What I Wove On My Summer Vacation
|Inkle weaving for bookmarks and working
on my selvedges. (I re-wove this one.)
When we do reader surveys, item number one on almost everyone's wish list is more time to weave. For me, it feels ironic that vacations, my only big stretches of free time, are often spent travelling and away from my looms, with the happy exception of the occasional textile conference. But weaving finds a way, and this summer I was delighted to discover my grown daughter's inkle loom tucked away in a closet just before we left for family camp. (She took her rigid-heddle loom off to college, forcing me to buy my own. I cried crocodile tears all the way to my local shop.) Having just worked with Jane Patrick on her video, Inkle Weaving A to Z, I was jonesing for some inkle time, and the Force was with me. I grabbed the inkle loom, threw assorted spools of 5/2 and 3/2 cotton in a bag, found a favorite knife shuttle and my copy of The Weaver's Inkle Pattern Directory, and hit the road.
Three tie-dyed warps waiting for
their turn on the loom.
My jaspe band in process.
After lunch the first day, I reviewed Jane's warping instructions on my computer, then settled down on the lawn with the loom and supplies, and opened the pattern book. Inkle weaving lends itself to everything from simple geometrics to Andean pebble weave, traditional Baltic inlay designs, and novelty passamenterie bands, but I decided to start simple and chose a pretty flower-like pattern that I thought would make nice bookmarks to give as thank-you gifts to our speakers and camp staff. I had to tie string heddles, so it took me about an hour to warp, and then I was merrily weaving away. Inkle bands are warp-faced, so the weaving goes fast. By the next day, the bookmarks were finished, the recipients were pleased, and I was ready for a new challenge.
One of the great craft traditions of our family camp is tie-dyeing. The dyeing sessions last for two days, with campers of all ages dyeing scarves, shawls, T-shirts, bandanas, even sheets, tablecloths, and underwear. (The youngest campers are then marched down to the lagoon to wade, chase the minnows, and soak the dye out of their little tie-dyed hands.) I hadn't planned to tie-dye this year, but then I remembered the Guatemalan jaspe cloth that Jane showed in her video, and the dye bottles beckoned. I wound and dyed three warps and wove one before the end of camp, with two to take home and weave in winter while thinking of sunny days and summer fun. Maybe for camp next year I'll be wearing a lanyard of my very own jaspe cloth.
Every time I make a small-loom project, whether inkle weaving, card weaving, backstrap, or rigid-heddle, I am reminded that weaving is weaving. We warp, we attend to structure and selvedges, we explore patterns and possibilities, we learn new things, and we enjoy the peace that the focus of weaving brings. In the busy fall and winter months ahead, I hope you find time to weave and projects just right for the time you have.