This coming Friday I am going to an art retreat at King's Fold Retreat Centre west of Cochrane. There will be lectures, guided projects, and time to work on your own ideas. I thought of taking along my watercolours, but was intimidated by the fact that there will probably be much more talented and accomplished painters there. So I decided to warp my backstrap loom and start a project on that.
The backstrap loom is totally portable, and can be set up almost anywhere, even outdoors, attached to a tree. Here you see it with the warp beam tied to a post of the desk, and the cloth beam tied to a chair.
When I'm working on the loom, the end tied to the chair is tied around my waist. The tension is achieved by leaning back.
I haven't used this loom for several years, so I had to look up the directions for warping it. I followed the directions that came with the loom, which called for putting on a continuous warp and then later cutting and tying the ends at the cloth beam. That led to humongous problems with warp threads crossing over each other. I had to go through thread by thread to make sure there were not crosses.
Then I was able to tension the warp. That had to be done twice, by tying the ends around the cloth beam, starting from the middle and working to the outsides, and then doing the same thing over again to even them out.
Yesterday afternoon (after way too many hours of work) it was finally all set up. Here you see just the very beginning of the weaving. There are four rows of shoelaces at the beginning. They are there to get the warp threads all evenly spaced out. In this pic, I've woven just three rows of the dark brown weft. I don't want to go very far with the weaving, as I want enough to do at the retreat.
I'm planning to use this to make a tote bag. Using yarn from my stash (real wool) I planned to make a plaid bag with dark brown, gold, wheat, light green and dark green. But when I started to warp the loom with the dark brown, the thread immediately broke. It's a homespun, and just not tight enough to withstand the pressure of warping. So the plans were changed from a plaid bag to a striped bag. I found a reasonably tough cream coloured wool that will make a good warp.
The plan is to make stripes of various widths. I'll post other photos as the project goes along. But, for now, I'm happy with this as an "art retreat" take-along project. It took a really long time to set up because it was a learning curve. Next project the warping will go a lot faster!