Remember potholder looms? I made many such potholders when I was young. It is a natural entry point for a budding weaver. My eight-year-old grandson has mastered potholders. He is ready for a bigger challenge. I ask, “Would you like to try weaving on a floor loom?” Wide-eyed, he says, “Yes!”
Sit here. Practice moving your feet on the treadles: Right foot 1-2-3-4; 1-2-3-4; left foot 5-6-7-8; 5-6-7-8. (Can you do it without looking at your feet?) Hold the shuttle in your right hand, and send it across the top of the warp over to your left hand. Practice gliding the shuttle back and forth on top of the warp several times to get the hang of it. Okay, I think you’re ready! Let’s do it!
Within a few minutes he is weaving unassisted. Ahh, the joy of seeing someone take pleasure in making cloth—especially, when that someone is your grandchild!
And now, the potholder loom grabs the attention of another grandchild. “Let me do it myself,” she says, like a typical five-year-old. The cycle repeats itself, and Lola (that’s me) smiles.
Would you believe me if I told you I had the exact length of fabric needed to cut out the three tiers for this skirt, with not a millimeter to spare? It’s true. Despite a profusion of fitting conundrums, detail studies, do-overs, ripping outs, mind-bending problem solving, and to-the-thread close calls, I never considered giving up. That’s not true. I did think of throwing in the towel. But, thankfully, my cheerleader husband won’t let me take that option.
I have a deeper respect now for my friends whose sweet spot is garment design and construction. This Tiers of Joy experience has reminded me that handweaving is my sweet spot. It’s the thing I do that makes me say, “I was made for this.” When I’m at the loom I am soaring. What is your sweet spot? Let the breath of God make you soar.
Happily, I have a memorable handwoven skirt to wear on my date with Steve to the Symphony of the Hills Christmas concert next week.
Here’s a short slideshow video of this thread-to-garment story:
I am giving thanks for you! I’m glad you and I get to walk through this weaving (and sewing) journey together.
I’m in my own little world when I’m at the drawloom. No podcasts, no music going, no interruptions. It’s all deliberate focused attention on this thing I’m doing—following the chart row by row, drawing handles and cords, imprinting trees into cloth. It’s a delightful experience that I don’t want to end.
The simple tree design is scattered across the fabric using the single unit draw system. At the start of this towel, the same tree design was woven on the side borders using the pattern shafts. With this combination drawloom I combine single units and pattern shafts to work in complex harmony, as an expression of my creativity.
The Lord is ready to give us his focused attention. Our complexity is no threat to him. When we allow him to direct our hearts, pulling cords at the right place to imprint his will in us, he faithfully completes the work, to the very last detail. The Lord embraces those who fully trust him. His unseen designs become visible in the lives of those who belong to him. We can just imagine the delight this brings to our Maker.
You never know when you’ll need a piece of blue tape. A roll of blue painter’s tape is among my essential weaving supplies. My favorite way to temporarily mark just about anything is with a piece of blue tape.
Blue Painters Tape for Temporary Markings
Cut (or tear) the tape to size.
Fold one edge of the tape under. This makes a little tab so that the tape is easy to remove or reposition.
Use a fine point Sharpie to write on the tape.
Keep your place. Draw an arrow on a small piece of blue tape. Use the arrow on the tape to follow along the threading or treadlingdraft. This eliminates confusion, especially after a pause.
Measure the space. Draw a straight line on small pieces of tape. Measure the warp width on a tapestry frame or rigid heddle loom. Use the lines on the tape to mark where the first and last warp ends should lie on the loom. This eliminates guessing when warping the loom.
Number with Grace. Write out a series of numbers on a long piece of tape, leaving space between the numbers. Cut the numbers apart. Use the numbers to label pattern shaftdraw handles on the drawloom. Place the numbers directly above the draw handles, arranged in groups of five for easy visual recognition. Use a separate series of numbers for border pattern shafts, if applicable. This temporary numbering system gives the advantage of being able to customize the numbering for each drawloom draft.
Have you found ways to use blue painter’s tape in your weaving studio? Share in the comments!
May your life leave marks that are more than temporary.
I call her the ”Rain Girl.” She comes from an illustration in a very old children’s book on our bookshelf. The small tapestry is cute. But with its many slits and single warp wrappings, it falls short of what it could be. I compromised best practices to make it work.
The main fault is with the cartoon. It isn’t weave-able. The image is too small for this sett. There must be a better way to weave this image.
I am starting over with a whole new cartoon! I have now learned that Affinity Designer (computer graphics software) gives me the ability to create vertical parallel lines equivalent to my sett. With those lines in view I can see exactly how each part of the cartoon fits the warp spacing. I am turning the image on its side and enlarging it, and then, cropping to size. This cartoon is going to be weave-able.
All of us have gone our own way. We insistently follow our own cartoon, compromising best practices, while struggling to make it work. There is a better way. Jesus Christ gave himself so that the Grand Weaver’s cartoon could be written on our hearts. In his hands we become his beloved tapestry. Be weave-able.