I’m a beginner weaver, drawn to the loom by a love of textiles and an eagerness to always keep learning. After years of working full-time in my local yarn shop, knitting continuously and obsessively, I’ve come to feel fluent with yarn and needles in my hands. Surrounded all day by knitters and the tools of their trade, I’ve learned a lot in a short time, picked up more than my share of dropped stitches, helped make sense of confusing instructions, and shared in the frustrations and successes of the knitters around me.
When I began to weave, it was humbling to find myself a beginner again in a new craft, intimidated by a world of tools and techniques whose names I didn’t know. Anne Derby, who owns the Hillsborough Yarn Shop where I work, travels annually to a trade show to order new yarns and products for the shop. I’ve been lucky enough to tag along the past few years, helping to choose what comes home to our knitters and crocheters. Wandering by a handweaving booth at last year’s show, I mentioned that I might like to learn to weave one day. Anne responded generously, heading straight for the Schacht booth to ask, “How can we introduce weaving to our shop?” A few weeks later, a Cricket Loom arrived at our door, and Anne sent me home with the loom under one arm and the open-ended instruction to “play with it.”
I sat on my living room floor to assemble the Cricket that night, and wove my first piece of fabric the next day. It was a loopy mess − my tension too loose or too tight, my selvedges veering in and out with abandon. Ten inches in, however, things started to even out. My hands moved rhythmically and the fabric looked more and more consistent, and by the time I exhausted that first warp, my mind was crowded with questions and ideas: How do you change colors? Can I use linen and alpaca together? What about combining two different weights of yarn? And wait, can I make plaid with this thing?
A year later, two of my woven scarves hang at the shop, where weavers compliment my tidy selvedges, and knitters ask me if I think they could learn to weave, too. Cricket Looms are sold and reordered, and experienced weavers find us, explaining, “I’m a Schacht person,” delighted to find a local source. When I wrote on our shop blog about learning to weave, our local weavers’ guild took notice and sought us out. They’re now offering introductory classes on rigid heddle weaving to support our newest Cricket owners. I’ve serendipitously come to own a vintage floor loom that I’m slowly studying and restoring, ordering bits and pieces from Schacht along the way. I’m still very much a beginner weaver, sometimes saying “gauge” instead of “sett” and “rows” instead of “picks,” but the beginning is a thrilling place to be.