The Weaving Process

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Creating fabric out of long strands of fiber is a process for the unintimidated by tangles and tedium.

If I’m to be completely honest, the first few times I warped my first small loom, I was sick to my stomach.
And that was my small loom and a much simpler, yet still foreign to me, process.

If I remember right, it was a mess of math I was unfamiliar with, apprehension of wasting glorious yardage of virgin fiber, reading and re-reading instructions that sounded as if they were another language entirely, and crossed strings and mishaps galore.

Yet somehow I found myself intrigued and willing to try and try again. It seems that some things are truly meant to be…and others, perhaps not.

To give you an idea of the process, I will walk through the major steps I use to weave a piece on my floor loom.

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1. Ideally, draft the pattern and use those math skills to go backwards, forwards, and at times, upside down.
Next up, select the fiber for said project and attempt to not buy excess fiber…unless it’s a wicked good deal…then succumb to the pressure.
(These steps are often flipped for me. Spontaneity is key. Sometimes ill-fitting, but often with great rewards.)

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2. Begin the warping process, section by section. (In the case of this project, it was a mere 506 ends to wrap.)
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3. Realize the lighting is gorgeous and take a breather and grab the camera for a quick photo session. At least yarn doesn’t move. Usually.
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4. Wrangle fiber neatly and methodically in order to put it in its tidy place on the back bar.
Key word: Patience.
Then wind, wind, wind the yardage till it’s nearly all on the back beam.

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5. Next, pull each strand end through the tiny hole on the interspersed metal heddles on each of the larger framed shafts.
This will help create the final pattern in combination with pushing the appropriate treadles (pedals) to lift varying shafts, and therefore strings.

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6. Start to see an organized mess at the back of the loom and feel joy in the process.
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7. Tie the fiber ends onto the front bar and establish consistent and even tension.
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8. Luxuriate in the order of it all.
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9. Enjoy this stage for its deceptive simplicity and brilliance. After all, this is the kind of thing OCD dreams are made of.
Even, taut, gorgeous, and warped. Ready to weave!

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10. Wind a few bazillion bobbins of fiber for the weft.
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11. Weave row by row by row. Delight in seeing the patterns emerge. Listen to good music. Then get tired of listening. Crave silence.
Focus on treadling that 15+ step pattern.

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12. Be grateful for the patterns and balance that occasionally worked out differently than planned, but beautifully, none the less.
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13. Unroll the piece and cut the umbilical cord. She’s off the loom and breathing and ready to have a life of her own.
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14. Time to enjoy!

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Thanks for reading this “quick” snap shot of the weaving process on a floor loom. Please come visit the shop for your own hand woven piece.

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