“A Little Bit Longer” M’s and O’s Baby Blanket

M’s and O’s Baby Blanket

We have a little problem. My sweet little granddaughter is quickly outgrowing the baby blanket I wove for her before she was born. She’s now 6 months old and when I wrap her up in her blanket to cuddle on the couch her little feet stick out. Yikes! We can’t have that! I think I need to return to the loom and weave a blanket that is a little bit longer.

Her first baby blanket was woven with 8/2 cotton using a twill weaving structure. I wove the blanket to be about 36 inches wide and 38 inches in length. For her new blanket, not only did I need to make it larger, I wanted to use a different structure and colors that I haven’t yet explored. I also wanted to experiment more with color and weave.

I’ve learned the hard way that it’s best to sample before putting a large project on the loom. I’m not always 100% confident in my color choices so not only does sampling allow me to make sure my sett is where I want it to be, it allows me to play with colors and see how they interact with each other. I put a two yard warp on one of my smaller looms using 6/2 cotton. I wanted to play around mostly with purple, teal and fuchsia so I put those colors in the warp along with colors I thought I may want to consider as well. I added lime, off white and dark blue blocks. For my accent “pop” colors I used 8/4 cotton in aquamarine and fuchsia. I used 14 epi as my sett. This is a sett I used for previous projects using 6/2 cotton and have been very happy with it and thought it would be perfect for this baby blanket. Let’s take a peek at my sample:

That’s just a little snippet from my sample. Not only did I play with colors, I played with design elements often using the Fibonacci sequence. Sampling this way allowed me to use colors and yarns I would not have used if I had a larger warp on and a purpose for the project. I had unexpected likes and some definite dislikes as well.

The M’s and O’s Structure

Let’s chat for a minute about the M’s and O’s weaving structure. It’s actually an interesting structure and super fun to weave. When weaving using 4 shafts, it’s a two block structure- Block A and Block B. In this particular pattern there are 8 ends per block (note: you can vary the length of the block by repeating or deleting the threading pattern). Block A is threaded 12123434 and Block B is threaded 13132424. To create the pattern block in the fabric, Block A is treadled 25252525 (8 pics) and to create the plain weave in Block A the treadling is 34343434 when using the tie up shown below. What you get is a block of plain weave alternating with a block of pattern weave consisting of floats.

Now let’s see what that looks like on the loom under tension and then off the loom after washing. The first picture is the fabric on the loom. When weaving, it’s really difficult to imagine that the fabric would turn out to be much of anything.

Here is the same area of fabric after washing. Amazing, right? What happens is the plain weave area pushes the fabric out and the pattern blocks containing the floats pull in creating an O. This also creates a texture to the fabric which I absolutely LOVE. It’s incredible how different the fabric looks once it’s washed.

There are a few other nuisances about this structure that are worth mentioning. Let’s first address incorporating plain weave into the threading. Because of the threading and treadling, it’s not possible to have true plain outside of the blocks. You may want to consider this as you design your fabric. So if you want a hem with as close to true plain weave as possible then you won’t be able to use plain weave in your selvages or your accent stripes. In my sample I did not incorporate plain weave into the warp. In the final blanket I used plain weave for the accent stripes. Let’s look at the sample first. Remember, the M’s and O’s threading pattern for the sample was used for the entirety of the fabric. As you can see I have a very close version of true plain weave in the hem. In the adjacent picture I wove plain weave into the weft for the accent stripes. There are areas where the weft yarn goes over or under a few warp floats, but it’s really close to plain weave and the variation looks really good.

Now for the final blanket warp, I opted use plain weave for the teal and fuchsia accent stripes. I get a totally different effect. First look at the hem. Where there exists plain weave in the warp, the yarn actually travels over the four accent warp floats creating a pretty prominent ridge in the fabric. I was not expecting this and was actually quite concerned about it as I was weaving it on the loom. After washing it was fine and I’m considering it an interesting design element. Now take a peek at what happens within the body of the fabric when plain weave is woven over the plain weave accent stripes. There again is a pretty long float. Yikes! Probably not ideal for an infant blanket, but I think it’ll be okay for a toddler blanket. We’ll just have to see if it’s prone to snagging.

The selvages in a M’s and O’s structure can be tricky as well. If you thread plain weave along the selvage edges, your selvages will be straight. Just remember, if you incorporate plain weave into the warp, you’ll have a different effect when weaving plain weave into your weft. If you opt to not use plain weave for the selvages, you’ll get pretty prominent scalloped edges. You’ll have to choose what to do- it’s a give and take. Personally, I love the scalloped edge look and choose to accentuate the scalloped edge by using four heavier (8/4 cotton) threads in a “pop” color. Here’s a picture of the accentuated selvages for the current blanket as well as another blanket I wove earlier.

My M’s and O’s Blankets

With my sample complete, I chose my favorite elements and started to design. For this project I relied on the Fibonacci sequence and decided to use a division of space of three using purple, fuchsia and teal as the primary colors for the warp. It’s an asymmetrical design incorporating coordinating colored stripes. The stripes also reflect the Fibonacci sequences as I used the numbers of 2, 3 and 5 in ascending sequence. I used 6/2 cotton at a sett of 14 epi. For the stripes within the warp and throughout the weft, for the aquamarine and fuchsia accents I used 8/4 cotton. To add even more texture, at times I would even throw two pics in the same shed. For example for the border, I threw a single pic of 8/4 aquamarine followed by 2 pics of 8/4 fuchsia, 1 pic of aquamarine, 2 pics of fuchsia and one pic of aquamarine.

There were 536 ends in the warp not including the 4 selvage threads on each edge. The warp was 38.2 inches in the reed. I wove 68 inches not including the 4 inches on each side woven in 8/2 cotton for the hem.

After washing the blanket was 53 inches in length and 32 inches wide. This calculated to shrinkage of 22% in length and 15% in width.

The second blanket clearly falls into the category of “what in the world was I thinking?” I’m really trying to go outside my comfort zone with colors and design and I think I took the “going out of the comfort zone” way too far specifically in the design realm. The problem was was that I was trying to do too much. It just kind of vomits color and weave elements. For this blanket I was trying to design as I wove and it backfired. If I sketched it out on my weaving software I think I would have realized it come off as too stripey. Lesson learned.

After washing, the fabric measured 68 inches long. It’s way too long for a blanket. Margot’s little feet would be covered with tons of fabric to spare. Also, I just don’t like all the stripes. This was an experiment gone off the rails. Although I’m not using the fabric as a blanket I’m going to use it as a bath towel. I’d like to test out how 6/8 cotton works as an everyday towel.

Here are pictures of the blankets. I only wish the colors would pop in the photos as they do in real life.

Blanket One:

Blanket Two:

Now sweet Margot has a blanket that will cover her toes.

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