Thinking Outside the Square

Recently I was tasked with creating a small and easy pin loom project for an upcoming magazine. One of the first things I did for inspiration was to check out some vintage patterns for pin loom weaving. Pin looms have been around since at least the 1930s when Weave It and Loomette published short pamphlets of patterns, similar to ones you still see today for knitting and crochet.

Christina's less than enthusiastic pin-loom  bow tie model
Christina’s less than enthusiastic pin-loom
bow tie model

The projects they published were amazing and elaborate. While you did see projects that involved sewing squares together as squares to create afghans and the like, there were also hats, full dress coats, skirts, and even bathing suits. The designers of these projects could look at squares and see other shapes, and then imagined how to put them together to create something wonderful. They would draw the threads in squares to create ruffles fold them into rectangles and triangles.

After seeing the amazing patterns I felt inspired and while I wasn’t up to creating a pin-loom evening gown, I did create what I think is a sweet little project that adds some depth to what were once flat squares. (I was also able to make a fun bow tie for my dog out of some sample squares that was soon thereafter shaken off and what seems to be deliberately hidden.) It was fun to stretch my imagination and see what can be done with such a simple little tool.

As a baker, I can’t help but think of pin-looms squares as being like flour, yeast, water, and salt. These four simple ingredients can be manipulated to create hundreds of varieties of bread. I use these four ingredients to bake French bread as well as sourdough. They taste very different, but they both have the same base. Sometimes I add in olive oil or pumpkin seeds, depending on what I want. With pin-loom squares I can take those little squares and manipulate them into different shapes and combine them to create an infinite number of projects. Sometimes I might add some buttons for embellishment or use crochet to connect them, but at the end of the day the project is still made of what were once flat squares. It really is quite magical.

If you haven’t discovered the fun of weaving on a pin loom, I do encourage you to give it a try. If you’re not up to designing your own projects yet, we have two very sweet little kits from pin-loom weaver extraordinaire Deb Essen that have all the yarns you need to create your own Alzeda the Angora Goator Delphia the Fiber Fairy. Not only will these cute little kits have you thinking outside the square, as it were, but they would also look cute sitting on a loom castle or on a studio shelf. And every time you look at them, you can remember that they all started with simple, flat squares.

Happy Weaving!

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Christina Garton

About Christina Garton

I'm Associatet Editor for Handwoven where I get to interact daily with all sorts of wonderfully creative people. I'm obsessed with twill and weaving dishtowels, although I'm also in love with deflected doubleweave. When I'm not weaving twill towels, I love to try out new fibers and structures and blog about it as I go!

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