What Makes Weaving “Fun”?

One of the contributors to a weaving magazine described her recent project as the “most mundane piece [she’s] ever undertaken … non-creative and repetitious beyond belief,” yet later in the article, she goes on to say “it’s one of the most engaging projects” she’s ever undertaken. This project, she tells the reader, is cloth for a pair of colonial breeches her brother will wear as a blacksmith at a living history museum.

She is discovering something we get to experience every day in our weaving shop.  Every project on our looms is either for a particular person or for the furthering of our skills as we teach and support and exchange knowledge with each other. This gives meaning to every project and task, so we would never be able to describe any project as “mundane.”

One of our apprentices wove a 4 yard sample of cotton cloth. She did this in preparation for weaving 9 1/2 yards of fabric to be made into a dress for her cousin to wear at the rehearsal dinner of her upcoming wedding. The 9 1/2 yards included enough fabric to make a shirt for the groom.  In the “tedious” job of threading the heddle, she was assisted by her sisters, age 10 and 18 and a number of friends, who handed her the more than 1,800 warp ends to be threaded onto one of the 6 shafts of our Dobby loom.  We were excited about her progress every step of the way, and when the beautiful dress and shirt were completed, we all felt a sense of fulfillment.

Yohanna, one of our weaving teachers,  just finished a commissioned piece on our drawloom.  (We purchased the drawloom 3 years ago and are still exporing its potential.)  Yohanna was asked to design an upholstery fabric to match some unique Italian tiles in peach, green, and beige tones.  On the drawloom, you can replicate any pattern that can be drawn on graph paper.  Yohanna warped up 45 pattern shafts to produce 3 different patterns simultaneously.  One of the patterns was threaded in straight draw, and two of the patterns in point, at 51 warp ends to the inch.  In creating this lovely cloth, Yohanna pushed the limits of all of her knowledge of the draw loom, and at the same time, the project opened the way for all of us in the shop to see new possibilities for this loom.

Our “work” here at Fibercrafts is never boring.  It’s a joy to wind the warp, beam on, thread heddles, adjust tension, weave within a limited time frame, deal with minor (and sometimes, major!) setbacks, put on the finishing touches, and get ready for the next project. Knowing that each project has a purpose or that we’re making it for someone we care about — that’s what makes weaving fun.