Monday, August 20, 2007

Alpaca Tri-loom Teddy Bear Shawl

One of my daughter's teddy bears models the shawl.By Leigh

I am pleased to report that my third alpaca project is complete. Cally was curious as to what I had in mind when I said "teddy bear shawl." She had several very good ideas, but her first guess was correct. I wanted a small shawl for a teddy bear!

To actually do this however, I had a couple of challenges facing me. The first was to find my tri-loom, which had been packed away a couple of moves ago. That was fairly easy. The second was to figure out how to adapt it to make a smaller triangle, because, as you see below, it is a rather large size loom, with a six and a half foot weaving width.

My tri-loomFor those of you not familiar with these, a tri-loom is a type of continuous yarn loom. The beauty of it is that the weaver warps and weaves at the same time. In fact, they make an excellent first loom for anyone who is interested in trying their hand at weaving. Mine was handcrafted as a gift from my son when he was in high school. He was never particularly interested in woodworking, so the fact that he wanted to make it for me makes it quite special.

Since my tri-loom is not an adjustable one, but I was hoping that somehow it could be modified without having to make another, smaller tri-loom. Fortunately I have a husband who is quite clever when it comes to this sort of thing. This is what we came up with .....

Tri-loom modified for a smaller project.In this photo, I have already marked the nails along the top with bits of yarn. These are for the color changes in the shawl. Not being mathematically minded, I've had trouble in the past getting my colors changes where I wanted them. I always work it out on paper first, but I have learned to count it out and mark the nails before I begin as well.

Weaving starts with a center pull ball of yarn, in this case my bulky handspun alpaca, and a slip knot. There are excellent instructions with photos for this type of weaving here, so I won't go into detail, but will give you the gist of it.

Weaving on a tri-loom.The loom has the same number of nails along each side of the triangle. On the top (hypotenuse), they are spaced at every half inch, along the legs of the triangle, they are three-eighths of an inch apart. Weaving starts on one side and works back and forth. What is woven on one side of the loom, is automatically woven on the other side as well, so that the weaving works from the sides inward. Above, I am weaving the yarn over one and under one in a plain weave. Twill and leno lace weaves are also possible.

Weaving with a locker hook.Most of the weaving can be done with one's fingers, but I do find that a crochet or locker hook very helpful when I get toward the center and the open space for working the yarn through gets narrower. I like the locker hook because it has a hook like a crochet hook at one end, and a large eye, like the eye of a needle at the other end. This is sometimes convenient for working threads through or correcting mistakes.

Color changes are a simple matter of tying the two colors together on one side and weaving them together on one side. A better explanation with photos can be found here. My light colored yarn is from the same fleece as I used for the knitted alpaca cap.

The nature of tri-loom weaving is that the two halves are identical. Whatever color changes are created on one side, are mirrored on the other. This means that one only has to design half a triangle! Lovely plaids including tartans can be easily designed for this type of loom.

Tying on the fringe.Once all the nails have been used up and the weaving is done, the shawl is fringed. Where ever the color of yarn was changed, these two yarns are knotted securely at the nail with an overhand knot. You can see one of these on the right. Other fringes are added at each nail with a length of yarn and a lark's head knot. Only the two short sides of the loom are fringed.

Once all the fringes have been added, the shawl is ready to remove from the loom. This is done the same way pot holders are taken off of their little square looms, with a chain stitch across the top.

Chaining offAfter that, the shawl can be gently lifted off of the remaining nails.

Off the loom & ready to wash.Now it is ready to wash and then I can trim the fringe. You might be able to tell from the above photo, that the fresh fabric is still quite open, even though I used bulky yarn. Before washing it measured 33 inches across the top, exclusive of fringe. The two shorter sides were each 25 inches. I did full it a bit, so that after washing it was 30 inches across with 21.5 inch sides. I trimmed the fringe to about two and three-quarters inches.

View from the back.The finished fabric is still somewhat open, but I think the teddy bear is happy with it.

Posted 20 Aug. 2007 at

Related Posts:
2nd Summer Project - Alpaca
Alpaca Project #2
Last of the Alpaca Projects
2 Past Tri-Loom Projects


Anonymous said...

I think you have just invented teddy bear weave - it suits him perfectly!

bspinner said...

Your photos and instructions are excellent!!!! You have one lucky little bear.

Sheepish Annie said...

That is very clever!!! What a darling little shawl. Teddy looks very, very happy!

Sharon said...

My local guild owns one of those looms and the Foothill Fiber Guild has used it the last couple of years to allow people to try their hand at a weaving project. We get tied up in how many sheds we have, or think we need, and forget how simple weaving is!


You did great I love the idea of putting the extra hypotenuse. Now that is clever. Love the colors and the pics illustrating the process. I hope more folks will get into trilooming it really is easy and fun. The yarn looks so soft and wonderful, makes me wish I could handle natural fibers. As always thanks for the inspiration.

Cathy said...

I'd be happy with it too! It's adorable - it came out so well. I've heard of that type of loom but never seen one in action. Very interesting!

Tina T-P said...

I never tire of looking at all of your wonderful projects (and your new format is great too!) My coworker & I decided if you could wrangle that shawl off that teddy bear, it might make a nice scarf for the fall :-) Nice job. T.

cyndy said...

Teddy is one lucky bear, beautiful shawl!
Great modifications to the loom!