Using weaving sticks

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Weaving sticks come as a set of five, with a threader.  They are about 6mm diameter, with a rounded point at one end and the other end is flattened and has a hole in it for the warp thread.  They work a little like a peg loom – you weave on the sticks, and as the weaving grows you gradually push it down onto the warp threads.  You can work with just two sticks and make a long strip for a headband, or which you can roll up to make mats; you can weave a wider strip as a belt, or stitch a series of strips together to make articles of various kinds.  They are simple to use and great for children.

When we were planning the Nairn Craft Day which took place on 28th February I volunteered to do a stick weaving workshop with children.   Initially I thought I would just have them doing a length of two stick weaving – the book which you can buy with the sticks shows a number of animal shapes you can make.   This got me thinking about sheep, and I created one in some quite hairy handspun that I liked.  I used a length of two-stick weaving for the head and tail and a length of five stick weaving for the body.  I thought I would share it with you as it occurred to me that it could be a good way to present yarn samples.  For the children’s workshop I used acrylic yarn and we gave the sheep striped coats.

Stephanie Hoyle

To make the sheep:

Body – cut five lengths of warp 22 inches (56cm) long and thread them on the five sticks.   Pull the ends level, and tie them so that the warps from adjacent sticks are tied together (otherwise the weaving will fall off the end!).   I usually tie the two ends from first stick to one from the next stick, the same at the other end and two pairs in the middle.   Start to weave: leave a tail of about 7 inches (18cm) at the beginning for stitching up, weave about 7 inches (18cm), finish your weaving at the opposite edge from where you started, and again leave a tail for stitching up.   Push the weaving down onto the warp threads and cut and tie off the warp ends.

Head and tail – cut two lengths of warp 22 inches (56cm) long and thread them on two sticks.   Tie the ends so that you have a continuous loop of yarn (keep the knots small), and adjust so that the knots are up near the sticks and you have a double loop at the bottom – this will give the tail a nice smooth end.   Start to weave, leaving just a short tail (you’ll hide this inside the weaving when you finish).   Weave about 7 inches (18cm) leaving a tail for stitching up.   Push the weaving down onto the warp threads – you may need to ease it over the knots.   Before the weaving gets right down to the end, untie the knots, put a finger into the loop at the end of the warp and pull the ends you’ve just untied so that the warp ends lie level, then push the weaving to the end – the threads will move round to cover the warp.   If you push up the last inch (2.5cm) quite tightly the tail will bend down.   Use a needle or crochet hook to pull the beginning of your weft thread inside the weaving.

Making up:

  • Lay the head and tail across the centre of the body at right angles to it, with the tail sticking upwards, and just beyond one edge of the body
  • Roll both ends of the body piece towards the middle, making sure the tied ends of the warp are tucked inside
  • Stitch the back end – I usually just stitch the inner bits, leaving the coat on the outside free, except at the hips, and I sometimes put a stitch in to hold the tail in place; fasten off your thread
  • Stitch the front end in the same way – leave the end of your thread in case you need it for finishing off the head
  • Lay the sheep on its back and keeping the warp and weft ends out of the way roll the long end of the two stick weaving inwards towards the body to make the head.   
  • Stitch the head together and attach to the coat at the neck.
  • Twist the warp ends to make horns (or ears!), and secure to the head.

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