Thursday, October 22, 2015

Backstrap Weaving

Lately, I've been teaching some of my friends kids to weave.  There are a lot of lovely looms out there that they can learn on.  Kids have a natural talent for weaving and learn the basics at light speed.  What an adult takes weeks to learn, a kid can pick up in an afternoon.  

One of the problems with kids and weaving, is that many of the good looms are adult priced.  Kid priced looms seem to be shoddy things that get one excited, but are difficult to upgrade as the weaver's skill improve.  

So I decided to make my own loom based on one of the most common designs in history - and perhaps one of the best tutorials I've ever seen - A Backstrap Loom

Here are three looms I made.

Actually, I had help.  I don't like the power tools and cutting all these sticks by hand would take me an hour.  Instead, it was all of 2 minutes to cut the sticks.  Another 13 minutes to make the shuttles.  We used a piece of wood for the shuttle that will double as a sword if needed.  It's enough to get started weaving and we can expand on it as the weaver's interests grow.

The only thing that is missing from the loom is the piece of cloth - or strap - that goes around the back of the weaver.  To prove that the student is interested enough in weaving to earn his or her own loom, I set up my loom with the warp, show them how, send them home and tell them to weave their own backstrap.  They do this, they get their own set of sticks.

Here's the loom partway set up.  So simple.  A few sticks, a bit of string.

If you have a moment, google 'backstrap weaving' and have a look at some of the amazingly complex cloth people create using such simple tools.  I'm simply in awe of the inspiration and skill of people who use these looms on a regular basis.

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