an OXO belt

Good morning! Time for a weaving post!

I’ve been enjoying making plain weave belts (like the one which accompanies my Land o’Cakes cardigan) and narrow pick-up bands (like my phone lanyard or mitten strap) and wondered if I might bring the two techniques together. It’s the difference in thread thickness that makes the motifs on pick-up bands stand out (the pattern threads should be at least twice the thickness of the background). But a band woven with 10/2 background threads produces a fabric that’s a little too lightweight for a belt (or at least the belt I wanted to weave and wear). So I decided to experiment with a combination of thread weights, weaving the plain edges of the belt in a heavier 3/2 cotton; using 10/2 cotton for the background threads of the pattern area; and 3/2 cotton for the central pattern threads . Here’s my draft. The threads numbered 20-50 mark out the pattern area and there are 9 coloured pattern threads, with 2 neutral background threads between.

As a knitter, I’ve always loved OXO patterns, but weaving pick-up bands has given me a new perspective on these motifs, or perhaps I’m just considering the intuitive logic and potential of that structure a little more. I’m also beginning to think about the interesting relationships between band weaving patterns and knitted motifs, particularly in those northern communities where both crafts were routinely practised in the same household. A research project to look forward to in coming years, perhaps? Anyway, this is the simple 9 thread OXO pattern I decided to feature at the centre of my belt.

The outside-in, inside-out rhythm makes this a very simple motif for a band-weaving beginner such as myself to work, especially as the threads are consistently pushed down from the top layer of the warp (meaning there’s only ever one action to remember!). If you are unfamiliar with reading pick-up charts, there are some similarities with knitting: my odd (heddled) rows are read from right to left and even (open) from left to right and the dots indicate where a pattern thread is being pushed down / held back at the wrong side of the fabric. You might think of this as the equivalent to the ‘purl’ side of stockinette, or a process similar to the way that the yarn used to create a stranded motif is carried across the back of the work when not in use.

Working the pick-up pattern was straightforward, though I found this thread (an organic 3/2 cotton) incredibly slubby and “sticky” and in general a wee bit hard on the hands. I had to take some care separating the heddled from the open threads when changing sheds, and beat very firmly between each pick.

I’m happy with the end result, though my selvedges could certainly have been neater!

I used a belt clasp of the ‘quick-release’ type (there’s a great variety of these available on ebay). After removing my belt from the loom and trimming away the waste, I steamed it with an iron to block it (which does make a difference), and then, with a sharp pair of scissors, cut both ends back, finishing one with a couple of coats of clear nail varnish and securing the other by stitching it down around the belt clasp.

A belt is a simple (but often rather costly) way to accessorise an outfit, and I’m really enjoying being able to weave a variety of colourful belts on my inkle loom to suit exactly what I’m wearing. In this case, my belt accompanies a skirt of whose dull shade of red I’m rather fond, and a new pullover, which is currently my wardrobe’s go-to item. Yes, the pullover is a new design, and I’ll show you more of it tomorrow.

Look after yourselves and enjoy your thursday!