Saturday, July 7, 2007

My First Collapsed Weave

True story. My first floor loom was built by a doctor for his wife in the 60's or the 70's or the 80's in Waikato; the couple broke up, and though she was never wove again, for some reason, the Mrs took the dismantled loom every time she moved house. By the time I bought it, the loom had been stored, for over 10 years, under each house she lived.

It was an old-fashioned upright 4-shaft Jack designed for wool (and mostly handspun at that) so it wasn't particularly sturdy, and was prone to creek and move when I wove Swedish cottolin under high tension; I even got grooves from the cottolin in the breast beam to prove it, but I was too new to understand these things. It also had these flimsy wooden brakes (I can't really recall the exact mechanism now), but the breaks didn't really stop the warp from advancing completely, so the tension control was iffy at best.

For a US-based napkin/serviette exchange I signed up for in 1997, I put on a warp for 8 napkins/serviette, pale lavender, space/cram 10DPI/30DPI stripes in either plain weave or 2/2 twill. I was weaving my third serviette, and I was unhappy with the tension, so I advanced the warp just a wee bit, and pulled the tension as tightly as I could, and passed the shuttle (I only had stick shuttles from my rigid heddle loom back then), and beat hard, and BANG, the loom collapsed. I can't remember exactly what kind of shape it was in, but I could not weave on it.

A weaver friend came to have a look and said one word: "firewood", but I didn't have the heart to live without a floor loom, so I had Ben reassemble it, with the warp in tact, so at least it stood upright on its own, and stayed in the living room looking pretty until I borrowed a better one from the local polytech in 2001. After I started to weave on the borrowed loom, there was no way I was going back to the old loom, so Ben took it apart, and built a loom bench for me. I seem to recall having woven the remainder of the lavender warp, but I can't remember on which loom it was.

As for the real collapsed weave, I did two, wasn't interested in the textural variations, so that was the end of that. When the polytech sold off all the weaving equipment, in around 2004, I bought the previously-borrowed loom. I weave most of my cashmere on it, sitting on the ex-loom bench.

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