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The Accidental Weaver

I hadn’t intended on becoming a weaver. It was all an accident. It wasn’t that I am not interested in weaving. Not at all. In fact, I am quite fascinated by all things textile. I just hadn’t planned on buying a loom….at least not then. As my skill at spinning developed over the past few years, it occurred to me that weaving might be a way to gain control over the rapidly accumulating stash of yarn I was producing. When I move back to Canada, I thought, I’ll take a course through the Ottawa Valley Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild, where I had taken a number of spinning workshops, and see if weaving might be for me. The universe, however, had other plans.

No sooner had I accepted the possibility of weaving into my life, then looms kept appearing. Just before departure on our bicycle tour of Provence in September 2013, I received a flurry of personal messages on Ravelry. There was a four shaft floor loom for sale in Hungary and I should make inquiries, my contacts repeatedly told me. Nope, not interested. Eventually, they wore me down and I clicked one of the links I’d been sent. Wow. It was a stunner. Solid ash framework with a natural linseed oil finish was certainly appealing. And only two hours away from Budapest. I suggested it to the man, who surprised the heck out of me by saying that it sounded like a good idea. So off we went, only to drag a carload of pieces back mere days before going on holiday. Yes, we did put it back together before departure. Good thing, too. Our memories are…selective. And there were a lot of pieces.


It took quite a while for me to work up the nerve to wind a warp for it. I read everything I could get my hands on and downloaded videos, in an effort to self-educate. I wove a long test strip and played with different weaving drafts from a book. This was eventually cut up to become dish cloths. With trepidation, I wound a striped warp for my first project, waffle weave tea towels. Nothing like jumping in at the deep end (a character flaw, I’m sure). There were mistakes, but they turned out quite well, don’t you think?

Cottolin waffle weave tea towels

Cottolin waffle weave tea towels

And then the move took over life. Fortunately, I had enrolled in a beginning weaving workshop before things got too crazy, so I spent four Saturdays this autumn learning the ins and outs of basic weaving from an experienced instructor. This made a huge difference! As soon as the classes were over, I wound up another warp for tea towels, intended as a Christmas gift. Um, yeah. I just finished them the other day, at the end of January. Fortunately, the recipient is okay with that.

This is the first towel.

IMG_0270There are four in the set, all woven on the same warp. I’m glad that this first one was in plain weave (simple over-under) because I was very rusty indeed. There are numerous skips in the finished towel due to my ineptitude. Oh well. Each towel became better….some old adage about practice comes to mind.

IMG_0273See how different a change in treadling can make the finished cloth? The third and fourth towels used the beige as weft to make a coordinating set.

IMG_0275_2When I was entering the home stretch on the last towel, I realized that I had a serious problem. Evidently I had made a big oops when putting the warp onto the loom and now had sagging threads. What to do? The internet and several books in my library came to the rescue and I realized that I had to add weight to each of these threads in order to provide sufficient tension to weave them. But how? Imagination and a trip to Home Depot saves the day!

Underneath it all

Underneath it all

Those old fashioned shower curtain rings are certainly multi-taskers! I used oversized washers, pattern weights, and coins in a plastic bag to add the necessary tension on each of the loose threads. Unfortunately the problem meant that the final towel in the set was 5 cm shorter than the others, but the only other alternative was to have a set of three and waste a lot of cotton thread.

IMG_0298_2I think that it will be insignificant in use, don’t you? Here they are, all washed, hemmed, and ready to give to Mom. I hope she likes them.

So this afternoon, I started winding another warp. Another set of towels-to-be will keep me busy for the next little bit. And who knows what will come later?

About sandyjager

When my husband was transferred by the Canadian Forces to Budapest, Hungary, in the summer of 2011, life as I knew it changed. None of my previous experiences prepared me for how different life was going to be. Fortunately, my inability to tolerate boredom means that I have lots of things to keep me busy - knitting, spinning, sewing, cooking, fitness and art. I will be sharing my latest exploits here, so stay tuned!

6 responses »

  1. I use paperclips opened into an ‘S’ shape and hang big washers on them. I put mine in the individual threads *behind* the back beam. That’s how I weight my floating selvedges, too.

    • Good idea. I can’t place any weight in the same place you do because of the location of my warp beam vs the back beam on my loom. At least, when I tried, the weights just slid forwards towards the heddles anyway.

  2. Those towels are lovely, Sandy! You should be so proud. I’m terrified by the thought of weaving, and I’ve had a couple of goes at it already. It’s not my idea of fun, I have to say. In fact, somewhat like spinning but more so, it should actually be called “warping” in the same way “spinning” should be “yarn management”.

    Do you have a way for me to subscribe to your blog by email? It’s really my favourite way to keep up with blogs, but I’ll add it to my feedly as well. Then I’ll read it at least every three months! LOL

    • Thank you so much, Kat. “Warp management” has been challenging today, to say the least, so I’m abdicating my stool under the loom and moving to the wheel instead.

      I’ve received a notice that you’re following my blog, so I assume that you’ll receive an email whenever I upload a new post. As I receive one when you post. Thank you for subscribing! I’ll try to make it entertaining. 😉

  3. Love these! I absolutely love these! they turned out fantastic, the colors, patterns, everything. So glad you took the plunge and I can live vicariously! g

  4. Thank you so much, G! How nice to hear from you. I’m a bit behind…I’ve finished quite a bit since then, but haven’t been pounding the keyboard. Someone told me earlier to hurry up and post because they missed me, so I’d best get to it.


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