Turtle Loom Blanket

Sad News

This has been a very sad time in my life.  I got the first block of my grand-niece’s blanket done far enough to see how the colors would play.  I texted the photo to my niece who approved the colors.  An hour later, my niece went in for an emergency delivery and my grand-niece was born prematurely.  At first it looked as if all was going well.  I hurried to get the Turtle loom at the finer sett to make her a preemie blanket.  Sadly, we lost our little angel.  At the moment, I can’t even bear to look at the Turtle looms.  When I can, I’ll finish the preemie blanket and donate it in her memory.

Cambridge Beauty Detail

A New Design!

I do have a new overshot scarf design on the loom.  This on is based on Josephine Estes’ Cambridge Beauty in her Original Miniature Patterns for Hand Weaving – Part 1.  I needed to have a piece on the Wolf Pup to demonstrate at our local Yarn Crawl this weekend.  I came up with this scarf draft for the overshot workshop and it proved to be just too “busy” for that purpose.  I really loved the design, though and wanted to use it anyway, so I warped on this scarf and wove off about half of it during the demonstration.  I can’t wait to get it off the loom and finished!

Workshop Samples

Workshop News!

We’re coming into the home stretch on getting ready for my Not Your Mother’s Overshot workshop.  The photo shows fewer than half of the samples for the project… and one of them isn’t even from this workshop (although it’s in the family).  It’s lots of prep work at a very difficult time for me, personally, but it’s actually good to get something productive done.  I think it’s going to be lots of fun, and I’m sure I’ll learn far more than anyone else there.  Teaching usually does mean learning the most.


Baby Blanket Number 5 is finally on the loom!  I admit that I was getting nervous.  My niece’s baby is due in late November and here we are in late September already.  I had come up with the design.  My grand-niece is to be named for my grandmother.  My grandmother was a prolific quilter whose favorite pattern was Grandmother’s Flower Garden, a design based on hexagons.  I do quilt, but I wanted to make my grand-niece a woven baby blanket (my specialty) that evoked my grandmother’s favorite quilt pattern.  This isn’t the first time I’ve come up with a design that I can’t weave because I don’t have the loom, but it’s never a comfortable situation.

Baby Blanket Number 5 In Progress

Normally I weave my pin loom baby blankets on a square pin loom.  I knew there was a hexagonal pin loom available, which should have been perfect for the job.  However, I never cared much for the generation 1 version of the Turtle Loom.  Instead of pins, nails were used, which I found rather klunky.  It’s not easy to slide the finished piece off a loom over nail heads.  Two of the nail heads were painted white to indicate the top and bottom of the loom.  I questioned the permanence of the paint.

Generation 2 of the Turtle Looms were due out about the time I completed Baby Blanket Number 4, reviewed earlier.  Nails had been replaced by pins and the painted nail heads replaced by marks in the wood frame.  This seemed like it would resolve all my issues.  I was hoping to take the Baby Blanket Number 5 project along with me on my recent trip to Colorado.  Unfortunately, there were delays in manufacturing so starting the blanket was delayed.  Yesterday, as I came in to teach my monthly beginning rigid heddle weaving class, the shop owner told me that the generation 2 Turtle Looms were finally in!  I grabbed one and the yarn I needed and got started.

So this blog post will also be a review of the Generation 2 Turtle Looms; the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.


Well, it’s really unbagging.  The Turtle Loom comes in an organza bag.  Here’s what’s included:

Turtle Loom

  • The Turtle Loom – the pin loom comes in several sizes.  I bought the Original which produces 4″ hexagons from worsted weight yarn.  This makes it comparable to Schacht’s Zoom Loom which produces 4″ squares with the same worsted weight yarn.
  • Weaving Needle – Like the Schacht Zoom Loom, the Turtle Loom needs the enclosed weaving needle to weave the center part of the piece.
  • Crochet hook – unlike the square pin looms which only need a weaving needle, the Turtle Loom requires a crochet hook, which is included.  The Regular comes with a 4mm crochet hook
  • Hair Pick / Weaving Fork – although the “weaving fork” isn’t necessary to pack the weaving, it’s a nice-to-have.  And you can use it on your unruly hair if you need to.
  • Instruction Booklet – the instruction booklet has clear instructions with photographs for making the hexagons.

