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Sunday, May 6, 2018

Hancock Shaker Museum, MA; Mystic Seaport, CT... Rag Rugs and Bands

Day tripping this April in March like weather.  In New England, we had 61 days of March weather this year.  I got back to the Hancock Shaker Museum near Pittsfield, Massachusetts to photo some more of their rag rugs, a follow-up to my blog last May,

Some of the twists used in the Shaker rugs were wool yarn, some were thin wool cloth strips.

Notice all the bands used as binding on the edges. Some go all around the rug, some are just on the ends. Some wrap from front to back, some just on one side.

I found another small band loom this time and some woven bands.

Mystic seaport in Connecticut, also had rag rugs and  a band loom on display...

Thanks for looking... browse my blog for more weaving experiences, ideas and tips.
Happy Weaving!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Fiber Festivals and New Ikea Loom

It is April and Fiber Festivals start all over New England! Knitters, weavers, spinners, felters... we all get together to meet up and talk wool.  Fiber festivals are fun family events.  Families, older folks, reenacts from all era's. We touch the yarns, fleece, linen fibers, cotton rugs. We buy and trade socks, bags and clothing.  We buy new tools.... combs, wheels and looms.

I make band or tape looms for weaving colorful or plain bands used for trim and necessary drawstrings and ties on clothing, bags and hats. Seam binding, chair webbing... there are so many uses for bands and band weaving is simple and fun.

I was a Ikea last month and saw some nice little picture frames for 99 cents.  They are new and brightly colored.  Usually I buy picture frames at stores, tag sales and thrift stores. Wood are the best. Wood is durable and pretty.  I buy "Skinny Sticks" at Michaels craft stores.  These little sticks are sturdy and thin. You can use pop sticks, but they are wider than skinny sticks and you can pack more skinny sticks into a frame.

My Ikea frames are 4 x 6.  17 Skinny sticks make 17 slots for a total of 34 Threads.  This is a good number of threads to make a multitude of patterns and has enough space to weave those advanced pick up patterns so popular in Europe. You can see some colorful bands on the looms below woven on these looms.

My first Fiber festival is April 21st this year.   There is a lovely festival on the east side of the Hudson River in New York State.  About an hour and a half from NYC, the festival is among farm land and country homes at the historic site... Clermont.  There will be sheep and sheep dogs, sheering demonstrations, weavers, spinners, knitters, felters along with a live band and good foods in a beautiful setting overlooking the great Hudson river.

Also in April is our Connecticut fiber festival in Vernon, CT.  Again it will be packed with live fiber critters and fun people having a good time sharing what we love.

Next month in May is the Massachusetts fiber festival in Commington.  A two day event, stay late on Saturday for the pot luck dinner with lots of good foods and time to chat with other fiber people.

Please find a fiber festival near you or come see me demonstrating tape looms at the above. There are many more festivals across New England and the rest of our great country.  They are fun, informative and the connections made with other fiber people will last a lifetime.

I hope this blog will spark your interest in these wonderful looms and the bands you can create for your costumes and for your modern lifestyle.

New to tape weaving? Check out my book, Tape loom weaving simplified at my web site or on Amazon. Fun, easy and portable... weaving on small looms was necessary from Vikings ties to present day hat bands and banjo straps and every society and purpose in between. Check it out, come try it at one of my festivals.  Search the blog here for samples and ideas. Interested in older style looms? Check out my pinterest for historical looms...

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Viking Dress.... Card Weaving or Band Weaving?

Roger and I attend some viking events to demonstrate our trades. Roger, Norwegian, demonstrates carving round wooden bowls on a spring-pole lathe. I weave bands on gate looms.

Last year, we had time to squeeze in the Scandinavian-Hjemkomst festival in Moorehead MN the end of June.

It was a last minute event for us, squeezed in between two fair demonstrations. It turned out to be a lot of fun. I had about a week or less to come up with a costume.  I made a linen dress with gores and a blue apron to go over it.

I wove a simple trim for the neck and cuffs of linen threads and put wood slice buttons on my apron.

Then I took a piece of rough pale green cotton and made a simple pull over.  Then I ran out of time.

Over this winter I added trim along the neck of my green dress and wove a belt of wool.

Now, how accurate are these hastily made costumes?  Well, they look ok for today's reenactments. We can be forgiven for living in the 21st century and lapsing into modern stuff. We drive our cars to events. Behind the scenes we eat on paper plates, we drink from plastic water bottles, we bring snacks in plastic bags.  We love faucets inside and out for water. We love indoor plumbing and porta potties do in a pinch. We sometimes wear clothing that is not quite accurate.

First of all, I sewed all but the hems and trim on my electric sewing machine. My fabrics are modern made reproductions of linen and cotton. Even my woven trim is processed on modern machines.

We are living in a modern world and our purpose of reenacting the olden times is to learn, teach and have fun. Today's most accurate living history museums do not always use and display pole lathe wooden bowls and trenchers, mocha wear mugs, hand-forged nails in their buildings or loom woven fabrics in their costumes sewn by hand on bone needles, but most of us know how it was done and our modern machines made props can sometimes open a discussion on what life would have been like... if we had endless amounts of time.

My blog today is about whether the Vikings bands for trim and ties were woven on cards or a gate loom.  And what patterns did they use?

Gate Style Band Looms
Weaving with Cards

The Viking age was lived somewhere between 800 and 1050 AD.  Pottery, bone and metals have survived the thousand years of time and weather.  The Vikings tended to bury things in dirt and caves rather than the Egyptians in air sealed rock tombs. A lot of Viking life has crumbled in time. That being said, many museums hold treasured finds of early weaving and tools. A wonderful detailed article was written by Anne Stine Ingstad about tools and fabric from the excavation of the burial mound Oseberg farm, Tonsberg, Norway.  PLEASE follow the link below to read about it....

