Smoothing The Rough Edges

I needed a break from the pillow pile-up and had a request for a baby blanket.  I did a quick (and familiar) blooming leaf, but wanted to do something a little more modern and fun.  I decided to re-visit Dotty on 8 shafts in Summer and Winter.

Baby Dots 1

I am having some fun.  The threading is a slightly tweaked S & W threading of 1,3,2,3,1,4,2,4,1,5,2,5 . . . just repeating the sequence 1,8,2,8  enough times to get  nice spaces between the dots.  Then by modifying the tie-up and or treadling you can smooth the circles, flatten or elongate as well as add vertical or horizontal stripes – in other words – have fun and design on the fly. I don’t have pics yet but I have done several rows of small polka dots then horizontal stripes and am now working on a couple of rows of larger polka dots offset from the small dots.  Very entertaining.

DefDW Blanket warp

I also have a blanket warp ready to be threaded on the AVL and a quick and (so far not-so-pretty) series of throw rugs on the loom in the house.  I am using multiple strands of cotton chenille as weft and the color mix is a bit vomit-y at the moment. I am hoping to correct that before posting pictures.

Another project that has been on my mind quite a bit lately, and about which I have ranted to anyone kind enough to lend an ear is A Weaving Cooperative.  The idea has been sparked and inspired by many things, not the least of which are the weaving program that my friend Kim has set up at the University where she works (see pictures in Paying It Forward) and the weaving program run by my friend Barbara at Yale. These two inspirations in addition to the a conversation that keeps happening between my husband and me that goes like this:

Husband –  “We only have one more child to launch, and he will graduate from high school in only 6 years. The pets aren’t getting any younger, and this is a lot of house to clean and paint and heat. . . we should really be thinking of downsizing.  

Me: “I agree – wouldn’t it be nice to have less to clean and maintain? Wouldn’t it be great to be closer to town?  . . .  Wait! What about all my looms? NO, I need space for the looms . . . believe me, you do not want to spent your golden years with me in a small space if I don’t have access to my therapy in loom form!”

So the combined effects of my inspiring weaving mates, the desire to downsize house while keeping looms, and the desire to create an opportunity for younger (college-age) people to weave without having to face the daunting space and $$$ commitment that buying and owning a loom (and bobbin winder and warping board and shuttles and lease sticks and bench and  . . . . ) entail, have made we want to start a weaving cooperative.  I have a super-charged group of weaving buddies who like the idea (and actually have real-world skills and knowledge to bring to the table) who are willing to participate to make it happen.  We are looking at some spaces and thinking about how to organize, run and PAY for this dreamy dream.  Just think, workshops, seminars, pooled fiber, a brain trust of power weavers plus a public space to weave, display and (sell?) our handwovens.  There couldn’t be a downside – right?

11 thoughts on “Smoothing The Rough Edges

  1. That does sound like a lovely idea. As a new weaver I know exactly what you are talking about regarding the investment required. I have a 4 shaft 24″ table loom and it is a lot of fun – I want to weave on a bigger loom, but the $$ and space required will be a big commitment for me and my family.

    I have tried to keep my investment to a minimum so far with $150 for my loom, a borrowed boat shuttle and joy of joys, a guild buddy is giving me a warping board that she has spare (I’ve been warping on the legs of an upturned table hehe). However I can see a big investment coming up and I’m busy putting money into my ‘loom jar’ while I wait for the right loom to be advertised. This is my dreamy dream 😀

    • That’s the thing Claire – I have a young student who LOVES weaving and has a wonderful eye, but can’t have a loom larger than an inkle in her living space. It seems such a shame because the weaving world really needs more open, creative, energetic, idea-rich folks (characteristics abundant in the young)! Once we get going we are planning to reach out to the students at the Five Colleges – perhaps even set up a for-credit program or internship.

      Good luck with your loom search. What size/# of shafts are you looking for? I will keep my eye out – we get many, many “looms for sale” announcements for our guild – are you in the Northeast?

      Finally, I LOVE your grey & red wool pillow – I am a sucker for tassels too.

      • Thank you so much for the pillow love 🙂 it was fun to make.

        Unfortunately I’m about as far away from you as possible in Southern Tasmania. Luckily we have a great guild and I’m sure that a suitable loom will appear sooner or later – in the meantime I’ve decided to enjoy working within the restraints of my current loom.

  2. The cooperative is a great idea. Maybe the concept will spread to other locales and we can help support a new wave of weavers. I will be anxious to hear how the plan evolves. Good luck!!!
    I was so blessed to have a stranger gift a loom she decided she was never going to use to me. It would have taken me years to save for it. It is my most-treasured possession. Her act of kindness had a huge impact on my life, and I hope to have the opportunity to pay it forward. I believe that weavers are by nature a very giving group of people.
    I also love the dots blanket!

    • Thanks Laurie and wouldn’t it be great to have a handweaving resurgence like in the 70’s. I agree that weavers are very share-y and will often do anything to introduce their passion to others – even give away looms! Thanks for commenting!

  3. HI Elisabeth, how I wish I lived near you, I am so dreaming to do something similar in South Africa, but at the moment we don’t have enough weavers and the young textile design students disappear into the either corporate world or motherhood. We sort of have weaving groups with the workshops we give at our guilds.

    Keep well
    Marlene T.

    • We saw some more interesting spaces today and I am very motivated, but we are scrambling for ideas of how to make it work financially. Because it is so hard to make a living as a hand-weaver (my friend says that selling ones hand-wovens is essentially giving gifts to strangers because the cost in time and materials is so high) young people steer clear – even if they love it. Anyway, we have a great little group and we are determined to find a way to make it work . . . wish you were nearer too!!

  4. In Finland, my mother’s cousin walked us down the country road to their community center. Upstairs were about 20 of the neighborhood looms, all set up with different weaves.
    Anyone could sign up to use the looms. There were sky lights, a pleasant sitting area, small kitchen, bathrooms, and some toy boxes there. I don’t think the women paid rent for the space. Here, in Wisconsin, a group of women tried to start a coop, but the rent of the space was a little too steep for many, even divided 5 ways. Maybe in a more populous place it would have worked. Good luck. I think it is a wonderful idea.

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