Friday, November 5, 2010

Once upon a time

Once upon a time, there was this crazy chick (that'd be me) who thought adding weaving to her collection of fiber hobbies would be a Good Thing. So she bought a loom (May 2008).

Blake Checking Out the Loom

With the loom came some cotton yarn. With loom, yarn, and Deborah Chandler's "Learning To Weave" in hand, I proceeded to start to teach myself weaving.

My first sample looked better than I expected, tho' I found it could actually stand up on its own. I did not know I was supposed to wash it when I finished (just as well, it would have turned in to a lethal weapon), and I did not know that one could do anything other than beat the yarn in as hard as one could possibly beat it. I did not know about lease sticks or jerk-and-pull to get the warp at an even tension. I did not know how to fix the warp threads that kept breaking at the edges. I did not know not to run my fingers through the warp threads while tying on. I only know that loom + yarn + something or other = fabric. Kinda.

My second thingie was a little better, but I still didn't know to wash it when I finished, and the edges were still pretty darned wonky.

My next item was a scarf with my own handspun, and I didn't know that it was ill-advised to use your woolen (read: soft, bouncy) handspun as warp yarn. I am gladd I didn't know that bit of info, 'cause I think it turned out great. I ended up with a weft-faced item, and it is one of my favorite cold-weather scarves. I did, at this point, think that washing my weaving when I was done might be a good idea. I don't know what happened, exactly, but that scarf was the turning point for me to suddenly start to do Seriously Cool Stuff, like a wide, warm, purple shawl.

I knew to wash that one, too, but still didn't know why this one worked, or that pressing the yarn together with a heavy iron would be a Good Thing. After this, another scarf-thing was attempted. I never did finish that one. I didn't know (but found out rather, um, pointedly) that using a squishy thing like a non-skid foam pad was NOT a good idea for your warp separator, not if you wanted even tension. I was scarred for life by that experience and had to cut the warp off the loom.

It wasn't until almost a year after I bought the loom that I got to take my first weaving class (March 2009). That was with Judith Mackenzie, and was awesome. As all of her classes are for me. There I learned about gamps, crammed-and-spaced scarves, and got some guidance on how to tension a warp. I learned about how to finish an item (the washing and pressing part of our show) how to do some basic repairs, and how one's emotional state can visibly impact the fabric you are making.

All of that was good, and I did more and more and more and MORE reading and looking at yarns and thinking about weaving, and then in May 2010, I got laid off from my day job. AWESOME!!!! I got serious about the whole weaving thing, and started making scarves and towels for our kitchen. Scarves are great. They are like big sample projects that you can wear anywhere, any time. Towels don't suck, either, 'cause you can really try anything 'cause really, it's just a towel. Go to town on playing with patterns! It's all good.

In August, I got to take another weaving class with Judith, and since then I figured I've woven about 24 yards of fabric and wound on about 10 different warps, ranging from 3 yards to 9 yards long. I have started a business to share the love. I have been a Busy Camper.

And in the end, I decided this was So Much Fun that I got a contract, telecommuting job that would allow me to move closer to Judith so I can take and assist in more classes. I even got my scarves in to a great and wonderful shop to sell on consignment! Really, does it get much better than this?

So, if you're getting in to the weaving thing, BE WARNED! You can get seriously sucked in. And you won't get out again. Here, let me help you select a loom... :-)