I am a handweaver, designing and creating cloth on eight-shaft floor looms.
Why is it called handweaving? Weaving surely does use the hands (throwing the shuttle), and especially fingers (threading heddles, sleying the reed). It also uses the feet (tromping the treadles), plus the arms and legs and back, the knees and hips and elbows. I weave with my whole body.
Weaving also requires the brain, including mathematical calculations and knowledge of tools and materials. How many warp ends to produce a certain width, allowing for draw-in and shrinkage rate? Which structure, to yield enough interlacements for stability while also creating the intended pattern? What density of threads to maximize shimmer and drape and yet be durable? I weave with an engaged mind.
Designing cloth always involves perception and reflection. I study shifting shadows, notice my experience of wind, follow the flow of water, and concentrate on the colors in leaves and stone and sky. I never quite succeed in translating any of these inspirations into textile. Of course I don't. And that's okay. It's just a shawl; it's not an ocean wave. I weave with an open heart.
My studio has three eight-shaft non-computerized floor looms, a large warping reel, a mangle manufactured in 1939, many shelves of yarn, several binders of weaving records, and a wood stove. It is located in midcoast Maine, on the island of Arrowsic.