Our part of the world enjoys four seasons and right now spring is transitioning to summer. The days are getting longer, warmer, and greener. There’s renewed hope for the garden, renewed energy in the morning walks, the desire to break out of the routine, for something different on the loom, something to get excited about. Getting away for some kind of retreat is a good way to refill the creative well for the coming months.
This past week was just such a retreat for me. I spent the week at Vävstuga Weaving School in Shelburne, Massachusetts studying Drawloom Basics with Becky Ashenden. Becky’s warm welcome and enthusiasm for all things Swedish made all of us feel right at home from start to finish.
What an inspiring week! Yes, I’ve woven on a drawloom for many years, but only with a few structures. Where I’ve woven 5-shaft satin damask before, this past week I had the opportunity to try 8-shaft satin damask.
Damask in 8-Shaft Satin
We learned the properties of the various damask weaves, 5- 7-, 8-, and 10-shaft. We even worked with weaving swords to hold pattern sheds open on two different looms.
4-Shaft broken twill woven with a weaving sword
Where I’ve woven opphämta in the past, at Vävstuga I saw the variety of designs beyond what I’ve tried, combining borders and designing effective figures.
Opphämta with Weaving Sword
Opphämta borders on 10 patterns shafts
And with Smålandsväv, there seems to be limitless variations to keep me busy indefinitely.
I have shaft drawlooms; last week I also wove on single unit drawlooms, both with pattern-saving lashes
Damask with Pattern-Saving Lashes, front
Damask with Pattern-Saving Lashes, back
Single Unit Draw in 6-shaft satin, front
Single Unit Draw in 6-shaft satin, back
I’ve woven mostly with cotton; this week, it was almost exclusively linen or cottonlin. I beat my warp with a steady hand; this week, I learned that some weaves just need a heavy thump.
Lithuanian Opphamta on 21 Pattern Shafts
I can follow simple directions, but I don’t always know the “why” behind the “how.” After a week of discussing the different kinds of looms, deciphering drawdowns, and weaving on several different set-ups, I have a lot more understanding of how to make the loom do what I want it to do.
And now that I’m home again, I’m putting more thought into rearranging my looms and their set-ups. When I bought my second Glimäkra last year, it was basically so I could have one dedicated to drawloom weaves and one to wide and multi-shaft weaves. The class gave me the incentive to make that happen. Over the coming weeks, I will take the draw attachments off my bigger loom and allow it to be used fully as the 12-shaft loom that it is. The smaller loom will then be the dedicated drawloom since I usually don’t weave wide drawn pieces.
I so appreciate Becky’s encouragement and the warm welcome from all the Vävstuga staff. Many thanks to all you! Now that I’m home, there’s so much to weave, so little time!