First Time Weaver

Slow. Methodical. Rhythmic. Quiet. Calm. Meditative. Weaving is nice. That is, I would say weaving is soothing to my soul, if the cliché sound of that didn’t rob it of its truth. A month ago I didn’t know my warp from my weft, but now I’m hooked.

It all started so innocently. Really, I was just skimming through my old pins on pinterest, and I happened across this little project for weaving patches from fiber artist Karen Barbé. It just looked like something that offered so many possibilities. When I experienced a huge yarn windfall a few weeks later, it was a sign. I had to try weaving. So I made one of those little patches. But, of course, I didn’t have a large tapestry needle, and trying to weaving with a piece of yarn tied around a piece of cardboard is, well, it’s not a joyful experience, and the results showed that.

From there, I took a step back and decided to assess just how feasible this weaving thing would be for me, given my limited supplies. When I was a teenager, whenever one of these creative urges came up, I would head to the library and gather a bunch of informative books. But well, a library is not a thing here, so it’s just me and the Internet joining forces on this. Fortunately, the Internet has come a long way since I was a teenager, and there were a fair amount of resources available to get me thoroughly in over my head.

Here’s a sketch up of what my preliminary research got me thinking about.

Complex, huh? Yeah, that’s what I mean about possibilities. If you’re doubting the versatility of this medium, check this out (turn the volume off if annoying music bothers you). Just one example of what can be done with weaving.

So, having educated myself a little bit on this amazing medium, I decided that I needed to give it another try. I thought about trying a cardboard loom, but without the aforementioned needle, it would be just as painful as my first sally into weaving. I decided to try using backstrap loom weaving techniques on a frame loom. I didn’t have a frame, so I tied some sticks together. My first try was with some smooth branches from the back yard, but the morning after lashing everything together, I found a new pile of sawdust next to my creation, a night’s work of some voracious termites.

I almost gave up, but then I happened to notice some smooth, straight sticks of driftwood lining the margins of the beach we frequent, and decided to try those, hoping that the salt water had rendered them a little less palatable to my invertebrate neighbors.

I left the pieces whole, and just tied them together.

I warped the loom.

And started tying the heddles.

And then I learned that it’s not a great idea to leaving your delicate project in the same room with a “napping” toddler.

And then, after finishing tying all those heddles,

I found out the string heddles don’t work with fuzzy wool yarn very well. The strings were kind of “dry felting” themselves together, and the heddles couldn’t make a clear shed (place to pass the weft thread).

I had been attracted to the backstrap weaving technique because it required no special tools. But when that didn’t work out, I had to fashion some basic tools, like a comb and bobbin.

It didn’t work out quite as I had hoped, but it was a fun, relaxing learning experience.

Here’s the end result.

It was pretty loosely woven, so I decided to felt it.

It shrunk 2 inches in width and 4 inches in length, but its all soft and lovely.

And it has already found a higher calling as a horsey blanket.

I’m doing some more research now to see how I can improve the process with my limited resources. Hopefully I’ll have something on my driftwood loom soon.

ps. I’m linking this up at Skip to My Lou.