Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Look, No Hands!

I recently decided to take a class on how to weave on a rigid heddle loom, for a few reasons. There's been a lot of weaving talk here lately, what with some weavers on our staff (Gwen Steege, Pam Art) and in our author pool (Gail Callahan, Kristin Nicholas), and I used to work at a very large yarn store that had a specialty in weaving fibers and looms (WEBS, America's Yarn Store, right in my adopted hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts).

You all are aware by now that I love fiber crafts and I like learning new things, but with a full-time job, the travel involved, and two very energetic boys (and that dog!), I often don't have time to do anything but wish I had more time. But a friend convinced me that a weekend workshop on this particular type of loom would be a walk in the park and that, by the end of the day, I'd have a scarf ready made and I'd know some basic weaving techniques. Rigid heddle looms are pretty small and self-contained compared to floor looms — I'd often been put off from learning to weave by the sheer size of the equipment and the amount of coned yarns that accompany most weaving.

Well, I'm here to say that this rigid heddle thing is THE BOMB. It's small, it sits on a table, it takes minimal prep work to set up your pattern (and by pattern I mean the most basic thing in the world, just back and forth, back and forth) . . . and with some lovely hand-dyed yarn tossed off by Gail Callahan, the Kangaroodyer and author of our forthcoming Hand Dyed Yarn and Fleece, I was able to make this lovely, lovely scarf:

I was so intrigued by how the warp (the yarn you attach to the loom before you begin your woven pattern) and the weft (the yarn that goes back and forth on a shuttle, to make the actual fabric) made a hypnotic, even garment, with minimal effort. Now I'm going to take some private lessons on an actual floor loom (doesn't it look HUGE?) with Gail, and hopefully, although it takes more time to warp and dress (don't I sound important? that just means putting the warp, the beginning yarn, onto the loom itself to prepare for the actual weaving) the loom, I'll have a set of place mats for my dining room table in a few days, as opposed to the months it's now taking me to knit a sweater for my son. Fingers crossed!

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