Monday, 13 January 2014

2014: Year of the Loom?

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.

I'd almost say that, but not quite. Because, only a few days prior to my little rediscovery, I'd seen these pop up on instagram:


(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.


  1. What a treasure to have found - even if you won't ever weave yourself a tea cosy. I do love your original pieces. You had a great eye for colour as an 8 year old!

  2. I used to have one of those, but you couldn't really make any long pieces... Yours could totally make a scarf!

  3. if I was prepared to spend every waking hour for months doing it! I quite like the idea of making coasters though. Or bib necklaces!

  4. yes, I was quite surprised at the nice stripe colours too! I suspect it had more to do with the available leftover yarn than any design choices I might have made though!

  5. disqus_JsdLeX1GSeJanuary 13, 2014 12:03 pm

    I have loom envy! ;-) You could try weaving with odd offcuts of fabric in strips. I went to an art show and saw some thin scarves made made that way and they were beautiful (it looks wonderful with raw silk). You have made me smile and reminded me of two very happy weeks messing with looms and textiles on my design course many moons ago.

  6. SeamsOddLouise.Blogspot.comJanuary 13, 2014 5:06 pm

    I think I'd be tempted to have a go!

  7. Great find!! Weaving is already very popular up in Nanook of the North land. There are clubs and meeting and demos, etc. Looks like your loom will get some nice use!

  8. What beauties! You have got me with this waving... it is something being on my mind the whole 2013 and maybe 2014 I will give it a try as well.... I have red an article somewhere about a jacket made of self woven fabric and now I just want to make one... it will be busy 2014 ;-)


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