What You’ll Need

In addition to the Turtle Loom and the yarn, you’ll need a pair of scissors.  I try to keep a small pair with every project as as chasing scissors is one of my least favorite activities.

The Good

The Turtle Loom is easy to use.  Experience with the Schacht Zoom Loom isn’t necessary.  It helps in some ways and actually hinders in others.  Because the the loom isn’t warped as the square pin looms are, there is some unlearning that needs to take place.  Once you realize that they are two different looms, it’s easy to use the Turtle Loom

The enclosed instruction booklet provides clear, well illustrated instructions.  It took me almost no time to get the hang of using the Turtle Loom

The pins that mark where the weaving changes from triangular weave to rectangular weave area clearly marked in the wood frame.

The pins that mark the top and bottom of the loom are clearly marked in the wood frame.

It’s easy to slide the work off the Turtle Loom now that pins are used instead of nails.

The Bad

The enclosed instruction booklet contains no instructions for joining the hexagons.  The book refers to weaver to YouTube videos.  That’s all well and good but there are people who don’t like  YouTube and it’s frustrating to be working on a project and need to go elsewhere for vital information.  Schacht, on the other hand, includes instructions for joining the squares in the Zoom Loom’s instruction booklet.

The Ugly

While the  Generation 2 Turtle Loom looks more professional with its pins instead of nails, there are still some areas that could be improved.

The top and bottom pin markings in the wood look like the wood was split and dye poured in.  I think the marks were actually made with a wood-burning tool, but it really looks like accidental wood splits.  This is picky of me, I know, but I feel that more professional-looking marks could have been done.

To start the weaving, it’s necessary to tie a slip knot in the yarn and put the slip knot over the top pin.  The yarn tail, which will be used for sewing the hexagons together, gets in the way when the weaving is begun.  I’d like to see a notch such as Schacht uses on the Zoom Loom to hold the beginning tail of yarn.  It keeps the yarn tail from interfering with the weaving.

The pins are uneven.  I don’t mean the difference in spacing between the top/bottom pins and the side pins, although I question whether they’re right, I mean that what should be pins on a straight plane are actually slightly uneven and the pins themselves are not driven into the wood straight.  These defects don’t seem to affect the weaving, but they contribute to the loom looking unprofessional.


Overall, I like the Turtle Loom.  It’s easy to use and produces a different kind of woven shape.  I’m looking forward to this “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” woven baby blanket.  I hope my great-niece will like it!



Baby Blanket Number 4

After a desultory baby blanket couple of months and a rush to the finish on Sunday, I’m pleased to report that Baby Blanket Number 4 – the blanket for my Starbucks barista’s baby – is off the loom, finished and delivered.  I’m pleased with it… I think.  There were a couple of places where the rainbow block and the tonal blue block came out so close that it’s hard to know which is which.  Overall, I think it’s a winner.  It started as my least favorite of the blankets and may be my second favorite behind the Blue Blanket (Blanket Number 3).  So without further ado…

Baby Blanket Number 4 Detail Baby Blanket Number 4

Here’s the Fourth Blanket!  (Is this the Doctor Who of woven baby blankets?  At least it doesn’t have a long scarf.)  You can see the “too close” blocks at the upper right corner and the lower left.  They don’t show as much in the photo as they do in person, so maybe that’s just my eyes.

I’m off baby blanket duty for a little while.  I’m waiting for Gen 2 of the Turtle Loom to come out so I can make a hexagonal blanket for my grand-niece.  She’s named for my grandmother who was an avid quilter.  Grandmother’s Flower Garden was Grannie’s favorite quilt pattern so I’m planning a similar design in a pin loom blanket for her namesake.

