Tag Archives: loom

Mission San Miguel Arcangel and its Loom

My vacation is long since over but I want share a few pictures from Mission San Miguel Arcangel, located in San Luis Obispo county in California. Just off the highway, this mission is in an agriculturally rich area. There must also be an army base nearby, based on uniformed personnel we saw eating at nearby Leo’s Cafe.

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The loom below was part of a display of how the mission operated. Sadly it’s not in a usable state.

Inkle Loom Off-Grid Experiment

I bought an inkle loom at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild Textile Bazaar a year or so back and at some later stage I got my hands on a copy of Inkle Weaving by Lavinia Bradley. It’s not a bad book but it could be improved by taking a detailed step by step approach to key elements such as warping the loom.

inkle loom warped with linen

I decided that this morning would be a good time to have a play. The power was out at home so it was a perfect time to sit down by the window and try an off-grid experiment.

First I made my leashes – single loop string heddles, made by making a circle between two of the pins on the inkle loom and tying them off with a knot. I used surgeon’s knot rather than a reef knot and an ashamed to report that my knot work was so poor that one of my leashes came apart in the first 15 minutes.

For the warp I used a linen that was uneven in thickness. It wasn’t a great choice and for my next attempt I’ll probably grab some cotton or wool, something that’s a bit thicker than the linen. I found that the sheds were hard to open as the linen was a bit slubby. The knots on my leashes didn’t help either and I should have placed them out of the way.

close up of the inkle look braid

Next time try a thicker warp

I tried three wefts, a very fine one cotton one, a slightly thicker cotton one and then a thicker woolen one. This was the only weft that gave an even remotely satisfactory result.

It was a good start and I learned a lot. With a different warp and weft selection I’m hoping the result of my next experiment will be at least be usable.

The inkle loom is simple technology, and easy to learn, but mastery clearly takes more than a couple of hours. That’s a lesson I have to re-learn frequently.

Sweden Highlights – Some Crafty, Some Not

In the general category of weird stuff they do in Sweden, the photo below says it all. A Swedish man in the beautiful heart of downtown Stockholm transporting birch saplings on the roof of his Saab. The country’s pagan roots are never far from the surface, even at the holiest times in the Christian calendar and birch branches are heavily represented in all sorts of celebrations and rituals. So are candles.

Saab with birch saplings on the roof

Unusual, but not in Sweden

The highlights from our trip are so many that each time we discuss it, we specify a different location, meal or activity.

MotalaBedandBreakfastI have to give a special call out to Björka Storgård, a bed & breakfast establishment near the town of Motala. Our hosts had thought of everything in fitting out their bed & breakfast and they made you feel like family visiting from overseas, rather than paying guests. We had unfettered access to their vegetable garden and greenhouse and they even treated us to field mushrooms from their own freezer.

On a more crafty theme, in the small town of Flen a weaving workshop for people with intellectual disabilities or psychiatric illnesses. They had lots of looms and staff who were happy to chat. Weaving studio with many hand looms The woven goods on sale were of a high standard and were very competitively priced. If you happen to be in Flen stop in at the Violen shopping centre and you’ll find it downstairs. It won’t be hard to find, believe me, as Violen is the only shopping centre in town and most of it is empty. It’s funny how some small towns go into decline and others continue to thrive. Sadly, Flen seems to be in terminal decline and it’s probably only a matter of time until the trains don’t even stop there.

Weaving yarns at Vavknuten

I must have been too excited to hold the camera straight

Eskilstuna falls into the thriving category and is quite charming. It’s been a town since medieval times and has a lovely location by the river. It’s also the home of Vävknuten, where I bought three reels of cottolin yarn which the lady recommended as suitable for a beginner weaver. The range of colours was lovely and the only hard part was making a choice, knowing that whatever I bought was going to have to be carried to Australia. Prices were highish. A quick internet search tells me I could have got a very similar yarn here in Australia for only about 30% more, which surprised me. There’s no way a homewoven towel is ever going to be a bargain in a way that a towel from China, Bangladesh or India might be, but that’s not really the point.

woven tablecloths for sale at Insjöns Väveri AB

Insjöns Väveri AB

We stopped by a commercial weaving works Insjöns Väveri in the small town of Insjön in Dalarna Province. They have a mechanised workshop which we peeked into through the windows but their website says they also do tours for interested parties such as weavers guilds. Their looms were constructed in the 1920’s and have been in continuous use since then. They claim their wares are as close to handmade as you can get, and their merchandise (table cloths, table runners, tray cloth and towels) did indeed have the look of traditional handmade items
Tray Cloths

Tray Cloths

Another another crafty destination in Dalarna province is  Sätergläntan Craft School which runs residential short courses in all sorts of traditional crafts, including knitting, weaving, woodwork and wirework. One thing that struck me is that a generation or two ago we wouldn’t have needed craft schools to teach us the basics of these crafts – we would have picked them up from our parents or grandparents as part of basic life skills, typically along strict gender lines. One of the weaving books I bought at their shop was de-accessioned from their library and it has a delightful line in it about how weaving is a good way for housewives and girls to spend their time as it allows them to add beauty to their homes and have something productive to do outside the normal routine of household chores.

Sätergläntans butik

Sätergläntans shop sells tools, fabrics and finished craft products.

We had a look in the Satergantans accommodation block and I’m sure that staying there would offer both comfort and inspiration.

Travel tip for quilters: Bring a quilt to to gift. The recipient will be delighted (or at least will be too polite to say if they hate it) and you’ll reserve a good chunk of suitcase space for the goodies you buy on the road. My MYO Charms Quilt has a new home in the northern hemisphere.