Monday, 22 December 2014

A few thoughts about weaving, looms and frames

    Pic.1: from: Susi Dunsmore Nepalese Textiles, British Museum Press 1993, p 178

What is ‘weaving'?

It is a technique of making fabric. In weaving we have two sets of fibre (yarns, threads, twines) interlaced together, usually perpendicularly. The fibres placed vertically are called ‘warp’, those placed horizontally are ‘weft’, and their combination is ‘weave’

Weaving is a very old craft: the oldest found artifact comes from about 7000 BC, but some indications suggest that the craft is even older.


Weaving has a lot in common with basket making....


...and wicker fence making...




Weaving is usually done on a loom. There are many different kinds of looms, intended  for different size and purpose of produced fabric, designed for particular techniques used for weaving and of course dependent on the available materials a weaver has for building this tool:

1) a horizontal, floor loom


2)  a vertical loom

Pic.9: from: Susi Dunsmore Nepalese Textiles, British Museum Press 1993. p. 172

Pic.10: from: Susi Dunsmore Nepalese Textiles, British Museum Press 1993, p.174

3) a back-strap loom

Pic.12: from: Susi Dunsmore Nepalese Textiles, British Museum Press 1993, p.143

 ...and here you have a slightly different kind of back-strap loom... or rather no loom at all: a weaver is using her body as a loom, stretching warp around her waist and a big toe!
Pic.13: from: Susi Dunsmore Nepalese Textiles, British Museum Press 1993, p.87

A particular type of weaving is tablet weaving, called card weaving as well. In this technique a weaver uses special cards or tablets made of cardboard, wood, horn or metal, to create a shed to allow weft be passed through warp. 
There are many kinds of looms used in tablet weaving.


In peg loom weaving weft is initially placed on wooden pegs, which have warp attached to them. In process of weaving weft is slid from pegs down onto warp.


Finger weaving doesn't require any kind of loom. A weaver needs only to anchor a work piece on the beginning of the process. The anchor can be anything like, a hook in the wall, a chair, a door knob, a big toe...


In my weaving as an artist and a teacher I work on simple weaving frames. The idea of a frame is similar to a loom, but a weaving frame limits the size of a woven piece, while on a loom we can make fabrics and tapestries of very different lengths.

My weaving frames vary in size.

Pic.20: Uisce weaving on a small frame, photo by Mike Prendergast

Pic.21: Uisce working on a large frame, photo by Mike Prendergast 


As you can see, weaving is a craft of various techniques and many possibilities. It has a very long tradition and it is popular all over the world in many cultures.
You don't need to have sophisticated and expensive tools to enjoy the craft. Just a bit of patience...

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