Textile Studio

I began weaving in my craft room, but the loom was a bit cramped in there so it moved into my family room, which has an extended area where it fits nicely.  I'm sure it was through no fault of my own that the yarn also migrated to, and is taking over, the space.  (How in the world did THAT happen???) 

To prepare for weaving, I measure the yarn that will be threaded onto the loom - the warp - using a warping board (usually 10 feet at a time).  The items I will weave from this warp and the thickness of yarns I choose will determine how many threads I need to measure.  A scarf may take 88 threads and a baby blanket 400.   

When the warp is measured, each thread goes through a slot in the reed, a metal grid that keeps the threads separated and lined up, and through a single heddle - an individual wire with a center hole for the thread.  The threading of the heddles determines the pattern for the weave - plain weave, twill, or a block pattern - along with the tie-up of the foot pedals.  Each pedal will lift some number of heddles, and the pedals are alternated to create the pattern.

The warp yarn is threaded onto the loom and tied on, the tension is set, and the weaving begins.  The weft thread - the yarn that crosses the warp between the threads - is wound onto bobbins that fit into a specially designed shuttle.  The shuttle is smooth wood that sails across the threads as you throw it from hand to hand between the threads, causing the pattern to show in the fabric.  As a section of 3"-5" is completed, the tension is released and the woven fabric is advanced and wound onto the front beam of the loom.  When the entire woven fabric is on the front beam, the fabric is cut from the loom, washed, dried and "finished". 

The ends can be hand-finished on the loom, which I often do with yarns that lock well and with items like scarves.  However, because handwoven fabric is prone to unraveling, I often stitch edges on certain items - like baby blankets and placemats.

 

I have recently acquired an Inkle loom.  This is a simple, but effective loom.  It travels easily and can be used almost anywhere, so it's perfect for weaving while chatting with friends or watching TV.  The warp is tied onto the loom as one continuous thread by a series of knots when colors change.  The last thread is tied to the first and the warp is ready.  The weft thread is hand-wound onto a wooden shuttle that is used to both pass the thread and beat it in.  The threads are raised and lowered by hand - pressing down or lifting up.  The fabric is advanced by pulling the finished section forward.  This loom can only handle thin bands of woven material.  These can be made into bracelets, dog collars, guitar straps, etc.  They can also add an ethnic flair to designer jackets and vests!

Back in the REAL craft room, I have my serger and sewing machine.  Although not as old as I am, they have been with me a long time and through many moves.  The serger is great for finishing handwoven edges for garments, but I prefer the sewing machine for finishing pieces where the edge will show.  

 

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