My Summer of Weaving – Part I

I have had the best Summer of recent history THIS year – the Summer of 2017. This was the year I retired and turned 60. I have always worked – since I was in 7th grade. Not full time, mind you, but I always had some kind of job. My last job was as a High School computer science and math teacher. I was REALLY ready to retire.

In the first month of my last year of teaching I bought a Glimakra Standard 120 cm Vertical Countermarch loom. I knew after doing a little research that this was the loom for me. I sold a LOT of equipment to pay for it, and to pay for the Basics Class at Vavstuga Weaving School in Massachusetts. You don’t HAVE to have a Glimakra loom to benefit from this class, but if you DO have one, well ….. it’s a godsend, since all their looms are Swedish style looms. Even in January, it was too late to sign up for the Summer classes, but I asked to be put on the waiting list for any August classes that opened up. Much to my shock and surprise I was contacted in June – an opening had occurred in the July 31 – August 4 basics class – how lovely – starting on my birthday, and ending on my first born son’s birthday. Isn’t fate lovely??

If you are a weaver, if you want to be a weaver, if you have dabbled in weaving you NEED to go to Vavstuga! You will have a week long, intensive experience that will change the way you think about weaving.

Where did I put my school projects??

Basics Class at Vavstuga Weaving School

In order to take most of the classes, you have to take the Basics class, but don’t poo-poo it! I have been weaving for over 15 years (off and on) and my mind was exploding with all the great information I gleanedBasicsClassProjects from this totally awesome class! There were many “aha” moments, and many more “why didn’t I think of that??” moments as well. Becky Ashenden is a great teacher — very organized and focused, but she is also just a Hoot and TOO MUCH FUN!

We had students who had Swedish Looms, Jack Looms and even a Rigid Heddle loom! EVERYONE learned skills that they could take home and apply to their chosen weaving tool.

We wove a small wool blanket, a Cottolin/Cotton square table cloth, a Cottolin/Linen towel with a hanger band (made on the band loom) and a Linen Block Weave Sample (nice for the center of a table) on all 8 shafts.

Each of the looms was in a different state of readiness for weaving. Two looms – with cottolin/linen towels were ready to go. Two Looms – Cotton/Cottolin Table cloths needed to be threaded and tied on and have the Tie up done. The two looms with linen warp and weft were ready to be threaded, tied on, tied FirstDayup as well – these were reserved for dressing the loom with a buddy! I think I’ll have my friend Shelly come and buddy warp with me from now on – it’s pretty fun.   The two looms that would become the lap blanket had to be dressed from scratch, wind the warp (using a warping mill), beam it (using the trapeze method), thread it (with a buddy) Tie it on and do the Tie up (heddles/lamms/treadles). By the time you were done – you KNEW how to dress a Swedish loom!

The rest of the week was spent weaving, half of the second day through the morning of the fifth day. Most of us were finished on Thursday evening and spent the morning in our fringe twisting party on the porch.FringeTwisting-001

EACH day there were also morning and afternoon classes on reading and creating pattern drafts, planning projects and analyzing weave structures from woven cloth. The days were structured and JAM packed with information. Lunch was also included in the class fee and they were wonderful! Kim is a super cook and meal planner.

We also had a traditional Swedish diner at Becky’s childhood home – the Farm house. It was a very special evening. The food was wonderful and we all had a lovely time chatting around the large dining table. Of course, everywhere you go, whether it is the water street studio or the farmhouses, there are fabulous woven household items; rugs, placemats, tablecloths, curtains, blankets, napkins, hand towels. Just hanging around either studio is inspirational. I am looking at my home AND my RV with an eye to adding hand woven items! After dinner we had a tour of the MANY looms in the house, all dressed with projects. Most of the looms at the farm house are draw looms, individual draw or shaft draw, and Becky treated us to a showing of her many finished projects – mostly done on draw looms. A life spent weaving is full of beauty.

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The week SPED by — I couldn’t believe how fast all this fun ended!

I was SO inspired by my experience that when I got home (2 weeks down time before heading off again) I dressed my loom with a project called the Country Kitchen Checked Cloth – a 40.5” (width in reed) 58” table cloth made from Cottolin (Bleached, Unbleached, Brown & Red). It has 976 ends and took me 4 days to dress the loom. I warped for 2 table cloths – and they are going to be fabulous.

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ALL the pictures: