Monday, 5 October 2015

Weaving Plarn and Waffles

After my inspiring weaving class a couple of weeks ago, I've had weaverly things going through my head. I thought I'd practice on a few projects and work my way up to something really interesting for me.

My first project was to make 'plarn' - plastic yarn out of milk bags. (Here in Canada we can buy our milk in 4L bags that contain 3 clear 1.33L bags of milk) The outer bag is usually quite thick plastic and is quite colourful.  I cut the bag into 1" strips following this video. I used my rotary cutter on my cutting mat for the cuts and snipped the strips with scissors. It went pretty quickly while watching TV. Each bag created about 10 yards of plarn.

I warped the loom fairly widely (6 e.p.i. -  ends per inch) with a sturdy cotton yarn and wove using the plarn as the weft. Then I'll make bags with the fabric.

This is what the 'fabric' looked like on the loom. I have a 15 3/4" Leclerc Dorothy table loom with 4 shafts. I just did a plain weave (also called 'tabby'). You can see a strip of plarn on the left.
I also cut up a bunch of white grocery bags that were a bit thinner plastic and wove them on the same warp. They came out a little finer. I've also put the loom on my big cutting mat to protect my dining room table.
I then began combing the Internet for weaving drafts. I found a free lesson on weaving waffle weave which intrigued me so I warped the loom with 14 epi with some linen yarn from my stash. I learned a lot with this experience. I learned how to read a draft properly (I didn't thread the loom correctly for this first practice piece). I also learned that because I was doing a twill project, I needed to add extra threads to the number that one would customarily do with tabby. I did practice several patterns with this warp.

Then I warped the loom properly this time using some mystery yarn that was a little thicker and is probably linen or hemp. I did the correct waffle 321234321234 threading and 14 epi, which made for a much better warp. I added an inch of warp width for shrinkage and pulling in. With the correctly threaded warp, I was able to finally achieve waffle weave. I will be very interested to see what this fabric is like after it's cut off the loom and washed.  I'm hoping it will be suitable for a spa cloth. This pattern looks the same on the other side, too!
Waffle weave
I only put a 2 yard warp on the loom but it is more than enough to do 3 or more of these cloths. The second one I did was the same pattern but using a light pink cotton yarn (easier to see on the stick shuttle) for the weft.
With that one done, I scanned for other patterns using the same 321234321234 warp pattern. I found one called birdseye diamonds and started it, again with the pink weft. The plain weaving below it is just spacer which will be cut along the centre and used to hem each piece.
I'm liking how it is turning out and can see how a more contrasting yarn would be quite effective.

The Deborah Chandler book, 'Learning to Weave' reference book has been very helpful.

While at the OHS Central Region Seminar on the weekend, I purchased 4 spools of 8/2 cotton to weave some dishcloths (blue, green, yellow, and white). Sadly, my loom isn't wide enough to do dish towels (unless I double weave them), so for now, my practicing will be dishcloth size.

My edges are getting much smoother and not pulling in as much. I'm far from skilled at this but am encouraged by the improvements I've made in such a short time.


  1. Wow! you are getting really professional results with your weaving. Great job!

    1. Thank you. Once I got the loom threaded properly, it was all up from there.