As I was plugging away on my daily yard of the Circus Blanket, listening to podcasts and trying to be as ergonomic as possible so as to save my back and wrists, I was thinking about why I weave. Those of you who know me through this blog or in person for only a few years might think that I don’t really weave much at all. Which is true, but only relatively recently. The truth is I have lots of weaving yarns and expensive tools and even ideas of what I’d like to make but I just haven’t gotten around to it. I kind of got out of the habit or just lost interest for awhile. For me that’s usually merely temporary because I cycle through different crafts, slowly or quickly, but rarely give up something forever. That’s why I never get rid of my equipment or materials. You never know when the bug will bite again. I actually used to weave a lot. You can tell because it’s all over my house and I make use of it every day: curtains, rugs, tea towels, napkins, placemats, runners, scarves, vests, jackets, coats and more. And at night I sleep under my blanket.
I’ve been weaving for a very long time, since the 1970’s in fact. I started with simple things: pin-weaving on cardboard, belt weaving, simple frames with nails hammered in (crookedly!) and even a forked branch. The lumpy funky earthy stuff was very popular back then. It went well with my first thick and thin handspun dyed in a canning pot in the kitchen. (My kids called it Mom’s wool soup.) I taught some of these off-loom or simple frame loom techniques at the local community centre and I remember several students being disappointed that I wasn’t going to teach them on a floor loom. I didn’t have one (yet) and the centre had no budget and nowhere to put one or the (preferably) several they would need for that type of class. And have I mentioned that I was totally self-taught? I never attended a weaving class taught by someone else until I had been weaving for years!
Eventually of course I couldn’t resist the temptation to weave bigger and faster and got a floor loom. Since I was still fairly unfamiliar with weaving equipment it was total crap, hand-built by somebody’s dad out of light flexible pine. I didn’t know any better and was happy to have something “real” to weave on. It was so lightweight it literally walked across the floor when I was beating in the weft. I kept having to push it back or risk being beaten off my bench. The beater also flexed making a straight cloth rather difficult to achieve but I still managed to make quite a number of items on it before I got a much better loom loaned to me. A long-time member of my weaver’s guild (yes I finally found it!) was rebuilding her house and needed to store a small 8-shaft Leclerc Minerva jack loom for a couple of years. Yes, please! I made a lot more things on that little 24” loom and learned about pattern weaving on 8-shafts. I also borrowed another Leclerc, a 4-shaft counterbalance this time, for another couple of years. In 1989 I finally had saved enough money to buy a good loom, an 8-shaft 45” wide Woolhouse Gertrude countermarche. This is the same loom I use most often today though I also have a 12-shaft Woolhouse Carolyn 23” wide table loom on a floor-stand and an older 24” wide 4-shaft Rasmussen table loom (which currently resides at Milady Daughter’s). And of course there is a whole collection of other needed equipment such as reeds, warping boards, shuttles, bobbins, bobbin winders, temples, etc. The stuff just accumulates. Yes, it does.
Through the years of weaving exploration I discovered the types of things I prefer to weave. I love lots of colour but also enjoy weaving complex structures — unfortunately both at the same time can create kind of a hash. (Ask me how I know!) As my old friend weaving teacher and editor Madelyn van der Hoogt says, you’re either a colour/texture weaver or a pattern/structure weaver. I tend to mostly be the latter but I’d like to hope I have more colour sense than most pattern/structure people. Of course you can’t tell any of that by my current project! It’s sort of a dog’s breakfast. I mean, a Circus! (Cue the calliope music.) Ahem.
As Syne Mitchell, podcaster (WeaveCast), editor (WeaveZine), and science-fiction book author, says: “You have to be warped to weave.”
In between weaving sessions (and avoiding the vacuuming), I’m nearly finished the Stargazer Sweater, which seems rather long and lean for a child’s sweater. I made the length of both the body and sleeves a half-inch shorter than the pattern said but it might have been better an inch shorter still. I can always hope that he’ll grow into the length before he grows out of the width. Meanwhile the sleeves can be rolled up.
I also have been having a ball crocheting tawashi. I still haven’t exhausted my two balls of Japanese yarn and have 4 done so far. There’s the Spiral Scrubbie:
And another Linked-Rings, this one with a hanging loop:
And I like this one a lot:
It makes a great keyboard duster! (Free pattern here.) I’d like to get one more Spiral out of the yarn before I run out.