Warp And Weft

I am now the owner of a 24-inch four-harness table loom. It’s missing the shuttle and I believe a heddle hook, but apart from that it’s in usable shape. It’s very similar to this model, only older and a bit more rustic. An elderly friend of the ADZO family passed away recently and left no local family. She was a weaver, and had three (three? two?) full-size looms set up in her split-level home. She was a member of the Lakeshore Weavers Guild, who came in and took the full-size looms. The ADZO family went over yesterday and was told to take whatever of her things they liked. One of the things they mentioned seeing was a tiny loom in a back corner of the storage room.

My maternal grandfather was a weaver. I have a set of curtains he wove hanging in my office (which can be seen in these pictures). One of the atmospheric things I remember the most clearly about his house in Farnham was the entire room he had upstairs filled with his floor loom, his wools, and his equipment. Over the past couple of years I’ve planned to at some point learn how to use a drop spindle to spin my own wool, as part of a spiritual and meditative practice. Ideally, once I’d worked on that for a while, I’d move into weaving with the yarn I’d created. I like the sense of taking up a craft that’s been in my family.

It seems that the universe has decided to switch things up for me a bit.

Jen called and told the executors that she’d found someone who wanted the table loom if it was still available, and so ADZO and I went over this morning to collect it. There was a member of the weavers guild there too, and she asked me if I was interested in joining. I told her quite honestly that I had no time at the moment but a beginner’s workshop at some point would definitely interest me, so I got as much information from her as I could. Before we left she rummaged through some bags and gave me three huge spindles of synthetic yarn to dye and play with.

A 24-inch loom is tiny. You can’t do huge projects on them, unless you intend to patch your work together somehow. They’re pretty limited to table runners, place mats, scarves, that sort of thing. But it’s not the products I’m interested in so much as the process. There is so much spiritual metaphor and simile encapsulated in the process of weaving, as well as the attractive notion of doing something meditative with the hands that doesn’t feel like a waste of time. And as I said above, there’s the family connection that makes it all the more special for me.

I suspect that I’ll invest in a stand with treadles when I get around to using it seriously, because using hand levers to shift the harnesses slows you down a lot. You only have two hands, after all, and they’re already passing the shuttle back and forth and operating the beater.

So I have a whole new set of things to research and read about. (Plant dyeing! Patterns! Techniques! History!) It’s not pressing. I’m looking forward to it.

(What am I talking about? Wikipedia has entries on looms, heddles (which are set in a harness), and weaving in general to help you out.)

5 thoughts on “Warp And Weft

  1. jan

    Erk. Amanda has asked me to do some more work for the company she’s working for (the person I was replacing is, understandably, not yet over her pneumonia)… So on Tuesday and Wednesday I’m working from home for her, as and when things some in. I’m wondering if it would be possible for Blade to give me access to the wireless at yours? That way I could still come over, and work on the stuff for A. or my own stuff, depending… I do want to see your loom, and your bike! (And to talk to you about sheep and wool and plant dyes and mordants and drop spindles!)

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  2. Jo

    Congrats on the loom. Fiber Fever, heh. I have a similar model myself and the stand/treadles make weaving a LOT faster. Don’t underestimate the possibilities of the smaller looms. If you decide to try some finer EPI (ends per inch) drafts (patterns) you’d be surprised at how much you can pack into that space. Enjoy!

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