Like many people, I prefer the idea of a thing to the thing itself. Except winter. I like that. It’s snowing today and that’s how life should be.

Not that I'm wild about snow and ice, but I like cool temperatures. Falling snow is a sure visual it's cold outside.

Not that I’m wild about snow and ice, but I like cool temperatures. Falling snow is a visual surety it’s cold outside.

I like the thought of spring. Once it gets here, I hope to be reconciled to it. And, to be clear, it’s not spring I object to–other than mud–it’s summer. I won’t go into it now; let’s just say some like it hot, but I don’t.

When the idea of making spring trees sprang to mind, I embraced the idea. (Original tree design by Cathy Clarke–Cathy Clarke @junoandpurl on Twitter or caughtinaloop on instagram.) The shape of the Weave-it tree is that of an evergreen, but don’t let that worry you. These are NOT REAL TREES. It’s the idea of spring we’re going for here.

Spring green, hints of branches, blossoms, and snow balls.

Spring green with hints of branches, blossoms, and snow balls (because it always snows on our fruit trees).

Pin loom weaving with beads is my latest adventure. It started with a Christmas tree. (The instructions in this post are mainly for the spring tree, not the Christmas tree. If you need further instructions, comment or email me.)

The first great adventure in bead weaving.

The first great adventure in bead weaving.


***Remember: you can click on the photo to see it enlarged. Click the back arrow to return to this post.

I liked the adventure and thought I could handle a bit more excitement. The Pin Loom Weaving Support Group on Facebook wanted to know what kind of beads I used. “E beads,” I said. This prompted a lengthy discussion on the subject, but I walked away with the understanding that these are 6 mm rocaille beads–a type of seed bead which has a larger hole than your average jewelry-type bead. I took photos (you knew I would).

A few E, or 6 mm Rocaille, beads.

A few E, or 6 mm rocaille, beads.

The next question was what kind of yarn did I use? Obviously you can get super skinny yarn into large-holed beads, but then you’d have a meshy-looking tree. The answer is that I used my old standby: Caron Simply Soft. Well, actually I used a mill end I purchased at JoAnn Fabrics, but it amounts to the same thing. It’s a size 4 yarn, but slightly thinner than some of the others in that weight category. (Another option is to use really thin yarn doubled and string your beads through only one strand. I haven’t tried this. Yet.)

Compare the two sizes. The darker green looks a mite smaller in the photo, but the CSS is a mite loftier and will condense to slide easily through the beads. (I haven't actually tested this yet, but I feel confident it is so.)

Compare the two sizes. The darker green looks a mite thinner in the photo, but the CSS is a mite loftier and will condense to slide easily through the beads. (I haven’t actually tested this yet, but I feel confident it is so.)

“Great!” you say, rubbing your hands together. “I’m all ready to start.” Well, if you’re saying that and doing that, you probably are ready, but for those who want more info (including myself because I often forget what I did), there’s more.

How did I get the beads onto the yarn?

You can get yourself something like this:

Collapsible eye needle

Collapsible eye needle.

Or, you can use a piece of wire. I didn’t have any of those needles on hand (believe me, I made several searches, all the time wondering how it was possible I didn’t have any anywhere). I used a piece of thin wire pulled out of the fancy kind of wide ribbon that has wire in its sides. (Side note: my dog, Polly, likes to play with ribbon, but we don’t like her to play with wire, so we pull the wire out and let her have the ribbon. Raised by depression era parents, I don’t throw away perfectly good stuff like wire, so I saved it and was able to find that when I couldn’t locate any flexible needles.)

I also used a different yarn this time.

Lion Brand "Cotton-Ease" also threads easily through the beads.

Lion Brand “Cotton-Ease” also threads easily through the beads.

In this close-up you can see three beads singled out from the rest. Not all rocaille beads are created equal. The ones with the largest holes will slide easily onto the yarn; the others won't slide on at all. You'll get plenty of extra-large-eyed beads in a package, but more that are too-small. So, if you're planning a big project, get extra packages.

In this close-up you can see three beads singled out from the rest. Not all rocaille beads are created equal. The ones with the largest holes will slide easily onto the yarn; the others won’t slide on at all. You’ll get plenty of extra-large-holed beads in a package, but most are too small. If you’re planning a big project, get extra packages.

