JMM: Day One

If you’ve listened to the early episodes of WeaveCast, you’ll have heard the story of how I learned to weave at a five-day weaving retreat with Judith MacKenzie McCuin.  It takes place every year not 30 minutes from where I live.  (Which is practically a miracle, because I live in the boonies.)

Since then, I’ve attended most years, when finances and schedule allowed.  This is one of the years I get to go.  Most years the same people come back and take the retreat, so it’s become over the years like a gathering of old friends.  It’s fun to see how everyone’s weaving is progressing from year-to-year.


This year, continuing in the theme of “summer of slow weaving” that started with me taking tapestry classes at ANWG, I’ve decided to learn cut-pile weaving from Judith.  The kind practiced in the Middle East, where each knot is individually hand tied.

The first warp I tried was gorgeous, charcoal-colored, worsted-spun wool that Judith had in her class supplies, sett at 12 ends per inch.  Unfortunately, after I’d warped it up I realized my hands were swelling a bit.  It might have had some alpaca in it, and over the years I’ve come to realize that I’m allergic to alpaca.  Weaving with that and throwing bits up in the air to breathe would not have been good (as I found out the last time I tried to spin alpaca, alas.)

But no worries, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of weaving silk pile (ala the multi-talented Sara Lamb) for a while now, so this presented the perfect opportunity.  I hopped in my car and brought back all the silk yarns I could find in my stash that might work.  I ended up warping with a light-copper colored 20/2 silk sett at…are you sitting down?  Twenty-four ends per inch.

Now I know that there are rugs woven in Iran that are a staggering 120 knots to the inch, but this is my first rug I’m working on here!  Fortunately, it’s based on a design 8-1/2 inches by 11 inches, so at least it’s not too big.

I’m not sure if I’m in denial about just how many knots this sampler rug is going to take, but I was happy as a clam warping it up.  It took some experimenting to find a twining thread thin enough that I could use it to space out the threads properly.  I ended up using a 20/2 cotton.  Isn’t it pretty?


In a happy moment of serendipity, I discovered that one of my impulse purchases from ANWG is going to be just the thing for helping me weave this piece.  It’s a teensy weensy beater produced by Northwest Looms. 


When I saw it, I knew immediately that I needed it; I just wasn’t sure what for.  A week later, it’s the perfect beater for a project that arose out of necessity.  Intuition is like that, I guess.  You get a flash of “do this” that makes no sense at all…until later, when it all comes together.

I had to leave class early to go pick up Kai from school and be a mom.  I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and getting started weaving!

Please share your thoughts: I enjoy your comments and feedback!