Shirley Sherrod ...
I have been fascinated
with weaving for a good
many years now. I had, early on, observed a weaver at work while in
Anchorage at a craft fair and was hooked(? literally?). When I went to
2000 I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to first observe
backstrap weavers and then to actually have lessons. Along with
the lessons came my very first loom - a handmade backstrap loom., and
my second, a baby backstrap loom.
fascination continued but without fruition until I accidently found a
weekend beginners class in Glenwood Springs a couple of years later.
Danny graciously agreed to
take it with me and then promptly told me at the end of the class, that
weaving was not for him. From this class I acquired an older Swedish
4-harness, table loom. As I think back on it, I can't help but laugh as
I remember the trouble of transporting this loom all the way to Yuma,
AZ in the back of our little Subaru car, accompanied by curses from my other half, towed by the RV. This loom was later given
to a friend who also wanted to start weaving.
Time quickly passed by
and I purchases a rigid heddle loom a couple of
years ago. Here too, time passed on and I never quite got around to doing anything
substantial although I played around with it during the winter months.
Then I entered the Peace Corps and I immediately saw lots of use for
this skill. So I became motivated in a big way to learn this skill in
order to pass it on.
and April of this year found me in Nepal where the Nepali women in the
villages, in the mountain areas, do backstrap weaving. I was determined
to find a weaver and observe her skills. With this in mind, a trek was
organized in the Annapurna Mountains along a route that included these
weavers. Our guide found a weaver for me(I am sure a relative as
everyone is related to everyone, or so it seems) and we were able to
sit watching her as she wove. The method had some deviations from that found in
Guatemala. Although I was unable to find a loom to buy, I did manage to get some video of one of the women weaving. I didn't get the winding of the warp or the warping however. I am deterined to figure it out however, through the videos and the pictures.
There is also a large cottage industry in weaving pashmina articles.
They use a large ungainly loom with some pretty amazing adaptations to
it. The Pashmina industry was started a
few years ago when Pashmina became a popular item both in Europe and
somewhat less in N. America. It has lessened somewhat now and the
weavers are jostling for sales. The looms are now set up along some of
the trekking paths at the lower altitudes and the weavers ply their
wares, their skills and will even show you how they do things if you
ask. I had one weaver show me how they took the large blanket off
the loom. They tie up with rags that are somewhat long and they can
simply cut off the ends and then rip them more to tie the warp back on.
Kathmandu, I discovered that the Tibetan refugees have brought their
rug knotting/weaving with them and set up successful cooperatives. The
cooperative in Patan,
a suburb of Kathmandu , was open for visitors and you could walk freely amongst the spinners and weavers. I examined the
looms and method very closely, taking videos whenever I could. I was
lucky enough to watch a beginner weaver as she tied her rug knots which
gave me the opportunity to figure the knotting out.
through the Mountain Museum in Pokhara, I came across some very old
looms. They looked oddly like the ones that are still in use today
although a little worse for wear.