I'm a weaving on thru ...
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Shirley

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 Guatemala in 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.

 

This 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.
2008:
March 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.

warpingboard

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.

    wanna be

While in 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.

rug weaving knots

Wandering 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.

Last updated:  September 9, 2008

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