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Weaver Profile: Yarnworker
June 11, 2017
Our friend, rigid heddle enthusiast, and former Schacht-ite has just had her second rigid heddle book, Handwoven Home, published by Interweave. We asked Liz to share her weaving history and talk about her passion for weaving. Get connected with her weave-alongs, new online school, and her website Yarnworker via the links below—all great resources for new and seasoned rigid heddle weavers alike.
In my heart I’m a teacher, and that is how I approach all things—writing, editing, video production, even my weaving is informed by the imperative that each project teach something.
Perhaps my love of teaching started with my first weaving experience in the loom room of the occupational therapy ward of the University of Virginia’s Psychiatric ward where my mother worked. Before I was in preschool, I would occasionally go to work with my mom and hang out. Cindy Laly ran the department, and I thought she was the coolest. She always wore her long silver hair in a tight bun, dressed in tailored skirts and button-up shirts, and flashed the biggest smile I’d ever seen.
Cindy would dress the looms in all sorts of structures—overshot, double weave, satin, and twills of all kinds (years later she told me that the fancy twills were particularly popular with the young kids experimenting with LSD; it was the 70s). The patients would arrive at their appointed time; my mom and the other aids would help them weave as part of their therapy—hands at work can sort out all kinds of problems on the mind.
Ever generous with her time, Cindy would weave with me whenever I came to the studio. My favorite activity was when she would throw the shuttle and I would run around to one side of the loom to catch it. Then she would throw the shuttle again, and I would run to the other side, then collapse under the loom like a winded puppy. This experience always stuck with me as THE BEST.
In today’s digital world, we need a little occupational therapy to keep our body-mind in tune. It is with this attitude that I approach my books. I want to take the stress out of your precious time at the loom, and give you those little nuggets that help you weave the things you want to weave with more confidence and skill.
Weaving Made Easy was my freshman attempt at putting this philosophy into book form. My new book, Handwoven Home, picks up where Weaving Made Easy left off. In this volume, I assume you know a thing or two about rigid-heddle weaving, and want to know more. It’s not a general book about rigid-heddle weaving, it is a specific one. It is for those that want to weave for their home. Everything in the book is specific to that end. The 21 patterns cover the breadth of forms you can live with—towels, rugs, placemats, runners, curtains, throws, pillows, facecloths, napkins, and table squares.
My years of teaching honed the surrounding materials. Answering the questions that I most often receive: How do I know which yarn to pick? So many cottons, which one should I use and is there really a difference? How do I keep my selvedges tidy? Work with doubled ends? Make sure all the things are the same size? Transition from one color to another? Do I measure my cloth under tension or not? What is the relationship between two heddles and four shafts? How do I read a weaving draft?
I included a robust section on finishes in the book, using the project to highlight different ways you can deal with fringe. And in the brief warping chapter I summed up the three primary ways to warp the loom and when you might want to use each method.
My hope is that Handwoven Home will prove to be more than a pattern book, it will serve to answer some of your unanswered questions about yarn, technique, and finishing strong. Patterns are just a starting point. With a little know-how your imagination can take you in unexpected directions. Heddles up!
About Liz Gipson
Always looking for new challenges, Liz recently launched a beta test of an online school for rigid-heddle weavers with a free weave-along in July. The information will stay up after the weave-along is finished, although the Q&A won’t be active. In the fall, she plans to launch a series of classes designed with the beginner in mind—a path to travel from overwhelmed to confident. You can learn more about Liz’s plans for a school and future weave-alongs on her website, Yarnworker.com, click on the Weave-Along/School FAQ tab.