Monday, March 21, 2011

Saori Free Weaving on the Ashford Knitters Loom

Ashford Merino/Silk Sliver in Peppercorn
My darling daughter and I began a joint project last year when I gave her a 1 kg. bump of Ashford 80% merino/20% silk roving in Peppercorn as a Christmas gift, with a promise to work together with her to spin it and make something for her wardrobe.

Sarah is an accomplished handspinner, having learned to spin at 6 years old.  She began weaving at 12 on an Ashford Knitter's Loom and has won awards for her work.  Sarah is 17 and completing her high school studies this Spring.  We thought it would be a fitting celebration of her accomplishment to spin, weave and design a jacket for her to wear.

Sarah loves to use tapestry techniques while weaving on the Ashford Knitter's Looms.  We have 2 - 12 inch Knitter's Looms and one 20 inch.  And we are delighted with the creativity that Saori weaving and garment design affords so it seemed the perfect match to combine Saori weaving principles of creativity and joy in weaving with this delightful project.

All of the yarn for this project was handspun jointly by Sarah and I.  Sarah spun singles on the Ashford Kiwi Spinning Wheel, and I spun singles on my Ashford Joy Wheel wheel.  We didn't worry about getting a smooth even yarn because the slubs and unevenness will add to the character of the finished fabric. The finished yarn was about sport weight -- a bit heavier than sock yarn.  This gives a good weight for dressy jacket material.

Each skein of plied yarn used one singles that Sarah spun and one singles that I spun, to even out any extreme differences in the final yarn.  The yarn was plied on the Ashford Joy Wheel using the new Ashford Joy Freedom Flyer. 5 -- 200 gram skeins of peppercorn, 2 - 200 gram skeins of pomegranate, and 1 - 200 gram skein of juniper were spun and plied for this project.
Handspun Ashford Merino/Silk Sliver in Pomegranate, Peppercorn, and Juniper
Weaving with 14 inch stick shuttles
 An 80 inch (200 cm) warp was put on the 20 inch (50 cm) Ashford Knitters Loom in random stripes.  The fabric stood 20 inches in the reed but drew in to 17 inches in the weaving.  3 panels were woven in plain weave using tapestry techniques of interlocking weft, random stripes, and picture weaving.  A fourth panel was woven on the 12 inch (30 cm) Ashford Knitters Loom.
First panel completed

The Ashford Knitters Loom is quick to warp and a joy to weave on.  The loom can be folded up and put away with the weaving in place.  It allows unlimited creativity in weaving through variation of the beat, colour, and weaving technique. Saori free weaving techniques work very well with these two looms as the resulting weavings fit well with Saori clothing design principles -- being an ideal width.  The looms hold a surprisingly large amount of finished cloth and can be warped up in less than an hour.

I own two floor looms, which take over a week to warp, three table looms which also take a long time to thread the heddles and be ready to weave, so I come back to the Ashford knitters looms again and again for the satisfaction and creativity that these simple, sturdy looms offer.
Weaving with handspun yarn on the Ashford Knitter's Loom

 Sarah was in charge of warping the looms and chose a different random strip pattern for each panel.   I wove 3 panels on the 20 inch loom and Sarah wove 1 panel on the 12 inch loom.
The first two panels completed on the Ashford Knitters Loom 50cm model

Interlocking weft

Weaving on the 12 inch (30 cm) Ashford Knitters Loom

3 panels woven on the 20 inch (50 cm) Ashford Knitters Loom in Saori Free Weaving
The next step is to wash the fabric and ready it for folding, stitching and creating the one of kind, wearable art jacket for Sarah.

For part 2 of this project go here.
Part 3.

Joybilee Farm carries Ashford wheels, looms and sliver.  The Saori weaving books are available from Terri at Saltspring weaving.


  1. Your fabric is just gorgeous! I look forward to seeing the glorious jacket that it becomes!

  2. Thank you, Noreen. It has been a lot of fun weaving "outside the lines" and using the yarn like painting. I am definitely not a mathematical weaver -- my poor floor looms have 4 blankets warped up on them and once I finished the first one, I got bored. Poor lonely floor looms. This project has been so much fun it just made me want to weave. I'm already looking forward to starting another one.