by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC
Weaving is an ancient and traditional technique of working with textiles to create fabrics, clothing, decorative pieces and functional items using an interlacing method. As discussed in the previous blog post, the weaving process is embedded with therapeutic benefits, promoting relaxation, groundedess and stress relief through its repetitive nature. In this blog post we will provide an overview of what you will need to get started with your journey into weaving as a way to relax and induce a state of calm. We will present an easy option for creating an at home loom as well as discuss a beginner’s level technique to get started. If you are interested in purchasing a loom, there are many options available based on the size and quality that you are looking for.
To get started, it is recommended that one gather various fabric scraps, yarns of varying widths and fibers, old t-shirts, ripped jeans, pieces of a scarf, ribbons and any other textured materials that one may want to use for their project. The gather stage is significant for therapeutic purposes, as we are in a way setting our intention for the emotional quality of the piece. Consider weaving in pieces of a shirt that you wore during a significant period of your life or a shoelace taken from a pair of shoes you wore on your travels. These different elements combined together have the potential to create an interwoven narrative that reflects your experiences. Perhaps the colors of the piece will become significant to the emotional quality of your piece, and so choosing specific colors for your woven fabric may be your source of intention.
Some important terms that may be helpful to us as we delve into the weaving world: loom, warp, weft, shuttle, and comb. The loom is the apparatus which provides the framework for creating your woven piece. On the loom, you will attach the warp, which are the vertical strands of string running up and down the loom and these are the strands you will be stringing through. The weft is the string/yarn/ribbons/fabric that you will weave through the warp strands horizontally using a shuttle. The shuttle is the instrument that you can wrap your weft/string around as you weave through large areas. And finally, the comb is the instrument that you will use to push down each layer of your weft to create a more compact design.
Once you have gathered the materials that you will need, you can start to create your loom if you do not already have one. For our purposes and for what you might encounter in an art therapy session, we will share a simple technique for creating a loom from cardboard. All you will need is a thick piece of cardboard, cut to the size that you desire. You can try an 8 in. by 11 in. size to start and consider expanding or shrinking the size once you get a feel for it. Once you have the cardboard cut to the size desired, take a ruler and place it at the top of your cardboard (this would be the 8 in. side). Mark the center of the top edge with a pencil and then mark every ¼” along the top edge. Repeat this process on the bottom edge and then cut about ¼” to ½” deep along each mark to create the “teeth” of your loom. Once you have the teeth, you can begin to create your warp by running a string up and down through the teeth of the loom, making straight, vertical lines. It may be helpful to watch a video on this process.
Once your warp is established, you can begin to choose materials and fabrics as your weft and weave them in a simple, up and down pattern working left to right and right to left. Consider colors that you use and how you might want to incorporate them. Remember that when you are starting out, it is ok to play and learn as you go. Remove all expectations for the process and allow yourself to sit with the repetitive process of going back and forth, up and down with the string.
Practice this process ritualistically, allowing yourself at least 30 minutes without distraction. Consider playing soft music in the background as you engage intentionally with the weaving. Notice how you feel before and after this period of artmaking.
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