I always fancied having a go at weaving, but was put off by the amount of equipment and set-up time it required. Then I discovered circular weaving, and all that changed.
I am a knitter, a crocheter, and a spinner, so I’m what you might call an avid crafter. It seems a natural thing for me to consider weaving, and I have. But I’ve always been put off by the complexity and size of the equipment, and the time and effort involved in setting it up. And although I’m very much a process crafter – I’m motivated by the pleasure involved in the process of making, rather than desire to own the finished product – I couldn’t picture what I would do with the woven cloth. This led me to watch video after video on YouTube, but not actually start weaving.
Then one day, YouTube suggested a video on circular weaving, and I watched it. This one video removed all my objections to weaving in less than 30 minutes, and I ordered my first loom the same day.
The complex equipment used in traditional weaving was replaced by a simple wooden circle with notches. I was able to order a set of 5 in different sizes for just £12, although the price varies around that amount. Compared to the £100 minimum for a rigid heddle loom, this was an achievable first step. Storing this pack of looms couldn’t be easier – they fit between 2 books and take up almost no room at all.
As for the time to set up the loom, it took me 5 minutes to warp it with crochet cotton, and I was ready to start weaving. And the purpose for the finished product? I have a small area of bedroom wall that would look great with a collection of differently sized circular weaves on it. And I can make coasters and table mats with cotton for gifts.
And so I began. I started out with a variegated crochet cotton, for no other reason than I had it and needed to use it. Once I had warped the loom with it, I did a centre weave of over 1, under 1 to tighten up the centre and start the ball rolling. The effect was very attractive. At this point of the weave, the warp threads are at their most visible so using the same thread for the weave added to the effect of the 2 colours.
I went on to try out ‘over 1, under 2’ for a few rounds, then ‘over 2, under 1’. I also tried making a crescent shape with different colours, and doing one round each of 3 alternating colours. Each technique was fun and produced a gratifyingly identifiable difference in the appearance of the section. And the joy of a project is always enhanced for me by the act of using up small ends of yarn that have been languishing, waiting for their moment to shine.
And the experience of weaving? A delightful, easy, gratifying day spent choosing yarns from my scrap box, trying out different stitches, and generally indulging my imagination. I then cut my creation off the loom, backed it with felt and was ready to start another weave. I am officially a convert.
So what’s next? The circular weave isn’t a gateway product for me – I won’t be buying a rigid heddle loom any time soon. I’ll just keep playing with my circles and enjoy this craft at my own level.
If you would like to have a go at circular weaving, I’m teaching a morning session on it at Yarn Etc. in Harrogate on 25th May. Contact the shop to book a place.