Weaving in Arizona

I am enjoying my time in Arizona, where I don’t have to worry about slipping and falling every time I go outside. In addition to activities we do here such as hiking and bike riding, I do many of the same things I would be doing at home, like knitting and weaving. I brought my 15″ rigid heddle loom with me.

There is not a good place to warp the loom in the RV, so when I was ready to start a project I reserved a multipurpose room in the community building at the resort where we are staying, in order to have a bigger space to spread out. My sister-in-law Marlene, and our friend Jane, used the room at the same time to work on drawing and painting projects.

My sister-in-law and our friend painting and drawing while I worked on weaving

I had brought yarn for thick cotton hand towels, thinner cotton yarn for cloth napkins, and yarn for a wool scarf. For my first weaving project in Arizona I used Sugar & Cream yarn for a set of hand towels. This is the worsted weight 100% cotton people often use for knitting dish cloths. I had made a set of hand towels with this yarn when I first got the rigid heddle loom. I liked the weight of the towels for drying hands, but the white main color I had used before got very grungy looking after awhile, and the weave seemed a bit too loose. This time I started out warping the loom with darker colors and more ends (yarns) per inch for a denser weave using the 10 dent reed (10 ends/yarns per inch).

I was disappointed that the room I reserved had only wobbly card tables. The room is more commonly used for playing cards or games. The card table worked OK but was not ideal. I clamped the warping peg on a counter about nine feet away. I did not have much of a plan for a pattern, other than using multiple colors in the warp (the long way). The yarn I had was in bold colors of blue, yellow, green and brown. I went ahead and started warping, deciding as I went when to switch colors.

Warping the loom

Following is a photo of Marlene painting, using a portable easel she received as a gift recently.

Marlene painting using her new portable easel

We could see the Superstition Mountains out the window of the room.

The view out the window of the room we were in

While I was warping the loom I had to struggle to get the reed hook with yarn through the holes in the reed and it seemed like the yarn was not sliding through the slots in the reed very well. Once it was all warped, I decided that the 10 dent reed was too dense after all. I should have used the 8 dent reed (fewer yarns per inch). I also did not like the brown yarn with the other colors.

At the top of the next photo is the 10 dent reed, compared with the 8 dent reed below it. You can see the slots and holes are closer together in the 10 dent reed. After that is a picture of the loom warped using the 10 dent more dense reed with blue, yellow, green and brown yarn.

10 dent reed compared to the 8 dent reed
Loom warped with 10 ends per inch and including brown yarn

I could have continued on with the project as is, but I would not have been happy with the results. As much as I did not want to, I removed the 10 dent reed and rethreaded the ends through the 8 dent reed, which required fewer ends (yarns) across the same width. While I was at it, I replaced the brown yarn with green. I was left with a tangled pile of yarn from the extra 32 ends that I removed, but I was happier with the result.

Following are photos of the rethreading in process on the 8 dent reed, with the yarn on the right waiting to get rethreaded, and then a photo after I got that all done.

Rethreading the warp ends using the 8 dent reed
Rethreaded with 8 ends per inch and no brown yarn

I started weaving the first towel with blue weft yarn.

Hem stitch and first few rows woven on the first towel with blue weft yarn
Blue weft yarn

I used green for the weft yarn on the second towel. After the time consuming process of re-warping the loom with fewer ends per inch, the actual weaving went very fast. I made sure to pack the weft yarn rows tight enough so the fabric would not be too loose.

Green yarn for the second towel

In between weaving sessions I also worked on a knitting project that will be featured in a future blog post, and I did some other activities. There is a residential neighborhood across the highway from the RV resort with wide streets, nice houses, and minimal traffic that is great for bike riding. No, the next photo is not in front of our place. haha.

Following are a couple of hiking photos.

