This section is from the book "Feeling Better? Amusements and Occupations for Convalescents", by Cornelia R. Trowbridge. Also available from Amazon: Feeling Better.
"And whilst the shuttle swiftly flies, With cheerful heart I work and sing And envy none beneath the skies."
SO wrote James Maxwell, the Weaver Poet, in the middle of the eighteenth century. His words have found an echo in the heart of many an invalid since experiments have shown how practical and profitable weaving is as an occupation for the sick. "The beauty of weaving," says one authority in this field, "is that it gives such definite results. Small projects can be completed rapidly and there are so many changes in the work that it does not become monotonous. It can be as simple or as intricate as one pleases and it is possible to get entirely satisfactory results from the first."
You can find a simple, pleasant and profitable occupation in making for yourself a cardboard loom. It is not James Maxwell's sort of loom. The shuttle will not swiftly fly across it. But you can learn from it a good deal about weaving that will be useful if you go on later to other looms.
Figures 14 and 15 show a cardboard loom and a piece of weaving partly completed. Any piece of stiff cardboard can be used, of any size that you can handle
Figure 14 easily. The notches across the top and bottom should be a quarter of an inch apart and an eighth of an inch.
Figure 15 deep. To get them uniform draw lines across an eighth of an inch from top and bottom and mark on them the quarter inches.
For the warp use any firmly twisted light string or very heavy thread that you have at hand, only making sure that you have enough of it for the whole warping.
Fasten the end of it around the upper left hand notch, bring it down in front to the corresponding notch on the lower edge, back into the same upper notch and around in front of the next point into the next notch. Then it goes straight down on the back side into the second notch on the lower edge and straight up again to the upper second notch, where it goes around behind the third point, down in front, always drawn taut, up at the back, around in front of the fourth point, etc. When the warping is completed, the thread has passed around all the points of the upper edge, alternately in front of and behind them. The end of the warp is fastened around the last point of the lower edge, giving one more warp thread on one side than on the other. The side edges of the cardboard should then be trimmed off as closely as possible to the outer threads of the warp. Compare your loom carefully at this point with Figure 14.
For the cross threads, the weft, you will want a softer, coarser material. If your loom is not larger than 4" x 5", use any worsted you have on hand. For a larger loom strips W wide, cut spirally from a stocking, or any soft cotton or silk material, cut in 1/2 " strips and sewed together, like carpet rags, may be used. The best thing to use for a shuttle is a tape needle with a blunt end, though a shuttle may be cut from wood.
Thread about two yards of the weft through the needle and, beginning at the top, go over and under the warp, as you would in darning, across the front and then across the back, around and around the loom, pushing the threads of the weft close up to the points to make a firm, even edge. As you turn the card over, be sure that you do not skip a thread in the over-under sequence. As you may know, this is tabby weaving.
There are several things to watch for which hold for all weaving. When you get to the end of a thread, draw is clear through the warp, take another needleful and, as you begin to weave with it, make it overlap the first thread for a couple of inches. Tuck underneath any loose ends. The weft must be kept at an even tension so that the fabric will not draw together and be of uneven width when it is taken off the loom. The cross-threads must be pushed up-beaten is the technical term-evenly. On a cardboard loom this may be done with the fingers or a coarse comb. Crowd in as many threads as possible at the lower edge.
Strips of contrasting color go in with the same tabby weaving. To work in a "tapestry" design, such as is shown in Figure 15, a separate needle is used for each block of color. The weft threads of both the background and the design are passed around the threads of the warp which border the design. This is done so that the warp threads will not be drawn out of line.
When the weaving is finished, lift off the threads of the warp from the points along the upper edge and draw out the cardboard. You will have a bag which may be lined and either be given handles or a zipper (or snaps) to hold it shut.
A number of flat table-looms are to be had at varying prices. Two of the best of them are the Daga and
A Flat Table-Loom the Rochdale looms, mentioned in Chapter XXV (What To Do With Sick Children In Bed). Directions for setting them up come with them and for making various useful and pretty articles.
If, however, you wish to go on to pattern weaving, you will need a harness loom, with a strong, firm bed-table to hold it. Of the harness looms on the market the best are the Structo Artcraft Looms. They weave fabrics from eight to twenty inches wide and range in price from ten dollars up. The eight-inch loom, Number 240, is an excellent one to get. It has four harnesses, shifting the warp for pattern weaving, and it weighs but nine pounds. Silk handbags, pocket-books, and scarfs can be woven on it and strips which can be sewed together for table mats, runners, wall hangings or pillow tops. All Structo looms come complete with a book of instructions and patterns by Mrs. Mary Meigs Atwater, one of the foremost authorities on hand-weaving in this country. Any pattern not requiring more than four shifts of the warp threads can be woven on these looms. The address to send to is given at the end of this chapter.