Backstrap links, books, etc.

I've been working on a project using my 28" Authentic Knitting Board, so I've put my backstrap experiments on hold. However, that doesn't stop me from thinking about it. Here's a list of some sites and books I've drawn from over the past few weeks. I'll be adding to this as time goes on:



  • Backstrap Weaving / by Barbara Taber and Marilyn Anderson, New York : Watson-Guptill Publications, 1975.
  • Rigid Heddle Weaving / by Karen Swanson, New York : Watson-Guptill Publications, 1975. Note, this book is about using a rigid heddle with a backstrap or tapestry loom.
  • The Weaving, Spinning and Dyeing Book / by Rachel Brown, New York : Knopf : distributed by Random House, 1978.


Adventures in backstrap weaving



I was feeling just a little bit desperate to try weaving. I wanted a loom! And I didn't want to wait. But then reason set in. Why would I need to spend a bunch of money to try weaving? Couldn't it be done in a simple way? Without a lot of fuss? When I posted a question on Ravelry, a kind weaver suggested I try backstrap weaving, so I checked out the book "Backstrap Weaving," by Barbara Taber and Marilyn Anderson. A few hours after I opened the first page of this 1975 classic, I had assembled everything I needed to weave: some dowels, twine, yarn, and a ruler. I was ready! And I was hooked!

The first picture on the left is of the warp. I decided to start by making the first project in the book, a backstrap, but I chose the worst kind of yarn possible–100%, scratchy, sticky wool. I bought it second-hand for $1 and the label said Icelandic wool. It looks nice in the pictures, doesn't it? I flipped over a footstool and did the figure eight warp which I then transferred to the dowels. Everything was going smoothly–I even attached the string heddle, which pulls up one set of the warp thread to create the shed, or the space between the bottom and top warp.

See that big hunk of wood in the third picture? That was my sad attempt to find a beater, or the piece of wood that beats the weft in place. It didn't work because it was too blocky, so I swapped to a ruler, which makes a fine beater.

I felt creative that day so I braided some hemp twine and made the strings that tie the entire backstrap loom into place–or in my case, onto the radiator. After struggling a little bit with the loom flipping over a few times, I braided another "holder." This time two separate braids that hold the sides independently. (It works great, but I still use the first one at times.)




At this point, I realized that using wool was best left to experts. Because the warp is wound rather tightly, each thread rubs against the one next to it, causing little snags. I think mine started felting! So, I reluctantly took the entire project apart before weaving one row and searched for some cotton. I found this crazy green and orange, sport-weight, mercerized cotton at Hobby Lobby. It's Sinfonia Melon. This time around, it was easier to wind the warp to get started, and I wound 50 ends. Since I had actually done a string heddle before, the second time was a breeze, especially since I used a long piece of mercerized cotton. And then came time to try to weave. I was stumped again. It just didn't seem to "work" when I tried to open the sheds. The nearest one, with the string heddle, was easy. It was the back one that confused me. How do you get the bottom strands to come up to the top? Finally, I turned to the Internet and discovered the all-time best article on backstrap weaving EVER! It's called "Backstrap Basics" by Laverne Waddington, published in the September 16, 2009 edition of the online magazine Weavezine. Here's the link:

Not only does Laverne clearly outline how to assemble and use a backstrap loom, she includes videos! When I saw how someone weaves on a little loom like mine, I knew I could do it on my own.

With my new yarn, everything was easier. It's the only advice I can pass along at this early state: use a nice, slick yarn if you can! The weft can be thicker and woolier, but I chose to stick with cotton, again Sinfonia sport weight, this time the color is Olive. After several hours of studying, thinking, attempting, and tearing apart and putting back together, it "only" took me three hours to weave the backstrap, and then another thirty minutes to braid the ends. If you look at my edges, you'll see what is the most difficult part–keeping the selvedges even, but I noticed a lot of improvement as my project neared its end. I've already started my second project which I'll post about soon. 

As for the "What is this?" post from last week–I'll share with you my very basic rigid heddle later on when I use it with the backstrap loom.

AKB ribbed scarf update & peg looms

I'm nearly finished with my first project using my 10" Authentic Knitting Board. (Yes, I bought the 10" as well as the 28".) I'm using Berroco Vintage Yarn, which is a wool/acrylic blend, and a simple ribbed wrapping. The one little complaint I have about the yarn is that it snags quite a bit. I keep having small strands stuck on the knitting board pegs and then I have to carefully figure out where they belong and do that peg over. Other than that, it's a very soft, slightly worn-out yarn that is really warm and cozy. I'll post pictures of it later, as it is a Christmas present.

I've spent the past two weeks thinking about rigid heddle looms after visiting Susan Johnson's Alavanche Looms workshop way out in the backwoods of Wisconsin. It's worth the drive. Not only is she an extremely talented weaver, the store is beautiful and chock full of cool goodies. Susan chatted with me about weaving and got me wondering if I should give a loom a try. But then that led to another week of thoughts about somehow obtaining a rectangle loom to do continuous weave scarves and shawls… And then that led to yet another fascination: Peg Looms.

