Weft and Wight

The only workshop I paid to attend at Madrona Fiber Arts was a weaving introduction offered by Syne Mitchell, the talent behind WeaveCast, the weaver’s podcast and WeaveZine. Unfortunately, a little mix-up prevented me from attending the class, but the brains behind the event, Suzanne Pedersen, suggested that I assist Syne at the free weaving demonstration she was offering on Saturday in the rotunda.

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As students passed through the rotunda on their way to and from classes and the marketplace, they stopped to see the two looms Syne set up for the day. The first was a rigid heddle loom used by the students in class to recreate a simple weave pattern, reminiscent of a basketweave stitch. This small loom is a great starting point for beginners as it is small, portable and simple to warp. A four harness table loom was on loan from her son’s Montessori school, where she had been teaching the children to weave; it was warped with colored yarn used to denote standard number sequences in the Montessori method (1 is pink, 2 is yellow, 3 is light blue etc…). This table loom is outfitted with four moveable heddles attached to handles which are raised and lowered in sequence according to the pattern the weaver wants to create.

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Before long, I had decided the table loom was my preferred piece, so I parked myself in front of it to create different textures. By raising and lowering the heddles in various combinations, it is easy to create many beautiful weaves; my favorites were the twill weaves where the front and back of the piece show predominantly either the warp yarn or the weft. When I asked Syne how to remember the difference between the warp and the weft, she said the warp goes up and down, while the weft goes ‘weft and wight’.

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On a side table, Syne laid out samples of her new zine, and talked about her podcast. People who signed up for her mailing list were entered into a drawing for a weaving kit, generously donated by the folks at Just Our Yarn. Since I can count on one finger the number of prizes I’ve won in my life, I didn’t look very carefully at the kit.

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Imagine my surprise when Syne contacted me after the event to tell me my name had been chosen as one of the lucky winners. Even greater was my delight when I realized this was no ordinary kit: included with the pattern were two skeins of Caravan lambswool/camel yarn. Yippee!

Suffice it to say that I came away from the demonstration smitten by yet another fiber tradition, which seems a perfect compliment to the other skills I’m trying to master. As Syne has illustrated in her article on painted skein warps, this craft is perfectly suited to displaying cottage yarn (my term invented to describe all yarns spun and/or painted by hand) better than either knitting or crochet. Short pieces will stand out in a piece that is warped with a solid yarn for contrast. I left Madrona with two new skills under my belt and the perfect way to integrate them. In an upcoming post, I’ll write about our family adventures building and warping a pipe loom.

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2 Responses to “Weft and Wight”


  1. 1 Carrie Wednesday, March 12, 2008 at 5:52 pm

    Fun!! I’d love to see a table loom. Fits my “everything must be packable” ideal 🙂 This is a secret, but my favorite scarves are always woven, not knit. I also have this hankering for handmade towels, napkins, and other linens, but I don’t want to knit them. I think I’d like to learn to weave some day 🙂

  2. 2 Josiane Wednesday, March 12, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Wow, you really made the most out of your time in Madrona! In my opinion, coming back with new skills (and not one, but two!) totally beats coming back with new stash only. It’s too bad you couldn’t attend the class, but it’s great that another way for you to learn has been found.


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