I want to learn how to weave.
Let me rephrase that – this year, I am going to learn how to weave.
I’ve been knitting for a fairly long time now, and spinning for a very solid four years. I love fibre. I love knitting with a fine commercial yarns, and I love the feel of open fibres as they race through my fingers when I spin. There is something about dyeing wool that brings out the five-year-old in me – it’s messy, it’s bright, it’s wet, and it’s SO much fun. I like to clean dirty old stinky sheep fleece and turn into something beautiful, useful and warm.
I have been a member of the Greater Vancouver Weavers’ And Spinners’ Guild since I first bought my wheel. I met a terrific group of artisans that have created a close, centered community that I has encouraged my every creative endeavor. I can talk spinning or knitting handspun with them for hours, but alas, when it comes to weaving, I have nothing to offer.
I know there are many kinds of looms. Big ones. Small ones. Fancy ones with loads of shafts and simple things made from picture frames and wooden pegs. I even own one already. I know what warp and weft are. I own a warping board, a shuttle, and books. And trust me, I have LOTS of yarn. But I do not know how to put all these things together and make woven cloth. But I would like to try.
My goal for this year is to learn how to weave. I am going to explore a couple of different options, talk to my friends from the Guild, take lessons from experts, and hopefully have some beautiful cloth at the end of my journey. I can’t wait to discover new ways of blending colours together, create deliciate textures, and watch my handspun transform into something besides traditional hand-knitted garments.
I took my first easy-peasy baby step a few weeks ago – I bought myself a Schacht Zoom Loom. I have watched friends from the Guild work on pin looms at knitting nights (the friends that don’t knit that is), and they made it look fun. They create small woven squares with minimal amounts of yarn, and then sew them all together to create bags, tablet covers, or vests… or they just use the single squares as coasters. I decided as my first step into the wide world of weaving, I would try to make a few squares!
I dove into my stash and found the giant glass jar that holds the left-over bits of handspun I have collected over the years (after all, not an inch can go to waste, can it!?). I watched the helpful instructional video featured on the Schacht website and compared that with the instruction booklet included with the loom. Between the two, I was able to teach myself quickly how to make a square!
I started with a modest amount of yarn left over from a handspun project, a chain-plied yarn spun with my August 2012 Fibre Club offering “London Town”. Following the directions in the instruction book, as well as the arrows printed on the zoom, I wove my first ‘layer’ of yarn around the pins vertically:
Next, I worked my yarn around the pins horizontally:
Then I worked my yarn around the pins vertically again but this time, as you can see, the rows of yarn are offset by one pin.
Then I was ready to start weaving. To ensure I had just the right amount of yarn to finish the project, I wrapped my yarn around the pins 5 times, then cut off the remainder.
I threaded the long weaving needle and wove it through my ‘warp’ as directed: above, under, above again, etc, until I had crossed the width of my loom. Then I turned the needle around, moved my starting point a few pins over, and started weaving with the same method in the opposite direction. I repeated this step over and over until I had filled the entire loom with yarn.
When I was finished, I wove in my ends with the provided yarn needle. I pulled my square off the loom – and ta-da! – I had a coaster.
The Zoom Loom comes with all the equipment you need except yarn and a pair of scissor. I put myself together a little kit so I could take my loom with me anywhere… a sock project bag holds my loom, both needles, instructions, a pair of folding scissors and a few extra balls of handspun. I can just throw it in my purse and I am ready to go!
What am I going to do with all my squares? Well, right now I don’t really know. I am currently collecting them all in a giant box at home, roughly sorted by yarn weight. When I think I have enough to make a project, I will sew together the ones that look best next to each other. The Schacht Zoom Loom website has a large listing of possible project ideas that really fire up my inspiration. I am making these squares slowly and sporadically… I do not have a ‘due date’ for this project, so it is not out-the-question that I might end up a giant quilt one day – a quilt that incorporates countless ends of handspun, each with it’s own special memory, as well as the memory of learning how to weave.
What’s next to look forward to? I have borrowed a Cricket Loom from the SGY studio, and I want to try to create some larger pieces of fabric with it. I already have a yarn base, colourway, and pattern in mind… now I need to learn how to use a rigid heddle loom!
Are you thinking about learning how to weave? Have you used a Zoom Loom before? Please share with us on here on the blog, or on Twitter and Instagram! I will be checking in again in a few weeks time, once I have a few inches of plain weave under my belt!