picking up

A little over a month ago, I wrote this post about learning how to weave with Belinda Rose, and beginning to weave bands on my new inkle loom.

Since then I’ve been really enjoying playing and experimenting with weaving narrow bands – particularly using pick up techniques.

As is my usual tendency, I began by reading quite a few books on the subject. In practical terms, I’ve found all of these books — some recently published, some now out of print — useful in different ways – but particularly enjoyed Annie MacHale’s In Celebration of Plain Weave (thankyou, Carole for this great recommendation), Heather Torgenrud’s Norwegian Pick-up Band Weaving and Susan Foulkes Weaving Patterned Bands. Susan’s blog is my new favourite discovery – she’s hugely knowledgeable about band weaving history and techniques, and very generous with her knowledge too.

Having figured out some pick-up pattern basics, I made a warp with 5 pattern threads, and began to weave some samples, using the charts in Susan’s book.

Then I made another warp, and wove some more wee samples

With these first two sample sets, I was simply picking up and dropping pattern threads using my fingers. Then I upped the pattern threads to 7 . . . and then to 9, and tried to figure out how to use a pick up stick.

Once I’d got to grips with the stick, I found it pretty transformative in terms of technique: selecting threads became much more straightforward and it was much easier to ensure all the warp threads were correctly positioned each time I changed the shed. I got into a better rhythm working with the patterns . . .

. . . I found I could spot mistakes and try to fix things

and in all respects – from warping the loom to maintaining an even tension – my technique is now definitely improving.

I’m really enjoying being a beginner – learning something completely new – figuring things out and playing around with patterns and techniques – and am finding the interconnections between knitting and weaving both thought-provoking and interesting.

I’ve also discovered that the history of band and braid weaving – and the many uses of bands and braids in different cultures around the world – is a completely fascinating subject.

In short, weaving narrow patterned bands is proving very inspiring.

Who else is learning something new this year?