Category Archives: Weaving

Ikea hack

I am very much a beginning weaver and have only wound two warps. But I have already figured out that a warping mill is easier on the back and the arms compared with a warping board.IMG_7728

Here’s a reminder of what a warping board looks like. The thread that will become the warp is measured out by wrapping it around pegs on a frame. Very tiring on the arms especially when the warp is long and wide. With the mill the frame spins and your arms stay still. A mill can be tall and on the floor, or shorter and on a table. All very ergonomic.

At my third weaving class last Sunday, Amber, the brilliant teacher, had an array of ideas for making your own warping board. All very clever and cheap.

But then she showed us her DIY warping mill and I was sold.

Her idea came from a video she had seen where the DIYer had used a lazy susan mechanism between too small side table stacked on top of each other. The top one spun and the thread went round the legs.IMG_8350

Amber improved on this by using an op shop lazy susan, some non slip matting and an upside down stool. Dowel attached with cable ties allowed for the starting and stopping loops and crosses.

Ikea happened to be on my way home in a round about sort of a way. So off I went to find something that would make a bigger frame. I already had the lazy susan in the sewing room – I made a rotating cutting mat quite a while ago.

This is what I brought home, after a quick stop at a large hardware store for dowel and cable ties plus my previous cutting board hack.

The frame is for a wardrobe system and has a hanging rod. Once assembled I realised the rod could attach to the side and would support the cross pegs. I also noted that the base was too wide, so I needed to buy the top shelf as well.

Luckily I had a meeting on Monday evening that was not too far from the other Ikea store.IMG_8369This is what I bought there.

Unfortunately the extra rails while adjustable in length are a bit too long in the narrowest position. A quick pulling apart and I was ready to go.

Except that the bracket has a lug inside and the modified rod did not have a corresponding hole. It was easy to cut off.

The dowel was too thin, so another trip to the hardware to exchange for some with a bigger diameter, but not as many lengths, as now I knew it didn’t have to go right across the frame. I had my extra rods to provide sufficient support just on one side.

So here it is. It is 1 metre high, so I have raised it by putting the lazy susan on a stool I already had.

And this is how it works.

My quick test warp is 4 m long. The dowels are not finally fixed in position as they still need sanding. And I might add some more so I can have a counting cross too. The rod supports easily slide up and down to adjust for a wide range of warp lengths as the height of this mill can accommodate quite a few turns of thread.

And if I flip it onto its feet, it is easy to store, I have a stack of plastic tubs containing too many unfinished projects and it will go over them quite nicely.IMG_8399

Cost: Frame $20, top shelf $15, 3 extra rods $18, dowel $7.45, cable ties $1.98
Total: $62.43  if you need to buy a lazy susan that is $14.99. Pretty good compared to the price of a warping mill. And I can always use it as a standing desk or if I am prepared to sacrifice cable ties and reposition the rods, it would make a good rack for drying dyed threads.

If you like my hack and want to use it, please acknowledge the original idea from  @weavingwooles as well as my adaptation.


First real weaving project

The second part of the Intro to Weaving course is a project of our own choosing. I found a pattern in a magazine for two different bags using the same threading. I wanted something that focused on woven pattern rather than colourful or highly textured fibres.

The warp is a fine mercerised cotton and foolishly I went for a dark brown, making threading the heddles a challenge. But after counting and checking multiple times I got it done. As I had no real idea how the pattern worked or if my thread choices would look ok, I wove a sample of both bag patterns.

This is how it looks after cutting the sample off and wet finishing.

The bottom is for one bag and the red lurex will run vertically. I was unsure of this one when it was on the loom, but now it is looking really good. The top section with the pink and purple is for a clutch purse. Seeing the finished effect I am ditching the heavier beige cotton thread and sticking with just three colours. That way the textural elements in the brown make sense.

The loom is all set to go again. I hope to get quite a bit done before the next class on Sunday.


Here is reason that my progress has been a bit slow. A wound to the belly needed stitching up and now Tomkins is moping around feeling sorry for himself.

Weaving sampler complete

I left my account of the Intro to Weaving Course run by the Handweavers and Spinners Guild with the loom in the boot of my car.

In the two weeks between class 2 and class 3 I finished the sampler. Here you can see it progressing.

The weave patterns are different in each column because the threading is different.

I had plenty of warp thread left so tackled some more challenging patterns with a small project in mind. This extra weaving was just finished before the Sunday class. There I cut the work from the loom – quite an event – and started on my next project, more on that later.

