Creative down time

Author: fraise

Sunday 21 March 2010, in Crafts, La France

Frame loom, with cat        Inkle loom in progress
I haven’t been feeling well lately. As often happens when I have time off, especially when ill, for some reason, I’ve been bitten by a creativity bug. In childhood I had a Brio loom with which I made a few weaving projects that are still around today. For a while now, I had wanted to try weaving again, but looms are rather expensive, so I set aside the idea. Nonetheless, the desire to weave kept returning, and as I’ve been resting these past few days, it hit me that I could always make my own simple looms to start out with.

Shown above, on the left is a frame loom I built yesterday. Frame looms are among the oldest type of loom, with their predecessor the back strap loom. Frame and back strap looms are still used to weave tapestries throughout the world. On the right is an inkle loom, still in progress. Inkle looms are used to create woven belts and other narrow bands. I had to make my own weaving tools as well — shown in that linked photo are heddle sticks, sheds, and a makeshift shuttle.

As you can see, there’s not much complexity to these! Here are the supplies I bought to make them:

  • One 2cm x 6cm piece of fir, 2m long (“stud” is tasseau in French)
  • One 2cm x 3.5cm piece of fir, 2m long
  • One 12mm-diameter beech dowel, 1m long, for the inkle loom dowels (“dowel” is tourillon)
  • One 15mm-diameter beech dowel, 1m long, for the heddle sticks
  • One 6mm x 3.5cm piece of simple pine molding with two rounded edges for the sheds, 2.4m long (this is a champlat)
  • 1/4 litre of clear wood varnish to finish the pieces
  • (I already had a hammer, handsaw, nails, and a chisel, so haven’t counted those in the total)

Total price: 38 euros, of which the varnish was 11, so 27 euros for the wood alone.

Just for the fun of it, here’s some weaving vocabulary in French:
to weave (verb): tisser
weaving (noun): tissage
loom: métier à tisser
frame loom: métier à tapisserie (tapisserie means “tapestry”)
inkle loom: métier à ceintures (ceinture means “belt”)
heddle: lisse
shed: foule
shuttle: navette
beater: battoir
warp: chaîne
weft: trame, which gave the French saying “j’ai perdu la trame”, meaning someone’s “lost the thread of thought”.

2 responses to “Creative down time”

  1. zuleme Says:

    and isn’t the word for fabric tissu? I have French movie class starting up tomorrow night at the cafe in town. Good for keeping my studies going. I have the creative bug too. We’ve been busy with the new business making camera gear, tripod plates and add ons. It is going very well and there is a lot to do on top of our regular video work.
    Spring has come to NH about a month early and it is wonderful.

  2. fraise Says:

    Yes, it is indeed “tissu”! Funny, your mentioning it is the first time I’ve ever associated “tisser” (weave) with “tissu” (fabric), and now I see how obvious it is that they’re related in French :)

    *goes to look in her etymology reference book to see the real origins*

    Tisser: originally from the Latin “texere” (look familiar? “textile” :) ), which developed into ancien français “tistre”. “Tissu” was the old substantive participle of the verb.

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