Tag Archives: Yarn

My Final Thought on Looped Yarn

Well…. my final thought on looped yarn actually turns out to be not so final.

I started out this project intrigued. Then the intrigue turned into a little bit of shame as I understood how the hard working women of Papua New Guinea use this little known art form as a way of life (and my thought that this was just a fun little thing to try). But then, I must admit that the intrigue won out and a gave it a try. I was confused. I was chagrined. I was uninspired by the outcomes.

But slowly (ever so slowly), my mind changed about this whole looped yarn thing. I think that I could really grow to like this whole experience. And, as it turns out, I love the lace that can be made with this whole looped yarn technique.

No, it is not a Bilum. And no, it never will be.

This, as it turns out, is Debra’s version of what a foundation looped stitch can be if you experiment long enough.

And finally, I love looped yarn.

I am still not sure where its practical usage lies, except for maybe in clothing or table linens or curtains or something of that nature, but it is very pretty. And in the end, it doesn’t seem to take as long as tatting to get a really dainty (and not too frilly) lace fabric.

You see, if you take the whole looped yarn technique that I posted on this blog throughout July, and you use a small spacer bar (no more than 1/2″ wide) and some average thickness crochet cotton (I have to apologize here, I used a bunch of old crochet cotton and it had no tag so I don’t know exactly what weight of yarn I was using), and then add a surprise ending, you get a really sturdy, stable, not-too-stretchy or stringy lace that is absolutely beautiful and faintly reminiscent of something like hardanger.

What to do? Follow the instructions posted here and here. Then, when you are finished to get a piece of fabric to your desired measurements, pin and stretch your lace piece on a stretcher bar or embroidery loop (I found it easiest to stitch it to some backing fabric here – the backing fabric will ultimately be removed).

Then, taking your needle and crochet cotton again, and working each row of your looped yarn independent from each other and separate from the backing fabric, slide your needle under 4-5 loops. In a wrapping motion, bring the needle up topside after the 5th loop and wrap it back towards the first loop in your bunch. Slide the needle back through the loops to the underside of the looped yarn fabric and draw the cotton yarn along the backside of the lace to group another 4 or 5 loops. Pull to tighten the wrap around the grouped loops. Repeat this until you have worked the entire length of the row. Tie off your yarn and start the next row.

It looks like this when it is done:

And this makes me happy :)

A Twist on ‘Twisting Yarn’!

I still can’t give up. I really don’t know why… I haven’t found any sort of application for the looped yarn (or twisted yarn) that I really am fond of, except for maybe the obvious lace trim, but I am still intrigued by the whole idea of the craft. That, and it really sorta bugs me that the negative aspects of this craft (the stretchiness, the lack of stability, etc) would be so negative that it would impact how useful (or useless) and crafted lace would be.

In any case, remember in my last post when I said, “if I am going to use the looped yarn technique, I much prefer this technique done on a very small spacer bar – with a width of 3/8″ or less – and with very thin – almost fingering weight – yarn”? Well, I got so excited about the lace that was made of the thin yarn, that I decided that maybe, just maybe, there was some way to work with the looped yarn lace to give more options when working with the finished product.

And what I came up with is really kinda neat. (At least I think so, but I may be a little biased in my dedication to making this looped yarn thing work better for me.)

This is what happens when you marry the looped yarn technique with a little weaving:

Cool, huh?

All of a sudden, my ‘lace’ became bona fide fabric. It still has the same looped look from the backside, but the front side almost looks like a woven fabric…. and the best part is that all of the negatives are gone. It isn’t too stretchy anymore, and it has stability.

But it has lost its ‘lacy-ness’.

I am not sure that this is a bad thing though… what do you think?

Lessons in Looped Yarn

It definitely takes a stiff yarn to really do looping yarn projects any justice. I could stop there – this is really the most important lesson I have learned in working with the whole idea of looped yarn:

If you want a piece of fabric that is serviceable at all when you are done, then you must use a stiff, almost rough, yarn or string.

And I am not sure that I like that this is a requirement for the craft because not only is it tough on the hands to work with, it really limits the uses for the looped yarn fabric once it is created.

But I did learn something else:

If I am going to use the looped yarn technique, I much prefer this technique done on a very small spacer bar – with a width of 3/8″ or less – and with very thin – almost fingering weight – yarn.

This is what it looked like when I gave it a try with the thinner yarn:

(it looks ALOT like crochet, doesn’t it?)

