This section is from the book "Feeling Better? Amusements and Occupations for Convalescents", by Cornelia R. Trowbridge. Also available from Amazon: Feeling Better.
The first step in weaving, threading the warp on the loom, is always a slow one. It means drawing a separate thread through the eye of each heddle, passing it through the slits of the reed with a small hook, a process known as sleying, and tying the ends into the cloth beam. It is not so difficult as it sounds; in fact it requires little muscular exertion; but it must be done with absolute accuracy. Two persons should work at it together if possible. Perhaps you can arrange to have it done for you and save your energies for the weaving itself. For a few dollars extra you can order a Structo loom fully warped. The shuttle you can surely wind for yourself with eight or ten yards of weft. Then with the loom on the bed-table you are ready to begin.
There are only three movements to master for plain weaving: (i) adjusting the shed, the device which lowers or raises alternate threads of the warp, done on Structo looms by the levers to the right of the frame; (a) passing the shuttle through-and on these looms it will fly more or less swiftly; (3) bringing forward the reed, or batten, to beat the threads of the weft into place. Then the three movements are repeated, the shuttle this time going in the opposite direction. Make up a jingle, such as
Shed, shuttle, reed, Shed, shuttle, reed, and practice weaving to it until you can work smoothly and rhythmically, bringing down the batten with even strokes and not drawing the weft too tight. To insure an even, workmanlike selvage with no long loops or indrawn edge, adjust the weft snugly around the end warp thread with thumb and finger as the shuttle goes across but leave it on a slant through the warp to be beaten into place by the batten.
The directions that come with the loom will tell you all these things and more. They explain the parts of a loom, tell how to join threads, how to work out any cross-stitch design with a set of steel needles or short shuttles-which is known as stick weaving- and how to do pattern weaving. If you have learned some of these things from your cardboard loom, you have so much better a start on this craft. When you work out a border in rows which you wish to repeat, as for instance at the other end of a runner, it is wise to make a memorandum of it; e. g., 4 blue, 4 white, 12 blue, 4 white, 4 blue. Through Mrs. Atwater at Basin, Montana, the Shuttle-Craft Guild offers a correspondence course in weaving, which you might be interested to take.
There is no better place to get materials for weaving than at "the famous Bernats," whose address is given at the end of this chapter. Thread for warping must be strong and tightly twisted. Egyptian cotton, mercerized cotton, silk or weaving worsted may be used for different fabrics. For the weft almost any kind of material with soft, loosely twisted strands may be chosen, whether cotton, linen, silk or wool. To calculate how much material to order, the yardage per pound of the threads selected, the length of the warp threads and the number of heddles, the width of the fabric of the weft per inch and the number of feet to be woven must all be taken into account. If this seems an appalling task, write to some dependable dealer the dimensions and material of the fabric planned and leave it to his trained skill to make the necessary calculations.
The Structo Loom Number 240 weaves many lovely patterns with its four harnesses-patterns that have been handed down through generations of weavers. Queen Anne's Lace, Chariot Wheels, Cat Track and Snail Trail, Whig Rose, Star of Bethlehem -their very names are full of romance and poetry, tradition and humor.
A form of weaving known as card or tablet weaving requires less physical effort than a loom though as much if not more skill and intelligence for its mastery. One does not even have to sit up to it. The handful of square cards, with holes in the corners, on which it is done are strung on a warp that can be adjusted to any hospital bed. The complete outfit-a set of cards, instructions, patterns and a piece of work set up and partly woven, may be secured from Mrs. Atwater, at Basin, Montana. Many dealers also carry them. Card weaving makes beautiful narrow textiles like belts, hatbands and watch ribbons.
A very simple device much used at summer camps to make Indian belts may be ordered from most sources of camp supplies. Figure 16 shows how it can be fastened to the foot of a bed and adjusted around the waist to keep the warp taut. The industrial Arts Cooperative Service, mentioned in Chapter XXIV (How To Make Contacts), has devised a belt loom made of tongue depressors. It may seem to you a pleasanter use for these bits of wood than that for which they usually appear in a sickroom. Any druggist will furnish them and the directions for making the loom may be secured from the Cooperative Service at a trifling cost.
Figure 16. A Belt Loom and Shuttle.
Of all the crafts possible under a handicap weaving is probably the one most widely practiced by both men and women, the most satisfying, the most varied in its usefulness and the richest in possibilities of creative work in color, texture and design. The traditions of weaving are those of good workmanship and honesty. "Weave Truth with Trust" was the old motto of the Weavers' Guild of London. It is still a sound and cheerful one to work by.
The Shuttle-Craft Book of American Hand Weaving, Mary Meigs Atwater. The Macmillan Company, New York. 1931. A complete, scholarly and delightful book on the history and craft of weaving. Very fully illustrated.
Weaving with Small Appliances, Luther Hooper. Book I. The Weaving Board, 1922. Book II. Tablet Weaving, 1923. Book III. Table-Loom Weaving, 1925. Pitman Publishing Corporation, New York. Excellent handbooks, opening up delightful vistas. The Book of Weaving, Anna Mott Shook. The John Day Company, New York. 1928. Clear and practical.
Hand Loom Weaving, Kate Van Cleve. The Beacon Press, Boston. 1935.
Structo Artcraft Looms and Weaving Accessories, Structo Manufacturing Company, Freeport, Illinois. These looms are supplied by most dealers in craft equipment. Weaving Materials, Dago Looms and Manual on Weaving with Dago and Kircher Looms. Emil Bernat and Sons Company, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. "The famous Bernats" will send sample cards of linen, cotton, silk and wool thread on application. Recommended by the Shuttle-Craft Guild. Will sell in small quantities. Handle only thoroughly dependable materials.