Seriously. Weaving is going to be a thing, you read it here first. But let's backtrack a bit, shall we?
When I was at home over Christmas, I scored big in the toy stakes. Really big. And I'm not talking about my presents here, great as they were. This was a blast from my past, rediscovered on our last morning at my parents' house, as I scoured the cupboards for random stray stuff not to leave behind. Lurking up on a shelf at the very back of one of them was this little beauty:
I don't know when or where we acquired this, but it must have been around 30 years ago, and that label on the left testifies that it cost 50p. Even taking all those years' inflation into account, that's a bargain for something that, as the label states, was and still is "as new", "With full instructions and pattern book".
On opening the box, I discovered one finished piece of fabric and one work in progress. These, dear readers, were woven all that time ago by my own fair hand. I indistinctly but definitely remember making them, not so much as a proper memory but a glimpse of how they grew as I did it. It's a recollection more in my hands than my head. And the terminology! Warp and weft and heddle and shuttle - these things bring back my 8-year old self, sitting at a school desk taking my first steps in English (pre-)industrial history (the first of many, as it turned out).
In my excitement to examine these childhood works of textile art, I at first didn't notice the pattern booklet. I took all of the above pictures yesterday before realising it was still in the box. But it's a total gem - just look at the possibilities...
And yet, and yet. Retro and vintage and cool as all this undeniably is (I defy you to deny it!), I'm not seriously considering actually weaving anything. I would almost say that weaving is the forgotten fibre craft - that, in crafting's current modern and youthful form with its modish design aesthetics and all, it's the craft that got left behind.
(from Skinny laMinx's instagram feed)
With my curiosity aroused, I turned to Pinterest. Of course.
It seems to me that these days, weaving (disclaimer: as far as it's represented on Pinterest) is the preserve of either textile artists or (disclaimer: remember, I'm generalising here) primary schoolers. There don't seem to be that many projects in the middle. There's not much of the sort of thing that someone like me - a semi-accomplished seamstress and comfortable knitter - might look at and think: ooh, I can see the point in doing that. I mean, woven wall hangings are beautiful. I can imagine some nicely woven coasters, or perhaps a table runner. But on a child-sized loom the time and effort required to do any of these things would be immense.
Perhaps I'm just spoiled by sewing's quick-fix easy output - after all, if I want a new garment I can theoretically just go and make one and have it done by this evening. Perhaps weaving is simply another way of slowing it a l l t h e w a y d o w n. It's certainly got something very au naturel about it. Maybe that physical link with the pre-industrial era is precisely what it's about. And is it, just maybe, on its way back? Might I and my childhood loom be, for once, charging ahead of a craft-world trend? Exactly how many artful pinners does it take to get to tipping point??
For now, I have to admit that I don't think I'm going to be doing anything much with my rediscovered treasure. I'll just keep it, waiting for the right moment or a display of overwhelming interest from the kids. In the meantime, I may well hang my 30-year old woven thingy on the wall from an appropriately shabby-chic stick. No doubt when I'm good and ready, there'll be more.