Back to the Rainbow Flag

More than a year after I stopped working on my rainbow flag throw, I'm finally picking it up again. To recap, the idea is, a giant queer rainbow flag throw made up of individual tiny triangles woven on my little 4" triloom. Each triangle will have a spell woven into it. Red for protection, orange for strength, yellow for prosperity (changed from wisdom), green for health, blue for peace, and purple for passion. Each color is to have two rows built of 72 triangles, not 54, as one of the previous posts states, and not three rows as I originally planned, because my math was wrong and it wound up being like 8' long. (I thought the little loom was 4" along the hypotenuse, but it's 4" along the leg and about 6" along the hypotenuse.) So the finished thing should be 6'x8'. If I ever finish. I did finish one row of red before I left off, and have it all stitched together and everything. Somewhere. Now I can't find it. That's bad. I hope it turns up before I'm ready to stitch the whole thing together, or that's a lot of work down the drain. I'm sure I put it somewhere "safe". At any rate, it feels good to have an ongoing project again....

Fortune Teller

If you’re around my age and went to school in the US, you probably remember paper fortune tellers, aka cootie catchers, from around middle school. We loved those things. In case you’re not familiar, here’s a how-to on folding them. You write or shade colors on the top side, and numbers on the inside. Typically, this is done with two people, one of whom made the fortune teller and wrote the messages, and the other who’s having her fortune told. (This was mostly a girl thing in my school, so I’ll be referring to everyone with she/her pronouns.) The one having her fortune told picks a color, and the owner of the fortune teller opens it alternately up/down and left/right as she spells out the color. When she’s done, the other looks inside and picks one of the visible numbers, which is then counted out in the same way. The querent picks another number, and that flap is opened and the fortune or message read off. Usually at my school it was more messages and good wishes than fortunes. So I was looking for something to do with the first batch of test triangles, and thought what the hell, fortune tellers are all triangles and squares, I’m going to try that. I figured out most of this on the fly, and took as many pictures as I could manage as I went, but this post will probably be a bit confusing. Sorry. After I’ve had a chance to make more of them, I’m going to try to work up a pattern, which will hopefully make more sense. In the mean time, if you’re having trouble visualizing what I’m doing, you might want to stop and make a paper one (all you need is a square of paper) to refer to. You need 24 triangles to make this. You can do this with crocheted or knitted squares as well, in which case, use 12 and just omit the bit where you stitch triangles together. The seams are all very directional, in order to get everything to bend the right way. For the top, you need 8 triangles to make 4 squares, and some way of designating them as different colors. For preference, actually make them out of different colors of yarn. I was working with what I had, so I grabbed some easter-egg-dyed silk (did you know you can actually dye protein fiber with easter egg dye? You can; maybe I’ll do a post after Easter), and needle felted it on in little spirals. First, though, I paired off eight triangles, stacked each pair congruently, and whip-stitched the long edges together: The seam on each should be raised in a ridge. That’s the top. Then I felted on the spirals. Needle-felting silk is a PITA, but it was what I had. I used red, blue, yellow, and green. They’re all pastels, because that’s what you get with easter egg dye. What these are are silk hankies that have been drafted out into faux top. (Er. Yet another post for another day. But you can either spin from this or weave/knit/crochet with is as is.) If I’d had four or five colors of yarn, I’d have just paired like colors to make solid-colored squares. Now, if you remember, all the triangles have a knot on one sharp point, where the weaving began. I tried to put all of those in the same places, so on the top, all of them went to the outside. Inside the fortune teller, all of them gathered at the center. So. Now I have four squares, each assigned a color. I set those aside. I needed numbers for the inside, so I knotted pips, 1-8, onto eight triangles. Rather sloppily. With a paper fortune teller, you have flaps inside the thing that you flip up to read the messages. That doesn’t work here, so the plan was to make each numbered triangle a little pocket that fortunes could be tucked inside and swapped out. So, each of those triangles with pips was paired with a plain one, and whip-stitched all around the edges, leaving part of one short edge open (the one without the knot, because I wanted the knots at the bottom and the openings at the top. These openings turned out to be really hard to photograph. I tried several angles, and it’s still hard to see. Here’s the best, with yarn needles holding the slits open. (The colors on these are crap. Sorry. The pips are sort of cream colored, not yellow or orange. I need to take a class or something.) That, obviously, has already had the next...

