Written by Suzanne McAllister
I got my first taste of weaving when, as a teenager in high school in Australia, I took an elective class in home economics and part of the course was either sewing, knitting or weaving. I chose weaving, as my efforts at knitting and weaving were woeful. I was quite fascinated with it, but didn’t pursue it after that year as my interests went in a different direction … and so over the years I forgot most of what I had learned.
Then 46 years later I was introduced to it again by a friend who was a weaver. So the question then was … “to weave or not to weave” ? I decided that the best way to find out would be to rent a loom to see if I liked it … it only took me a week or two to decide that this was a hobby that I could really immerse myself in, so I returned the rented loom and bought one.
At the time we lived in a two story floating home on the Columbia River in Portland. The only space for the loom was on the second floor which presented a bit of a challenge as the only way up was via a quite narrow spiral staircase. The loom, of course, was never going to make it up that way so in the end we removed the upstairs windows, and with a lot of ingenuity and the help of our neighbors on the dock, were able to manhandle it up there. And miraculously, it made it up there in one piece and with no damage.
So I was all set and ready to go, but decided that I really should take lessons … however, that didn’t work out so well as there was a 3 year waiting period to get into a class … no way was I going to wait that long … I had my loom and I wanted to weave … now !!! Off to the bookstore I took myself and I proceeded to read and read and learned a whole new vocabulary of “weave speak” … heddles, dents, treadles, warp and weft, reeds, “dressing”(setting up) the loom … to name a few. Then after the “dressing” it was on to the actual weaving and after much trial and error I was able to finish a project that was acceptable. And boy, then did I weave … kitchen towels, wall hangings, scarves, place mats, cloth for clothing, rugs, throw pillow covers … the choices and possibilities were endless, challenging and exciting.
Now, 16 years later my loom and I are still busy … maybe not at the same pace as when we first started (after all, we are both a bit older), but nevertheless I can still find projects that interest me and I still have the same passion for it. I will never be a master weaver, but it’s unbelievable the amount of fun and satisfaction that loom has given me over the years.