I mentioned recently that I had a weaving disaster. It was my second project on my loom. I have been really worried from the time I decided to get a loom till now about making a mistake for two reasons:  It is a lot of yarn to ‘waste’ and  It is a lot of work to loose. In the grand scheme, I realize that it is okay to make a mistake or have these disasters. The logical side (left brain) of me knows this is a fact. The irrational, emotional side (right brain) of me doesn’t want the waste and ‘garbage’ that comes with a failed project. The tension between my left and right brain is sometimes very difficult.
When we are very rigid in our thinking, we are totally in left brain mode but when we lean to chaos (like I did here), we are totally in right brain mode. The chaos of hurtling towards a known disaster is Right Brain – emotional, irrational. BUT, the reason why I’m sharing this with you (and I don’t mean to sound hard on myself – these are just facts and I know these things about myself) is because there is usually profound learning for me on the other side. After I walk away, reflect on why I didn’t slow down or stop, I usually realize there was something driving me. Here, I realized afterwards, I was just really excited to create a second weaving! It was no more complicated than that and I find that comforting because it means I was just really caught up in this new process. Regardless, I made several mistakes with this project that are beginner, newbie mistakes.
First mistake: Rushing. I knew better and I was in a hurry. The afternoon that I warped this project was a small window of time while James was at school. This wasn’t a good time to warp a loom! Since it was such a big warp and only my second time, I think waiting until M could have helped me would have been better.
Second mistake: Not listening to my intuition. I wasn’t sure I was tensioning my warp threads well and continued to wind onto the peg, checking every so often, feeling a difference, and not stopping to fix it. I kept thinking, ‘Oh, it’ll be fine. It’s just in my head.’ It was real and I continued.
Third mistake: Inconsistency. While I was winding my warp, I didn’t take the time to make sure my warp threads were all under the same, constant tension. I didn’t use a warp spacer and I knew my outer threads were slack. I figured tensioning my front beam more would ‘fix’ this as well. It didn’t.
Fourth mistake: Continuing. This is similar to mistake no 2 but even after I started weaving, when I could have undone it and re-tensioned the warp, I continued. I spent a lot of time on this because it morphed into its own ‘thing’ and ended up being a bit tapestry-like. It used a lot of yarn – most of which was handspun – and I felt really deflated when it came off the loom sooooo incredibly wavy. I knew right away that there was nothing I was going to be able to do to selvedge it.
After I pulled the weaving off the loom, I folded it up and put it away. It remained in its spot for about a week. One weekend in February, I pulled it out and washed it in hot water. I agitated it while in the water and then threw it in the dryer for about 20 minutes. Have I mentioned how ineffective our dryer is?! When I pulled it out, I draped it over our shower curtain rod to finish drying and assessed the damage in the morning. Thankfully, I had stumbled onto a really great Instagram feed [scroll down to see her bags] a long time ago and saved some of the photos of her weaving turned into usable pouches.
The weaving I made is incredibly thick and definitely not ideal for using every time but I have a larger zipper in it, made a larger bag and have something kind of functional for the future – and a really good reminder to slow down. For the past couple of years, my mom has been making knitting project pouches for me at my request. She’s even made a few for my SIL and herself! It’s an easy tutorial, available online and incredibly effective. There are several sizes available so I highly recommend looking at this post as well and bookmarking it too.
I had a 15” zipper to use, I made the pouch slightly wider than called for but other than that, I followed the largest bag tutorial.
First, the fabric was felted nicely. The effect of the thick and thin was gone, as was the corespun. But the resulting colours were quite pleasing. I started to think about the idea of sewing with the fabric for our Guild Gallery Show in the summer to show what corespun looks like felted. It’s an interesting effect. I cut off all the tassels that I had added in the weaving process. They were ruined anyhow. It was a loss of a lot of yarn but it felt good to ‘get rid’ of them! Next, I squared up the fabric to see if I could get some of it to lay flat. Thankfully, I had two panels that did quite nicely. They aren’t perfect but they’ll do. If you don’t have a rotary cutter* and board, I would highly recommend buying them with an Omnigrid ruler if you are going to start sewing with your weavings.
*There is just nothing like these tools for practicality and ease of use. I will say though, keep the rotary cutter away from kids – the blade is so sharp that it will take off fingers or pieces of skin. I know from experience – James got it when I wasn’t looking and loped off a little bit of his skin. Thankfully, it was minimal damage to his hand but there were a lot of tears! And I didn’t even have it out at the time – he’d found it in my sewing supplies. He now stays away from it but what a rough way to learn!
After I’d squared the fabric, I cut it into two. This created the upper panel for each side of the bag. For the contrast fabric, after much deliberation, I used a heavy linen leftover from curtains. I still interfaced it for added strength due to the weight of the weaving that would be sitting on top and I think next time, I would use my duck canvas from my stash – it would have been even better.
To secure the weaving fabric, I top stitched everything before I finished the bag by sewing the lining and outside together. I like the finished look of the topstitching so that helps but also, I didn’t want to risk not being able to get this through my machine when it was ‘finished’. Because I couldn’t iron the woven fabric well, the topstitching really helped to lay the fabric down well. It created nice finished edges too.
The zipper I used was too heavy duty, although it works well with the weight of the weaving. The downside is that the end has to be exposed, rather than covered but it still looks finished. The lining is some cotton hand-dyed by my mom years and years ago that I have been storing. I’m not sure how or why I ended up with this fabric but it sure was perfect for this project!
You may have noticed that the two sides of the weaving are different. They are indeed! I was able to preserve a lot of the thick n’ thin yarn that looks like a sunset. It’s really beautiful. It’s actually this yarn from last year. The reverse is the corespun yellow and green [links below]. It’s more sedate but that yellow … man, it’s just my favourite colour ever. I just love it!
I can’t pretend that making this was easy or wonderful, though. Due to the zipper I chose, I ended up re-sewing again and again. As well, it is a bit too bulky for the finishing seams. Lastly, the interfaced side of the lower panel was flipped at some point so when I went to turn the bag right-side-out, I realized the fabrics are different. I just about threw it at the wall. This was definitely a Labour of Love. I will still enter this for the guild gallery show alongside my Table Runner I showed you last week. I’m excited by the difference in the two fabrics. I’m also pleased to have a usable project bag that is slightly bigger than my other ones – it’ll be great for smaller, lightweight sweaters. But honestly? I’m glad to be done with this project. Really glad.
What I didn’t foresee was how much I loved working with my handwoven fabric – what a rush! There is nothing like it! I would equate it to knitting with handspun. I’m really looking forward to weaving some more fabric to sew with – although I need a better plan what I’m going to make before I ‘waste’ this much yarn again!
Until next time, Happy Spinning, Weaving & Sewing!