Dear Ivy

I have enjoyed learning from your Dad what you have been up to. And while I don't want to change anything you do, I thought I'd tell you something about my weaving machines, which we call "looms". And if my explanations aren't easy to understand, I think your Dad can help. 
Once, when I was at university, I became interested in how weaving worked, and like you I made a loom myself. It was like this one, but much, much bigger. These are called "frame looms", (like picture frames,) and weavers sometimes use them to make "pictures".
I didn't make a picture, but I used a similar loom to make the fabric for this bag a few years ago. I'm posting the photo sideways because that's how I wove it on the loom. 

There are bigger looms for making big pictures; the pictures are called "tapestries", and the looms are called, guess what, "tapestry looms". I don't have a tapestry loom, but here are some pictures. Some are as big as a whole wall.
The way to use these looms are much the same as how you might have woven on your invention, or I on my big frame loom; you pick the warps, (usually the up/down threads,) by fingers/hand, needles, or a tool called shuttles, and squeeze the wefts, (usually from side to side,) between them. In fact, you can weave this way on most looms, because the first purpose of a loom is to hold the warps securely in their places, so you can put the weft through.
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Now I'm going to tell you a tiny bit about shaft looms, which seem complicated, but they aren't. They just look it. There are very many kinds of shaft looms, it would make my head spin trying to explain them all, but they do two things: they hold the warps in place, and they lift up some of the warps, while leaving other warps down, to make a gap where you can pass the weft through.

Remember, the warps are the yarns that stay in place more or less, while wefts are the ones you pass between warps at each step, to make the cloth.
Here is a picture of some wefts being lifted, and you see the gap where the wefts can pass through.
These show my weft going through the gap. My weft is wound on a cardboard bobbin I made.   
Shaft looms also have a tool called the beater, so the wefts can get pushed straight against the wefts before, making the cloth look neater. (Although sometimes, like in my bag, I didn't want the lines to be all straight.)

That's it. The simplest shaft loom, called a "rigid heddle loom", gives the weavers two sets of warps: a first set goes up when a second set stays down and your weft passes through the gap; then, the first set, which went up the last time, stays down, and the second set goes up, and your weft passes through this new gap.

Fancier looms has many shafts, so you can have different sets go up and down, making more complicated-looking patterns possible, but the mechanism is all the same. Instead of us lifting some of the threads by finger/hand/needle/shuttle, the loom does it for you. While complicated looms allows us to weave complicated-looking cloths quickly, some of the neat tricks we can do on simpler looms become harder or impossible to do. But that's for another day.
I look forward to seeing a picture of your scarf, Ivy. 

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A Very Happy Christmas to you, your family and friends.
Pohutukawa - New Zealand Christmas Tree 


Boatmik said...

This is Ivy.

Thankyou for the letter!

I am now interested in many types of loom - thankyou for the explanation and so many examples. Me and my dad made a basic loom together just this afternoon.
I am going to try and give you a picture of my scarf. It is already finished. I had wrapped it up but I have unwrapped it for the photo.

Thankyou so much and Merry Christmas.

Ivy Storer

Meg said...

You are very welcome, Ivy. Enjoy weaving.

Laura Fry said...

Delightful. Sending best wishes to Ivy in her explorations of looms and weaving. :)

Meg said...

Thank you, Laura.