Weaving tools found at the Oseberg site.

In searching for samples of bands in museum collections, I found it hard to find detailed, expert assessments of the way a particular band was woven and the materials used. I found many great photos of decaying old bands on Pinterest, but many are posted without sources and museum archive photos are also hard to find on line. I must research this more.

For now I found an interesting band at the above link, a colored sketch of a band at the Oseberg site and an original photograph.  It was labeled that it was card woven, but it looks like a band weaving to me... or can be adapted to the band loom.

Here are my finished bands ready for this years Viking events. Below is the pattern chart I used. The small neck band is linen. The belt is all wool, about 8 feet long.

in front of the church 2017
2017 dress

2018 with new bands
My conclusion is that since I specialize in band looms, gate style, I will continue making them on my wooden loom. I tried cards... once. I like my band looms. They are so portable, easy to make, easy to weave and more accurate than modern inkle looms.

For more info on Scandinavian Band Looms and Weaving.. checkout my web site and this blog...  Also find many old looms and bands on my pinterest pages...

New to band weaving? Check my web site, or Amazon for my easy to follow book, Tape Loom Weaving... simplified.

Wooden bowls hand-turned on a spring pole lathe...

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Miniature Pottery Flower Vases... Garden Clubs Anyone?

Spring!  I am getting ready for my spring shows. I make and sell thousands of my mini pots every year. 

When I demonstrate pottery-making at fairs, I run into a lot of folks who want tiny pots for the fairs' Miniature Flower Arrangement section of the agricultural department.  Some garden enthusiasts have asked if I would come to their garden club with my mini vases while a presentation of miniature flower arrangements is being offered.

Sure!  I pick weeds for tiny arrangements or those little rose buds that accidentally get clipped while pruning.  It is amazing how many tiny flowers are under your feet if you get down there and look! 

What about little pots for those tiny flowers the children and grandchildren bring you.  Put a tiny vase above your sink... so pretty while you are washing dishes.  Place them at your table plate settings for yourself or when guests come to a dinner or tea party.  And enter them in your local fair.

You can only buy these at my shows which are listed on my web site, or have me come to your garden club this spring just as the pretty little flowers are blessing our yards!

Scores of styles, clays, colors, patterns are hand thrown and decorated... from 1" to 3" tall, something for everyone!

Contact me at  to schedule a meeting in or near Connecticut, or come visit me at a show.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Shaker Rug with Chevron Twists and Woven Band

Sometimes my head hurts. Things to make pop into my head almost every minute and there is only so much time in the day.  I am a potter, sew period clothing, pluck my angora bunny, card my friends wool, boil maple syrup, fix this old house and barn and weave.... it's exhausting...but great fun.

This past week, I finally got time to weave rug number 11 on my new old barn loom. This time, I wanted to weave a chevron twist into my rug and attach a plain weave band to the bindings.

The Shakers here in New England wove rag rugs which incorporated a Chevron pattern. Hancock Shaker Village was active in the early 1800s. They also had small looms to weave bands that they used in chair seats, ties and for finishing the edges on their rugs.

Hancock Shaker Museum, Pittsfield MA
Hancock Shaker Museum, Pittsfield MA

Hancock Shaker Museum, Pittsfield MA

This newest rug is wool with cotton chevron twists and a cotton, plain weave band. The finished rug is 26" x 44". 

I made the twists as I wove.  I only needed 10 feet for each section of four twists, so I knotted the end of 3 colors together and tied them to a curtain hook on my upstairs hall window, walked down the hall 10 feet, twisted the three strands together with my fingers into an S twist, wound this onto a shuttle and wove in the four rows of S twist.  On this rug, I inserted a row of my brown wool and then repeated twisting another piece of  three colored yarns into a Z pattern.  Finished my middle section of the rug in wool. Then repeated the twists starting with the Z pattern rows, row of brown wool and then the S pattern rows.
The shakers liked to use a plain weave band, unlike the Europeans who favored the warp faced bands. Keeping the threads spread apart is tricky on a band loom, there is no beater so my warp kept wanting to scrunch in. Still, I like the way my bands came out.

The band was woven with two shuttles. Alternating two rows of red thread and then two rows of blue thread.

The first band I used green in my warp which came out too dark, a nice plaid, but too dark.

The second band I dyed some of my Webs 8/2 white cotton with a strong tea bath to tone down the white.

Here is the threading  pattern.

And the finished rug. I tend to give my work names, this one is
"In the Forest". It would look great in a cabin next to a wood stove in winter with the wind and snow outside blowing.

And so, on to another rug... more chevrons this time!

New to weaving?  Weaving is so easy. Once you get any loom warped!  There are several ways to warp a specific loom. See what works best for you.  My barn loom was warped a couple of years ago front to back and I keep adding about 12 yards to my warp and pulling them through the beater and heddles when I run out of warp.   The small looms for bands are easier.  Having less threads to warp. I usually only warp 6 to 12 feet at a time.  I use my bands for specific projects and when each is done I can move on to new colors and patterns.

You can learn how to weave on a band or tape loom in my book Tape Loom Weaving....simplified, available on my web site, or on Amazon. 

Try this Shaker Chevron! Weaving Shaker Rugs by Mary Elva Congleton Erf is available on Amazon. Incorporate it into new patterns and projects and share with us when you are done!  Happy Weaving!