weaving update

Today I learned I can never be a backstrap weaver.

My piece, which I’ve been carefully and meticulously working on all month, is crooked. It seemed a little off while weaving, but with my lack of depth perception I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. Turns out I’ve been weaving diagonally for the last month. Maybe I can turn those 30 inches into something where a diagonal stripe isn’t noticeable? Though now that you’ve read about it good luck overlooking it!

So, I can check “weaver” off the list of possible jobs. (Not that I was planning on making it my calling, but one likes to keep their options open).¬†Good to know, right?

the start of weaving

Bryan helped me (i.e. did most of the work) to set up a backstrap loom to weave. I’m finding it a bit ironic that I’m in Japan weaving when I grew up with a master weaver mother, but maybe it’s better not to learn from family?

Here we go:

The warp is indigo dyed linen plus natural linen and the weft is linen. Here it is taken down from the warping board, sitting next to a handmade bamboo reed. I created the stripe inspired by an image from a book featuring traditional Japanese weaving patterns. I think stripes might be called “shima”, but I’ll have to check on that.

Once you’ve put the threads through the reed and tied on (and other prep work I don’t know the jargon for), you begin to set up your loom. First, you find a big pole to tie your warp to. You’ll be weaving toward this destination for a while, so let’s make it a good location. Bryan’s house has a nice open space on the second floor with large beams.

Here it is, all neatly rolled and attached to a pole wrapped around the beam. The dark blue pad is the backstrap that you tie around yourself. You lean back on the backstrap, which pulls the warp threads taut, and use your body to maintain/adjust this tension. Then you begin to weave, remembering all the other rules of weaving, like keeping an even selvedge, beating evenly, and making sure each time you lift the warp you are getting all the correct threads for that shed. Nothing to worry about.

These 10 or so inches took me all afternoon.







And I have a ways to go, clearly. That beam is looking awfully far away.









Good thing I’m here for a month, amirite?! He has no tv, and the wifi is spotty, so I’m pretty sure I’ll have the time.