyed making a few little sample things, figuring out how to warp it without looking back at the instructions and generally just getting comfortable and familiar with it.  I decided it was time to make an actual project, but limited myself to what I had here.  Since I also knit and crochet, there does tend to be plenty of yarn around here already :).

I had previously only tried working in plain weave, and wanted to try something new.  I found a youtube video showing how to do  a pattern called Brooks Bouquet and decided I wanted to try it.  It’s here if you’d like to see it:

The yarn I used was from a cone of some hemp-wool blend that I have had around for awhile.  I started out with 6 rows of plain weave and then began the Brooks Bouquet pattern.  I repeated the pattern 10 times then wove 3 inches of plain weave for the bottom of the bag, then ten more repeats of Brooks Bouquet, ending with 6 more plain rows.  Here’s a picture of it in progress on the loom:

After taking it off the loom, I finished both ends with a couple of rows of zig-zag stitching on my sewing machine.

I then made the long strap that became the sides and handle as a 3-inch wide strip of plain weave.  I hemmed it on the sewing machine, as well:

I hand-sewed the edge the strap to the body of the bag.  I left the very top part of the bag un-sewn and left the sewing yarn there to finish stitching up after adding the lining:

I then started working on the lining.  I was given some really nice wool wool fabric that was sort of a gray color.  I over-dyed it deep orange.  Here’s a picture of the before and after:

To create the lining, I measured across the bag:

I added two inches for seam allowances and added several inches to the height:

I then pulled up the bottom corners and measured  a triangle that was 3 inches across (my strap/bottom width) up the side edge.  I sewed across this triangle and trimmed the corners:

I inserted the lining into the bag and hand-tacked the bottom corners.  I then folded the  lining over the top edge and carefully pinned it to make sure I was catching all of it as I sewed.  I machine stitched all around the top 3/4″ down.  I then pulled that fabric back over itself to the inside of the bag and pinned it down well.  I machine stitched this from the front side of the bag very close to the lining through all of the layers- sort of the stitch-in-the-ditch thing often used in quilting.  I didn’t take pictures of that part, so I hope this sort of makes sense :).

When finishing the top, I also sewed in a crocheted loop to serve as a button hole.  I finished hand-stitching up the last bit of the sides, sewed on a hand-made button and here is the finished bag:

I think that the finishing part took at least as long- maybe even longer- than the weaving part :).


Weaving at the Hospital

A couple of weeks ago, the newest issue of Piecework magazine came in the mail (March/April 2010).

I always enjoy reading about various textile arts of the past and in this issue, I was especially taken by the article about weaving on mini 4-inch looms, originally called Weave-Its.  The article said that these had also been produced under the name Weavette, but that they were no longer made and could now be found on Ebay, in antique shops, or at garage sales.

For some reason, I really thought I’d like to find one of these to play with.  I began doing some internet searching and discovered that a very similar loom is currently available from Hazel Rose looms.  I ordered the 4″ square multi-loom, found on this page:

It was shipped very quickly and arrived at my house last Thursday.  I played with it a bit on Thursday night.  I’ve never really done much in the way of weaving, and I messed up the warping of my first square.  I then successfully made one square and proceeded to mess up my third.  By that point, I had finally figured out how everything is supposed to look when it’s right and when it’s wrong and have been successful with all of my later squares.  I found it to not be difficult once I finally had the warping part figured out.

On Friday morning, I started to take pictures of my first four successful squares.

I was going to write a blog post about it and planned to write that while it was sort of fun, I didn’t really anticipate making any huge projects this way.  I’d found some pdfs of vintage project books at that had initially looked fun, but that I now knew I’d never really create enough squares to make any of them.

Then, the phone rang.  My husband called to tell me he’d fallen at work and that one of his co-workers was going to take him into the urgent care clinic to get checked out.  Then he called a bit later to say that urgent care wouldn’t see him and wanted him to go to the hospital. It turned out that his hip was broken and I needed to head to the hospital as he would need surgery.  As I threw a few things into a bag to take to the hospital, I threw my mini loom and a ball of yarn in, too.

The next few days were long, tiring and are sort of a blur now.  My husband had very successful surgery and I spent a lot of time sitting in the hospital.  I was very, very thankful to have that mini-loom with me. I found that it was the perfect thing to work with to keep my hands busy. It required no counting or following patterns as knitting or crocheting would have.  There are no stitches to get pulled out in my bag and it could be put down at any second as I helped adjust a pillow, talked to a physical therapist, or whatever.  I could work quickly and make a whole square or just weave a slow row or two when I was tired and distracted.

Now my husband is home from the hospital to continue the work of healing.  I’m finding that my loom is still the perfect outlet for me, as I sit near him on the couch or bed, being close to help if needed, but not distracting to him.  Weaving little squares is possible when tired in a way that other hand-work just isn’t working for me right now.  I anticipate my little loom being a continuing companion as we head to doctor’s appointments and physical therapy visits in the coming weeks.

I’m not really sure what I’m making yet, but I’m accumulating quite a stack of little woven squares that I can put together at a less tired time.  A few of them are here:
It may sound sort of strange to be thankful for a little wooden frame with a bunch of nails in it, but I can truly say that’s how I feel.