Some experiments with the Martha Stewart Crafts Knit and Loom Kit

April 21, 2012 at 12:17 pm (Uncategorized)

So, perhaps you have heard about my growing insanity as it relates to the Martha Stewart Knit and Loom Kit?

Just as a reminder: Lion Brand yarn and Martha Stewart joined forces to make this really odd and possibly fantastic craft kit that allows you to loom knit (a craft previously unknown to me) and weave with a bunch of really interesting configurations.

Now, weaving is fascinating to me (way more so than knitting). When I was in high school, I found a loom in the school’s basement, set it up, and taught myself to weave. I made a rug which was pretty cool considering it was the first and only thing I had woven up to that point, and that I was 16 at the time. It’s in my mom’s house somewhere now, I assume, if not at a landfill.

But, as much as I enjoyed the process and wanted to try it again, after I left high school I quickly discovered that weaving isn’t the accessible hobby that other yarn crafts are. You can’t carry a loom on the subway with you; buying a reasonably sized one is a pretty big investment. So this is why I was really psyched to see Martha Stewart bring weaving to the masses.

Upon unpacking the kit, I quickly realized that this was not like most looms. Most looms have tension on the top and the bottom (which hold the warp) and then you weave the weft into them, with no (or limited) tension on the sides. The Martha Stewart Loom is constructed more or less like what we used to make potholders with in grade school. Holding tension on all four sides equally, it shows off the warp and the weft equally, where as in most weaving, the warp is totally covered by the weft.

So this leads to our first experimentation, which is pretty straightforward: using the Martha Stewart Loom as a tapestry loom. To do this, I set up the frame so that there’s pegs up top and on the bottom, and none of the side. As I wove my weft in and out and came to the end of a row, I just doubled around and started on the next row. Very easy. Test #1: Using the Martha Stewart Loom as a tapestry loom:

Now, as a tapestry weaving goes, this one is clearly a hot mess. But the point is, I just wanted to really quickly see if it could be done, if you could get curves and change colors easily, and the answer is yes.

Ok, fair enough. You’ve now paid $45 for a loom kit in order to turn it into something you could have made with just old stretcher bars, but it’s good to know it’s an option. On to the next test.

Test #2: Using the Martha Stewart loom as it was meant to be used, but with tweaks. So here’s the thing with the potholder construction – you can use it to get all-over patterns or solids, but can you use it to make actual pictures? You can, in a limited, 8-bit sort of way:

Full disclosure: this was supposed to be a bunny and then I panicked it would look like Miffy too much, so I made it a cat and then it wound up looking like a cross between Hello Kitty and Pikachu. Good times.

But the point is, yes: it is possible to make pictorial weavings, if you can force your braid to render what it is you want to depict in a grid. I thought that was pretty cool.

Test #3: Using the Martha Stewart Loom to make abstracted, geometric shapes in different colors. Potentially, this has a lot of applications. I used a solid-colored warp and changed the colors of the weft, but playing around with that combination more could yield some interesting results.

Here’s a basic two-color, red center with yellow/red border:

I made four versions of that, in two variants, and sewed them together:

Not too bad. I was cheered enough to try another version, this one with a tile of 9 different squares and variants of three different colors:

Here’s a closeup of one of the squares, which was made with a blue warp and purple and pink wefts:

Ok! So all that is cool, and there’s a million different versions you could play with, and that I personally will be playing with over and over, until my OCD brain explodes. But first, one more test…

Test #4: Use different materials, other than yarn, to weave on the Martha Stewart loom. This morning I made a tiny square with embroidery floss:

Finishing the edges was super tricky and I need practice and to get it down to a system. But! Potentially, I think this is the most interesting variant so far. Done right, it could make a lacy, delicate fabric that would be good for a table runner or something like that.

So that’s what I’ve spent the last week doing. More experiments to come, I’m sure.

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