No doubt early weavers had no tools other than their hands with which to work, but I bet it wasn’t long before they figured something out that would allow them to be more efficient.
Perhaps it was something as uncomplicated as a frame loom that allowed warp, vertical threads, to be attached. The skills may have been more advanced, but something very similar to this was used to weave those beautiful tapestries that were mentioned in the last post.
The same construction for what we call upright looms continues in use today. In this country, they are often associated with Native American weavers who create stunning blankets and rugs. Incidentally, this concept influenced the construction of my first loom which the hubby made of 1″ pipe and notched 2×2’s.
Sometimes the body serves as a loom. Here the warp threads are held in place by the foot, and the weft (horizontal threads) is manipulated with the fingers to create intricate design.
In other cases, the warp is tied at one end to a dowel or stick and secured at the waist to keep the threads taut. To create design, the warp threads are lifted and lowered with the fingers and small shuttles carry the weft threads across. Who knows how far back such techniques go? What is fascinating is that with all the changes that have made weaving simpler, some cultures continue ages old process.
By the 12th century, much of what we know about weaving, including the introduction of a floor loom, had evolved. Floor looms allowed the weaver to sit on a bench and operate pedals with the feet. Keep in mind that weaving is the interlacing of warp and weft threads and at least two separate warp threads are required. In this photo you can see that one set of threads stays down while the other is lifted up. Weft threads run between the two and, in its simplest form, that is how all threads are laced together to become fabric.
Over the years, floor looms became bigger, often with more harnesses allowing more complicated designs.
During the Industrial Revolution came the most significant change. The jacquard loom with flying shuttles was introduced thus starting the highly mechanized production of textiles in place today.
While many people think handweaving is women’s work, in some countries it is man’s work, too. I like seeing men have a sensitivity to threads and a sense of pride in making beautiful fabric.
Yes, over the centuries weaving has changed, and the people who weave by hand are becoming fewer and fewer. Whenever I see the remains of an old loom I find myself wondering at its history and wish it could tell me the story of the person who once worked on it.
Now that you have some insight into the history of weaving and the apparatus that make it possible, next up is a visit to my studio. I hope you all join me there.
i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind
16 thoughts on “Warped to Weave”
Linda, I watched a boy weave in Togo, West Africa. I will find that photo and send it. Fascinating art form and how it has evolved. You know how much I love textiles…looking forward to a visit to your studio!
Africa is one of the places where traditional arts still exist but there, too,it is dwindling.
It’s interesting to learn about this. I used to sew a lot but kind of burned out on it. I never learned much about weaving but was always intrigued as to how it’s done. Doing it manually looks very complicated. Creating smaller patterns within the striped patterned areas must be very intense.
You are not the only one who burned out on sewing!
It is hard to wrap the mind around this complicated process. I can’t imagine how one creates such an intricate pattern by manipulating threads! Fascinating!
Weaving is fascinating yet few are aware of its complexities.
Fascinating process! Thank you, Lulu for showing us with these beautiful photos.
So interesting, Linda. We really take beautiful textiles for granted without thinking of the art form and hard work that goes into them.
Look forward to seeing your studio.
The beauty of handwoven is it is distinguishable from machine made though most people don’t seem to care.
Excellent overview of this marvelous art form, Lulu.
Thanks for continuing this fascinating subject.
I enjoyed learning about the history of weaving. The pictures are awesome and really helped me understand the different types of looms.
There is so much more to tell, but I didn’t want to bore folks.
great entries……looking forward to seeing your studio again!
The progression is very interesting. It’s sad that this art, much like the art of sewing, is losing its popularity. I can hardly wait to visit your studio! I’m really enjoying these posts about hand looming. 🙂
I have to confess that I’m one of those people who doesn’t so anymore. After years and years and years of cutting and sewing for myself and others I finally burned out.