I signed up for my first weaving workshop today. It’s not a big deal in the scheme of things, but for me it was important. I’ll be leaving my guys for the whole day. The morning is the weavers’ guild meeting, and the presentation is on Laotian weaving. The afternoon is the workshop, on Laotian pattern weaving: “We’ll review the possibilities of converting your rigid heddle or table loom to the Lao method of storing pick up patterning and take a closer look at Lao weavers’ looms, try weaving on a converted loom, review equipment and set up needed to modify your loom; make a set of dills, create a graph pattern and, finally, threading and pickup hints.”

Doesn’t that sound like fun?

I’m a fiber technique junkie–okay, not just fibers, I’m like this with sewing, with cooking, with gardening. I’m not really good at any one thing, but oh, if you tell me you have a new way to wrap yarn around something–a loom, a stick, your hand, your brother’s elbow–in order to make something in a different way, I am there. I grew potatoes in a box. I’m attempting to make yogurt under my kitchen table. I spend inordinate amounts of time trying to make up new ways to do very ordinary things. A few years ago, we were set to visit Australia. It happened to be about six months after 9/11 and of course no knitting needles were allowed on planes. I spend weeks (yes, weeks) trying to figure out how to use a hair pick (leftover from some unfortunate high school hair thing–ah, intervention, where were you) as a knitting frame. It worked, too. It was also very fiddly and unsatisfying. I daydream of hat knitting frames, of mechanical sock knitters, of making whole sweaters out of finger knitting, of weaving double weave and using pick-up, of card weaving (I am actually upset that I gave in and bought a deck of card weaving cards instead of making them myself out of playing cards). I will not describe my response when I learned I can make a knitting nancy out of four popsicle sticks and a toilet paper roll. It was… indecent.

Anyway, the words “the Lao method of storing pick up patterning” and “modify your loom” just got me all worked up. Color-and-weave are a major interest for me in weaving, and I’ve been trying to work up the courage to start some kind of project, probably mostly shadow weave (ahhh) with some pick-up somewhere. If I were to ever try for this, my final project (at this point, anyway) would be shadow weave. On a medieval loom. Made of… baobab wood. Carved by Sri Lankan gurus. Meant only to weave tea towels for aged monks. Female monks. Drinking Ceylon tea. On Wednesdays.

That I then modify. Because you know, it’s not good enough unless you change it somehow. Am I right?


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