Put all the beads you’ll need onto your yarn and slide them toward the skein till you need to use them. Now, start warping up your loom. I added the beads during the second layer of preparation, but I don’t think it matters which layer you choose in this project (I’ll try a different method in the next adventure), but don’t use them in layer 4–that would make weaving difficult.

I randomly distributed 46 beads over the surface of the square--three per row, except I added a fourth one on the last row because it felt necessary.

I randomly distributed 46 beads over the surface of the square–three per row, except I added a fourth one on the last row because it felt necessary.

In the Christmas tree, it mattered where I put the beads. I distributed 15 total beads along the sides from corners 1 to 3 and 3 to 4. I did this on layers 1 and 2 of warping. (The first square I made I added an eighth bead on the corner 1-to-3 side; I also put the beads on during layers 2 and 3. When the square was finished and folded in half, there were two beads at the corner which didn’t look good.  And the other beads knocked into each other all along the line. Putting them on layer 1 instead of layer 3 offset them. It doesn’t matter if they knock against each other because eventually they will be divided either by another triangle or the tree trunk.)

In this photo, the loom is turned so that corner 1 of the loom is in the lower right corner of the photo (instead of the lower left).

In this photo, the loom is turned so that corner 1 of the loom is in the lower right corner of the photo (instead of the lower left).

Let me pause to say, as many of you know, I am a Weave-it advocate (Bring back the Weave-it!), but both of these projects were accomplished on the Zoom Loom. I don’t like the Zoom Loom, but if it’s the only loom you can get, you see here that it can be used. If you can get a Weave-it do so. The Zoom Loom has a smaller underside opening which makes weaving the first and last stitches in every row more difficult. The extra-wide frame makes your needle effectively shorter which makes weaving unnecessarily difficult and harder on your body. And there’s my old complaint, Zoom Loom doesn’t number their rows. Buy a Weave-it.

After a careful random distribution of your beads, warp layer 3, switch to your variegated yarn (layer 4 only), and start weaving. Your beads will shift around, so keep repositioning them to get a random look.

All done with one square.

Square that will be the top of the tree: all done.

The tree needs at least two more squares (you can add more if you like), but since all the beads won’t show, why waste them? I made the next two squares with 23 beads each and randomly distributed them over a triangular section of the square.

Beads are distributed over one half of the loom in a right triangle shape. Layer three warp is begun.

Beads are distributed over one half of the loom in a right-triangle shape. Layer three warp is begun.

I positioned the beads in this same area of the loom for both remaining squares.

Second square with beads .

Second square with beads.

When you sew these squares, it matters which direction you use because you’ve created a directional fabric now: horizontal stripes and, of course, you want the beads to show the right way.

Folding and sewing instructions.

Folding and sewing instructions.

When you get your tree pieces made, pay special attention to how you tuck them inside each other.

The triangles on the right are stacked correctly. Each shows its stripes in a horizontal orientation. The photo on the left shows one horizontal, two vertical.

The triangles on the left are stacked correctly. Each shows its stripes in a horizontal orientation. The photo on the right shows one horizontal, two vertical.

Get yourself a stick and attach it to the tree in your desired fashion, or leave it unattached. The tree is all done.

Notice this is the opposite side of the tree, as pictured above. This view shows vertical stripes.

Notice this is the opposite side of the tree as pictured above. This view shows vertical stripes.

Coming soon: how to mount your trees for display and tiny loom bead weaving (more trees).

6 Thoughts on “Adventures in Pin Loom Weaving—Ah, Spring!

  1. Wonderful! Just starting to use the pin looms and I was wondering about beads. This is so helpful.
    Karen

  2. Nancy Meffe on 7 June 2016 at 7:30 AM said:

    Oh my word, Sue, I finally looked closely at the pictures in this blog post and saw how to put beads at the bottom of my tree layers. I’m so-o-o happy! Went right to work last evening and tried it out. Thanks ever so much for all you are doing for our pin loom weaving community.

  3. Cathy Clarke on 20 November 2016 at 9:59 AM said:

    so good to see that you have blogged about my original idea. Am I credited anywhere! Cathy Clarke @junoandpurl on Twitter or caughtinaloop on instagram.

    • I can’t imagine how I overlooked mentioning your name on my blog. Sorry about that. I’ve posted about the trees many times here on my blog and on the Facebook pin loom weaving group. I’ve tried to be careful to mention that I’m not the originator of the idea and I usually mention your name. When writing blog posts there’s a lot of busy work. Please accept my apology for heretofore not crediting you by name.

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