Wednesday, January 6, 2010

On weaving and the weary mind

Like many fiber admirers, I am curious about textiles of all kinds.  I'd been curious about weaving for a while when I got my rigid heddle (RH) loom on ebay in 2008. I've made a few things on it: a scarf, some washcloths, a three-paneled blanket (my loom is 16" wide), and a few false starts. Weaving is fun, and the RH loom made it easy for me to get started and also get started on a library of rigid-heddle books ;)  And I already have a list of projects in my mind that I'd like to make. It's a great way to work with cotton, which I love but dislike knitting with. Of course, it is great with my beloved wool as well.

I'd been enjoying Weavezine for a while when I noticed this article on backstrap weaving. Wow! I could have a 2nd loom for very little money and try some new things. So after reading the article a few times and watching the associated videos, I found myself at Home Depot with some bits of wood and a fiendish grin. I joined weavolution and its Backstrap Weaving group, which is populated by friendly and helpful crafters.  I've been very much enjoying the Backstrap Weaving blog (Thank you Laverne!).

Here are my backstrap weavings to date and some of the books from which I have gleaned wisdom (I own these but have also made use of my excellent local library!):   

(we interrupt this post for some cursing because even though this image is NOT rotated before I upload, apparently blogger thinks this is what I want)  I apologize for any neck pain this may cause. Obviously I did not make the turtle but he is modeling a "karate belt" that I did make. That and the other orange strip were supposed to be new straps for one of my knitting bags but due to tension problems (the warp's, I think, not mine) I ended the second one early. Dear Son saw them laying next to the sewing machine and said what nice mini-scarves I'd made. So one went to him and the other to Dear Daughter. The larger strap with the green cords is a backstrap I wove (using an old T-shirt as a temporary backstrap).

Backstrap weaving is still used by numerous people around the world although it is not so well-known in North America unless you read Weavezine. It allows you to use a continuous warp that you can weave all the way to the edges with no waste from  tying it onto the loom. It can be used for a variety of projects and for different types of color work, so its humble construction does not limit creativity in any way! I continue to be captivated by this technique even though I am not very good at it yet.
Arghh. I feel like I need Backstrap Weaving for Dummies. I thought it would be fun to learn a new fiber skill completely from scratch and a welcome distraction from the challenges of my life. I was having warp tension problems before Dear Hubby's health problems (which I will not be blogging about here) but apparently my being stressed is complicating things as well. Or maybe I can blame my warping board (loose peg?). I've had a lot more false starts than I did with my RH loom. It's easy to fine-tune warp tension on a RH loom because the warps are tied on in small groups. With a continous warp, it's got to be good from the get-go. I may try backstrap weaving with a non-continous warp to see if it goes better . . .

I've warped my RH loom for some more washcloths while I think about it.

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