I've never heard of peg loom or stick weaving until I happened across a Ravelry discussion, but it appears to be a very old form of weaving, mainly used for making rugs. Although there are some peg loom sellers in the UK, I haven't spotted a US seller as of yet. However, there are instructions out there, so perhaps, with a little bit of patience, I could piece one together.

Here are some peg loom links: How to make a peg loom; How to use a peg loomExamples of peg loom weaving.


Testing the knitting board

Last night, I knitted a small sample on the 28" Authentic Knitting Board using just 22 pegs (and 22 pegs on the opposite side, too). I used some Berroco merino and followed the beginning of the pattern for the Luxurious Alpaca Scarf. What I learned is that I need to tighten the gauge because the knitting was a little bit too loose and the ribbing, which starts after six rows of stockingette, was not very distinct.

This board can be adjusted. Do you see the bolt on the end? There's another one on the other end, too. You may remove the bolt, take out the spacer in between each side, and then put something smaller in between, such as a washer. I'll have to scrounge around in the toolbox tonight for something appropriate. The closer the two sides of the board, the tighter the gauge. So, if you're working with a chunky or bulky yarn, or if you want a very loose knit, you would actually put more space in between the two sides instead of keeping it snug.

I was brainstorming last night and came up with a way to, possibly, turn this two-sided loom into a round loom by adding my own type of spacer (a piece of wood with two metal pegs). That way, I could knit socks or other small-gauge items in the round. We'll see how it goes.

Authentic Knitting Board

I caved and purchased the 28" small gauge (84 pegs!) Authentic Knitting Board today from Hobby Lobby. However, I waited until Hobby Lobby had a 40% off weekly special and so the $37.00 board was purchased for just about $20. Not a bad deal. Why do I need another loom, you may wonder? Especially, when I already own…

  • The Knifty Knitter round loom set (four looms)
  • The Knifty Knitter flower loom and spool knitter (two looms)
  • The purple Knifty Knitter rectangle loom
  • Five 4" Square Looms: Two 4" Weave-its, One 4" Simplex loom, One 4" Hazel Rose Multiloom, One 4" Wonder Weave
  • One Weave-it Rug loom
  • One Regular Gauge hat loom
  • One 24" Homestead Hideaway triangle loom
  • Two potholder looms
  • One extra fine gauge DecorAccents oval sock loom
  • Three small flower looms

Someday, I'll take a picture of them all ­čÖé . All 22 of them…

But back to the question–why do I need another loom? In this case, the answer is pretty simple–I don't have a small gauge loom. At all! Plus, I really like double-knit. So, there. That's why I plotted and planned and waited and finally purchased my new knitting board today. I have plans for two Christmas presents to be knitted on this board, so I'd better get knitting.

As far as patterns, there are some free patterns on the Authentic Knitting Board website. I discovered a few more on the Lion Brand pattern site, and there is a fairly new Yahoo group for the knitting board, not to mention the other sites, boards, listservs, and Ravelry groups that include knitting board information along with knitting looms, so I think I'll have more than enough to think about. What I'm most excited about is moving away from super bulky yarn for a few projects.


I just spotted these simple and antique-y dishtowels on the Purl Bee's website, and I wonder if a similar towel could be knitted on a loom. Aren't they lovely? I've knitted a few dishcloths in the past, but I've never been pleased with the large-gauge finished product; however, if I use the garter stitch throughout, I bet they would come out fairly nice, especially with the stripes. I also think these would be perfect as a double-knit project with a rake or knitting board, especially something in the small to fine-gauge size. Something to think about!

Yellow Loom Hat


In the past, I knitted a hat with the large gauge yellow Knifty Knitter loom, but it turned out too big. The yarn was an acrylic mix that didn't have much stretch, and so the hat was droopy. However, I feel the green loom is a little too small, so I tried the yellow loom again, this time using Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick. I decided to make a very long brim so I could fold it up. I did a K2, P2 brim, but because the yellow loom has an uneven number of pegs, I had to do a K3 on the final three pegs to keep the ribbing even. I knit about 4" (or 20 rows) for a brim, and then switched to the regular e-wrap stitch.

On the Yahoo Knifty Knitter group, I had read about finishing off a hat without doing the typical gather and I wanted to try it, so when I got near the top, I divided the loom into four sections with stitch markers (10 pegs, 10 pegs, 10 pegs, and 11 pegs), and decreased one peg as I knitted back and forth. For example, I knitted Peg 1 through Peg 10. On the way back I decreased one loop, and then knitted Peg 9 through Peg 1. Then I decreased another loop and knitted Peg 2 through Peg 9. When I got down to the final peg, I wrapped it with the working yarn, cut the yarn to about 12", and knitted the peg off, pulling the yarn through the final loop. Decreasing in this manner creates a triangle. I then did the final three sections (on the fourth section, I decreased two pegs on the first row because it has 11 pegs, not 10 like the others.) I turned the hat inside out and stitched the triangles together on the seams using the mattress stitch. 

