My M’s and O’s Baby Blanket

Do you have a certain weaving structure that you are just drawn to? For me, that’s M’s and O’s. I’m not sure exactly why but the texture that’s formed with the adjacent plain weave and rib weave blocks is just amazing. It’s so incredible the difference between the weaving that’s created at the loom and the fabric that’s formed after washing. It was because of this texture that I wanted to give M’s and O’s a try to make a few baby blankets.

What is the M’s and O’s Weaving Structure?

The M’s and O’s weave structure is a structure that combines plain weave blocks with rib weave blocks and when washed, there is a distortion in the fabric which creates a wonderful and unique texture. When finished, the plain weave section pushes out and the rib weave section pulls in forming a kind of “O” in the fabric where the plain weave lives. Although not as obvious, the “M” comes in the rib weave area. There are essentially two blocks in a M’s and O’s weaving structure. Look at the threading and treadling below and see how they interact to make the plain weave area and rib weave area.

Planning for My M’s and O’s Baby Blanket

For these baby blankets I will be using 6/2 cotton for the majority of the blanket. 6/2 cotton is becoming my all time favorite yarn for creating anything soft and squishy. It’ll be perfect for this project.

I wanted to create a woodland vibe with this project so I opted to use more neutral colors having the rust orange as the “pop” color. The colors I used were Sienna (burnt orange) and Natural both purchased from the Yarn Barn of Kansas and Chestnut and Dusty Miller from the Woolery.

I plan to use 8/2 cotton in neutral for the hem. Especially with fabrics that gather in during the wash, it’s important to use a thinner yarn for the hem. With the amount of puckering with the M’s and O’s structure I actually wasn’t sure that 8/2 was thin enough, but it actually worked out fine. The other yarn that was used in this project was 8/4 brown. This is where it gets fun! I used the 8/4 yarn (so a thicker yarn) between the sections of the bands to create a wave effect. Let’s take a quick peek of the fabric on the loom:

One thing to note is that the two pics are thrown in the same shed of plain weave followed by a section of pattern and then two pics of brown again thrown twice in the alternate shed of plain weave. This is what is looks like on the draft.

The result is a very cool and accentuated wave effect in your fabric. I love how the darker, thicker color defines each block section. This is what it looks like in the washed fabric. Love it!!

Now that we have the yarn all in order and how we’re going to use specific yarns, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty. After sampling, I chose to use a sett of 14 epi. Because of the puckering effect, I know there’s going to be more shrinkage than typical so I added a few more inches in the width and length. I ended up using 576 warp ends which translated into a width of 41.14 inches. In addition, I added 8 ends (4 on each side) as a floating selvage. Yep, that’s right- 4 ends as a floating selvage. So this is why. The selvages for this structure is actually very interesting- it kind of forms a scallop. This is because when the blocks are lined up on top of each other, the plain weave block pushes out and the rib weave blocks pulls in creating a scallop effect. Here’s a close up of the selvage after washing.

Some people are very attached to straight selvages, but I think this looks super interesting and I love it. By using a “pop” color and adding thickness, for example 4 warp ends, you can accentuate this feature.

As a side note, the ideas of using a thicker yarn to create the wave effect and the accent color/4 warp ends for the selvage is from Jane Stafford’s School of Weaving. I’m working my way through her classes and picking up tons of helpful ideas- especially for design.

Now for the actual design. I relied on my old friend, Fibonacci, to help with this design. If you’re not familiar with using the Fibonacci sequence in designing original weaving fabric, be sure to visit my blog post The Fibonacci Sequence in Weaving. To create the design, I used the Fibonacci sequence numbers of 8, 5 and 3 for the bands. The middle section of 9 is not a Fibonacci number, but that’s certainly okay. For this band I wanted the outside colors to be the same.

Just a quick thing about the hem. For some structures, such is the case with M’s and O’s, it’s not possible to have straight plain weave. So, you have to figure out a way to get as close as you can. This is the draft I used for the hem.

For the first blanket I wove it according to the above pattern with the goal of weaving it at 14 ppi. As I wove, I had a feeling the blanket was going to end up being longer than I intended so I remeasured my ppi and I was actually weaving probably around 14 1/2 to 15 ppi. The width of the blanket measures 41 1/4 inches in the reed and 39 inches in the reed with the take up. Once taken off the loom (not under tension), the blanket measured 38 3/4 inches wide and 47 inches in length. After washing, this blanket measured 33 inches in width and 41 inches in length. So with the gathering and shrinkage, we lost 14% in width and 12% in length. As a side note, I am not including the hem in these measurements.

As I wasn’t too exact with my ppi for the first blanket, I had to make a few changes for the second blanket as I would be running out of warp. For the second blanket, I used the same pattern however took out the 9 bands in the middle. So off the loom and not under tension, blanket two measured 38 3/4 inches in width and 40 1/2 inches in length. After washing, the blanket was 33 inches in width and 35 inches in length.

One of the things I find fascinating about the M’s and O’s weaving structure is how very different the fabric looks like on the loom compared to when it’s washed and finished. Just take a peek at this picture of what the fabric looks like on the loom. With a sett of 14 epi weaving at 14 ppi there are large open spaces between the warp and weft threads. Once washed, these all shrink together to make a soft and squishy blanket with an interesting texture.

Although the blankets are different in size, I love both of them. The longer one I may gift to a toddler and the shorter one to a newborn. Woven with 6/2 cotton at 14 epi, the blankets have such a nice drape and are incredibly soft. I think this sett was perfect for the project. For next time, I may want to consider only using the natural in the warp and weft instead of alternating the natural and the dusty miller.

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