To Knot or Not to Knot?
This is a tutorial on how to begin a square without tying a knot, how to read a chart and follow a pattern, and how to make BEAUTIFUL squares with even warp and weft distribution.
To begin, if you DO want to start your square by tying a reverse slip knot to secure the yarn to your loom, see this short video (there are obviously other parts in this six-part series, and you’re welcome to watch those as well. But be prepared to die of boredom because not only is there no plot . . . well, you’ll see).*
If you don’t want to tie a knot, there are a number of other options. I’ve heard of people taping the yarn to the loom, or (horror of horrors [because I don’t don’t like sticky stuff]) you can attach a bit of the hook half of hook-and-loop fastener (sometimes called Velcro) to the underside of the loom. I will refrain from explaining all the reasons why this seems a VERY bad idea to me. (Zoom Loom and Loomette have a notch cut into the frame of the loom near Cr1 where you can attempt to secure your yarn. In my experience ZL won’t hold the yarn and L will mildly shred it.)
It’s the easiest thing in the world to leave the yarn tail just hanging there loose. Just in case I want to use the yarn tail later, I leave a length roughly equivalent to 1.5 sides of the loom.
Yarn used in sample: Bernat Satin (BS) “Flamingo.” (Please see GLOSSARY for explanation of abbreviations.)
After warping three layers and weaving R1, the needle goes under the free swinging beginning tail. R2 will secure the tail. HOWEVER, before moving on to R2, let’s look at a simple procedure that will truly beautify your weaving. I usually refer to it as snugging R1 against the pins.
The pattern/diagram we’ll be following is called, “Heart Band—Bar X, Mini.” (The written instructions are at the bottom of this post.)
In the diagram, R1 is all gray. That’s because it’s always a plain weave (P) row.
First tip for beautiful weaving: after each row, you may want to use the Tug Technique (I use the Tug Technique in all my weaving videos, but this one is very brief). This stops your wefts from taking up all the warp space as you weave so your weaving won’t be so difficult in the last rows.
For this pattern R2 is also P. Hold the loose yarn tail with your fingers while you start R2.
For R3, look at the numbers across the bottom of the diagram. It tells you you’ll P14, U3 (three red squares = U3), then P14. The Wunderwag loom has a center mark top and bottom that tells you where the center strand is (it’s always strand #8 of L3, or #16 of the 31 combined L1 and L3 warps). So you really don’t need to count anything at all. Just P till you reach the three center strands and go under them, then P across. (You can count if you want to be sure you’ve done it right.)
R4 builds on R3. You can count 12 stitches or P over to R3’s U3. Take the needle U3, catching two warps + the first of R3’s U3 strands, O1 (the center strand), then go U3 catching the third of R3’s U3 strands + two warps.
R5-7 continues the pattern of building the V part of the heart, expanding the V outward row by row.
R7 also begins the center openwork pattern of the heart motif (P2, O3, U3, O3, P2).
Continue weaving, challenging yourself to follow the diagram. Be sure to look at the tips below and use them while you weave.
Second tip for keeping your weaving beautiful: notice in the top left photo below how the warps have pulled away from the vertical side of the loom. Use your fork to push them back toward the pins (top right photo). Continue prodding the strands back into place with your fork, being careful not split your yarn (bottom left photo). You can do this as often as necessary to keep your warps and wefts evenly distributed.
Third tip: if your loose tail looks messy, give it a little tug to straighten it out. (Don’t pull too tight!)
If you’re using a light worsted weight yarn (such as CSS, YBSS, or BS), the inner pattern of the heart will create an airy open look. RHS will show a bit less openness.
Here’s a demo of using your fork to make room for the last row of weaving.
One more tip—for an easier beginning of the last row: if you’re using a Wunderwag loom you’ll have extra long pins, so you can feel quite safe during this procedure (but it’s not THAT risky). At R16 (R24 on a 6″ loom), Cr3, lift the weaving up a bit on the pins; take the needle straight down into the loop, then scoop it under the first warp. If you’ve used your fork to make space, the final row will be fairly easy to weave.
If you’re planning to work in the final yarn tail, here’s how you might choose to do so (for a full demo see FUTURE BLOG POST).
Take a moment to admire (and check for mistakes) your finished square.
Then pop it off the loom.
R3: P14, U3, P14
R4: P12, U3, O1, U3, P12
R5: P10, U3, P5, U3, P10
R6: P8, U3, P9, U3, P8
R7: P6, U3, P2, O3, U3, O3, P2, U3, P6
R8: P4, U3, O1, U3, P9, U3, O1, U3, P4
R9: P11, O3, U3, O3, P11
R10: Rpt R8
R11: Rpt R7
R12: P4, (U3, O1) x 5, U3, P4
R13: P6, U3, O1, U3, P5, U3, O1, U3, P6
*There is another form of knot tying which involves making a slip knot and lassoing the first two warps of L1 around the pins. I’ve never tried this method and probably never will. It feels akin to putting Velcro on the loom . . .