The Most Evil of the Crafts

Before you say it, yes, I do have way too many hobbies.  I am a chronically bored person and coming up with new ways to entertain myself is just what I do.  First there was beading, then beading turned into card-making, then knitting, then to wire wrapping, then sewing and now back to knitting.  And with the current project on-hand, I will have to learn to spin and dye (and shear??) as well.  But I was recently introduced to the most evil of the crafts: weaving. 

A space opened up in the weaving class at the Art Space.  Art Space DC is a community, volunteer based art center where anyone can go and take really reasonably priced art classes like photography, cooking, pottery, etc.  Pretty much all of the teachers are volunteers, including my teacher, Ms. Maybelle Bennett (I promise a post on her another time).

Here is why weaving is evil:

The first week, Ms. Maybelle taught me how to wind my warps (warps are like the longitude of your fabric).  You use a warp board like this to make the warps the length you want.  You have to wind the just the right way so that they go on to the loom correctly.  There is a guide string on the board to help you do it right.  It took me two hours to learn the parts of the loom and then wind my warps.
Warp board with guide string.
The second week, I started to set up the hand loom by tying the warps to the leash sticks.  Then one by one I pulled the threads through the leash sticks and through the different parts of the loom.  The first part is the reed.  The reed is a series of metal slots (called dents). The size of the loom is talked about in terms of the number of slots you have per inch.  The table loom I am learning on is a 12 dent loom, meaning it has 12 little slots per inch.  It is twenty inches wide.  You thread each warp into a different dent on the reed.  The reed is in the beater that moves back and forth to smoosh (or beat, I suppose) your weft (also known as woof or filler) threads tightly against the front of the loom so that your weaving stays nice and even and tight.

Front of the loom with the reed completely sleighed.
I only have 70 threads (compared to the hundreds that might be needed for a wide shawl or blanket) for this first sampler project.  It still took me more than two hours to "sleigh" my reed.

The back side of the reed as I pull the threads through towards the heddles.
The third week I pulled the strings that I just put through the dents through each of the heddles located on the harnesses.  The harnesses are the the things you pull up and down (using levers at the top of the tower) to make the patterns on the fabric.
This is the loom from the back but you can see the tower (the tall part), the levers on the side, and the harnesses (the metal frames in the middle).
These are the heddles.  Essentially they are wires attached at to the harnesses at the top and the bottom.  They move from side to side depending on how many warp threads to have and where you need them to be.  They have slots in the middle through which you thread your warps.
The threading of the heddles sucks WAY less than the sleighing of the reed, but took a whole evening nonetheless.  So why do I think that weaving is evil, you ask?  Because it has taken me three nights (that's six hours) so far and I am only half way through the warping process.  I have at least one and maybe two more nights before I can even begin to weave.  Additionally, this is me only learning to warp the loom for twill weaving.  Next I will have to learn overshot warping.  And I am sure there are other techniques as well.

Don't get me wrong; I am going to stick with it because it is an interesting skill to learn (and a good way to use up the yarn stash).  But ohmygosh is this a slow process.

Me, trying to pretend that I know how to weave.