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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Merry Christmas!

I can’t think of a better way to talk about the gift of art than to quote Christina from Interweave:

At the time of this writing, I have just taken my last project of 2013 off my loom. It’s a soft alpaca scarf woven especially for my father-in-law. When I cut it off the loom and began trimming the weft tails that dotted the scarf, I thought about how soft it was, how much fun it was to weave, and how much I hoped it would be enjoyed. I barely remembered the threads I accidentally cut during warping, the time spent untangling balls of yarn that somehow became knotted, or the unweaving. All the stressful moments completely disappeared, and all that was left was joy. Joy and a scarf. I think weaving is a lot like life. I know there were times this year where I was tired, sad, and stressed, but as the New Year approaches the memories of 2013 that are the clearest are my happiest. At the end of the year—just like at the end of each weaving—I’m left with joy. (And a scarf.)

Merry Christmas to all!

Slow Weaving

For the last six months I’ve been working on the same weaving project, and I’m only now actually, happily, weaving. Designing the project came easy. I saw a motif I loved and which will be perfect for the person who will receive this weaving as a gift. (There will be no pictures of the project. It’s a gift.) The design all came together in a snap. The weaving, on the other hand …

I first tried a classic doubleweave set up using linen. Doubleweave is easy on my countermarche loom. Doubleweave pick-up, on the other hand, is something else again. In doubleweave,  you’re weaving two layers of fabric at the same time. In doubleweave pick-up, you’re manipulating when and where the layers cross in order to get a design that goes beyond what the loom alone can do. My problem was that a countermarche loom, where each treadle both lifts and lowers harnesses, simply doesn’t have the flexibility necessary for the traditional method of doing doubleweave pick-up.

As for linen, well, it’s lovely, fussy stuff. The warp threads kept breaking on me. ‘Nuff said.

The internet came to my rescue. I found a web page from the Conference of Northern California Weavers about how one can do treadled doubleweave. By gum, it worked! I wound a new warp, this time using pearl cotton, threaded the loom, sleyed the reed, tied up the treadles, and finally began.

The bottom border went fine. When I began to weave the motifs, however, I miscounted my own design, putting the motifs in the wrong place. Once I realized the error, I took out the entire section with the motifs, and began again.

Finally, joy. Everything counted out correctly, so I could relax and just follow my plan. This style of weaving takes intense focus. Top layer, 20 threads. Bottom layer, 17 threads. Top layer,  10 threads. Bottom layer, 2 threads. And so on and so forth. I don’t actually have to do a lot of counting. Once the pattern was established, I could work from what I’d done before. Any kind of distraction, though, could cause me to lose my place. Bottom layer up where it doesn’t belong, top layer down where it doesn’t belong, miss a thread, pick up a wrong thread, all manner of mistakes were just begging to be made. Slow down, pay attention.

Slow down, pay attention. Isn’t that what mystics tell people to do? Stay relaxed. Keep breathing. Enjoy the moment. When I say slow down, I do mean slow down. I was lucky to get an inch woven in two hours. Yet the time flew by. I got into a rhythm with manipulating the threads, picking up, forcing down. As I finished each set of four weft threads (two for the top layer, two for the bottom), I marked my pattern. And then began again with the next set of four threads. I liked what I saw emerging from the cloth. Even more, I liked slowing down and focusing on the present, on the now, filled with color and pretty. I had to focus so intently that the ordinary worries of my life were dismissed to whatever. Weaving, my soul is at peace.

Never mind that doubleweave pick-up is painfully slow. I’m already wondering about fractals.