Saturday, December 26, 2009

Saturday Daydreaming: How Long is a Weaving Life?

This was my first ever project, in August 1995, woven on my first loom, Ashford 60cm Rigid Heddle. 140cm was the longest I could weave considering the loom's tiny allowance on the cloth beam. Last weekend when we cleaned all the rugs and put out my mother's Christmassy rug, Ben told me which one he liked and which ones he didn't mind if I got rid of, and sadly, this one was in the second category, even though most of its life it sat on the floor on Ben's side of the bed.

I may have mentioned before, but early in 2006 when Dad had a surgery and Mom wanted to sell the house and move into an apartment, she got rid of her beloved Glimakra, on which she wove numerous rugs, her favorite type of weaving. She had it for less than a decade, but when she got it (imported it from Sweden, by fax correspondence, I believe,) she carried every piece upstairs and assembled it all by herself. She loved weaving on it, but it was too big for an average-sized older Japanese women, (she's still much taller than me,) and at one point it gave her massive pain on her left shoulder for six months. Anyway, giving away that loom to a young weaver was a sad day for her and for me. (Worry not, she promptly got a small eight-shaft sample loom, and keeping her loom count at three or four table looms in all.)

Even though I started weaving in 1995, there were more years I didn't weave than I did, particularly when I worked full time, and since I have "become a weaver" I am by no means a prolific one, spending more time thinking about, reading about, and fretting about weaving than weaving. Oh, and blogging about.

Since Mom let go of her Glimakra, I've sometimes wondered how many years I have left in me on the loom. I can see a day when my big loom is going to be too taxing on the body; already I'm able to weave perhaps a maximum of up to four hours than the seven or eight I used to just three years ago. And then I think of Peg Moorhouse, whose motto this year is "92, not out" and who still weaves every day.

So, am I daydreaming, or worrying again? I'm daydreaming about a smaller, purpose-built computer-operated loom, but that's something I can plan and work towards. No, I'm daydreaming about weaving for another 40 or so years. I'm daydreaming of weaving until the day I drop; wouldn't we all like to go the way Mr Collingwood did, on the loom?

Today is my parents' 54th wedding anniversary, and Taueret's, a.k.a. Hope Nesmith's birthday! Happy Happy All Around!


  1. Maybe it depends on the loom and what you like to weave, and you could keep weaving if you eventually switch to different projects / yarns that are easier on the body. I'm still quite new to weaving, but have read that you need a strong loom and beat harder when making rugs, but I just wove a scarf from sock yarns and had trouble beating light enough, so it was not hard on the body at all. My loom is warped standing up, and is much easier to thread than some I've read about, so the only thing that may get more difficult as I age is tying up the treadles, and I heard that some lift the loom up onto crates for that (it's not that heavy). I think you can probably do some kind of weaving as long as you want.

  2. Yes, rug weaving is hard, and one reason Mom had to get rid of her Glimakra - I don't think she's woven scarves on that monster machine. Your comment sounds to me like a permission for me to go hunting for a smaller computer-controlled loom, Lynn. Tee hee....

  3. Because I can't imagine my being satisfied with "some kind of weaving", being a pedantic and cantankerous type, you understand...


  4. On the other hand, working within a set of restrictions is my forte, so it might be OK...

  5. Oh, so Glimåkra is for... younger persons? Ha ha ha, I've never herd of something like that! Ever! Ha ha ha...

    Well, Glimåkra is a Swedish loom. Glimåkra is the most common loom in Sweden. There are a lot of lokal brands, but they all looks like Glimåkra. And it's almost always elderly women who uses them, for rugs!

  6. I think taller persons, with longer arms, like Scandinavian weavers. My mother's arms, legs and back used to get a bit sore after half a day on that loom. Of course she had the biggest one, too.

    One time, before coming to New Zealand, she rushed to finish a rug to bring to me, and worked half a day every single day - and suddenly she couldn't lift her - I can't remember which - arm and she went to acupuncture and massage but to no avail. The rug didn't get finished, either.

    Six months later, after her NZ trip, she was on her way home from yet another health professional about the shoulder, standing on the train, and the train jerked suddenly and she had to grab a pole. And voila, that fixed it. But since then, she was so cautious, she stopped weaving wide rugs and worked on the big loom for only an hour at a time weaving narrower rugs. She still kept it for about 7 years, but when she thought she'd be moving, that was the first to go.

  7. I feel sad for her when I think about that loom. She shopped around for a year looking for a nice big loom with a minimum of 8-shafts. Looking at Handwoven and Vav, asking me to contact places and check out web sites... In the end she rang Sweden herself and faxed the final details herself. And then told me she got a big Glimakra. It was a very happy month week she received the shipment and assembled the loom.

  8. The woman in my vävstuga never weaves more than a few houers/week. They have coffe an a chat, that's a big part of it all. And weaving rugs is becourse its the easiest warp to handle, and usually in tubby too.

    Pensonally I think it is easier to weave rugs in a big loom. You can use the heavy beater, in a smaller loom you have to beat harder.

  9. Not sure what setup she had - I've only seen it twice, I think. But now she only has dainty sample looms, and a 4-shaft countermarche that looks like a toy compared to the Monster Machine. All in the past now.

  10. A long way to ship a loom!

  11. That she didn't even consider asking me if I wanted it annoyed me for about three minutes, but I understood why. I'm 10cm shorter than Mom - it would have been jungle gym to me.

  12. Food for thought here Meg. My local circle of weavers has women ranging from 45 to 82 and age is definitely not the determining factor of who's weaving more often.

    Loom fit does make a huge difference.

    And if you're drawn to a smaller computerized loom, I say go for it!! It's important to move toward what draws you in (well, as long as you're being drawn in by joy not other forces.)


  13. Sue, our group the eldest is 92 year old Peg Moorhouse and she still weaves every day. Others younger than she have given up weaving for various reasons.

    I'd like to get a smaller computerized before I am 60 (previously the goal was 55...) so I get used to it and can weave with my eyes closed by the time I'm too old to get acquainted... Another weaving friend thought I should get an 8-shaft foot loom as well for that eventuality... And if/when electricity becomes sooooo expensive, or software needs to be updated every 3 months!

    At least in weaving, we have the unplugged option!

  14. I'm 58, almost 59, and my mom is 78, almost 79. She weaves a lot of towels and table runners, mostly cotton, crackle and other 8 harness weaves on a Schacht loom. She also weaves really beautiful wool rag rugs on a Weavers Delight, that she stands at (no bench). She's in no hurry, and her rugs have been better and better, every year. Her quality has always been great, but her color and designs keep getting better. This makes me feel very optimistic about my own weaving into the next 20 years

  15. As does mine. Thank you for letting us know, Susan. By the way, I stand at my four-shaft loom. It's a beautiful loom, and we've tried modifying the bench, but have never figured out the right combination, so it's easier for me to stand.


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