Ask Madelyn: Uses for Loom Waste
Last week’s column about loom waste produced many inspiring suggestions from readers. Here are some of them:
I have a friend who does needle felting, and I give her all my waste yarn. If the fiber is wool, she uses these bits to add detail to her felting. If the yarn is acrylic, she uses it to stuff inside items that need stuffing. Perhaps your readers have a felting friend to whom they can pass on their scraps.
My friend, Marie-Jeanne, who has been weaving for a long time, uses her loom waste, preferably cotton, to make dishmops. She bundles the yarns, fixes them to a wood dowel, and carefully crochets, directly on them, a “cap,” to hold the threads at the top. They are always beautiful with a mix of colors. She weaves a lot of dishtowels, so it goes well with them.
In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, there is a store that takes all sorts of donated items of craft waste, remains of skeins, watercolors, etc., for crafters and art teachers to use. Kay and others might want to contact their public/private school art teachers to see if they can use loom waste. Alternatively, some art quilters might want them. If one has the patience and finger dexterity, one can knot the waste yarns and use them in Saori weaving.
I only have a simple rigid-heddle loom and am only a self-taught beginner so I don’t generate the quantity of waste you would get with the more complex looms. I do however hate throwing anything away, so finding myself with a bag of assorted leftover “bits,” I did some experimenting. I got out my fleece carders and basically took the loom waste back to its original state and then spun it back into more yarn. I don’t have enough waste to get a repeatable colorway but this doesn’t really worry me as I’m only using it for further experiments like the small crocheted purse shown here. By the way, this waste was a complete mixture—-wool, synthetics, and the odd cotton—-I used the lot as long as it could be carded.
When I have time but lack the raw materials for (and money to buy raw materials for) a new project, I warp my loom with a few yards of leftover yarn (from cones, bobbins, or skeins) for a warp that will result in a cloth that is about 3 to 4 inches wide. I can warp several of these warp groups on the loom at the same time, leaving a couple of inches between them. I then weave my pieces of waste yarn into them leaving a fringe of over an inch on each side. If I have several of these warp groups on the loom, I just go across the row, putting one waste yarn in each “warp,” allowing fringe on both the sides of each. When I have woven a square, I hem stitch all four sides of each square just as I would do if I wanted a fringe on a placemat. Then I leave a few inches of unwoven warp and start over with new squares. When I take these warps off the loom, I use a rotary cutter to tidy all four sides of each square for coasters or “mug rugs.” What I can’t use in my own house, I send to my daughter, the potter. She keeps some for her own use and uses the rest to display her merchandise at craft fairs.
I used leftover chenille as weft for a weft-faced a rug (or in this case a loom bench pad)!