…and the only downside here is that when the yarn is so thin and the stitches are so tiny, it is even harder to keep the edges square. I found myself adding and subtracting stitches in order to keep the number of stitches even from row to row, and I still didn’t do a great job… and once I took the stitches off the spacer bars, there was even more of a tendency for the loops to stretch and become ‘unsquared’ even when the rows had the same number of stitches in them!

The third lesson I learned:

Whatever type of fabric is made from the looped yarn technique would best be served by a confining border – something pretty, but extremely utilitarian – to ‘hold in’ and keep all of the stitches to shape.

And the one last lesson I learned?

Apparently I don’t give up that easily.

After working with the looped yarn technique for a while now, I am just not all that ready to give up on the idea. Maybe I am just ‘flogging’ a useless and dead idea here, but I am still looking for the diamond-in-the-rough on this one. There has got to be something more – something I haven’t tried yet that will make this particular technique a little more friendly and interesting.

I am off to pick up the spacer bars and give it one more try…

Ending the Suspense (…if there ever was any to begin with)

Without further ado, here is the end of the instructions for the looped yarn fabric that I wrote about here. (The beginning of the instructions can be found by clicking here.) (And this is where I insert a HUGE apology – this should have been posted a lot sooner, but I just now found that it was still sitting in my ‘drafts’ file when it should have been published last week…!!!)

We left off with a finished first row and are ready to begin work on the second row.  To start the second row, flip the spacer strip horizontally so that the underside is now the topside but the bottom and the top remain as they were.

1. To begin the stitches on the second row, position the 2nd spacer strip above the first spacer strip, keeping the first spacer strip positioned the same way as it was for the first row (flat with the bottom nearest and facing to you).

2. At the last loop of the first row, pull your string through the top of the last loop as in step # 6 from row 1 (in yesterday’s post). At the top of the loop, bring the string up over the topside of the 2nd spacer stip from the bottom to the top.

3. Continue pulling the string across the underside of the 2nd spacer strip and draw it through the top of the loop on the corresponding ‘stitch’ on the spacer strip below.

4. As in steps # 6 and 7 of row 1 (in yesterday’s post),  draw the string first across the topside of the 2nd spacer strip from bottom to top, but when following step # 7  from row 1 for this, or any subsequent rows, always pull the string through BOTH the loop made from the string you just pulled across the underside of the 2nd spacer strip AND the top of the loop from the corresponding ‘stitch’ on the spacer strip below.

5. Repeat step 4 above until you have completed the row, ensuring that you have a loop on the 2nd spacer strip to correspond with every ‘stitch’ on the spacer strip below.

6. When you have completed the row, flip both spacer strips horizontally so that the underside is now the topside but the bottom and the top remain as they were (as you did to start the second row).

7. Gently slide the first spacer strip from the foundation row and use it to start work on the third row.

8. Continue adding rows until your work is the desired length.

Note: As you work, you will run out of string. Simply cut another length of string and knot it to the end of your previous string. To finish your looped string fabric, pull all the ends through the lace to hide the ends and ensure that your knots remain firm.

Is that any clearer than mud?? I know it can get a little confusing with all those ‘topsides’ and ‘undersides’ and ‘bottoms’ and all… but it is really very easy. And once you get the basic stitch under your belt it is just repeated over and over and over again (that is until I try some fun stuff with this same technique in a few days).  If I haven’t explained myself well enough, please don’t hesitate to ask me to be more clear – I would be happy to help try and make it more clear :)

So Now What?

Okay…. I haven’t mastered the whole looped yarn basic stitch yet, but I am very familiar with it.  And now that I have got the basics under my belt (so to speak), my next question, as always, is…  so now what?

This is a really loaded three word question.

What I really mean is… why did I try this? will I do it again? where can I use a technique like this? is there really any place that this type of technique will fit in today’s society? is it worth the time? is this all there is to the technique, or can more be done with it to make it even more applicable to the things that are important to us in North America in 2011? (If you will remember, I asked all of those things – and more – about tatting earlier last year too… I guess you can say I just have a lot of questions…)

In a nutshell… so now what?

And although I hate to admit it, I really don’t have any answers here. I enjoyed working with looped yarn. It was fun. It was easy. And, it worked up relatively quickly for a lace project.

Don’t get me wrong here, though, there are cons to this whole technique. When the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea use looped string techniques to make their Bilum, they use a particularly rough string that has absolutely no give or flexibility at all. They have found that this particular string and this particular technique makes a very durable and very practical bag. I don’t doubt it.

