Learning the Language of Looms

  Christina's Twill

Christina's first project on her new 8-shaft
floor loom: a set of Finnish twill tea towels.

I’ve always been fond of items that are both beautiful and functional, especially in the kitchen. I love my bright-colored enameled cast-iron cookware, my wooden tools and cutting boards, but most of all I love my collection of tea towels. I love how they look when they are freshly cleaned, hanging on their pegs waiting to be used, but I love them most as I bake.

As I knead bread, I always have a tea towel on my shoulder for easy access to wipe away flour.  As the dough slowly rises, it is protected from the world by a towel draped over the bowl. I use them later to handle still-too-hot loaves recently pulled from the oven and in my bread baskets as I serve the finished product with supper. My towels are as integral a part of my baking as my wooden spoons and my baking stone. I don’t worry that they’ll get dirty; I know they will. It is when they are dusted in flour that I find them prettiest.

Given all of this, it should come as no surprise that upon acquiring my new-to-me 8-shaft floor loom I decided my first project would be to make a set of handwoven tea towels. I found a pattern I loved, purchased my yarn, and this past weekend, I finally had a day that I could devote entirely to warping. Throughout the process threads and eyes were crossed, muscles ached, and a few tears were shed. Still, with the help of my wonderful husband—who can spot crossed threads from a mile away—the warp is on and ready to weave.

Later that night, as I thought about the day’s experiences, I couldn’t help thinking about baking. Through the years I’ve learned the language of dough. I know by look and feel when it needs more flour, a bit of oil, or some extra kneading. I hope that with time the same will be true for my weaving.

The more I warp, the more accustomed my fingers will become to each step. I can use my instinct to know what needs adjusting and what should be left alone. Just as I can now touch my pie crust and know it’s ready to chill, someday I will be able to touch the warp, and it will speak to me of tension and twisted threads. It will take time, tears, and a few more all-day warping sessions, but in the end, it will be worth it.


I will learn the language of my loom.      


Christina Garton

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