After a set-up period of about two days including the warping, it’s finally time to sit back and relax, or rather, start pedalling.
Weaving is the process of inserting a weft thread between the previously prepared warp threads. The intersection of warp and weft is what creates the cloth. On older looms the weft yarn is inserted with a shuttle. We have a more modern rapier loom, which uses a hook, or rapier head, to collect the weft threads.
Our loom is a double-width Griffith Rapier Hand Loom RH2, which we bought on the Isle of Lewis. It had been used to produce Harris Tweed. We have been pushing its boundaries by weaving not only tweed, but also scarves, shawls and throws.
For us the best thing about the loom is that it is driven by a bicycle pedal. The weaving mechanism is connected to the pedals and a chain, which turns the main shaft. Ingenious carbon-neutral technology, and a good workout!
While setting up the loom is definitely the part of the process that takes most concentration, we can’t just switch off while we do the pedalling either. The loom has its moody days and the possibilities for things to go wrong if not watched closely are surprisingly manifold. So, no television in the weaving shed.