Weaving Bibles: Two Books I Can't Weave Without
I used to say “If I were marooned on a desert island and had only one loom (or one yarn or one weave structure or…) it would be….” Of course, it’s hardly likely that anyone would ever end up on a desert island with a loom and some yarn. But recently, it occurred to me that though I think of it as a remote likelihood (as in very far away), I may some day end up in what might euphemistically be called an “Active Seniors Retirement Community” or some such with just one loom and some yarn. If that happens, I’d hope for enough space to include some books. The first two I’d make sure to take with me would be Handwoven Magazine’s The Weaver’s Companion and Carol Strickler’s A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns. I can’t imagine being without either one of them.
On the back cover of The Weaver’s Companion, the caption reads: You Can’t Possibly Remember it All.” I have post-its marking the pages in this book that I refer to over and over again because they contain information that I can’t remember. The page I use most often is “Weights and Measures Conversions.” Do you need to know how many yards/per pound there are in a knitting yarn that has 450 yd/50g? You need this page. I’ve even photocopied it to use in the kitchen for its liquid and weight conversions.
Want to know which way the metal heddle eye should face on your floor loom? How to sley 32 ends in your 12-dent reed? How to use a burn test to determine fiber content? How to calculate the amount of yarn you’ll need for the warp and weft of a certain project? Color theory? It’s all in this book. Not only that, but the spiral binding makes it easy to use—flip through and fold over the pages for a compact reference next to you at the loom, drafting table, or warping board.
I couldn’t do without A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns, either. Currently, I have both an upstairs copy and a downstairs copy for quickest access. The loom I would want on a desert island or in the downsizing that would force me to choose only one, would be an 8-shaft loom. (Long ago, my idea was “the more shafts the better.” So I kept adding looms until I had one with 32 shafts. I have discovered, though, that I am happiest when I am designing for eight. You can weave almost every structure on eight shafts—many that you cannot do on four—and it’s an endlessly intriguing challenge to push eight shafts to their limits.)
In the late 1980s, over 250 Handwoven readers submitted drafts and samples woven on eight shafts that became the content of A Weaver’s Book of 8-Shaft Patterns. It is much like the “green” book (Marguerite Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book) so beloved of 4-shaft weavers. It organizes the woven samples into structural categories: twills, overshot, crackle, waffle weave, summer and winter, huck and huck lace, doubleweave, etc. This book doubles as a handbook of weave structures. In each chapter, samples using different threading and treadling orders produce a range of innovative fabric designs. Black and white photos of the cloth are aligned with the threading and treadling drafts so that you can accurately reproduce what you see as well as be inspired to start your own treadling variations.
I keep thinking I’ll weave them all. Maybe that will happen when I go to that happy Active Seniors Retirement Center decades from now.