Old Books

We’re having an overshot weave-a-long over at FiberKind.  One of the participants mentioned a book that she had luckily acquired – Foot Treadle Loom Weaving by Edward Worst.  I’d never heard of it before so I dutifully went off to eBay and scored an absolute deal!  I got both editions of the book – the 1924 copyright original edition, Foot-Power Loom Weaving and a revised edition, Foot Treadle Loom Weaving from 1976.  The books are almost identical.  The drafts are easier to read in the newer version, but they are both valuable additions to my weaving library.  There are 4-shaft, 6-shaft, 8-shaft and 16-shaft drafts in the book and all were collected from traditional weavers.  There are even plans to build a Scandinavian-style loom in the back of the book!

These books are right up there with Marguerite Porter Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book and Carol Strickler’s A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns.  They belong on every weaver’s bookshelf.  Worst’s books are long out of print, so it’s a treasure hunt to find a copy, but well worth the effort.

Joseph Worst Books



Baby Blanket 3 In Progress

I’ve started the fourth pin loom baby blanket.  This one is for my Starbucks barista who is expecting a boy.  In theory, the rainbow yarn (Plymouth Encore Colorspun #7722, Very Bright Kids) is the same yarn I’ve used for earlier projects.  It just doesn’t look the same to me though.  Dye lot makes a difference, of course, but still.  The blue tonal (Plymouth Encore Colorspun #7747, Blueberry), may go a little too much to the white.  However, I think this blanket will come out just fine.

Beginning Weaving

In other news, Saturday was a great beginning rigid heddle weaving class.  My students were excited and receptive.  We had a great time!  A good attitude is essential to learning to weave.  A good sense of adventure doesn’t hurt!

Until next time… Weave on!


Why do things happen in threes?  Or in this case, in fives?  Babies factorial!  First it was my daughter’s friend.  Then it was my friend’s son.  Next up was my cousin’s daughter, my niece and my Starbucks barista!  Three of the babies came within a month of each other.  My barista is due in the next couple of months and my niece in the winter.  But that still means a sudden and pressing need for handwoven baby blankets.

I love to weave small blankets on my Zoom Loom, or pin loom.  The Zoom Loom weaves 4-inch squares which makes it the most portable loom around.  These looms were popular in the 1930’s and have recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity.  Antique looms are still to be found on eBay, but modern versions abound.  An invaluable site, eLoomaNation, has information on the looms and downloadable copies of instruction and pattern booklets for the little looms.  Making a small blanket is easy – usually requiring only two skeins of worsted-weight yarn.  I usually use Plymouth Encore, a wool-acrylic blend, as it is durable and washable and comes in lots of colors, solids, tonals and variegated.  I choose a variegated and a coordinating solid.  I do make blankets in pinks and blues, but I’m just as apt to make one in yellows or greens.

The Yellow Blanket

Yellow and Rainbow Blanket

The first blanket was for my daughter’s friend.  I made it in a yellow tonal paired with a bright rainbow.  I used to make these blankets square – 6 squares by 6 squares or around 2 feet square.  I decided to squeeze one more row of blocks out of the yarn and make it about 4 inches longer. I’m glad I did as the blankets are probably more useful that way.  I did have to change from crocheting both rows of the border in the variegated yarn to crocheting the first row in the plain or tonal color and the second, scalloped row in the variegated.

The Pink Blanket

Pink and Rainbow Baby Blanket

The second blanket was made for my cousin’s new granddaughter.  This blanket meant quite a bit to me because my cousin lost his wife a year before the baby’s birth.  I wanted to do something, however small, to show that the family was behind them.  Since I knew this baby was a girl, I used the same variegated rainbow that I did for the first blanket but paired it with a solid pink.  At first, I thought that the pink was too… well… pink!  After it was finished, I decided that I really liked it.

The Blue Blanket

Blanket Number Three was made for my friend’s new grandson.  Again, since I knew that baby was a boy, I chose a variegated yarn of blues, teals, purples, greens and tans and paired it with a plain blue yarn.  This one may be my favorite blanket yet!

Wow!  Three blankets done and two to go – now that’s a pin loom marathon!

Blue Rainbow Blanket Detail

Blue Rainbow Blanket