How to Weave on a Tri-Loom: One Long Loop

Weaving on a tri-loom is quite easy, but can be difficult to picture if you’re not familiar with it. There are a number of good tutorials out there, including ones with instructions for making your own and other handy information (like this and this), but I thought I’d do my own. There are also plenty of places to buy them. The large ones (6’, 7’ and 8’ hypotenuse, and even adjustable ones, made for shawls and things) can get pricey, $200 and up, and then there’s stands or easels and shed sticks and extra-long hooks and things to make it easier (The Woolery has a good selection and about average prices). Small ones like Hazel Rose’s (and they have some terrific shapes, including a heart) are less expensive, but are still hand-made by an artisan in very nice woods and not exactly cheap. I got this little one from Bigfam15 on Etsy, and while the wood is plainer and the joinery not quite perfect, it’s still an excellent little loom for an excellent price. I do recommend that if you’re thinking of getting a tri-loom, you pick up or build a small one first to figure out how it works and see how you like it. It would be a shame to spend a lot of money, or effort on building, a big one, only to find out you don’t like it. So, how does one weave on this crazy contraption? The tools: One tri-loom, one crochet hook (US size I9), and that other thing is a small steel knitting needle I curled at the end with a pair of jewelry pliers, basically because the day the loom arrived, I couldn’t find a crochet hook of the right size, and couldn’t wait. It’s been very handy, but a smaller crochet hook would also work. Optional tools: Yarn needle, weaving needly, long weaving hook, packing fork, shed sticks. The first is useful for tying off the ends and stitching together pieces for any size of tri-loom. The rest are mostly useful for big ones. The yarn: Most tri-looms are set at about 4 or 5 pegs per inch. The size of the nails or pegs used make finer setts hard. That means using roughly worsted weight yarns. You can use significantly heavier yarn and skip every other peg, but using finer yarn is difficult. (I may at some point get a wild hair up my ass and try it with lacemakers' pins on my bobbin lace pillow, just to see if I can.) This is just dead cheap Red Heart yarn from the big box store. When the tri-loom arrived, I grabbed some wool yarn I had on hand and just dove in, but I think acrylic is actually better for a beginner. It slides nicely and smoothly, making tensioning easier than wool. You can pull the yarn straight from the ball or skein as you work, or you can cut pieces to length. The amount you need for one triangle will always be the length of the top row of pegs times the number of pegs down each leg (including the top peg). Then add six inches for a tail at either end, so you can tie them off. So this little goober is 6" (actually more like 5.7", but rounding up to the nearest inch gives us a little squish room) along the top rail, with 17 nails down the leg, for 102", plus 3" for either ending, making a total of 108, or 3 yards exactly. First, tie a slip knot in one end. Loop it around the top leftmost peg. (If you’re left-handed you can reverse all this or not. You’re going to be working in both directions anyway.) Pull it straight across and loop it counter-clockwise around the top rightmost peg, 270°. Bring it down and make a 90° turn around the next peg down. Pull it back across the loom. Turn around the second peg from the top, and then up to the second peg from the left, going over the first warp thread. Work your hook over the second warp and under the first, and pull the yarn down and through, then across to the other side of the loom. There, you hook it on the third peg down, up to the second peg from the right. You can start to see here how the symmetry builds. Every loop makes one warp thread (along the hypotenuse) and two weft threads. Each set of left and right warp threads will always follow the same over-and-under pattern, because they’ve both been pulled through together. Thread the hook through the warp threads, over and under the warps, the opposite of the...

Teeny Tiny Triangles

Way back April, I talked about the esoteric possibilities of small triangle looms, weaving prayers or spells into small pieces. Well, I finally had a little cash and found a small tri-loom for under $15 on Etsy. (It was sold as a 4”, which is the length of the legs rather than the hypotenuse. Odd, the big ones are measured by the hypotenuse.) When it arrived, I grabbed some spare yarn from the stash (my sadly depleted stash: moths got in, but this was treated to keep them off), and dove in. I ran through that skein in about a week, a week I was pretty sick, and not spending much time on fiber. The first several came out uneven and buckled, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly, and the later ones came out nice and even. By the end, a single triangle only took about five minutes. I got thirty triangles out of the 100yd skein, plus a lot of cat-chewed scraps of yarn that I’m using to stitch the triangles together. It’s an interesting thing about the tri-looms: Each loop, which becomes both warp and weft, is the same length: the length of the hypotenuse of the triangle. You have as many loops as there are pegs on one leg of it. To get the total yardage for each triangle, no matter how large or small, you multiply the hypotenuse by the number of pegs. My little tri-loom (which has a 6” hypotenuse and 17 pegs) takes 102in, plus a 3in tail on each end to knot, or 108in, for a total of three yards per each. I measure the yarn a bit slack, and then you have to keep it under a certain amount of tension while weaving, so there’s usually a bit extra. Being able to measure and cut a hank of 3’ lengths means I don’t have to carry the whole skein and a pair of scissors if I want to go out and weave. Also good for airplane trips, where you still can’t take scissors on board in the US. I’m working on writing specific prayers to use with this. I’ve started doing sets with the Purple Thread and Hyades prayers I wrote previously, but those are really designed around the rhythms of spinning, and the tri-loom definitely has a rhythm of its own. The idea, though, is to recite a prayer as I weave, making each piece a prayer of its own. I want to do a lunar month’s worth of prayers, then stitch the pieces together into a kind of prayer hanging. Not prayer hangings as my Hermes and Athene hangings are, which contains written prayers to be recited, but hangings that are made up of prayers, tangible works of dedication. Once I’ve found a written rhythm that works for the tri-loom, I’ll start writing spells for it, too, for tangible, useable spellcraft (my favorite kind!). Scarves for health and healing, small afghans for protection and warmth and contentment, large family-sized blankets for togetherness and love, whatever I can think of. I want to do a rainbow flag coverlet for Kate and I, with each color bearing a different spell for our little family. I’m working up a whole how-to post on weaving on tri-looms, although there are several excellent ones out there already, and a project post for what I’m doing with the practice triangles I’ve made already. My regular camera is out of commission, so it’s all phone pics for a bit. Sorry....