Many of my crafting decisions over the last year have been motivated by either a lack of space or a lack of time. Nowhere is this more true than in my flirtation with weaving, where a dearth of proper training, enough space to store a loom that inhabits more than two dimensions, or time to finish weaving something larger than a place mat have conspired to make it one of the least realistic crafting choices in my current situation.
Unfortunately I remain undeterred.
The first compromise was the loom. Both due to impatience and a shortage of funds to risk on highly improbable ventures, I decided that the path of least resistance was to make a loom myself. Without much wood working experience, tools, or – the real show-stopper – wood, I contented myself with cardboard. After all, you can cut it with scissors and attach it with tape. Oh, and it’s free!
The first loom was made from a tiny box in which we received a baby spoon and construction took all of ten minutes. I was so delighted by both the instantaneous nature of making a loom and the glorious amount of trial and error required to turn small strings of yarn into cloth that at first I ignored the tiny loom’s many shortcomings.
After tying off my first woven piece with the tiny loom, I knew there must be a better way to finish the ends than trying to deal with short and stubby yarn tails. I started dreaming of a larger cardboard loom where the warp would be spaced farther apart and the weft (from the actual weaving) would be compressed against a solid surface, such as a knitting needle, to prevent the ends from being rounded. Since this new cardboard loom would be both longer and wider, a tapestry needle (from my knitting kit) would no longer suffice to thread the yarn between the warp threads and the scale-up would also require longer pieces of yarn wound around a shuttle.
And then the perfect cardboard box arrived as the packaging for a baby book gifted to Adi for her first birthday. Cutting out the sides of the box to make weaving easier even provided the perfect size cardboard pieces to make a shuttle or two. Fifteen minutes later (there was some taping to do this time) I had a new cardboard loom and shuttle all ready to use and five minutes after that it was warped and weaving had commenced.
The first finished piece from my new loom is now a doll cape for Adi. It uses alpaca yarn for the warp and muted colors of naturally dyed cotton for the weft. I’m still not completely happy with the way the ends turned out; probably longer ends for the warp that could be tied and braided afterwards would be better. One end is finished by encasing the warp tails in stitches and the other end with longer warp tails is finished by tying the tails together and then sewing them down as a fringe for the top of the cape.
While this new loom is far from perfect, it has already taught me a lot about what parts of weaving I most enjoy and what parts I still find frustrating. There is no chance of finding room for a larger loom in our apartment any time soon, but I have started dreaming of dusting off one of my mother’s looms long forgotten in their barn. She made all sorts of beautiful woven pieces back before I was born, including the most lovely cotton baby blanket for her first grandbaby. I’m not sure I’m prepared to plan ahead quite that far, but the thought of finally weaving my own cloth for a dress is a good start!