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|I was blown away when I saw what Mary had done with the Canvas Weave sample this year. The story behind it touched my heart. We asked Mary if she would be willing to write a blog post about her weaving journey and the tunic she wove after her husband asked her the simple question “What are you going to make with it?”. Read her interesting and touching story below.|
| My first experience of weaving took place when I was given a small Spears weaving loom for my 10th birthday. I loved that little loom and seem to recall weaving a variety of striped, wavy edged samples on it in the bright, primary coloured acrylic yarns that came with the loom. Fast forward many decades (more than I care to remember) and I’m once again weaving lots of samples but now they are rather more sophisticated, less irregular, and the yarns are usually made from natural fibres.|
Spear weaving Loom
I started spinning about 18 years ago and weaving seemed a natural progression. At the time there were very few weavers in the guild to which I then belonged so I set about teaching myself to weave using every resource I could find; books, magazines, videos and YouTube. I actually spent far more time reading weaving books and studying pattern drafts than reading novels. Then a few years ago a fellow weaver, Ian, told me about the JST online guild and I joined that same day. It was the start of Season 2 Plain Weave and now 4 years on I am still following Jane’s classes and learning so much from her.
I was really pleased to discover that Season 5 was devoted to lace weave as it was a structure I had not previously explored. Here in the UK, it’s not always easy to source similar yarns to the ones Jane uses and I often find it quite a challenge to find suitable substitutes. For lesson 2 on Canvas Weave though, I used yarns that I already had in my stash hoping they would give satisfactory results. The warp was a cotton and linen mix 28 wpi that I purchased on eBay some years ago and the other yarn I incorporated was pale blue Bockens linen yarn 30 wpi that I was given just before lockdown.
I warped up my Louet David loom with the suggested 6 yard warp at 16 epi and set about weaving the sampler as per Jane’s instructions, finding the labels attached to the treadles especially helpful when trying to ‘own the structure’ as Jane puts it.
I was delighted with the way the yarns were weaving up and loved the patterns that were emerging. The more I wove the more I felt that the fabric deserved to be more than just a sampler. The glimmer of an idea began to develop as I continued to weave the 20 samples, trying to square them up consistently. There was quite a lot of warp remaining which I used to create a length of ecru plain weave throwing in random double picks throughout.
When I showed the finished fabric to my husband his immediate reaction was to ask what was I going to make with it. When told it was just a sampler his response confirmed my original thoughts entirely, it was crying out to become something more. Sadly this was the last piece of my weaving that my husband saw as he passed away shortly afterwards.
Some months later though on a miserable rainy day I decided it was the right time to put my idea into action rather than mope around the house. I had planned to make a tunic top from the sampler. First I took photos of all of the samples so I could refer back to them if need be.
Images of some of the samples
|The pattern I used was a Butterick pattern 3383. It was one that was recommended in a Handwoven magazine some years ago as being ideal for using with handwoven fabric. It consists of just three very simple pieces with no darts or facings.|
Normally when I am sewing with handwoven yardage I make a mock up first but there was no need on this occasion as I had made up this pattern twice before with some handwoven plain weave (Season 2) so I already knew what tweaks I needed to make to the sizing and neck line.
I carefully selected and cut two lengths of fabric from near the beginning of the sampler to form the centre panels of the front and back. I then cut the plain ecru strip in half lengthways. The selvedges of these strips were machined to either side of the centre panels so there was no need to over-lock the edges of the seams. The front and back pieces were cut out and immediately over-locked all round the edges before seaming them together. With the body made, I then set about the sleeves.
There was not sufficient width to cut out the sleeves along the length of the grain so they were cut out across its width, two pieces of fabric for each sleeve. I carefully positioned the pattern so that the dominant lines between the samples were similarly positioned on each of the sleeve caps as this is what the eye would go to. Likewise with the bottom half of each sleeve. The edges of all four pieces were over-locked to secure them before joining them together, the assembled sleeves were duly inserted and the armhole seams over-locked. The final step was to machine stitch all of the simple hems.
I was delighted when, at the end of the day, I put the garment on a coat hanger and stood back to look at the final result. Everything had fitted together perfectly and I couldn’t really find much fault with it which, for me, is almost unheard of. I usually see something I’m not entirely happy with! I think I must have had a helping hand that day and I’m sure I heard a voice say “Well done kid”. Hardly a kid but it’s what my husband would have said to me.
|Making this tunic has set me thinking about how I might use future samplers. I love sampling different weave structures but a lot of time, money (I often purchase yarn specially to produce the samplers) and love goes into making them and it always seems a shame to assign them to a box or drawer rarely to see the light of day again. It was really satisfying to produce something wearable from the sampler and I can still refer back to the patterns whenever I need to.|
Looking for a gift for a Friend?
|Give the gift of learning for a weaving friend, an all-access subscription to Jane Stafford School of Weaving. You can purchase a one-month subscription gift or as many months as you would like, anywhere up to 12. They will have time to binge-watch all previous 5 Seasons over the holidays before we head into Season 6.|
Units, Blocks & Profiles, starting January 20th, 2022!
Here to help
|We are pleased to offer free shipping on all Louet looms within Continental North America. We also offer the option to pay a $1000.00 CAD deposit on your loom with the balance due when the loom ships out to you. This allows the flexibility to make smaller payments towards your balance at your convenience.|
|With exciting advances made to both the Louet Spring Loom and the Louet David Loom,|
there is no better time for your dream of a new loom to come true.