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Weaving Hangover

July 25, 2011

I started my weaving apprenticeship yesterday. If there’s such a thing as a “weaving hangover,” I woke up with one this morning. My legs and hips feel a bit sore from pumping the pedals on the loom and I kept waking up from dreams about yarn and what I’m going to weave next.

It was a truly magical day for me yesterday during my weaving lesson to kick-off my weaving apprenticeship with Beryl Warnes at Julian Weaving Works.  My head “exploded” several times by what she showed me.  The mill, using different warping yarns for color interest, and talking about the different yarns I can use from my stash.

First, Beryl showed me how to figure out how much warp yardage we needed, measure the warp on a mill (much easier than a warping board), dressed the loom, and got started. We were doing a “tabby” weave, so set up the Leclerc (jack) loom to lift heddle frames 1 & 3 together, then 2 & 4 together. All told, it took us about 3-4 hours to measure the warp and dress the loom.  But that warp is enough for five 21″-wide, 90″-long shawls.

How to hold the shuttle correctly, how to wind bobbins correctly… all part of the first lesson. The bobbin holds the yarn and the shuttle holds the bobbin.  The shuttle gets passed through the “shed” (the area that opens between the top and bottom layers of yarn as the pedals move the shafts up and down).  You’d think holding the shuttle and winding the bobbins would be the easy part, but no.  Actually there’s quite a technique to winding a bobbin so that it’s tapered on each end, wider in the middle… but not too wide because you don’t want it to get stuck half way through the shed. Holding the shuttle just right to give it enough oomph through the shed so that it goes through flatly, not pointed up or down so it goes between the warp yarns… then you’ve got a tangled mess.

The weaving part works like this… press the right pedal when throwing the shuttle from the right, pull the beater forward, let go of the right pedal, push down the left pedal, release the beater; left throw, pull the beater, let go left pedal, push down right pedal, release the beater.  It’s a lot of hand-eye-foot coordination. No wonder I felt like I had a hangover this morning.

After about an hour, I got my rhythm down. Two-and-a-half hours later, I had a shawl. 

We made fringe on the ends and I took it home to soak in cold water and Downy for 20 minutes.  Spin on the handwash cycle in our front-loader and hang to dry.  This morning, I have a beautiful, drapey, off-white shawl that will work great all year round.

My next apprentice session is on August 7, which will give me time to do some weaving on my own Leclerc loom and get in some more practice.  I don’t know what I’ll be working on next for Beryl (it will be something she’s got on one of her looms), but I can’t wait!

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 27, 2011 1:43 pm

    I’m looking forward to reading your musings!

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