I really like my new hat. It's warm, fits just right, and looks great on a pumpkin.

Rectangle loom ribbed scarf


I've been hankering to make a scarf, and after much thought, I chose a lovely Berroco Merino Pure in bordeaux. I decided to try the whole thing in a garter stitch pattern on the blue Knifty Knitter. After much trial and error, I frogged it and started again, this time on needles. After another try, I frogged it again, wondered why I really needed another scarf, and put everything away.

But today, I decided I really wanted another scarf, so I pulled out my little-used purple rectangle loom, an absoloutely enormous amount of Cascade Eco+ (7811) — one skein is about 475 yards — and an old sheet of wrapping patterns. Using just ten pegs (twenty if you count both the top and bottom) and a ribbed pattern, after just an hour or so, I had nearly two feet of my very, very purple scarf finished.

(NOTE: The drawings of the different ways to wrap came from the Yahoo Knifty Knitters Loom group files. It's under General Information and it's called "Various Wraps for a Board Loom." I'm using the Rib Wrap. It's also located here as a download.)

A flower loom tutorial

I just spotted this new tutorial on making flowers with ribbon on the Knifty Knitter Flower Loom:

Here's another neat idea–embelish your cool crocheted purse with a flower:


Pillow Man

It started out as Lazy Dog, the cute, floppy Weave-It dog featured on the Eloomanator's blog. But, since I didn't have the 4"x6" loom, and I didn't feel like studying the pattern, and my yarn was all wrong, I simply made six 5" Weave-It Rug Loom squares out of Wool-Ease and stitched them together. Of course, it didn't look anything like a dog… but it was, well, something.

We call him Pillow Man. His head is crooked, his arm and legs are rolled and stitched on at weird angles. Pillow Man is always sleepy and ready for a nap. So now, I wonder, will there ever be a Pillow Woman?

So you want some pictures?


Okay, here are a few pictures of my second super, amazing loom find. As it turns out, I wasn't dreaming–it was all real! Pictured below are the Lily Speed-O-Weave loom, which I'll post about later (it's not very speedy, IMO). Also there are my two "new" Weave-Its: a 4" and a 2". My favorite loom is there, the 5" Weave-It Rug Loom, which I'll also post about later (and you can meet Pillow Man). Finally, there were two small metal flower looms stuck in the rug loom box, and although it appears they can connect somehow, I can't quite figure them out, so if you have thoughts, please send them my way.

Missing from the photos is the second Crazy Daisy Winder, which went onto a good home with a young, crafting niece.

Another Super Amazing Loom Find?

Can it be true? Did I really walk into a local antique store last week and less than 20 minutes later, leave with all these looms??? Most in the original boxes with the original instructions and needles and everything? Did it really happen?

  • 5" Weave-It Rug Loom
  • 4" Weave-it Loom
  • 2" Weave-it Loom
  • Lily Speed-O-Weave Loom

And then did I really wander into a second antique store and leave with a Crazy Daisy Winder?

And did I really spend just under $20 for the entire find? Really? Me?!

Or, did I dream it all?

Stay tuned to find out!

Great Sweater Pattern

I happened across this Knifty Knitter page from Anke in the Netherlands once before–and then I lost the link. It took a few searches before I found it again. Much of it is in Dutch, but she does include some translations. I think her patterns are really lovely. In particular, I like the blue sweater (scroll down) and the white purse (on the top).

EvenKnit Sock Loom

Here's a new item for my wish list, the EvenKnit Sock Loom from DecorAccents Looms. Isela and her husband developed this item to please loom sock knitters–you can make socks for your entire family on this loom instead of purchasing different sizes for little feet or big feet. Also, instead of the e-wrap, this loom uses a zig-zag method. Instead of wrapping each peg, you simply weave the yarn in front of the pegs and behind the pins, then knit off! Super knifty! (Here's her .PDF instructions. Knowing Isela, a video tutorial isn't far off.)

I think at over $90, this may be a future Christmas gift and not just a little splurge. However, I must say that the DA Looms are lovely, well-made, and something a future loom knitter will be ecstatic to find in a treasure box 100 years from now, so the price is worth it, but with my budget, it does rank as a "super special" gift.

Besides, my one try at using a sock loom was pretty disastrous. I started out with my lovely EFG DA Oval Sock Loom, but didn't get past the toe. It seems that my eyes and very close, tiny knitting don't get along, and as a result the loom has been gathering dust for over a year. I've often considered swapping it with someone who owns a FG sock loom to see if a larger gauge would keep me interested. It's possible I'm simply not a sock knitter; but with an entire skein of bamboo sock yarn waiting for a purpose in life, I feel compelled to try again.