Teaching Myself to Weave on a Warp Weighted Loom

November 16, 2017
Picture of a free standing warp weighted loom.

Meet the newest member of my loom family!

I have a new loom! Isn’t she beautiful? I’m starting a new project! I’m giddy with excitement! Keep reading to learn more about what I’m up to.

This week, I realized a long held dream to own a warp weighted loom.  Meet Wildemar.  She’s named after my grandmother, Diana Wildemar, who passed many years ago.  She was a creative lady with a love of beauty and I think she would have been amused that I’ve named a cherished tool of my craft after her.

The loom is free-standing, made of clear fir and mostly finished with tungsten oil (a couple of pieces are raw wood).  She is 30 inches deep at the base, 5 feet tall and 5 feet, 3 inches wide.  She comes completely apart for easy transportation and the base that makes her free-standing can be removed if I wanted to lean her against a wall.  She’s a bit smaller than traditional warp weighted looms.  What you see in the picture is how she came (a lucky craigslist find).  Part of my process will be to figure out weights.  Its possible that I may need to make other modifications to her, possibly to do with the cloth beam and the part that holds the heddle bars.  I am the second owner.  A professional woodworker made this loom; it is not something you can buy from a loom company at this time.  Believe me, I’ve tried.

I know someone will ask about loom plans.  I don’t have the plans, but I believe there are plans for other warp weighted looms on the internet and the design is quite simple.  Any experienced woodworker should be able to come up with something simply from a picture.

I’m so excited to get started.  In my years of studying ancient textiles and cultures, warp weighted looms, a type of vertical loom, comes up quite a bit across Europe and around the Mediterranean.  I’ve been collecting the written material I come across with the eventual goal of teaching myself this craft and better understanding the people who used such tools in the past.  In this series of blog posts, I hope to share with you several things:  How I conduct topic research and identify books, articles and information, and the resources I like and use.  The basic steps of warping and weaving.  The loom and its products in context to the cultures I study and anything else that comes up along the way that I think might be interesting to you

Front view of warp weighted loom.

Front view of warp weighted loom.

There is not a right or wrong way to acquire a new skill, unless you simply never start at all.  Truth be told, I have been known to get into “analysis paralysis” a time or two.  I can spend a lot of time in the planning phase of a project and take years to get to the doing part.  I’m hoping that’s not going to be the case this time.  I’m sure you’re hoping for the same. This series will describe how I approach learning, but if my techniques don’t work for you, don’t be afraid to blaze your own trail. Or you can pick and choose what does work and go from there.  Don’t let anyone tell you there is “one true way”.

I also feel that “self-taught” is a bit of misnomer.  We always learn from those that came before, and, if we’re lucky, we can add our experience to the greater body of knowledge to encourage and inspire others to push the boundary of our shared experience into new territory.

The resources I use to acquire a new skill are books, articles, blog posts and community.  Books and articles are fairly self explanatory.  In a future post, I’ll share some tips and tricks for how I locate out of print and hard to find books, how I use online tools to discover articles discussing my topic of interest and how language shouldn’t be a barrier any longer

My personal goal is to synthesize the available information as quickly and efficiently as possible.  I don’t like reinventing the wheel and I believe there is always something new to learn.  When my peers have walked the path I have chosen, I honor their journey by following it, and learning from their experiences.  I may not agree with their conclusions, but that gives us the start of a conversation that will lead to a better understanding for all involved.  Community is key.  I appreciate everyone who freely shares their knowledge, those who take the time to answer questions online, those who do not fear failure but see it as an opportunity to learn, not only for themselves but for others.

To that point, be brave.  Do not fear failure.  You’ll learn ten times more from your failures then you ever will from your successes.  And don’t fear to share your failures with the greater community.  Sure, someone may mock you, but I guarantee the majority of folks will appreciate your openness.

Feel free to ask questions here on this website or on the a magyar jurta facebook page liked in the upper right.

One Response to Teaching Myself to Weave on a Warp Weighted Loom

  1. Terri A Morrison
    November 18, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Thank you for this post! Thank you for taking us along with you! Here we go!

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