If you enjoy working with yarn and playing with colour then weaving on a simple loom is one of the quickest and most rewarding things you can do. I am quite addicted to my little Schact rigid heddle loom; it is a simple but beautifully constructed flip-folding table loom which can be set up on a table and easily stored. However, I like playing with it so much that I have it on a stand so that it is ready and waiting for whenever I have a spare moment.
The beauty of my Hebridean yarn is that it is strong enough to warp with. There is little I like more than to warp in one or more colours, and then plan the weft so that when the colours are woven, the interweave of warp and weft creates another layer of magic in the blended yarn colours.
Even with a basic tabby weave there is endless creative scope with colour patterns in either Hebridean 2 Ply or 3 Ply. Scarves and wraps are ideal as they are decorative, useful and they make perfect gifts.
Once I have woven the piece, I plunge it in very hot soapy water and hand-full it. Then I rinse it thoroughly and roll it up in clean towels to remove excess moisture. I then lay it flat until it is almost dry and steam press it. The result is soft as a cloud, toasty warm and totally eye-catching. The only disadvantage is that everyone who has seen and touched one wants it.
A great way to understand the way colour behaves in weaving is to choose two colours and work a simple check pattern. This is done by warping with alternate colours and then weaving with the same alternate colours. You will see that as well as the two separate coloured checks, a third is also produced when the two colours are interwoven; the Mara and Strabhann scarf on the left is an example of this. Taking the simple check idea a little further, I warped the scarf on the right in Golden Plover alternated with Storm Petrel, Lapwing, Erica and Red Rattle to the centre and then reflected the sequence. Then I wove the weft in exactly the same sequence and so the result is blocks of all these colours interspersed with blocks of all the colours mixed across the sequence. The effect is warm, rich and dazzling.
Another easy way to work is to choose a dark, a medium and a light colour and weave a simple windowpane check. This scarf is worked in the mid-tone of Bogbean with dark Calluna checks and thinner contrasting pale windowpanes of Solan Goose.
I based this wrap – also shown at the top – on the gorgeous clumps of sphagnum moss that are abundant on the Lewis moor. The large squares of Red Rattle and Sundew represent the large clumps and these are defined by thinner lines of Machair for the underwater moss and Driftwood for the early heather buds.
The moorland mantle changes through all the seasons, and looking over the blanket bog it is easy to imagine it as a vast tweed. This scarf is an interpretation of the moor on a frosty winter morning. I worked in a small windowpane check of Sundew and Golden Plover on Driftwood. Twisting the colours in the tassels adds the perfect finishing touch.
This wrap was based on rocks at Geodh’ a’ Cùibhrig (Patchwork Quilt Cove). Big bold checks in subtle shades of Pebble Beach and Driftwood are cut with panes of Limpet, Erica and Summertide. The wrap worn with the Peigi cardigan, which is based on pebbles from the same cove, looks remarkably similar to the rock and pebble combinations that inspired them.
Peatbank lines on moor on a moody day was the theme for this scarf. The above scarf was very quick and easy to make, with a warp of Tormentil woven with blocks of Red Deer and Tormentil and interspersed with thinner horizontal bands of Selkie, Mountain Hare and Fulmar.
I used the same format for the scarf shown below. I wanted to see how using the soft Fulmar shade as the warp would affect the brighter colours of Whin, Sea Anemone and Machair for the horizontal colour blocks on the weft. The brighter colours are softened considerably and provide a really warm and subtle glow reminiscent of early autumn on the croft. I worked a four-way plait for each tassel of the warp, which is quite time-consuming but it does provide a lovely finish to the piece.
Setting up the warp for the next scarf.