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.
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.
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.)
***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).
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.)
“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:
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
I positioned the beads in this same area of the loom for both remaining squares.
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.
When you get your tree pieces made, pay special attention to how you tuck them inside each other.
Get yourself a stick and attach it to the tree in your desired fashion, or leave it unattached. The tree is all done.
Coming soon: how to mount your trees for display and tiny loom bead weaving (more trees).