Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Alpha and Omega of Weaving

Some find the Appalachian Arts Craft Center and the Tuesday Weavers when they are already accomplished weavers and they are looking for a community of craftsman to share their love of fiber art. Others, like me, find the group because they want to learn to weave.

The AACC offers lots of classes in various crafts - basket weaving, glass bead making, caning, broom making, felting - the list goes on and on. Most of these classes are taught one time or for a short series. However, there is one class that is always (almost always) available - a six week beginning weaving class taught by Carol Pritcher. Except when Carol is traveling she is there every week ready to teach. Whenever you show up you can start. If you can come once a week - great. If you need to do the class over a period of months that is fine, too. She and the rest of the crowd say welcome, show up and become part of the weaving frenzy.

I heard about the Tuesday Weavers from a friend who sold her jewelry at the center. I showed up to take the six classes and as my husband would say - I got stuck to the "Tar Baby." Here I am part of something bigger than a hobby, part of a learning community, part of a group of crafters preparing for a show, part of a cohort of bloggers who talk about weaving and life.

Carol starts all beginner weavers on a table loom weaving a simple twill sampler and a few place mats. She guides you through the planning of the warp, the winding, the dressing of the loom and shows you how to begin to weave.

Over Six
BUT stop - before you go more than an inch or so she stops you in your tracks and says you need to learn to hem stitch. Take that long tail you left before starting to weave and go four threads over and then three threads over. It is awkward - it isn't weaving - it is hard to count the individual threads - wait I think I have it. Wow, I am at the end of the hem. Carol declares to the whole room - we have a new hem stitcher!!!!
Over five

I have come to realize that some projects don't require hem stitching. But most of the time I still use it. And I have learned that counting the threads is important especially if I am going to twist my fringe. Going over four threads means a nice clean grouping of four for the fringe. (or in the case of the two photos - over six then over five for six thread groupings of fine bamboo for my shawl)

Pulling the stitch to lock it

Not everyone in the Tuesday Weaver group is a hem stitcher but if Carol has taught you - you at least know how. This summer I was talking to some new weavers from Rhode Island. When I mentioned hem stitching - neither had any idea what I was talking about. I was shocked. Because of Carol I thought that hem stitch was truly the Alpha and Omega of weaving - the beginning and the end.

The Alpha

The Omega
The Gospel according to Carol (as understood by me) - hem stitching the beginning and the end, amen.

Be well,


LA said...

Amen, sister!!! It does keep those threads in place and it does get to be second nature after awhile. How funny: tar baby???? I think more in terms of "therapy"!!!!

Bonnie said...

I am not a hem stitcher. I don not enjoy it. I think it is a pain, but I need to re learn. Maybe one day.

Maggie said...

What a good tutorial on hem stitching, with a little philosophy thrown in! I only hemstitch when necessary, but I learned to like it a little better doing 16 mug rugs last year. There is a sense of accomplishment with the last tucking of the thread.

Anonymous said...

I am always amazed when a weaver hasn't heard of hem stitching either. I always wonder what basics have I missed that they know?