I am finally getting back to weaving after a significant interruption with work and life in general. Three more months of work left before I can weave and make pens anytime I want.
What I have started working on are the side panels for a bag that I have already posted the body of in an earlier post. It will still be a while before you see the finished bag. It is a calibration with my wife Kari so she will be making the lining and adding some embellishments!
Today I am also ordering a new loom. The last one that I will need for a long time. It is a Harrisville Designs 36 inch, 8 shaft floor loom that I have had my eye on for a long time. I ordered the kit so there will be “some assembly required”! When it arrives and I have the time and space to put it together I will do an un-boxing and share my experience with the assembly for those that might be considering doing the same thing!
During my first class at Woven Art the teacher mentioned another class that she teaches on weaving with “rags” on a rigid heddle loom. This is something I had been told couldn’t be done. The over riding opinion on the subject seemed to be that you could only weave with rags on a sturdy floor loom because of the abuse the loom takes when beating the rag weft into the warp. Our teacher had found a method of weaving rags that worked well on a rigid heddle loom and she would be teaching a class later in the summer. She showed us a sample and I signed up immediately! After having woven the rug in Allegan this was something I really wanted to try. I had the rug bug.
Again, I waited the agonizing weeks until the class, got up at the crack of dawn and drove the hour to Lansing Michigan. However this time we were instructed to purchase our yarn ahead of time. The instructions recommended 3/2 mercerized cotton and told us to warp our looms before coming to class. We were to pick a fabric and cut it into strips according to the directions provided. We were told that using a batik fabric would be best for getting consistent color.
Now, while I was getting more and more comfortable warping my loom, cutting fabric strips was another ball game. That required lots of instruction and encouragement from my bride. I couldn’t talk her into cutting it for me of course. In the end, I survived the experience and arrived at class with everything I needed in tow!
The instructor started the class by checking all of our warps and fabric strips. We had all followed the directions well and we were ready to weave. This is a very simple technique so weaving wasn’t difficult. The trick, because we were using rigid heddle looms, was in how to beat the weft into place on this type of loom. Everything else we needed to know we had learned in the previous class so we were off. Once we learned the technique for beating the warp and had woven enough to be sure we knew what we were doing we could leave. By the time I left I had woven about a quarter of the final piece.
The bottom line here is, I found a technique that I really like, I can create some beautiful color and contrast with and that I have become fairly proficient at. I can keep the weft consistently tight and the edges straight. Creating something useful and beautiful is a great feeling! It is fabulous to watch the piece come to life and to experience of the final look of the material. You never quite know what the final color will be until you see the weft material compressed into the warp. it is alway a wonderful surprise! This has opened lots of possibilities from rugs, to table runners and bags and the opportunities for creating with color seem endless.
I am sure we will see more of this!
My first loom was a Schacht Spindle Co. Cricket loom which my bride gave to me for my birthday following our trip to Allegan (See “In the Beginning”). She chose it because of its portability and quality. One of the things I would like to be able to do going forward is to take a project along when we travel.
The loom came with a sample scarf project. The yarn was not the color I would have chosen but it was a great way to start out and learn to warp and weave on my own. I watched a couple of Youtube videos on warping a rigid heddle loom. There are several good ones. The one I liked the best was created by Schacht. It turns out that with a little practice warping on a rigid heddle is fairly simple and quick.
So I was off and weaving on my own loom. Once I started it went pretty fast and for a first project the results were ok.
So, I bought another loom. I thought at some point I would want to weave something a little wider than 10 inches so I purchased a 25 inch Schacht Flip rigid heddle loom. Both of my looms were purchased from The Spinning Loft (http://thespinningloft.com). At about the same time we were visiting one of our favorite places on earth, Black Mountain, NC. While in town we visited a new fiber arts gallery called Nice Threads (http://www.nicethreadsgallery.com) and got to talking to one of the owners about weaving. In the course of the conversation she recommended that I check out a store in Lansing Michigan called Woven Art (http://www.yarnandfiberart.com) for classes to accelerate my learning as a weaver.
As soon as I got home from North Carolina I contacted Woven Art, connected with a teacher for a rigid heddle class, confirmed that I should bring my own loom to class and waited the agonizing several weeks until the class.
When class day arrived I was up at the crack of dawn and on the road for my hour drive to Lansing Michigan to learn to weave. There were only four of us in the class so we all had the attention we needed to get our looms warped and start to weave.
We spent the day weaving and getting pointers about tension, salvage, etc. and how to keep our work looking consistent. The teacher had infinite patience for all of our questions. We were all beginners and all working with different materials. Mine was wool which I picked out and purchased just before class. They have a large selection of yarn at Woven Art. I had very little time to look so I didn’t end up with something as brightly colored as I would have liked but purple is my favorite color so I was good to go.
When it came time to leave we all had weaving left to do. So we were going to have to fly solo and finish at home. Over the next couple of weeks I found time to sit down and weave and I finished the project and cut it off the loom. I got it washed and blocked and ended up with something I am quite proud of. It is a really good feeling to create something that is useful and attractive with your own hands! And winter was coming…
I am seriously interested in the Fiber Arts, specifically weaving, something that I began learning about as a child in grade school. I was very fortunate to have attended Henry Ford’s Edison Institute and Greenfield Village Schools in Dearborn Michigan, my home town. Today it is called “The Henry Ford” and is open to the public. It is billed as America’s greatest history attraction. It was a fabulous place to learn, especially history, and we were surrounded with wonderful examples of ordinary people who had done extraordinary things which was Henry’s point.
One of the places we went for art class was the “weaving building” which was filled with big floor looms on which we wove our tiny little projects.
I can still remember the feeling of awe, as a small, child seeing, feeling and hearing the incredible steam shuttle loom in action and the amazing Jacquard loom. What an incredible machine!
It has been a dream of mine to continue learning to weave ever since. It is something I have shared with my wife many times during our nearly 30 years of marriage usually saying something like, I should get a loom and learn to weave!
A year ago in March, for my birthday, my wife surprised me with a trip to Allegan, Michigan to visit the Baker Allegan Studios.
This is a place where the sell art of many kinds, weaving supplies, looms, weaving classes and rent time on looms.
Kari had reserved time on a large floor loom for me to weave a rag rug. It was an absolutely wonderful experience and the rug has been in and honored place in our living room ever since. As you can see it is a favorite spot for our cats to take a break!
I was hooked! Kari gave me a Schacht Spindle Co. Cricket Loom for my birthday that year. Later in the year I purchased a Schacht Spindle Co. Flip rigid heddle loom so that I could weave some larger projects. So, this trip was all I needed to fire up my life long desire to learn to weave. I was on my way!
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