Gold Mine Trail, one of my favorite hiking spots
Possibly Picket Post trail, many trails are similar

I am not much of a shopper, but we had to check out the Mesa Swap Meet. This is a set of four very long connected metal buildings, covered but somewhat open to the elements, with hundreds of vendors selling everything under the sun on weekends. The name of the place sounds like it would be a flea market of used or vintage items, but the products are all new. There is clothing, yard art, kitchen stuff, windows, hot tubs, golf carts (not only used for golfing), golf clubs and accessories, tech accessories, sports team spirit gear, and you name it. I bought a small bottle of Mexican Vanilla.

Yard art at the Mesa Swap Meet

If your money is really burning a hole in your pocket but you cannot decide what to buy, there is an option.

For when you want to buy something but cannot decide

Back to my weaving, I used blue again as the main weft color for the third towel. I tried two different versions of horizontal stripes at the beginning using yellow and green, but I did not like the way either one looked. It was also time consuming figuring out how to manage all the extra tails or carrying of the yarn with the color changes, and I needed to get the project done. Our daughter Britta was coming soon and would be sleeping on the love seat pullout bed for a few days. I had been setting the loom on the loveseat when not working on my project, so I needed to get the loom packed up and out of the way under the RV before Britta arrived. I ended up undoing the stripes and weaving the weft rows with all blue like the first towel. Another time when I am not on a deadline, I will plan better and try again weaving a plaid towel with both vertical and horizontal stripes .

There was a rare weather forecast for rain one day. That would have been a good time for weaving, but instead we decided to reserve tickets to see a matinee viewing of the new Avatar movie in 3D. I have not been inside a movie theater for ages, sometime before 2019. When we used to live in the Twin Cities we only went to movies at a nearby theater that had second run movies for $3.00. It did not rain after all, and instead was a beautiful day while we sat inside the dark theater all afternoon. “Avatar: The Way of Water” is 3 hours and 12 minutes long with no intermission. It was scheduled to start at 2:30 pm, but the actual movie did not start until after 3:00 following more than a half hour of previews. It was past 6:00 when the movie was over. I really really had to use the restroom by then. The beverages and snacks were overpriced and I should have reviewed the characters and plot of the first movie beforehand, but the production was amazing and I recommend it.

My niece Kara, Marlene’s daughter, came to visit for a cousins weekend with Britta. She watched and learned while I wove the last few rows, sewed the hem stitch on the end of the last towel, and took the project off the loom.

Weaving demonstration for my niece
Off the loom!

Since I had done hemstitching on both ends of each towel while it was still on the loom, all I had left to do was cut them apart and wash them with a load of laundry. At home I would have taken them out of the dryer before they were completely dry and then ironed them. At the RV park laundromat, I don’t know if you can open the dryer and take something out before the cycle is finished. I left them in with the other laundry until it was done. When I opened the dryer, everything was very hot and very dry. The hand woven towels were wadded up in the corners of the fitted sheet, and very wrinkly. I tried to iron them but they were still wrinkly. The density of the weave was perfect and the color patterns were pleasing.

Towels all done but very wrinkly from the dryer

I got the towels wet and let them dry some, and then ironed them again. It did not take long here where it is very dry. They were still a bit wrinkly, but not a big deal for hand towels. I got the project all done and the loom put away just in time to go pick Britta up at the airport. I will make more of these towels sometime with horizontal stripes.

Less wrinkly after getting wet and ironing again

Published by Meg Hanson

Hello. I am a recently retired empty nester. My husband and I moved to Jewett Lake in Otter Tail County, Minnesota, after living most of our lives in the Minneapolis area. I have no trouble keeping busy with knitting and spinning of wool, selling yarn and handmade goods, reading, walking, watching movies, surfing on the internet, traveling, doing bookkeeping for our family cabin, and spending time with family.

14 thoughts on “Weaving in Arizona

  1. Wonderful that you have the head-space to take apart the initial set up of the project and get it the way you like it. And also wonderful that you could tell that early you didn’t like it. Sometimes I get going on autopilot with something and don’t notice until much further along I should have done it different.
    I love how your blue Eriksson sweatshirt matches the weaving!
    I love seeing the very tall cacti. I wonder if the 18″ tall cactus in my bedroom pot will keep growing taller. It would do well to get a little wider.
    Looking forward to seeing it all in person!

    Liked by 1 person

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