Learning as I Weave

Recently my father-in-law came for a visit. It was during this time that much of Northern Colorado was covered with a heavy layer of snow, the sort of nasty, wet, heavy snow that breaks off tree branches and snaps power lines. While my family was lucky enough to keep power, the Interweave offices were not as lucky, and I found myself enjoying an adult snow day.


What did I do with a whole day off? Weave of course!


First Scarf  
My first handwoven scarf; can you spot the mistake?

As we watched the news to see all the havoc wrought by the storm, I brought out my lap-sized rigid-heddle loom and finished weaving a scarf with a log-cabin pattern. My father-in-law sat next to me mesmerized. He watched as I completed each step from weaving to finishing, asking questions about what I was doing and why.


What really wowed him, however, was when I seemingly effortlessly re-warped the loom using the direct warping method. Little did he know it took more than a few “learning experiences” from previous projects to get me as comfortable on the loom as I appeared.


When my first rigid-heddle loom first arrived, I prepared myself by reading Jane Patrick’s The Weaver’s Idea Book cover to cover at least three times. Armed with Jane's advice, I decided my first project would be a sampler that explored color-and-weave and hand-manipulated techniques, and I warped the loom accordingly. Or at least I tried to.  


On my first attempt I was so excited I attached the warp to the cloth beam instead of the apron rod and didn’t notice until I was nearly finished. Midway through my second try I left to have some lunch, and when I returned I found a guilty-looking dog, my loom on the floor, and a tangled mess. The third time was the charm, and once I started weaving I fell in love.

  My Second Try

Second time was the charm! Even sett,
better selvedges, and only one float. 

I focused on finding my rhythm, experimenting, and generally figuring things out as I wove. I learned a lot in the experience, and made plenty of mistakes. When I finished the sample, I made sure to leave them all in. The sampler now serves as a reminder, not just of the mistakes, but also of how much I’ve learned since then. I still have so much to learn about weaving and I’m quite certain I’ll make plenty more mistakes.

In preparation for these new discoveries, I’ve armed myself with Jane Patrick’s book and Hands on Rigid Heddle Weaving by Betty Linn Davenport. They guide me through the process as I push myself slightly farther, and if something goes wrong, I can find the solution in their pages. After my few projects, I’m still far from perfect, whatever my father-in-law might say, but I’m quite happy to learn as I go.

Now if only the books had warned me not to leave my beautiful laceweight baby alpaca yarn where the new puppy could grab it. 



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