Stretching my abilities to the max

I recently spent a week at Vävstuga School of Weaving, working on a long warp in 16/2 cotton. The structures are Monks’ Belt and turned Monks’ Belt. With these two structures, you can weave symmetric borders on all four sides of the cloth, although the treadling of each is far from symmetric.

It took me a very long day to thread the warp. 16/2 doesn’t have much weight and the threads stick together unmercifully. I was using an Ideal loom for the first time, and have come to the conclusion that it is less than Ideal for me. I couldn’t find a comfortable compromise that worked with my new glasses and my old back. I needed sit further back, but the Ideal is a shallow loom. I could have enjoyed more height at the breast beam and more room underneath to tie up, but the Ideal is a short little loom. I muddled through the threading on Tuesday, the sleying and tie ups on Wednesday, and seriously debated whether I would give up weaving for good on Wednesday night. I didn’t.  A good night’s sleep and some help from the weaving fairies (Thanks, Becky) and I was throwing the shuttle quite happily on Thursday.

I have learned something from the experience.  Individual threads of 16/2 are only visible to me when they are in pale colors and under very bright lights (hello, rainy weather!) I also can’t sit at the loom and pound through tasks for twelve hours with minimal breaks.  I think my limit is 4 hours per day, with frequent tea breaks. On the plus side, I have never had such beautiful selvedges in 16/1 linen, and I seem to be able to throw a shuttle just fine with my left hand. I didn’t have to use a temple; there was no need. I can also manage a profile draft just fine, with only a couple penciled notes to remind me what the notation means.

I’m not quitting weaving anytime soon..

I love to weave in community; something about the presence of other weavers inspires me and drives me to persevere. I will have to pick my community projects more carefully, and only use pale-colored warp, and narrow width. I will also have to pace myself and take enough tea breaks. Apparently, I can go full bore on weaving the pattern, because I can see that with my glasses and understand that with my brain.  Perhaps rosepath and smålandsväv would be fun. Perhaps an independent study of each, in my own studio, would be a good place to start.

See what I wove? I finished two table squares, each a half-meter in length and width. To support the turned borders, which run parallel with the selvedges, every pick is treadled in pattern. Four treadles are used to create the two blocks. The horizontal borders use two shuttles, and all six treadles. It’s clever how it all comes together.

At home in my studio, I’m threading the shaft drawloom for large table squares (or small tablecloths–It depends on how you consider 1.10 meters in width). I can see it just fine, as it is cottolin in wide stripes of white and unbleached linen color. I’m nearly done with the pattern heddles and will do something simple, like broken twill, for the ground heddles. The look will be rustic and bold, with a tow linen weft.

I”m also working on a wool scarf I designed, I’m really into simple weaves made rich through color play. There are six colors of thread in the Monks’ Belt pictured above. The scarf features four colors. More on that soon…

A parting thought.  I am a very seasonal person. Winter isn’t the time of year I weave. I plan and I shovel snow. I dream by the fire and I shiver when I venture too far from it. Spring is when I get creative, using the community of weavers to help me ignite my own well-banked creative fires. It’s an urgent time of creativity, before summer’s heat wilts me. I wonder what I can accomplish before July?