Erin R.

These last two weeks have been a whirlwind!  I didn’t manage to get anything posted for Week 4; I was playing host to my 4-year-old grandson for a 4-day weekend, and while I’d hoped that we might collaborate on something (and that I’d have time to write it up!), I once again overestimated my time and energy.  

As far as the Week 4 lesson, the power of limitations, I actually have been setting limits this year on what comes in, and I’ve been using up a lot of what I’ve rather randomly acquired over the years.  Of course, that was before I came full circle back to embroidery and sewing - which is where I started at a very early age, but which had put aside in the last decade for other pursuits.  I’ve just lately needed to stock up on embroidery hoops and floss, and some fabric and sewing patterns.  On balance, though, I’ve still used up more than I’ve acquired, and I’ve kept to my  commitment to not purchase any fleeces or fiber or yarn this year, so I’ll call that a win.

In the spirit of using what’s here, and thinking of setting up for a collaborative work with a 4-year-old, I warped my 10” rigid heddle loom with some cotton rug warp and dragged out my box of thrums.  Because waste not, want not, right?  The hardest thing about weaving with handspun yarn is perhaps dealing with the unavoidable phenomenon of loom waste.  The inescapable fact that in order to weave a thing on a loom, there will be leftover threads from either end of the warp that are there merely to support the woven piece, and which will not be incorporated.  They’ll get cut off, and being too short to be of use, either discarded or (if you’re like me), tossed in a box for some vague, undetermined future use.  Because they’re “too good to throw away”, right? 

So back to the project - I thought that perhaps said grandson might be old enough to enjoy choosing some chunks of yarn to thread through the warp on the little rigid heddle loom, and we could complete a collaborative project that fit nicely into the theme of working within my limitations.  As mentioned, this was not to be - the attention span of a 4-year-old boy, especially when there are kitties to chase and dragon books to read, is not remarkable.  As Sunday evening arrived, the warped loom remained untouched.  My time limitations had defeated me this time.

As we arrived at Week 5, I pondered how to express obsession.  Not that it’s a stranger to me; I’ve just finished hand-stitching appliques on a dozen 15” quilt squares, which could have easily been done by machine in a couple of days. Why did I decide to stitch by hand?  Lots of reasons, but mostly because I felt that it was worth spending my time on it.  It will be a quilt for the grandkids to enjoy when they come visit, and with each stitch I sewed in just a little bit of love.  I can imagine little fingers tracing the lines of stitches, and eventually, older eyes recognizing the labor of love that it was, and feeling a connection from one generation to another.  

But come Monday, I still had the small loom warped, and the box of thrums near at hand.  In addition to some of the chunky yarns that I’d planned to use with my grandson, it contained many, many bundles of hand spun silk.  Very finely spun silk.  I teased out the knots holding the bundles of threads, and began laying them into the warp, one by one.  Each evening this week I spent an hour or two adding single threads.  When it felt like it was getting visually boring, I dug around for something to add color or textural contrast.  When I’d woven off about a yard, I hemstitched the end and cut it off the loom.   And as I held it up and looked at it as a whole, I realized that I felt pretty okay about how it had turned out.  

Not only do I have a lovely wall hanging, but by taking the time to think about each color, each texture, as I laid in the threads one by one, I generated lots of ideas about how I might expand on the idea - what other kinds of threads could I weave into the warp?  What found objects would add interest?  Maybe some unspun locks of wool?  Some strips of sari silk?  Easter grass or tinsel?  I still have another yard of warp on the loom, and while I may not have the time to do anything with it right away, I have the warp ready to go when the time arrives.