I spent two hours at The Chicago Weaving School (Irving Park and Keeler) learning beginning weaving in a one-on-one session with owner, Natalie. The school is a large storefront filled with over fifty looms of all shapes and sizes.
Four small floor looms were “dressed” in various colors, ready to begin a project. I chose one with two shades of blue warp threads. She introduced me to the vocabulary of weaving; to warp, weft, shuttles, draw, heddles, harnesses, reeds and so on.
Mostly, she let me play. She brought me a huge basket of yarns and had me wind a shuttle with my choice of color (green.) I sent the shuttle back and forth about forty times before she stopped me to show me how my edges were drawing in. She taught me how to leave the weft yarn at an angle so that when the beater bar pressed it in place, it had enough extra give to go through all the warp threads without pulling too tight.
I wove a basic weave on a two-harness loom with foot pedals. The right pedal lifted the every other thread up making a “shed”, a triangular opening for the shuttle. The left pedal brought the alternating threads up, again forming a shed. By alternating the pedals, I was weaving a basic in-and-out pattern of over/under one thread. On a more complicated loom that pattern can vary more.
For instance, the tartan weave is always a “twill” pattern of over/under two threads. It requires four harnesses (the part of the loom that lifts the threads) and four lifters. “Lifters” is my word–I can’t remember or find the proper word yet–they are controlled either by the foot pedals or by hand devices that lift the required harness. (Need to learn more about these next time.)
In two hours, I finished this:
What is it?
(Sometime after the holidays, I will sign up for a four week Wonder Project (four 4-hour sessions) and attempt to weave some tartan cloth or placemats.)