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Skill-Shares in New York City

Posted on by Janna Maria Vallee / Posted in Social Market for a Mirrix 2014, Tapestry Weaving | 2 Comments

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For the past 6 months or so I’ve been offering free weaving, knitting, embroidery and natural dyeing workshops in public spaces in Manhattan.  Most of time we are weaving since people seem to really respond to my lovely Mirrix loom, and I love any excuse to weave so I’ve planned a lot of tapestry skill-shares.  They have taken a few forms:

Public interventions:

I weave/knit/dye in public spaces, usually on the subway or in a parks and invite people to join me, usually with a sign.  These are an attempt to thwart people’s tendencies to isolate themselves, usually via digital devices, with the hopes of complicating their ideas of how public space is perceived and used.  My goal is to encourage people to engage, and even learn something instead of tune out of the world around them.  Admittedly, I too am often one of these people engrossed in my book on the subway.  So, I’m not saying there isn’t a place for tuning out – everyone needs their personal time, and God love you if for you that time occurs on the subway. I do however think it could be good to interrupt people’s habituated actions from time to time.

Public performances:

These are usually the result of no one joining me to learn the respective craft of the day, and this usually happens on the subway.  I’m not dissapointed about having the skill-share concept morph into a performance in this way, and am still grappling with the ideas that occur as a result. But, so far it means I feel I’m being perceived as more of a spectacle than an educator or artist, and because it’s such an unlikely place to do this sort of thing I sometimes feel a bit awkward.  In my first attempts I even felt kind of pathetic, forgetting my purpose and instead imagining what people must think of this crazy girl with a textile contraption and sign inviting people to join her.  But one day, several days after one of my first subway skill-shares, a woman approached me on the street

Does Your Loom Travel in Style?

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Inspiration, Products | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

sad loom bagDoes Your Loom Travel in Style? Mine doesn’t.

Mostly my looms travel in reusable shopping bags. It isn’t pretty, but I don’t have even one nice bag (besides some large travel bags, which aren’t terribly practical) that fits a loom bigger than my Mini. A few months ago I brought a few looms to a local store that was interested in selling them. I parked several blocks away and had three haphazardly packed shopping bags full of looms and other supplies. When I arrived I couldn’t find a thing in the jumble I had created at the bottom of the bags.

The topic of loom bags is something we’ve talked about endlessly at Mirrix. We’ve contacted bag manufacturers, talked to customers who have made their own bags and have looked into finding pre-made (Made in America) bags that would fit our needs. While there are many options out there, we haven’t gotten it together to even find the perfect bags for our own looms (as you can see from the picture above).

A couple weeks ago Claudia taught a weaving class in Groton, MA. We talked after the class and she couldn’t stop talking about what a wonderful class it was (see her blog post on it here). She also couldn’t stop talking about a bag one of the students had made for her loom.

This student was Bunny Pepin, author of the blog “La Sewista“. I’d seen her blog and her gorgeous bag, but Claudia says it’s even more amazing in person. “It even has a place for the shedding device” she shrieked over the phone.

la sewista loom bag outside



The ultimate loom bag by Bunny Pepin

You can read through Bunny’s blog posts about her bag here:

My first ever loom bag

Loom bag #2, a long bound zip

Loom Bag #4, floating interfacing

The self drafted loom carrier, complete!

I know, I know, now you’re looking at the canvas bag your loom has been traveling in and thinking, “Do I need to learn to sew?” Fear not, friends, for in the near future Bunny is going to start selling her bags! The details aren’t worked out yet, but it looks like she will have a range from a basic bag to one with all the bells and whistles. We’ll keep you informed when we know more!

Thank you to Bunny for sharing your work!

Customer Feature: Terry Hanson, avowed lover of all bead things.

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Bead Weaving, Customer Stories, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

My name is Terry Hanson and I am an avowed lover of all bead things.

Terry HansonI live in central New York right now, but was raised in “The North country,” Brasher Falls, NY to be precise, and not far from the Canadian border, a land of forests and rivers and long winters. My sisters and I were taught various crafting skills by our mother and grandmother, whose energy and enthusiasm made embracing the craft world a lot of fun.

(left: “Expressions of Blue and Green“)

Well into married life and motherhood (I have three grown boys) I can remember creating some of my first beaded barrettes at the age of 25 when introduced to a bead loom by my sister. It delighted me how quickly I could make a small work of art, and then find a strong sense of accomplishment. I used one of the “bead loom kits” that you can still find at most craft stores for many years.Terry Hanson

Years later I asked my husband to fabricate a larger bead loom for me. I needed to create beaded membership badges for a writer’s club known as The Fictioneers. I had to make quite a few of them and my hubby’s loom, while not the prettiest device on the planet, worked great, and so I was able to bead up to 4 of the club badges on this device at one time.                                                                                                                                                                          (right: “Poppies”)

Terry HansonIt was not too long after this that in 2009 I received a surprise Christmas gift,the 16-inch Big Sister Loom from Mirrix! 