The first time I tried out the looped string, however, I tried it with something a little more accessible here in Canada – a sturdy, dishcloth cotton yarn. And it worked well to practice the technique (and even made a really pretty piece of lace), but it was overly stretchy and lacked any integrity to the lace. This doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good – it just means that finding a practical use for this version of the lace might be more difficult than I had previously thought.

The next time (and the next time, and the next time, etc) that I tried this same stitch, I experimented with different widths of spacer strips and different weights (and types) of yarns. I have some interesting thoughts to share (you’ll have to visit my next post to see what they are), but in the end, I am still stuck on the question…. so now what?

Give It a Try… Looped Yarn!

Okay…. I said I would give you some sort of instructions so that you can try this whole idea of twisted or looping yarn yourself… so I got out my yarn and my spacer bars and repeated what I did to make my piece of twisted yarn fabric (just to make sure that I knew what I did and could repeat it!) and here are the instructions. I would love to hear how it goes for you! (and to hear if you have any thoughts or changes you’d make to this project)

Oh – and remember – no previous experience in anything but threading a needle is required for this and there are no age requirements either… if you can thread a larg-holed plastic needle, then this project is for you (or your bored children…).

1. Measure and cut 2 spacer bar strips out of heavy cardboard, each measuring approximately 1/2 inch wide by 7 inches long (the wider your spacer strip, the more ‘lacy’ your fabric will become).

2. Cut a length of 4 ply sturdy yarn to approximately 3-4 yards in length. (Any longer and the string length becomes unmanageable and any shorter and you’ll be changing string too often).

3. Make a loop at one end of your string and hang this loop on the end of one of your spacer strips. Pull the loop tight to the strip.

4. Thread your large-holed plastic yarn needle through the long length of string remaining.

5. For these instructions, I will refer to the sides of the spacer strip as follows in the picture below. Make sure that the knot on your loop is at the bottom of your spacer strip – it will form the bottom of your work – and during your working, keep the spacer strip flat, topside up, with the bottom facing you.

6.Pull needle across the topside of the spacer strip from the bottom to the top, drawing the needle under the loop at the top of the spacer strip, from the left side of the loop to the right. (Be sure that you used the last loop formed – the one closest to you.

7. Pull needle across the underside of the spacer strip and through the loop at the bottom of the spacer strip made from the string you just pulled across the topside of the spacer strip.

8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 over and over until your work reaches the desired length.

Word of Caution: It is very important to use only the loops of the last stitch you created.

To start the next row, flip the spacer strip over horizontally so that the underside is now the topside, but the bottom and the top remain as they were.

And… now that we are ready to start the other side, this is a good time to break a long post into two… the ‘how-to’ for the rest of the rows will be posted tomorrow (sorry for the suspense…).

I’m More than a Little Surprised…


This whole looping string thing worked out much better than I could have ever expected when I started this little endeavour! The first time I tried it, if you can remember back that far, I had very little success and a whole lot of exasperation. This time, however, things went really, really, really well.

I must admit that after I completed the work on the first row, I was really very scared to start on the second row. I didn’t understand how it all worked, and the last time I tried, I got stuck with the second row…. And I never actually got to a third row… and I never even dreamt of a fourth row…

But this time, things were different. I don’t know if it was the time I spent pondering how this whole thing was going to work, or whether it was just easier the second time around…  but I am not going to wonder. I am going to celebrate the fact that it worked.

And four rows later, I have something that actually resembles fabric (even when I took all the supporting guides out).

So now, after all of this, I still really want to know what it will be like if I were to use smaller spacing guides. And the more I was working on this looping string thing, the more I wondered just what the best use of this type of fabric would be used for.

This looping string was easy. Really easy. You don’t need to know how to crochet or knit or anything. It is something different from all of this. All you need is a length of string, some solid cardboard cut to an appropriate size and a dull plastic yarn needle. And all I ended up doing was the same “stitch” over and over and over again. It was awkward at first, but 4 rows later, it was seamless and easy… and even my tension issues were becoming worked out. In the end I found that the more I did this repetitive stitch, the easier it became, the better it looked, and the rows were completed faster.

This was actually a lot of fun.

And I can’t wait to share my little instructions for this looping string thing with you! I will work to get those up here on the blog next week… but in the meantime, what would you use this looped string fabric for???