Little bands

I have several little bands in my project basket that are only half-finished. The other week I decided to actually finish six little bands, in four different techniques.

My problem is that inspiration jumps me from behind and craves all my attention and I jump from one unfinished object to another. On the one hand I like having parallel projects. If I get tired of one I can always work on another and then get the mojo back for the first one. Working in different techniques is also a good way to stay our of strain. But I can also get very stressed knowing I have several unfinished projects in my basket, not to mention all my ideas for unstarted projects. It feels very good to finish some sweet little bands.

Little bands

Once you start weaving bands you realize there is always a need for one. Even if you don’t necessarily know the practical purpose of the band as you create it there will come a time when that very band is the perfect candidate for a job.

Six little bands have been the loveliest companions on inner and outer journeys this summer.

The more obvious purpose of the band is of course the making of it – spending time with a small, often handspun, project, watching it grow into an actual something and enjoying the weaving process without having to drag a loom around. All I need is a couple of sticks and I’m ready to dive into the process.

One of the sweet things about little bands is the portability. I weave all my bands with a backstrap loom – just a couple of sticks, a belt of some sort around my waist and something to hook the back end of the warp with and I’m ready to weave. I have spent time weaving in cars, trains, parks and office coffee breaks on both inner and outer journeys.

Recently I have also learned to appreciate my feet as part of my backstrap loom – I simply loop the end over my foot propped on top of my other knee and I weave until the foot falls asleep. Then I just change feet.

Three braids

First up in my collection of finished bands are three braided bands from odd balls of handspun wool yarn. Making braided bands is a technique I wanted to learn, so I tried different amounts of ends, different colours and different patterns.

Three 16-strand braids made of leftover balls of handspun wool yarn.

The first one was a simple grey band, I think I like that one the best. I also did one in blue with white patterning and one green with pink and white patterning. The pattern bands revealed my beginner’s mistakes, though, and they look quite sad. But it was a sweet technique to explore and I’m still happy with all of them.

You can see a lovely video where Sally Pointer braids a twelve-strand braid in linen yarn here. A twelve strand linen belt like Sally’s is on my to-craft list.

Nettle band

In July of last year and February this year I harvested nettles that I processed. There was a lot of waste, but I did manage to spindle spin two balls of nettle yarn, one tiny with the dew retted July nettles and one less tiny with the root retted February nettles. You can read more about the process in this blog post.

Throughout the processing and spinning the two retting techniques showed different colours. Once I had scoured them, though, the colour difference was smaller. Still, I used the dew retted yarn as a stripe down the middle of the warp. You can see it very subtly on the picture above.

Weaving the nettle band was lovely, it felt so good to make a little something out of material most people would frown upon. Weaving from weeds makes me feel rich, it’s sort of empowering to know that I can make something useful with my hands should I need to. And I do need, not of some material necessity but for the sake of making, to feel the making in the hands and the connection between hands and brain.

Scrap nettle yarn lucet cord

When I had finished the nettle band I had one tiny little ball left. I wanted to use as much of it as I could, so I decided upon a lucet cord. This is a very old technique that can be described as a 2-stitch I-cord. You use a fork-like tool called a lucet to hold the stitches. With this technique you can take advantage of all the length of the yarn except for the beginning and end.

A lucet cord made with the last little ball of handspun nettle yarn.

I have made a few lucet cords before, but only with wool yarn, which has some bounce, even in the worsted spun outercoat fiber yarns I have tried. Making it with plant fiber is a totally different story. Pulling the loop over the new yarn is more of a struggle and the yarn is less forgiving when it comes to uneven settling of the loop into the cord, but it was still very interesting. As always, spending some time with a material allows you to get to know it and how to work with its characteristics and its own mind.

Pick-up technique backstrap weaving band

I have a secret project going and for that I needed a band. I realized that it needed some extra sparkle, so I decided to make it with a pick-up technique. This takes a lot of time and is quite fiddly, so it’s not ideal for train rides or coffee breaks at work. But I did that anyway. I wove most of it at home, though, with full focus on the 16-row pattern.

One of the big perks of working with a pick-up technique is all the time you get to spend with the yarn. The technique is time-consuming, but that doesn’t bother me. Quite the contrary, I relish the moments when I get to dig my hands into the warp and pick the pattern up into the weave with a naturally curved wooden stick (or, I think I used a shawl pin made out of a twig). The natural materials in my hands make my skin sparkle with joy.

I spun the yarn from hand-teased Norwegian NKS wool on an Andean Pushka. You can see the process of spinning the yarn for this band in this video and the pick-up technique (for a different band) in this.

Little band in progress

When you read this I’m on a weekend getaway with Dan. Naturally, I needed a band to weave on the train. I warped, failed and rewarped, but all went well in the end. I used two colours of worsted spun outercoat wool from Swedish rya sheep from the same flock. The dark brown yarn is from the ram Bertil. The light fawn may be from the ewe Beppelina.

Band in progress: A wool band for an upcoming tie-on pocket project.

I will use the band for an upcoming tie-on pocket project I’m working on. I like playing with stripes in bands. There are so many possibilities and no right or wrong.

Weaving bands with handspun

Most of my handspun yarns are spun from Swedish breeds, and most of these breeds are prone to felting. This can make the yarns sticky, even the smoothest worsted spun outercoat yarns. A project that would be almost impossible to weave wide (like my Frida Chanel bag and loom stick wrap) is far less fiddly as a band. I do have to uncling the warp threads one by one for every new shuttling, but it doesn’t bother me at all when there are only 20–30 warp pairs. I’m just happy to see a brand new band take shape, ready to take its band space in the world.

Happy spinning!

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4 Replies to “Little bands”

  1. I love the idea that working with weeds makes you feel rich. It is very satisfying to work with what is on hand, and to make something both useful and beautiful.

  2. I can relate to the problem of jumping around from one project to another; I attribute it to having a low tolerance for boredom. Your bands are lovely. It’s very interesting to see how the nettle yarn works up in a band and cord.

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