An alternative method of joining pin-loom squares

Although I like Schacht’s new Zoom Loom very much, there is a better way to join squares together than the one shown.

Each square upon completion has two tails: a short one at the place where you began warping the loom, and a long one on the opposite corner where you finished up. Although the Zoom Loom instructions tell you to weave in both tails before removing from the loom, I do not see the benefit. To  introduce a new yarn to join the squares with will simply create two more tails that need to be woven in and concealed. Enough already! I prefer to use the longer finishing tail on each square to join it to the next, a sort of daisy-chain all the way across the finished project, each square using its own long tail to link to the next in line. At the end I go back over and weave in all remaining tails.

First of all, it is ESSENTIAL that all squares be in 100% alignment.  Each square has the two starting and finishing tails. But each square also has two remaining corners, one with a big scallop or bump and one with a little tiny bump. The big one was made on four corner pins while the little one was made on two pins. They are clearly different. These scallop/bumps are asymmetric for a reason. They function like Lego blocks, and if aligned properly the squares will all interlock perfectly and lay flat.

These corners are not alike! Click to enlarge, and make sure that you can tell the difference between the big and little bumps

These corners are not alike! Click to enlarge, and make sure that you can tell the difference between the big and little corner bumps. The little one (the top square) is more like a twist of yarn than a properly formed scallop.

My method of joining is done by sewing with both squares flat on a tabletop. First step: align the squares properly, with long tails on upper right, short tails on lower left. Then make sure that your little bumps are on the bottom right and the big bumps at the upper left.  If you don’t get this straight at the beginning, the square won’t align and you’ll have to unpick the join and start over.

All four tails are in alignment. Big corner bumps are at top left, little corner bumps at bottom right.

All four tails are in alignment. Big corner bumps are at top left, little corner bumps at bottom right.

Thread the needle using the long finishing tail of the bottom square, and carefully place the point of your needle through the yarn at very center of that little bump. Throughout the entire join, you will be working from the top and will never need to place the needle into a square from the bottom.

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Pull the yarn through and now address the lower square again. With your needle tip, delicately lift the two crossed yarns in the center of the same bump where you began, ignoring the other strands.  Pull the yarn through.

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Note: except for the asymmetric bumps at each corner, all other bumps have four yarns, two of which cross over in the very center. Go back to the top square and repeat this motion, lifting the two center strands and passing the needle and yarn beneath them.

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You will progress in this manner from right to left, from top to bottom and back again, over and over.

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After you work your way to the far left, review your work to make sure of the alignment, then pull the yarn nice and snug, and conceal your end by weaving it in and cutting off any extra. The resulting seam will be a faintly undulating, Lego-like join that lies perfectly flat on the top surface and has gentle texture on the bottom surface. Note: if you are making any project that will be subjected to any degree of wear, it’s likely that the yarns you used for joining will eventually begin to work their way loose. I recommend stitching all finished seams on a sewing machine using a zigzag stitch in a complementary thread color, to stabilize your hard-earned seams and to prevent diagonal stretching.

I have made several blankets like this, using my vintage Weave-It.

As you will see if you enlarge the photo, the zigzag stitch is nearly invisible thanks to the fluff of the wool.

Happy joining! Contact me if you have any difficulties and I’ll try to walk you through via email.

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Review: Schacht’s Zoom Loom

The Zoom Loom is a modern remake of the classic retro pin looms that were manufactured between the 1930s and the ’70s, the most popular of these being the Weave-It. Four inches square, the Zoom Loom differs from earlier pin looms in having a broad plastic frame that’s ergonomically shaped in order to provide an excellent grip for the user. It also has a notch at the starting point which holds the end of the yarn so a knot doesn’t have to be made. (Knots slightly disrupt the overall regular scalloped appearance of the edge.)

Image courtesy Schacht.

Image courtesy Schacht.

Notes:

Although the Zoom Loom has exactly the same configuration as the Weave-It, which means that the scalloped edges of both are identical, the Zoom Loom is very slightly wider than the older loom. This means that if you owned both models of pin looms, the squares made on each would not necessarily “mate” if you attempt to join them together. (However, doing so might result in interesting  slightly textural surfaces if you were to checkerboard the different squares together in a blanket.)

Although the Zoom Loom’s new ergonomic grip around the edge is nice, I found that after making nearly a thousand squares on my vintage Weave-It, muscle memory still tended to make me grip it by the pins instead of by the wide frame.

The instructions are excellent, with detailed illustrations of each step of the warping and weaving process.

The Zoom Loom comes in a sturdy mid-size Velcro-closure box with a handle so it can be easily carried around town or on vacation. However, my vintage Weave-It came in a much smaller box barely any wider than the loom itself, which would fit into a purse or into luggage much more conveniently. Quite often, small is better. The packaging could have been downsized considerably without losing effectiveness.

The Zoom Loom comes with extra pins and a large needle for weaving. These slip into a zip-lock bag that is stored inside the box.

Price: ~$39-$40.

As with the Weave-It, possible projects include scarves, pieced quilt-like blankets and afghans, and garments.

The Zoom Loom in action (note: fine yarns can be doubled, as here).

The Zoom Loom in action (note: fine yarns can be doubled, as here: click to enlarge for more detail).

Links:

http://schachtspindle.com/zoomloom/

http://www.woolery.com/Store/pc/Schacht-Zoom-Loom-4-x-4-pin-loom-p11564.htm

http://www.yarn.com/product/schacht-zoom-loom/

The comprehensive site for vintage pin looms, http://www.eloomanation.com/weaving/