And boy did that change things. I was very impressed by the sturdy construction and design of this loom. Unlike previous looms the Big Sister sits upright and has great tension control. Also, I found I could now string up to 14 of the club badges on the loom in one shot. As of right now I have made 174 of the badges.      

(left: “Morning Glory”)                                                                                 

With lots encouragement from a family member, I then decided to attempt a larger beaded work of art.

Surfing the web I found a few different programs, which I used as a tool to assist me in creating bead patterns from photos. Creating the patterns and choosing the right bead colors can take longer than the weaving of them.

After receiving official permission from the artists who created the original paintings of “Eclipsed” (Nik Helbig) and “Morning Glory” (Hessam Abrishami) I went through the time-consuming process of creating a bead-friendly pattern.

Terry HansonBy combining the use of the computer bead program with size 11 Delica bead sample card, I was able to create beaded tapestries on The Big Sister Loom that I’m quite proud of. In fact, “Eclipsed” and “Morning Glory” received, respectively, First and Third Place Ribbons at The Great New York State Fair in 2014.

(left: “Eclipsed”)

Last year I received the 22-inch Zach Loom as another surprise gift for Christmas (I’m serious, I had no idea I was going to be so blessed!), and recently created my largest work to date, my beaded interpretation of artist Martina Shapiro’s lovely expressionist painting “Expressions in Blue and Green,” a work that contains 51,072 beads.

I’ve have been working on a Mandala pattern that a close relative has hinted would make a great excuse to crack the 100,000-bead barrier for a single work of art. When I do it, will my Mirrix “Zach” loom be big enough? Or would this need a larger loom like the 28-Inch “McKinley?”

So, how much longer is it until Christmas?

Dear Santa, I swear I’ve been a really good girl this year!

Weekend Workshop

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

There we are all smiles on Sunday afternoon after having completed a two day workshop focused mostly on tapestry.IMG_7162


The workshop kind of invented itself.  By the end of the day on Saturday we realized that we shouldn’t make two tapestry/bead cuff bracelets.  The concept was to teach simple techniques in the first and more advanced techniques in the second.  However, the weaving is really two small to explore some of the techniques the students wanted to learn.  Sunday became serious tapestry day.  Everyone warped their looms at 14 ends per inch, 4 and a 1/2 inch wide.  As you can see from the looms, weaving silk at 14 ends per inch is not speed weaving.  But everyone mastered some very important concepts namely how to insert and weave four plus (I think one went up to seven) wefts at a time and always be in correct relationship with one another.  The students also learned how to insert a new weft (well, you always have to insert wo) between established wefts and how to insert just one weft on either end.  They also learned how to replace a weft, how to make sure all ends are at the back of the piece, warp interlock, slit tapestry, weaving bumps and lumps and then outlining them.  In short:  they got a crash course in the concept of tapestry by doing some very freeform weaving.  And of course, they were all amazing.


Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Inspiration | Tagged , | Leave a comment



Above is my take on free-form crochet

Imagine this: You are taking a walk with some friends. You are kind of spread out, maybe one behind and a couple ahead of you. Being that you are not talking to anyone at the moment, you automatically start singing very quietly to yourself. It’s that Joni Mitchell song you got stuck in your head because you recently heard it and now it just won’t leave. But that feels good and you know it’s a good sign to be singing to yourself and you don’t even notice you are doing it. The person behind you says: “Gee, you have a nice voice.” You don’t say anything because it’s at this point that you realize you are singing quietly to yourself and you are a tad embarrassed that someone heard you. But you continue singing never-the-less and then maybe ten seconds later someone in front of you turns and says: “Don’t quit your day job.” And all you can think is: why would someone say that?


Prevent Pulling-In!

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in FAQ, Tapestry Weaving | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

IMG_0026One of the biggest problems beginning tapestry weavers have is that, as they weave up, they begin to pull in the edges of their piece. In the language of tapestry we’d call this drawing in your selvedges. This can cause the piece to look sloppy and uneven.

While even a seasoned tapestry weaver is susceptible to pulling-in, there are a few tricks that can help you to weave with straight selvedges! 

