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Category Archives: Arts and Crafts

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.

IMG_2054

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?

A Celebration of Folk Art

A couple of months ago, I saw a photo on a Facebook friend’s feed. It was in Hungarian, so I had absolutely no idea what the event was, but in the photo I saw yarn that appeared to be on a loom, so I did a little investigating. A festival of folk arts, here in Budapest? Really? And the theme for this year is wool? Oh yes, I am definitely interested! It was held last weekend and turned out to be the most inspiring event I have attended in years. It took over the entirety of the Buda Castle grounds, including along the ramparts and down the street that snakes along the side of the hill outside the castle walls. I have never seen an event so large here. Or so well-attended. We went on Sunday, the second day, and were so blown away that a return visit was mandatory.

View from halfway up funicular to Clark Adam Ter. There is a dance troupe on the stage.

View from halfway up funicular to Clark Adam Ter. There is a dance troupe on the stage.

According to the brochure, there were over 800 artisans displaying their wares. What I didn’t realize was that not only would many be in traditional costume, but many were actually demonstrating their prowess at their art. Spinning, weaving, embroidery, felt making, woodworking, shoe making, metal work, pottery….the list goes on and on. There were even handmade musical instruments. I watched fashion shows and demonstrations of traditional dance and music. Those two days of walking around the castle grounds will be inspirational for months to come.

Photos? You want photos? Well, I did take rather a lot of them.

Bobbin lace making

Bobbin lace making

This potter was wearing the most fabulous embroidered shirt!

This potter was wearing the most fabulous embroidered shirt!

Tapestry weaving

Tapestry weaving

Traditional round looms

Traditional round looms

I was particularly impressed with the craftspeople who managed to take a time-honoured craft and move it into the present day. Love the clothing.

IMG_1514 IMG_1515 IMG_1516And the furniture. If I didn’t have a lovely dining set, this would be in my house now. By Canadian standards, it was cheap!

Stunning dining set

Stunning dining set

I have many more photos to show you, so I’ll stop there and reorganize myself. Suffice it to say, I am very sorry that we only discovered this event at this stage in our posting. By the time it rolls around again next August, we will have moved away from Hungary.