At home I twisted a fringe on the sampler and wet finished both pieces.

The little project is a notebook cover. I left it unlined because it looked good on the inside too.

I have been doing some quilting as well as weaving.

You may recall that in January I visited an exhibition of Helen Maudsley’s recent work at the NGV Ian Potter Gallery. My exercise for Art Quilters made in response to the exhibition is not quite as cryptic as Helen’t works.

I used three different Sun Dye colours, chamomile, kangaroo paw and grape to create the fabric, dyeing pieces two or three times with various resist objects and manipulations. This was then foundation pieced. It is not yet quilted.

In case you can’t guess the title, it is Cutting through red tape.



Only four and a half hours drive from my side of Melbourne, the Horsham Regional Art Gallery proved worth the visit. It is located in what I assume is the older section of the Town Hall that has had a squiggle added to the top.

The exhibition I travelled to see last Tuesday consisted of woven works from the Ararat Regional Art Gallery Collection. This gallery decided in the 1970s to collect textile and fibre art and now has the premier collection of such works in Victoria if not Australia.

Works shown in  Enmeshed ranged from the boldly experimental craft revival of the ’70s to recent work in all manner of fibres.

A few of my favourites.

Sara Lindsay, originally from England, is a founding weaver of the Australian Tapestry Workshop. Her tapestry is tightly woven using commercially manufactured gingham cloth.

Elizabeth Djutarra from North East Arnhem land uses traditional weaving techniques in constructing a very large floor mat from dyed and natural pandanus fibre.

Olga de Amaral’s Shield in Three Colours is a monumental piece that hangs from the ceiling and pools on the floor. The woven wool strips are themselves woven and interlaced with he bound rope that directs the eye down and up.

Transparent weaving was used by Mary Beeston, the designer, and Larry Beeston, the weaver. Two pieces are hung almost together and the light from the rear reveals the view outside the kitchen window. The fine linen ground is woven on a four shaft loom with the pattern in a heavier yarn woven at the same time. This piece is worked sideways. A class in this technique was run at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild Summer School this year and I hope it is repeated.

One of four square tapestries in Marcel Marois’ piece  concerning environmental elements that can be both nurturing and destructive. This work Blue represents the air.

Roma Centre was an abstract painter who bought a treadle loom and taught herself to weave in order to take a teaching job. This work is made from a number of panels stitched together and close examination reveals that it is not traditional tapestry but created on a shaft loom with woven textural patterns as well as the tapestry style colour shapes.


Weaving class 2

The second half of dressing the loom was completed on Sunday and finally I got to start weaving.

We learned how to sley the reed, tie the ends onto the front beam, and close the gap with waste yarn. On the way there was a quick lesson on what to do if there are missing ends in the warp including a useful weighting device.

Finally I found out how to fold the loom so that it fits into the car boot.

A whole new vocabulary

The Introduction to Weaving course at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria started today. So many new words to learn. The first class was about preparing the warp and dressing the loom.

By the end of the day I had used a warping board to measure out the warp. Taken it off and  chained it after carefully tying the crosses and labelling key parts. Used the raddle to spread it evenly over the width of the finished sampler and wound the warp onto the back roller of the loom under tension.

I also learned how to read a draft and started threading the ends through the heddles on the four frames. I think I will go back in before the next class to finish the threading before I forget how it is done.


Hemstitch and other weaving lessons

I have a new rigid heddle weaving book 9781603429726and it details how to calculate yarn required for a project. I tried out the short method using one ball of the fine cotton I bought recently. All went well, I wove the scarf using the same yarn for warp and weft, but I had quite a bit left over on the shuttle at the end.

It was when I measured the finished length, 48″ instead of the planned 55″ that I realised I must have made an error. I went back to my calculations. I had added 12 for the unusable part of the warp instead of 20. Never mind, I am still happy with the delicate scarf.

I really like the hemstitch finish at both ends, also something learned from the new book. My selvages are a bit wobbly in places, cotton doesn’t stretch so it is not as forgiving as wool.


I hope the tonight’s Kris Kringle recipient likes it too.

The weaving sampler is done, but I think the rya knots are too fluffy for it to be a table runner.


I had quite a bit of the blue warp left on the loom once the pattern reverse was complete, so wove as much as I could using the textured blue and cream yarn from the knots. Once the zip is added and some lining fabric it will be a little pouch.