12 March 2011

Weaving as therapy

Weaving is good therapy. It goes quickly, so you feel productive, and it’s actually fairly physical – there’s a lot of movement involved, passing the shuttle back and forth through the warp threads, and there’s the very emphatic bash of the beater bar on the finished fabric. It’s probably a sign of the bad shape I’m in that I warm up quite a bit while working at the loom, and if I do a long stretch of weaving, I can feel it in my arms later on.
Still, I’m in need of all the therapy I can get these days, so I warped up the loom to try a simple blanket project.
I used a new technique for warping the loom, after getting some ideas from rigid heddle weavers. I ran cotton warp from a spinning wheel to the loom, up through the reed, the heddle, and over the top metal bar lashed to the warp beam … then back down in reverse and to the spinning wheel, where I cut off the thread and tied it to a bamboo pole laid on the floor and wedged in place. I continued until I ran out of warp, and ended with about 24” on the loom. I held tension on the threads while The Boy helped wind onto the beam, and voila - warp in place. Much easier than anything I’ve done before.

The weft started life a hideous salmon pink, but it was nice and soft (for acrylic) and the price was right – I got the whole bag for about $6 at the thrift store. It overdyed nicely with Rit in the crock pot, and turned into shades vaguely reminiscent of cherry cola. The variations in colour show nicely in the finished weaving, though it’s in a few blocks as I didn’t bother interspersing from the various skeins that took up dye differently.
When weaving on the tapestry loom, the shed is upright, so you can't really toss a boat shuttle through the way you can when it's horizontal. I use big metal knitting needles for shuttles: I put the tip in the chuck of the drill, wrap the skein around the handles of the foozeball table so it can unwind freely off one end, and then load up the knitting needle with the drill. It goes pretty fast, and although my makeshift yarn swift sometimes hiccups and needs a helping hand to get the skein to unwind cleanly, the price is certainly right. The long knitting needles mean that I can pass the shuttle through without having to put too much stress on the end warp threads, even on a fairly wide warp such as this one.

The finished fabric is a close-to-balanced weave, fairly light, and open as I used 8 epi and the weft yarn is pretty light. I used a variation of hemstitching for the first time too, and liked how that worked - I’ll try to get better at it. :)

My step daughter will be getting this for her birthday in May. She loves everything pink, and the varying shades of pink purple and red in this will make her happy. She doesn’t surf the web yet, so I can tell you now. ;)


  1. Anonymous6:08 pm

    That is truly lovely. And I like that it hangs with the lady at the wheel as a backdrop. I remember that piece of pottery from my past.

  2. It is frequently pointed out to me that the way I have those pottery pieces on the wall makes it look like the boy's aiming his rifle at the girl at the wheel: "Spin faster! C'mon, I need socks!"

    I keep thinking I should swap them, then it makes me laugh and I leave them where they are. :)

  3. I think of you often 'L' and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that 'Grandma Shirley' has found a home...but not just any home...your home. From what I can see, my mom would have fallen head over heals for your place...she would have loved everything! *I grew up on an acreage that was run much like a hobby farm...chickens, sheep, turkeys, cows that jumped fences, dogs, cats...mice! I would love to come by for a visit with my girls one day this spring or sometime over the summer...maybe with the long lost spindle??? I have found the missing piece but am unable to get to it...the BIG reno has begun and certain areas, for right now, have been blocked off. Once I'm able to get back in I'll let you know...and maybe we can come visit you and 'Grandma Shirley'...whom I am certain had a hand in finding you! xo J

  4. Jeri, we would love to have you come out! We have baby lambs now, and there's even one that's taking a bottle ... the girls could feed her. :)

    How exciting that your reno has started - and that you found the spindle! Yay! Do send me a note when you're able to get your hands on it ... we'll arrange a visit (just bring rubber boots, it's MUDDY!), and I can show your kids what spinning wheels do, and the loom (if I have it warped up), and they can pet the cow and chase the chickens and get dirty like farm kids.

    I'm honoured to have Grandma Shirley's wheel in my home! I'm so glad you think your mom would approve. Makes me all warm inside, truly, it does. :)

  5. That is beautiful!!! Way to go dear lady!!!


Comments have been opened up for immediate posting - the spam filters seem to be doing their job pretty well, thankfully. I love hearing from you, thanks for taking the time to post a comment!