Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Today I finished weaving the seventh of two blankets. I cheered! I have been proofing a pattern which will appear in my next book and it has taken me seven tries to get the patterns for the two blankets correct.

I am an indifferent weaver. I know how to weave. I have woven several sets of placemats, fabric for a shirt, half a dozen pillow covers and several tapestries, but I don’t weave easily. The lace pattern in my From Sheep to Shawl book (due to be out this winter – keep your eyes open) has tried my patience and my brain.

The solutions to the problems I ran into were varied. First, I had to accommodate for the way I warp the loom. Because I’m short, when I warp, I lay the warp threads in from the front of the loom to the back, the opposite of what my two weaving reference books and most other weavers suggest. When I warped the loom my way, the treadling diagram made no sense, and the weft made no pattern in the woven fabric. I had to reverse the treadling diagram to begin to see the pattern I knew should be there.

The second problem was in my weaving technique. I have most recently been weaving weft faced fabrics. That means that I beat the weft threads tightly against each other so that none of the warp threads show. When I used the beater in my typical heavy handed way on the lace pattern I was trying to weave, the pattern that appeared in my fabric was only about one third the height of the sample pattern. I had to learn to be much more gentle as I wove.

The third problem was easily solved on my fifth sample weaving when I read the pattern carefully and realized that I wasn’t following the repeats written into the pattern.

The fourth problem was a misprint in the pattern I was proofing. By now, three months into an in depth analysis of the two sample pieces of woven fabric that I was trying to copy, of the written pattern with an accompanying graphed pattern draft, and of my attempted copies, I realized that there was a misprint in the pattern draft. When I corrected the misprint, the pattern appeared in my weaving, plain as day.

I listened to a lot of books on tape as I wove. I learned or relearned a lot about weaving as I worked. And I was forced to really stretch my brain, a painful, but ultimately exhilarating process.

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