Since Charlie and I entered the fiber world, we have seen a lot of weaving things. I wove one very bad hot pad when I was a kid, and that’s the extent of my weaving experience. Charlie has been interested in learning more about weaving so we check out all the weaving displays at fiber festivals and county fairs. This past week, we had a brief but informative weaving presentation at our Spinners Guild meeting.
One of our members is a prolific weaver, has multiple looms, and runs her own classes. She brought in a few of her looms and a large sample of her weaving. We learned that there is SO MUCH more to learn.
A little lingo: The strings that go tightly from top to bottom are called the “warp.” The strings that are woven through the warp are called the “weft” or, sometimes the “woof.” The “shed” is the space between the warp strings when some of them are up and some of them are down. A “shuttle” holds the weft strings and is slid through the shed to make a row.
This is a basic pin loom. It resembles the little loom I used as a kid, and the pulling in at the sides reminds me of my pot holder.
This is called a rigid heddle loom. Every other warp string is threaded through the heddle, which is the plastic comb-looking thingy toward the top of the loom. This allows you to lift or lower half of the warp strings at a time, then use the shuttle to just shoot the weft string through.
This is an inkle loom. It was explained, but I still don’t get how it works. Heck, for half the night I thought it was called an “ankle” loom and that really confused me. Anyway, it’s cool looking and you can wrap the warp strings around as many of those little wooden pegs as you want, to make your piece longer or shorter.
This one is really cool! It’s a 16-harness table loom. The harnesses are the wooden levers on top of the loom. Different sets of warp strings are threaded through different harnesses. This allows specific strings to be lifted for each row. When you see elaborate woven pieces, several harnesses are used. I think we will probably start with something like this. We will be limited on the width of pieces, but will have a lot of versatility in patterns, and it is small enough to not be completely intimidating.
This is a big ol’ fancy floor loom. There were none of these at our meeting because it would have been too difficult to transport. I’m not sure exactly how it works, but I think all those pedals at the bottom work like the harnesses do on the table loom. This would be the “someday when we know what we’re doing and have a ton of extra space” loom. When you see large rugs and tapestries, they are done on a loom similar to this.
The samples that were brought in were really impressive. I didn’t want to be insulting, but the best way I could describe them was that they looked “store-bought.” These are all hand-woven and are beautiful. Using different types of string, different patterns and different looms, created totally different textiles.
Our little lesson was enough to make me want to learn so much more. Charlie says not yet, and he’s right. We’re in the middle of planting season and won’t have time to take on any big projects until after the last harvest. Until then, I think some books and maybe some classes are in order. I’m imagining my gorgeous alpaca woven into something fabulous.