Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Creating Mommy Is a Happy Mommy!

I don't get to pull out my loom as often as I would like. It is huge - over 4 feet wide and about 2 feet deep when it's folded up. It opens up to a depth of nearly 4 feet, and you add to that the space it takes for the weaver to sit on her bench while she weaves. My precious friend who blessed me with this loom said that she was tired of having it take up her livingroom. I can see why, but I don't mind. I'm grateful to have it!

My loom sits in my livingroom, too, so I can always be inspired to use it. I am always inspired, but it is not always possible to do anything with that inspiration. Fortunately, it doesn't seem to bother anyone else in the family to have the space taken up in this way. They love the things I make, and know beyond any shadow of a doubt that a creating mommy is a happy mommy!

Prepping the loom for weaving can be a daunting task if you are not totally in love with your craft (we all know how difficult tasks become so much more enjoyable when you love what you're doing!) The very first thing you must do is the math, calculating how much warp yarn you need -how many strands to cut and how long to cut them. The warp is the yarn that goes from fron to back in the loom, the stationary yarn. Knowing how long you want your finished piece(s) of fabric to be, you must calculate how much yarn to have ready for the weft (the yarn that you weave side to side through the warp.) Once your warp is measured, you need to string each piece of warp yarn through the beater's reed and individual heddles in the appropriate harnesses. The warp needs to be wound onto beams and kept at a consistent tension across the whole width. After all of that, which takes HOURS, you might be ready to start weaving.

My loom currently has a scarf and some placemats on it. (I haven't been able to weave in a few days, so it sits...) I figured I wanted to use the same yarn in pretty much the same configuration of colors for both projects, so I strung up the loom to do all of these pieces on the same warp. It saves yarn in the long run, and it definitely saves time, since I don't have to go through beaming the warp the second time.

Can you imagine cutting 160 pieces of yarn, each 9 yards long? I am so blessed to have a warping mill to make that task so much easier! You cut a piece of yarn the length that you need and wrap it around the mill however many times it takes and anchor each end of the yarn on posts. This creates sort of a trail to use to measure the remaining pieces, spinning the mill back and forth while wrapping rather than standing there measuring piece by piece. Thank GOD for warping mills!

The weaving is generally the easy part. You get into a rhythm, rocking back and forth with each shot of of the shuttle through the shed (the space between the raised warp yarns and the lower ones.) You watch your fabric grow, and in almost no time, you have a finished cloth.

The fabric shown in these photos is my current project. It is woven in a simple weave using a linen/rayon boucle. In this photo, the fabric is approximately 12 feet long. The warp is initially wound around the back beam, and as it is woven, the fabric is wound around the beam in the front. When it is finished, I will cut the warp strings approximately 2" from the edges of each of the placemats and 4" from the edges of the scarf, then tie them into a nice fringe. I have not decided whether the scarf will be worn or become a table/dresser runner. We will see!