Saturday, March 14, 2015

Weaving Made Easy by Liz Gipson

A long time ago, in a country far, far away, I used to have a table-top loom, and I used to weave with it. (It really wasn't that long ago – it just feels like it. And it wasn't in a country far, far away. It was right here in the town I live in.) I also had an Inkle loom. I used to do a lot of different crafts – knitting, needlepoint, cross-stitch, weaving, and of course, crocheting. I also did a lot of the arts, too – drawing, painting, calligraphy, cartooning, layout and designing, and photography. I made silver jewelry and I made beaded jewelry. I even sewed on an old treadle sewing machine. I also combined some of them. I painted on photos, I did scratch-off art (you covered the painted canvas or paper with ink, and then scratched the ink off to draw a "reverse" picture.) I crocheted with beads. I wove panels and embroidered on them. So I love to look at websites/books/blogs/exhibitions/etc., which show, tell about, or explain the how-tos of these arts and crafts.  When I was asked, by Interweave/F+W, to review the book Weaving Made Easy by Liz Gipson, I was eager to do it, because I had been reading on many knit and crochet designers' blogs that they were taking up weaving. I thought that was very interesting, and maybe, perhaps, if I had the time, I could do some weaving again, too. If I could remember how to do it!

The book said it had 17 projects using a rigid-heddle loom. I didn't know what a rigid-heddle loom was – I thought it was one of those big models that stand on the floor. I used a loom that I called a "table-top" loom, because that's where I put it – on the table top. So I googled "rigid-heddle loom", and lo and behold – there was the loom that I thought was called a table-top loom. It was the loom I had. So I thought this could be a good way to refresh my weaving knowledge and skills, and start weaving again.

Once I received a copy of the book, I eagerly looked through the projects, and I noticed that many of the yarns that were used were yarns from companies I am familiar with – yarns that I crochet with, or could crochet or knit with. So this would be a great way to use up some of my stash. Yarns were from companies like Brown Sheep, Cascade, Crystal Palace, Louet North America, Manos del Uruguay, Westminster Fibers/Nashua/Rowan, Universal and more. I noticed that one of the yarns that they used for a tote was Peaches & Crème. This kind of yarn, what I call "kitchen cotton", is what a lot of us crocheters and knitters use for totes. In the back of the book, there is a chart with scans of all the yarns used, so if you want to substitute a yarn that you have in your stash, you can compare it to the scan of the yarn for the project you want to make. And, as with crochet and knit patterns, according to Liz it's a "good idea to use similar fiber types with the same yarn characteristics".  

This book is great for every one - beginners, and those with weaving experience. It starts out with the basics – the vocabulary you need to learn – like warp, weft, rigid heddle, beater, and more. Then it talks about yarn, and how to choose your yarn, by learning about yarn construction. It describes how to plan your project, and determine how much of each yarn you'll need. After this, you get lessons in setting up the loom, warping it, (and there are lots of ways), threading the rigid heddle, and securing everything. Along the way, it warns you about playing with the yarn, like combing the warp with your fingers. You'll learn how to weave so you have a light, a firm, or a balanced weave. You'll learn finishing techniques, and some problem-solving techniques, too. There are tips and hints, and great photos that show everything in fine detail. Then, there are the projects – seventeen of them, ranging from scarves, totes, table mats, slippers, rugs, belts, napkins and shawls! In the back of the book, for reference, is a list of all those terms that you need to know, along with what they mean, and a warping checklist, so that you can be sure you go through all the steps at the beginning of your projects. That is such a great idea! I wish I had that when I was learning how to weave! There is also a list of accessories that will come in handy with your weaving. I could go on and on forever about the usefulness of this book to new weavers and experienced weavers alike, but you should see it for yourself. Check it out at:
to see some of the pictures of the projects you can make, and how to order the book.

Here's one of the projects - the Grab It and Go bag:

I can just see myself carrying that bag - full of my current crochet projects. 

I haven't found my loom yet - it could be anywhere - so I'll have to wait a bit before I start weaving that bog.  But I have found 2 of my early woven projects that I would like to share with you.

The first one is a simple woven panel, with embroidery added. 

The next one is a panel that I have hanging up - it's a sampler of many, many stitches and patterns. I look at it often, and can't believe I wove that!

Remember, if you want the book Weaving Made Easy, by Liz Gupson, you can find it here: It's well worth it!