Weaving With a Baby
As some of you might know, around 3 months ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, my little Henry. You may also know, if you read my posts leading up to the birth, I had assumed that while on maternity leave I’d be able to do some weaving. Perhaps not an enormous amount of weaving, but at least a baby blanket and maybe some towels. As it turns out, weaving with a baby was not in the cards since life had very different plans for me.
Nothing, really, can prepare you for having a baby. You might assume you know what you’re doing or that you know what to expect because you’ve read the books and talked to friends who have their own. In that way, it’s a bit like teaching yourself how to warp a multi-shaft loom—although with significantly more dirty diapers.
So for the 3 months I was on maternity leave, my looms remained naked as baby and I got to know each other better and figured out a general sort of schedule. Now, finally, as baby has hit the magical 12-week mark, I feel that I can finally go to the loom again and weave up that baby blanket while Henry is still technically a baby. Appropriately, the first time I’ll be able to do some real work on this is Mother’s Day weekend—I can’t think of a better gift than to spend some time at the loom doing something I love.
This week, I plan on getting things ready to weave piece-by-piece. This means changing the way I think about warping the loom. In my pre-Henry days, I delighted in sleying the reid all in one go. I’d listen to a favorite podcast, make sure I had water or tea nearby, and then stay at the loom until every thread was properly sleyed.
Now, of course, I have a wee little boy who doesn’t always nap on a perfect schedule and who needs plenty of attention. Combine that with everything else I need to do when baby is sleeping, playing, or otherwise occupied, and it means my days of spending any more than an hour sleying the reed are over, at least for the time being.
My first strategy is to break everything down into manageable bits. I’ll start by winding each skein into a center-pull ball. Color-by-color I’ll wind my warp in small sections. The baby blanket I’m weaving has warp 7 stripes in the warp, so I plan on winding each stripe separately. Each stripe will be roughly 6 inches in width, so at 12 ends per inch, each stripe will only have 72 ends and should (I hope) take an hour or less. If I’m really worried, I can wind half a stripe at a time, or I can use lease sticks if baby wakes up before I’m done sleying the reed. With any luck, I’ll have the reed sleyed in a week or less!
From there, it’s just about being patient and making sure to take advantage when presented with time to warp and weave; to recognize that it’s not about weaving on a tight schedule, but about enjoying my time weaving; to maybe see if I can wear the baby while weaving, and if he proves too wiggly, adjust my thinking and enjoy the time spent with my wiggly little boy even if it’s not at the loom.
For this Mother’s Day, I’d like to salute all those weaver mothers (and grandmothers!) out there who manage to weave while also taking care of their little ones. I’d like to salute the ones who weave during naps or while keeping one eye on the loom and the other on their child, the ones who answer a million questions while at the loom and are even willing to let their children “help out,” and finally, to all those who manage to weave special blankets, scarves, and other goodies for their little ones while also taking the time to weave something special for themselves as well. I hope your Mother’s Day is absolutely spectacular.
As for me, I love weaving and always will. I think it’s wonderful and magical, and I am still in awe every time the fabric begins to appear. As much as I love my weaving, though, there is no doubt in my mind that Henry is the best thing I have ever made. I can’t wait to weave for him, and, with any luck, when he’s a wee bit older, weave with him.