Tapestry bobbins have a mystique around them and they can be expensive.
But, what do you do if you need a lot of tapestry bobbins and have a limited budget?
Well… you improvise.
First you analyse, then you upcycle!
After all… a tapestry bobbin is a yarn delivery device.
What does it need to do?
It needs to hold yarn in a way that allows you to pass it through a fairly small shed.
It should have a tip that will allow you to tap your weft yarn into place.
It needs to be able to hang from the tapestry while it’s parked.
So…. there are things that will work quite nicely for you as you feed your piggybank, but weave your tapestries in the meantime.
I make my own quirky, but perfect for me tapestry bobbins from upcycled wood: Link to post
Recently, I noticed that one of my fave bobbins looks a lot like a little spoon…
and of course, that started me thinking…
would a little coffee spoon work as a tapestry bobbin?
It seemed rather outrageous….
So, I took a little orphaned silver coffee spoon that had been in a box of sandbox toys that I bought for my grandson at a garage sale, and hammered the poor thing flat.
It works BEAUTIFULLY as a tapestry bobbin!
This made me think…. hmmm…. metal spoon…. hmmmm…. ~metal bobbins~…. hmmmmmm….
So, what about a 4 inch nail with a bead on the end? Would that work?
Yup. Wash it well first, and if the tip is snaggy, sand it smooth or file with a nail file.
You could paint it if you want, or coat it with a clear gel just to ensure that it won’t discolor your yarn.
Stuff a bit of tissue into the opening of the bead to secure it.
I learned about using bamboo forks as bobbins on Ravelry.
I like them!
But, I have found that they work much better if you stick a bead on the end.
Squish the tines of the fork into the bead center and you’re set to weave.
I love tatting, and used to carve tatting shuttles.
I’ve discovered that my Little Bird shuttles work beautifully as tapestry bobbins. Whodathunkit? 🙂
So, be creative and think outside the box when you are contemplating tapestry bobbins.
I mean, really… spoons and forks?
If you are willing to experiment, you’ll find all kinds of things that will work really well in your weaving!
Here’s a video that I made about cheap and cheerful alternatives for tapestry bobbins:
I am working hard on a new tapestry. It’s inching along, as tapestry does, when you are in focused mode.
BUT… I found myself feeling really stuck when I finished one section, and couldn’t move forward onto the next section.
So, I fell back on my ultimate design tool.
I got out my sketchbooks and aquarelles (watercolor pencils), and did the thing that my drawing master back in my art school days drilled into me: Sketch, sketch, sketch!
He also drilled into his students that it is essential to carry your sketchbook or notebook with you ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE, and to sketch every single day.
AND, even more important: Don’t worry about making ‘good’ sketches.
Just catch thoughts, dreams, words, and other fleeting moments on the paper and let them build a vocabulary for you.
The part of the tapestry that had me flummoxed is a child’s costume.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it, until I worked my way through a bunch of really rough, ‘thinking on paper’ sketches.
That took me through the roadblock to the ‘AHA’….
And I knew that I needed to move onto sampling and swatching.
I set up my 8 inch Lani Mirrix loom with a ‘no warp ends’ warp, using ‘S’ hooks… in the video, I show some pointers about this setup.
As a professional designer, I cannot underestimate the importance of swatches and sampling.
I am always amazed by knitters and crocheters who skip this foundation aspect of the creative process!
So much is revealed in the swatching and sampling stages of creation.
AND… something else that is a huge bonus- so often, the sampling and swatching will reveal that there is something new to explore!
(Which of course, leads back to the sketching…) !
Even though the feeling stuck part of working on this tapestry really stank while I was in it, I ended up feeling really grateful for being forced to move back to basic problem solving techniques.
Why? Because I am now inspired to explore soumak weaving, which I have not done before.
I am fascinated and intrigued…. there will be more about this!
In the mean time, here’s the video about sketching, sampling and swatching.
And, even though I don’t normally like to show pieces while they are in progress, I did do a little ‘reveal’ of the new tapestry.
This is the fourth video tutorial about how to weave inkle bands on Mirrix looms.
A dear friend asked me: “Why are you spending all this time figuring out how to weave inkle bands on the Mirrix loom? You have inkle looms! ”
Yes, I do… an open sided one, a closed side one that my husband built me from upcycled pallet wood, and a mini.
And, I love them…. but, I find that the open side and mini inkle looms both kind of flop when I have one end on the desk edge and one end in my lap. This is the way that I like to weave with inkle looms, and I find the wobble/flop rather frustrating.
I really like how stable the Mirrix is when I have the lower edge in my lap and the upper edge against a workbench, table or desk.
Also, I love the precision of the tensioning on the Mirrix… those thumbscrews are sweet!
And, I also love the shedding device………. soooooooooo smooth. 😀
Besides, the Mirrix takes up sooooooooooooo little room to store it- inkle looms do take up a chunk of space in the studio!
That’s four good reasons that have made this rather challenging learning curve worthy of the time I have invested.
Here’s the video for the finishing process of weaving inkle bands on the Mirrix loom:
When you have woven your bands to the point that the warping rod is sitting on top of the loom, you will need to remove the spring:
Loosen the tension up a lot….
Lift the spring rod out of the spring.
Release the ends of the springs from the knobs.
Gently, ease the spring out of the warp strands by spreading the warp strands out slightly and pushing on the spring to disengage it.
Continue weaving until the shuttle almost can’t make it through the shed.
Weave one row.
Keep the shuttle in the shed, and place a darning or tapestry needle in the shed with the point pointing in the direction that the shuttle exits the shed.
Weave the next row, and repeat with a second darning needle.
The needles now point in opposite directions.
Weave one more row.
Cut the weft strand, and thread it into the first needle.
Pull it through, and remove the needle.
