Thursday, August 03, 2006

Weaving around the bend

Yeap that’s what I’ve been doing these past two nights. I got myself a very simple rigid heddle loom – the Ashford Knitters Loom which my sister brought back from NZ for me.

It’s a gorgeous lightweight little number that’s a perfect start up at a reasonable price. Now I’m sure you’re thinking “new hobby, new stash” but that’s the beauty of weaving is that I can basically use almost the same stash as I do in knitting.

My first effort - a 60 inch scarf woven with golf rayon thread as the warp and variagated Rayon flakes as weft.

Here's a closer look - My DH says it looks like mud, but I think the gold thread gives it a cool accent.

My first experience in weaving was when I was a unemployed bum (right after graduation) and I was flatting with some textile design students for the local polytech. This was during my knitting for sale days so it was quite a perfect arrangement for me. One of the girls bought back a table loom all warped and ready to go. She was supposed to weave this piece of cloth to make a vest but she had other more social things to do so she paid me to do it.

If warping is a huge tangled mess with 80 warp ends - how bad do you think it will be at 200-300?

She had done all the dyeing of the thread (a gorgeous pink and blue) and warping, showed me which lever to pull, when and away I went. I slaved over that thing for 2 weeks.

Hope this second project will take me less than 2 weeks. Cushion cover in a check pattern with Butterfly Super 8 Cotton (DK weight)

I did want to sign up for a weaving class after that but the complexity of planning and warping of the loom put me off. Even now, the words “multiharness’ and “treadles” and the cryptic image of a weave pattern draft is sending signals to brain to “Keep Out!”.

Weaving, however, is a local art cottage industry in Malaysia. Weavers (mostly women co-ops) weave a much sought after cloth with gold threads and patterns called songket. Songket is used in many wedding attires and ceremonial functions and many of the patterns are handed down from generation to generation. Click Here and Here for more information and some gorgeous samples.

What the local weavers here do not have are the fancy technologically advanced looms of the west and still, they can produce such lovely complex fabric with the same two harness loom they used for hundreds of years.

No harnesses just one reed that goes up or down. And already I'm searching the net for more patterns.

My journey into weaving is going to start small. With little baby steps. With the objective to reduce the huge oddball collection in my yarn stash. So tell me why am I starting to dream of having my own weaving studio??

With DK weight, you can see the fabric is quite open - MUST get more worsted weight or reeds with more teeth.

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