Weaving: The Perfect Stash-Buster

A note from Kathleen: When I was little, my across-the-street neighbor was a fabulous weaver. She had a huge studio set up in her house and I used to spend hours watching her create the most beautiful tapestries, scarves, bedspreads, tablecloths, and runners–you name it, she could weave fabric for it. Though I haven’t gotten into weaving until VERY recently (read on), that childhood fascination never completely faded. I was at the Madrona Fiber Arts festival in Tacoma, Washington a couple of years ago, and one of the vendors was featuring this little table-top loom. The speed at which the weaver produced about five inches of fabric was staggering; for weeks I had visions of Christmas gifts dancing in my head. I didn’t buy the loom then, but I’ve been thinking about it off and on ever since I saw it. And then when I was in the office the other day, Handwoven magazine was going to press and I caught a glimpse of the projects. I couldn’t wait to get back home, go through my stash, and go to my local weaving store to look at looms. Oh, and I asked Liz Gipson, the managing editor of Handwoven, to get you busting your stashes too, and to inspire you along the way. So here’s Liz!

Why should knitters care one bit about weaving? Knitters are “loopy” people not “over-under” people. You knitters use two sticks to make cloth; we weavers use this thing called a loom that has all kinds of moving parts. Knitting yarns come in playful balls; weaving yarns come on intimidating cones.

There is a reason that knitters might want to take notice of weaving–it’s faster than knitting. I know, I know, you say, “but what about all those threads that have to go in all those different places?” It is true that dressing that loom does take some time. (Doesn’t “dressing” provide a wonderful mental picture–I think I’ll put on the cobalt top with the chocolate brown skirt. Another term you have probably heard is “warping the loom,” yet it doesn’t bring up the same cozy mental image. Anyway, I digress.)

The first few times you play dress-up-the-loom are just like learning to cast on or to purl for the first time: you feel like you’re all thumbs. After the loom is dressed, though, the cloth grows row by row, not stitch by stitch! Plus, the big movements of weaving provide your body a break from the small movements of knitting.

Best of all for you knitters, though, is that you can also think of weaving as stash reduction. We all need some help with that, right? We owe it to our families to keep the yarn to just the spare room. (And weaving is absolutely not cheating on your stash!) Weaving provides a home for all of those lovely single balls of yarn you just had to have.

If all of this isn’t enough to get you motivated to learn more about weaving, knitting and weaving can be used together to produce fabulous pieces, such as the Rigid Heddle Woven Ruffle Pillow. Here are two clips from season 1 of Knitting Daily TV: in the first one you can see the ruffle pillow being created as I show you how to weave on a rigid-heddle loom–one of the simplest, most knitter-friendly looms on the market.

In the second segment I demonstrate how to weave on a table loom, which offers all the advantages of a floor loom (and sometimes even more when it comes to treadling options) but takes up less space. Both looms are beginner-friendly options for new weavers.

For lots of tips and tricks about weaving, download the handy brochure “Get Weaving!,” and go find yourself a teacher (there are tips on how to do this on learntoweave.com).

Have fun!Faith the goat

Liz Gipson
Managing Editor, Handwoven magazine

P.S. Goat update! Last fall I introduced Knitting Daily readers to my four cashmere-bearing goat friends, Bella, Faith, Diva, and Zeus. I’ve just sent nearly two pounds of cashmere off to the mill to be dehaired and cleaned. Diva for the most part has stopped tormenting Bella, and Zeus has developed an unrequited crush on Diva. Faith as usual carries on in her quiet unassuming way. You can read more of their adventures (and mine) in the back-page essay of the Fall 2009 issue of Spin-Off, coming soon to your local yarn shop and to shop.knittingdaily.com.

Liz Gipson is a spinner, weaver, and all-around fiberista. Her day job at Interweave is the Managing Editor of Handwoven and she’s a co-host of Knitting Daily TV on public television, where she offers advice about fibers, yarn-making, dyeing, and yes, weaving.

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