The Key to Weaving Happiness

Liz's Loom  
Liz's pride and joy:
Her Schacht Wolf Pup LT 

I recently bought my first loom! For a girl who lives in a very small (640 sq. ft.) two-bedroom house, this type of decision is not one that is entered into lightly.


Okay, I did get a portable fold-up floor loom, and it does have only an 18" weaving width, but this baby sits in the corner of my room every day and every night. It is something that I really have to live with. And let me tell you: I LOVE IT! Way more than I expected. I say “hi” to it every time I walk in the room and get a big smile on my face.


Although I have woven a few projects in my life, to prepare myself for my first warp on my loom, I watched Madelyn van der Hoogt’s DVD Warping Your Loom. It was just the confidence boost I needed. My experiences with warping have not been pleasant. The word itself brings up images of tangled yarns being combed out by my fingers. Yuck. Warping has always been something to get out of the way before the relaxing act of weaving itself.


  Liz's first fabric on her new loom
  Liz’s first fabric woven on her loom
using Bertha Gray Hayes’
Trellis overshot draft

Madelyn makes the whole process seem smooth and serene and, therefore, enjoyable. And she uses logical, easy-to-follow steps that she developed through years of teaching weaving at her school. There is not a tangle in her whole video, no yanking, no cursing, just smooth well-thought-out actions. For my first project, I wove a lovely overshot design by Bertha Gray Hayes that I found thanks to cutler070805’s Supercharged! image in the Weaving Today gallery, and I made the fabric into a fun pillow.


My next project didn’t go quite as smoothly. Figuring out a twill sett on my own for the first time was not as easy as I had hoped. I read the basic philosophy in a book and started sleying. When I started to weave, I realized my sett was way too loose. I was ending up with a tapestry wall-hanging rather than the supple scarf I had envisioned for my mom. Ultimately, I had to re-sley the loom two more times before I finally got it right (unweaving the fabric I had each time because I was worried that if I wasted any I wouldn’t have enough yarn).


This experience was enough to make me swear off trying new structures altogether. Then, a little while later, I was watching Madelyn’s second workshop DVD, Weaving Well, and realized that all the answers I needed were right there. She went over Handwoven’s Master Yarn Chart—which is included in the DVD and available on Weaving Today—showing how you can use it to figure out sett for common yarns. She also went over how to figure out what your sett should be based on the structure and your yarn. Beyond solving my issues with twill sett, it was a really great to “sit down" with Madelyn, who is such an amazing teacher, and have her go over all the things that come up as you plan a project and how to ultimately end up with the cloth that you want. I was so ready for this information and didn’t even realize it.


Happy weaving, here I come! Thanks, Madelyn!

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