Amanda Cutler – Learning to Weave
My yarn journey began in 2004 after an unexpected death in our family when I suddenly took to knitting to help me through a tough time. I didn’t have the money for a class so I bought knitting needles, yarn, and a 1960's how-to book from a thrift store. I also attended a free class at a local craft store and although they really wanted you to buy something, I took the information and ran. Eventually I wanted to learn how to spin and weave.
Money and space have been a problem in my yarn journey. With a teacher’s salary, I have always had to be extra resourceful by looking for cheap deals, free stuff, begging, borrowing, or finding equipment that can store easily. Perhaps you have been in this same boat?
The first year we were married, my husband tried to surprise me for Christmas by re-furbishing an old spinning wheel that was missing many parts. Poor guy! He spent many hours sanding it and looking for parts to try and repair it before giving up. The next Christmas, he surprised me with a new spinning wheel that folded up. This was important because we lived in a 400 square-foot apartment and actually stored the wheel under part of the dining room table that we didn’t use! I had so much fun learning how to spin.
By the time the following Christmas rolled around, I really wanted a loom, but we didn’t have the money or the space. Looking through a yarn catalog one day, I noticed a rigid heddle loom that was small, affordable, and it folded up! My husband learned his lesson about restoring antiques, and he bought me a rigid heddle loom. I spent many fun years experimenting with it! Yet, that loom still wasn’t enough.
I really wanted a multi-shaft loom, but we still didn’t have the money or the space, even though we now lived in a bigger apartment. I decided to learn types of weaving that used small looms or no looms at all while waiting for my big loom. My favorite projects at this time were making name lanyards for family and friends using Linda Hendrickson’s book Please Weave a Message.
I decided to try and make a bigger inkle loom for card weaving with help from my dad using instructions we found online. All of these looms kept me satisfied for awhile, yet I STILL wanted more! I decided to save my allowance of $50 a month, and I didn’t purchase any fiber-related items for an entire year! All of the supplies I used came from my stash or what my mom found in thrift stores.
In March 2010, we bought our first house and I was able to acquire a used small 4-shaft loom. I had been reading all about how to warp looms and read drafts so it didn’t take me long to figure out how to make things look good. In fact, I was soon weaving overshot and won two first place ribbons at the county fair for an overshot project!
So far, I have woven curtains for our bedroom and kitchen windows, overshot table runners, hand towels, scarves, placemats, bookmarks, pillows, and much more. I even wove little snowflakes for my Christmas cards last year! I can easily weave through a 6 yard warp in about a week. I enjoy every part of the process, from reading books to designing and calculating, warping, threading, throwing the shuttle, and finishing. But nothing amazes me more than the final product.
We get three-day weekends in our school district so every Friday and Saturday, I spend weaving along with some week nights. During the week, I plan my projects and read as much as I can find about weaving. I love my subscription to Handwoven! I find it to be very inspiring and love the great projects. I also love the community here on Weaving Today. I enjoy posting my projects and reading about other weavers’ projects. This year I decided to join the weave-along and work with a profile draft for the first time. It has already opened many doors, and I'm already playing around with designing my own profile drafts.
If I had to advise a new weaver, I would say, "Keep it simple." Give the smaller looms a chance. Don’t be afraid to try inexpensive ways of weaving. Be resourceful. There are projects out there that don’t even require a loom!
Editor's Note: Be sure to check out Amanda's work in the Weaving Today Gallery and on her blog.