Weaving a Cowl for a Christmas present

Weaving a Cowl for a Christmas present

Hello!  I am Carlene and a new poster here on the Felting and Fiber Studio blog.  I live in Carp which is part of Ottawa Canada. I am a member of the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild; the same guild that Jan Scott, Ann McElroy and Bernadette Quade belong to.

I am interested in a number of fiber arts including: crochet, knitting, spinning, felting and weaving.  I will admit that spinning is my biggest passion and where I spend most of my time.  I have been dabbling in weaving for a bit, using rigid heddle looms and taking some classes at the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild.

In June 2022 I managed to purchase a used Saori CH50 loom and since then my weaving has really taken off.  I love the Saori philosophy and how well designed the loom is.  Saori weaving is a free form style of weaving developed in Japan.  You can learn more about the history of Saori online from Saori Global.

Here is my Saori loom.  It is a cute little 2 harness loom with a small footprint similar to a card table.  The official specs are as follows: Width: 69cm (26″), Depth: 61cm (24″), Height: 98cm (38″), Weight: 15.7kg (34.5lb), Weaving Width: 60cm (23″).

One of the neat innovations of the Saori looms is using a square back beam that allows you to slide a pre-wound warp onto the loom and speed up the warping process.  You can buy pre-wound warps in a number of different thread counts (50, 100, 150, 200, 250 and 300 threads), lengths (3m, 6m, 12m and 30m) and fibre types (cotton, wool, or mixed fibers such as wool, cashmere, silk).  The most affordable warps are plain black warps in either wool or cotton.  This is a 100 end cotton warp that I recently put on my loom.  The warp threads are taped to the square tube, then wound on under light tension with spacers inserted occasionally.  At the end of the warp the ends are again taped down.

After putting the warp onto the back beam, I lifted the reed and beater out of the loom and set it aside.  Then I untaped the warp threads from the roll and lifted them up over the back beam, over the middle castle of the loom and taped the threads to the loom shelf using green painters tape.


Next I did some quick counting and inserted some chip clips as markers.  I wanted to thread from the middle outwards so that I could easily position the warp threads in the middle of the reed and the heddles on the shaft.  After counting out the threads I carefully snipped a single thread from the tape, then threaded it through the inserted eye heddle on the rear shaft.  I repeated this process with the the next thread and then threaded it through the inserted eye heddle on the front shaft.  I then skipped a heddle in each shaft and then repeated this process to thread the next thread, all the way across the loom.

In this next picture you can see all the black warp threads have been inserted through the heddles.  I have used chip clips to keep the threads neat and tidy.  There is a spare empty heddle between each of the threads.

I decided to add some supplementary warp threads to experiment with adding a bit of colour to my warp.  I bought these Kumihimo bobbins to try.  I wound cotton thread in various colours onto the bobbins.

Then I positioned the bobbins at the back of the loom and slowly threaded them into some of the empty heddles between warp threads.  The placement of these threads was somewhat random.  After adding in the supplementary warp threads I was ready to thread the reed.  So I put the beater bar and reed back into the loom.

I used my threading hook to thread the reed and I did groups of 4 threads, then one empty space in the reed, then the next set of 4 threads.  Chip clips were again used to keep the threads tidy.

After completing the threading it was time to tie onto the front beam and then start weaving.  The warp threads are knotted onto the front beam.  The blue yarn you see is a bit of scrap yarn at the beginning of the project to help space out the warp threads.  The weft threads (the back and forth weaving threads) is some self striping wool/acrylic sock yarn (Kroy Socks Stripes in the colour Burnished Sierra).  When you look at the back of the loom the Kumihimo bobbins with the supplementary warp threads are hanging off the back.

I wove a piece that was about 64″ on the loom.  After taking it off the loom the piece measured 60.5″ x 20.5″.  After washing the dimensions will shift again and there will be a bit more shrinkage.

After removing the blue waste yarn I trimmed the warp ends, knotted them together, then twisted the fringe.  The result is a cowl for my Christmas gift pile.  I still have one last step to do though.  The fabric still needs to be washed to set the cloth and after washing it’ll need a quick press with the iron to make it look beautiful again.  I have a stack of Christmas weaving waiting for washing and ironing.  Luckily there is still a bit of time before Christmas to get it all done.

I got the stack weaving washed and realized that I had forgotten the step of sewing on labels.  So today I sat down with the pile and sewed on tags.  I have these nice vegan leather tags that I purchased off ETSY from FractalFocusStudios and I carefully sewed one on each item.


After putting the tag on I did a quick try on.  Love it!  My stack of scarves and cowls are now sitting in the pile of Christmas gifts.  Soon they will all be adopted by new owners.


13 thoughts on “Weaving a Cowl for a Christmas present

  1. What a great first post Carlene, you’ve set the bar high!
    I came across Saori weaving, or at least the results, a few years ago now, but I never saw a loom or understood why people (tutors and students) at the special needs workshop were so enthusiastic about the system. Your photos and description makes it all clear now. It looks so much easier to master than the standard (old fashioned?) looms and methods.
    I’m not denigrating the system at all. A lot of the students at the workshop were already well able to produce beautiful products from the standard systems, but the Saori weaving actually got a lot more students interested, possibly because of the lovely colours and the “do what you want” way of weaving. In fact, when I last saw her the professional weaver in charge of the workshop, who had been to Japan to learn more about Saori, did practically nothing else after she returned, and she got several other accomplished weavers from our Guild involved in it too.
    I’m sure your presents will go down a storm.

    1. Thanks! These really are amazing looms. I feel so lucky that I was able to find this loom. I’m also very thankful for a supportive Saori dealer (Saori Salt Spring Island out in British Columbia) and Ravelry group (Weaving in the Saori Way) to answer questions and help me along the way.

    1. The ergonomics in my loom are pretty awesome. Very well designed equipment.

  2. Welcome Carlene, I am glad you joined us. Thanks for the great explanation about Saori weaving. Your results are fantastic and I am sure your gifts will be treasured. Happy Holidays!

    1. Thanks Ann. Another great thing about the Saori looms is how easy it is to cut your work off, clip the warp back under tension and resume weaving. Maybe I’ll talk about that next time.

  3. Welcome and congratulations on your first post Carlene The amount I know about weaving would fit on a postage stamp and I am delighted to have learnt a lot from your post. Your cowl is beautiful. Lucky recipient! It looks super on you too. You must be tempted to keep such beautiful items.

    1. I made more items than I needed for gifts so that my nieces could actually choose which one they would like. I may get to keep this one if no one else adopts it. We shall see how things settle out. Thanks for reading.

  4. Hi, Carlene! Welcome to our merry bunch of fibre-writing people 😀 That cowl looks lovely and the tag really does add a little extra something to it. Thanks for the explanation about the loom! I’m not going to say I understood it all (I’m not a weaver) but it was fascinating to see the production process before threads of fibre become a proper wearable object 🙂

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