I thought about titling this post “Waxing and waning” to show the periodicity of my blogging, but then realised that would be misrepresentative. The moon finishes its cycles in a month, whereas WordPress tells me I haven’t blogged in well over a year. Hence the reference to another periodic celestial object. My last post but one showed a knit lace project, but sadly I haven’t knit a stitch since then. Crochet has got a look in, thanks to the giant granny blanket (not a blanket meant for or composed of an oversized female ancestress, but one large blanket composed of many small granny squares). I have developed a theory about the use of colour in projects. Throw in enough of different hues and the eye can no longer be bothered to look for harmony. Hence most of these will look good. Although I acquired a couple more looms (a Japanese rigid heddle loom and an American computerised 24-shaft loom), the
The whole of June was dry. In terms of rains in Mumbai as well as words from me on this blog. The rains have finally arrived here with a vengeance and I decided to come back and talk. My stash is in a garage, corrugated cardboard wrapped and clingfilmed. I spent one month working on the little I’d packed for that chimeric granny square bedspread, then I was one month haunting the Weavers’ Centre in Hyderabad and learning about floor looms. After returning to Mumbai and limbo-land, my fingers got itchy. So off I went to the LYS (there is actually one, more a Local Craft Store, and very near by this city’s standards) and picked up some thread to knit a doily. I forgot my half-formed resolution to use thicker fibre for lace, and got the usual #20 equivalent. Got a few rounds into it and then decided my daughter and I needed head gear for the sunny walk
…is how much I wove during my training at the Weavers’ Service Centre. And this is how it looks. I haven’t decided yet what I will do with it. My greatest learning was the tie-up and actual weaving on a floor loom. In the middle, I thought for sure I’d been cured of any desire to get a floor loom of my own. Now, however, I’m not sure. The one I want will not have a fly shuttle mechanism, but then that would be noisy, not good in a flat. Also, it is a jack loom, so fewer connections to make for tying up. Which is also good. I am also taking away some connections for future yarn and accessory supplies. In addition, I got a warping frame made, and ordered a bobbin winder and some fly shuttles to be modified into plain end feed shuttles. Most of which might be gobbledygook to my regular readers… But you will not
Weaving training during the day. Work in the evenings and late night. Meeting and setting up meetings with old friends. Watching Mighty Raju: Rio Calling directed by one of those old friends. Concert by Malladi Brothers. Calluses on feet from treadling floor loom. Catching up on reading.
I finally got to weave at the centre, but I spent the best part of several days just sitting and watching while the oldest employee fiddled with the cords on the treadles and lamms that were being set into the frame of what had been a jacquard loom. I am very bad at sitting doing absolutely nothing watching a very slow and repetitive task being carried out by someone else. I am almost convinced now that if I acquire a floor loom, it must be something that caters to the gadget queen in me… As a hobby weaver, I’m not sure I want to spend days in just setting up to weave. So that means that expensive to buy and expensive to ship foreign loom. Then also, sometimes it is like a brief glimmer of light in dense fog, and I wonder if I need another loom at all. After all, I don’t live in a land of hobby weavers
This evening I met some of my oldest friends, at very short notice. The weather during the day here is hot, but in the evenings it turns cool and cloudy. We even had pre-monsoon showers a couple of days ago. I met my girl classmates at the weekend over a lunch so protracted it almost turned into tea. Only about half of those in our Whatsapp group actually turned up. Something similar tonight, when I met boys from kindergarten. I studied in the same school from nursery to 12th, and unbelievably, still have good friends from then. But I always feel we make friends much more easily the younger we are. I still haven’t woven, but I’m getting up a list of things I want to try, and things I want to have made for me. Weaving accessories. No half measures when you’re having a midlife spree of madness, right? And I’m making those connections, for future use. For yarn
Actually I haven’t done any weaving yet at the centre. Today I studied a book in Telugu that teaches theory. It’s a very different feeling to be doing a craft that actually has terminology in my mother tongue. I copied down a glossary. Proof that weaving goes back a longer time than knitting or crochet in this part of the country, at least. I got to see pictures of the latest loom that the carpenter built for someone. He was also able to give me an estimate for the size of loom I want. He will build it with teak. I did throw a shuttle, but an empty one, just to see how far my arms would reach. I don’t think I can cope with a throw shuttle for any wider than about 35″, but the loom that will be built will have a fly shuttle mechanism. The only problem then is that that will add a few more feet
It is such a comfort to be able to talk in my own language to the people at the Weavers’ Centre. Even though all my terminology comes from the Internet and is therefore in English, unlike my previous hobbies of knitting and crochet, there is a much stronger tradition of weaving in this part of the country, and therefore I don’t feel like I’m talking in tongues to an uncomprehending audience. The trainer asked me what I wanted to learn and I was struck dumb, but finally told him I wanted to practice working on floor looms. So tomorrow, hopefully, I will start working on a sampler. My Flickr stream has many photos, but I shall give you a teaser: This is likely the loom I shall work on. And perhaps have built.
I visited the government’s Weavers’ Service Centre yesterday and hope to go for a two week or longer course, which they hold for a very affordable fee. This photo shows a stall the Centre had at the National Handloom Expo I went to in January. An ikat warp was being wound on the loom. I have my eye on a loom made in the Netherlands, which will cost more than a small car after accounting for shipping. Half my mind finds it worth the expense, egged on by the forums on Ravelry. Illogical lust, you know. The sort of thing that years later, you cringe to remember and wonder how your mind deceived you so much. The other half of my mind cautions against extravagant (in many senses) impulse, and argues that I should not apply first world criteria to my second world hobbies, and what if I don’t want to weave any more a few years from now? I’d
Some time ago I wove with some gifted yarn (yarn gifted to me, not that it was exceptionally talented :p) I was trying a new technique on my table loom (Ashford, 8H, 24″) and found that the yarn was turning my loom pink. But I got a feel of the technique (overshot), and I turned that into a cushion cover (it barely fit). Then a friend saw it and asked me to make her a few covers. With complete freedom to choose colours. I decided to use black for background, with five different colours, and the undulating twill draft. I haven’t been able to find a source of cotton yarn that will sell me quantities suited for my limited use. So I chose Anchor knitting cotton, which isn’t a very economical choice, but the only feasible one, since most of the colours don’t run. I underestimated the shrinkage from weaving and from washing, so I had to add commercial fabric