Thread the weft strand into the remaining needle and pull it through.
La de dah! you have finished your inkle band!
I always weave the tail end in a little bit more before I trim it off.
Loosen the tension wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy off, and slide the warping rod out of the loops.
Trim the ends, and pull them through the heddles.
Congratulations, you’ve woven some scrumptious new inkle bands! 🙂
Part 3 of the video tutorial series on how to weave inkle bands on Mirrix looms is about the weaving process:
Something that I learned as I trundled up my ever so steep learning curve with figuring out how to weave inkle bands on the Mirrix loom:
I started out by weaving one row on one band, putting it’s shuttle down, then picking up the second shuttle and weaving one row on the other band.
Sounds slow and clunky, doesn’t it? Well, you’re right.
The most efficient way to weave 2 bands at once is to weave as far as you can on one band, then set that shuttle aside, and weave away on the second band.
Oh… speaking of shuttles, here’s the tracing of my most favorite inkle shuttle:
I designed this one several years ago, and I love it. Works like a charm.
Here’s the video that shows the weaving process:
When you need to advance the warp, loosen the tension quite a lot.
Support the spring as you gently ooze the warp rod around and up the back of the loom.
Pat the warp strands back into the channel, and tighten up the tension again.
Remember, you do not need to have the tension as tight as when you are weaving a tapestry or beading.
You’ll find the perfect tension that suits you best.
Keep on weaving until the warp rod is sitting on top of the loom, and then check into the 4 th video in the series:
How to finish the bands.
This is the second stage of the video tutorials that I made on how to weave inkle bands on the Mirrix loom.
There are two bands on the loom, because in this video, I am working on the 16 inch loom.
When you work on the 8 inch loom, it’s okay to just weave one band at a time, as the warping bar doesn’t flop around.
But, on the 16 inch loom, you do need to either warp up 2 bands, or secure the other end of the warping bar with a cord so it will stay perfectly horizontal.
I tried weaving 3 bands at once on the 16 inch loom, and didn’t like it, as the center knobs on the shedding device got in the way.
Two bands are just great though.
AND…. if you want to weave longer bands, and have either a 12 inch or 16 inch Mirrix loom then the loom extenders will be your friend 🙂
I use a crochet hook and a weaving stick to make the heddling process go quick like a bunny.
Here’s the video tutorial:
Start by placing a piece of cardboard between the layers at the front of the loom and the back so you can’t see the warp strands at the back of the loom.
Place the shed changing device into the brackets. Unscrew the little knob that holds the heddle rod in place.
Pull the heddle rod back so it’s about half way along the warp strands.
Place the heddles onto the fingers of your non dominant hand.
Look down at the warp strands that are at the lower edge of the front of the loom.
There’s a gap between the strands that have gone in front of the warping bar and behind it.
Slip your fingers into the gap and scoot them up to the shedding device.
Slide a shed stick into the gap.
Voila! (which is how ‘walla’ is really spelled 🙂 )
You have shed one ready to heddle!
Now, slip the crochet hook behind the first warp strand, pluck a heddle off your fingers, and pull it forward.
Catch the other end of the heddle loop and place both loops on the heddle rod.
Go slowly, and be sure that both ends of the heddle loop stay politely on the heddle rod.
When you have all of the warp strands heddled, slide the heddle bar into position in the knobs, and tighten the lock nut.
Repeat the heddling process on the second set of warp strands for your other band.
Push the first set of heddles down as you rotate the shedding device.
Leave the shed stick in place, and use the crochet hook to pick up the warp strands for the other shed.
Take the warp strand from the back to the right of the one in front, and onto the hook,
take the hook over the front strand, and pick up the next strand and carry on across.
Slide the weaving stick out of the first shed, and slip it along the crochet hook to transfer the warp strands from the crochet hook to the weaving stick.
Turn the weaving stick on it’s side, and then pick up the warp strands one at a time and capture them with the heddles just as you did for the first set of warp strands.
Repeat this process for the second band.
Check your heddles carefully to make sure that they are opening the sheds properly.
Ahhhhh! a warped loom is a thing of beauty!
Attach the handle to the shedding device and adjust the tension by turning the thumbscrews.
Open the first shed, and insert a craft stick, then open the second shed and insert another craft stick.
Squish the warp strands together to establish the width of your band.
Weave one row, leaving a 6 inch/15 cm tail.
Change sheds, and weave the next row.
Pull up firmly on the tail end and weave it through the same shed.
Repeat several times until the tail end is woven in, and the band is established.
Next video: The fun part! Wheeeeeee…. weaving……
I love weaving inkle (warp face) bands.
I use in dollmaking:
Link to purchase pattern for Inkle dolls: Inkle Dolls
And, they are wonderful for trimming handwoven clothing:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
You will need to cut the warp strand of color 1 to tie on color 2 at the warping bar, for EVERY color change.
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.
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! 🙂
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.
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!
Leno can seem a little challenging at first, so I figured that a video tutorial is a good idea.
Here it is:
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.
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!
Here is the video, showing how I warp the Mirrix Lani using the ‘No Warp Ends’ technique, with ‘S’ hooks:
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).
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.
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!
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)
Flip it over, and draw in the rough lines for the first cuts:
next, saw them into rough shape:
Working on getting more definition and shaping:
All the wooden offcuts are going to be burned in the wood burning stove in the studio in the winter- nothing’s wasted!
When the rough saw shaping is done:
I move over to the belt sander:
and I do a whole bunch of sanding (very carefully)
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:
And more sanding:
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:
Here’s a closer look:
I just listen to what each bobbin wants, and then I draw on their faces. Some of them crack me up.
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!
I hope that the photos will all open for you!
So, happy butterflies, and happy bobbin-ing!
Happy weaving! 🙂