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Thoughts on Beginning Weaving

posted Aug 8, 2016, 10:49 AM by Lynn Moody
I am participating in a workshop on weaving with a rigid heddle loom, organized by members of the Central Coast Weavers' Guild.  This group meets once per month for two hours in the afternoon, we bring looms, the first hour is a kind of meeting with show-and-tell and a presentation on some technique or philosophy (really looking forward to tomorrow's meeting which is on the philosophy of saori weaving, using highly textured materials as weft).  So, I have had a rigid heddle loom (RHL) for several years and had woven on it before, some things I liked and some I didn't, so I look forward to this workshop as an occasion to get advice and experience in a semi-supervised setting.  My first project was a window covering for an upstairs bathroom, faces south and gets hot in the summer in the afternoons.  I have finished the weaving part and still need to construct the window cover - hem it and insert a "curtain rod" at the top and a dowel at the bottom, and figure out how to fasten it up when it is rolled up.  Details. The edges of this weaving are a little bit wonky, but generally I like it.  I used yarns from my stash, mostly Navajo-Churro yarns in natural colors and a little purple-dyed wool, a little indigo-dyed blue wool, some greenish dyed with marigold plus indigo, AND a little yucca I had spun from fiber I had extracted from our native yucca plants (did not kill the plants) for fun and as an experiment.  I purposefully wove it with widely-spaced warp and did not pack down the weft much - I wanted an open kind of fabric.  On the RHL for this project I used the 5 dpi heddle.  What I like about it is that the weave is balanced - neither warp faced nor weft faced - and I like the variety of textures and colors, also that none of the colors are garish or bright.

Eventually, I want to weave two more, better, window coverings for the east-facing living room.  Since they will be "public" I want to do a better job.  Also they will be much bigger so I need to hone my skills some more.  I don't intend them to match exactly but they will coordinate - use the same yarns for warp and weft though not necessarily in the same exact patterns.  That's the plan. 

However, for my next project in the RHL workshop, I decided to use Santa Cruz Island wool yarn as BOTH warp and weft and weave a scarf.  I am using yarns basically left over from other projects, and some from when I was teaching myself to spin this wonderful challenging wool.  The challenges in using it for warp is that the wool is so very elastic, and the warp has to have some tension in order to hold the heddle in place, and I do not want a dense fabric.  I am using the 7.5 dpi heddle, trying not to put TOO much tension on the warp, just enough, and trying to NOT pack the weft down too tightly - I want a balanced weave with both warp and weft showing.  So, we'll see how this goes.  I plan the scarf to be about 6 inches wide and 6 feet or so long.  The photo shows the warp in place.  You can see the warp is highly textured, and so will be the weft.  I love the browns and white and blue together, that is one of my favorite color combinations.