1.) Measure! 
Being cognizant of whether or not you are pulling in is a good way to prevent it. Measure often (every inch and a half or so) and reweave if you notice you are pulling in.

2.) Don’t weave selvedge to selvedge for large sections
If you lay a straight line of tapestry weft into the shed the line of weft remains straight until you change the shed.  Once you change the shed the weft becomes scalloped in every place there is a warp. If you’ve just laid in a straight weft, in order to produce enough weft to allow for those scallops, extra weft will be pulled from the selvedges of your tapestry. There just isn’t enough weft to go around. When using discontinuous wefts (not weaving straight across), compensation for this almost happens naturally. You’ve got the extra weft just because every start and ending creates a little more yarn in the joining places.

3.) Bubble
bubblingBubbling (see the picture to the left) is important for making sure you are using plenty of weft thread so you don’t pull in on the sides. Here’s how:

Make sure the weft is wrapped tightly enough around the side warp to not have a baggy loop but not so tightly that it draws in at all. Lay the weft in to the warp in a curve and then take your finger and push down on that curve about every three or four inches so that the curve becomes a series of humps.  Change the shed. Do this again. Change the shed. do this again. Then take your beater and beat it all together. If you’ve done this correctly there will be no loops of wefts at the selvedges, the selvedges will not pull in at all, and there will not be little extra blobs of weft sticking out anywhere in the weaving. What you will see is a smooth patch of flat weaving. The best way to test your skill at this is to weave simple stripes for a long distance. If you can accomplish that, you’ve mastered the art of straight selvedges. And seriously, accomplishing stripes that travel from selvedge to selvedge and don’t pull in is quite the feat!

4.) Tension
This is where a good loom comes in! You need really good tension to weave tapestry. On a Mirrix Loom, you have the ability to get just that. If you are using a Mirrix Loom and your warp threads feel loose, simply tighten them up.

Don’t have a loom and ready to get started? We’ll give you a personalized loom recommendation here! 

Get Help Choosing a Loom!

Weaving With Fringe

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Tapestry Weaving, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fringe is in!

We’ve been getting requests from customers for information on how to add fringe to tapestries. While there may be other ways to do it, “fringe” in tapestry is typically created with rya knotting, which is a Swedish technique used to make pile-rugs as well wall-hangings.

I’ve never experimented with rya before, but thought I’d give it a try. The very basic technique was easier than I thought it would be, and fun to do.

Tapestry weaver Kathe Todd-Hooker (visit her blog here) has done some really neat tapestry pieces with rya, like this one of her dog Chene (Chene is as cute in person as in the tapestry):

Chene by Kathe Todd-Hooker

“Chene” by Kathe Todd-Hooker


Happy Being “Never-Done”

Posted on by Julia Hecht / Posted in Social Market for a Mirrix 2014 | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Victor on White_SMALLI finished my Homage to Victor Vasarely Bracelet.  I am writing up the instructions for a tutorial that I will make available.  But alas, there’s more  to do….I am on my next experiment with this pattern, using white warp threads instead of black, and a spring time color way.  I am also ordering a new product for the clasp – by Miyuki, the Japanese seed bead (and Delica) manufacturer.  It fits over a row of 11/0 round beads that are added to the end for just this purpose.

We, who indulge our creativity, know that we are “never-done”.  One thing leads to another, and we just can’t stop making stuff.  We might be “finished for now”.  But that’s about the best there is, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Here’s to letting our creative juices FLOW!

Peace, Beads, Warps and Wefts,


Julia L. Hecht

Poppyfield Bead Company





What’s Mulberry Silk?

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Inspiration, Tapestry Weaving | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

silk wormsI’m not sure if being a tapestry weaver makes you interested in fiber or if being interested in fiber makes you interested in tapestry; but my tapestry weaving mother instilled in me a love for and snobbery about fibers from an early age.

When I was a kid, we would go shopping and she would have to touch everything. “That’s acrylic!” she would say, and I’d have to put the sweater back on the rack.


It’s Your Birthday, You Can Get A Loom Deal if You Want To!

Posted on by mirrixlooms / Posted in Deals | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

birthday loomRecently a friend told me that I’m “like a little kid” when it comes to my birthday. I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a good thing, but I’m going to go ahead and take that as a compliment.

If you’re like me and  love getting special birthday treats, you should  join Mirrix’s birthday club.

All you have to do is send us your name, email address and birthday (don’t worry, we won’t ask the year) and we’ll send YOU an email during your birthday month with a surprise discount in it.

If your birthday is in March, we’re not sending emails out until tomorrow, so you can still join!

Join The Mirrix Birthday Club!