Pin Looms and Dragons and Sheep (Oh My!)

I’m constantly amazed at what can be done with pin-loom squares. During the 30s and 40s innovative weavers turned these little squares into stylish coats, dapper hats, and so much more. Though pin looms went out of fashion for a while, they are back in the spotlight as a new generation of weavers are using them to create some truly marvelous projects. In this post, pin-loom pro Deb Essen writes about how she looked at these little squares and saw turtles, sheep, and even a dragon. —Christina


Dagmar the dragon

Pin looms have been around for a very long time, and as a result, so has the question, “What do I make with these little squares?”

In 2013, Schacht Spindle Company released the Zoom Loom, their version of the pin loom I loved the new loom design: it’s easy to hold, comes with a great instruction booklet, has directional pointers on the loom itself, and a great little storage case. I decided to create kits using the little four inch squares.

As I wove practice squares, I discovered that pin looms love the elasticity of knitting yarns. I use Mountain Color Yarns in some of my weaving kits and began experimenting with their yarn sizes, colors, and textures, contemplating what to make with the little squares. Scarfs, bags, shawls, placemats, runners–all good uses for the squares–felt a little uninspired for a kit design.

As I wove a green square, a thought went through my head: “I wonder if I can make a turtle?” My first attempt looked more like an armadillo than a turtle, but a bit more experimentation and the Swatch Critters were born.

I love those puzzles where you put different shapes together to make designs. People and animals are really a combination of basic shapes: circles, squares, triangles, cones, and rectangles. Putting these shapes together in different configurations creates heads, bodies, arms, and legs.

Shelby the sheep

Shelby the sheep

Two of my favorite critters are Shelby the Sheep and Dagmar the Dragon (all critters are named for towns in their home state of Montana.) Shelby is a “low stress” critter because even if you make a mistake weaving or sewing the squares together, you are going to cover her with fleece anyway! Dagmar is a favorite because . . . well, everyone should have their own dragon.

If you can sew a button or a hem, you can make a Swatch Critter. Everything you need (pattern, yarn, pipe cleaners) is included in the Swatch Critter kit. Stuffing is not included so you can choose your favorite fiber and desired firmness.

But the best part about the Critters? They make people smile and that is a very good thing.


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