Well, a quick answer to that is —No, not really. I do often feel like it’s a dying art. Am I the only one left who does this? Well, there are still some of us out there, because there are still wonderful weaving publications available including Handwoven and Vävmagasinet. But I offered weaving lessons on my pre-warped Cranbrook loom, with all supplies included (using imported Swedish cotton and linen yarns) and unlimited access to my weaving studio as a donated item at our school fundraising auction last year—And nobody was even willing to bid $20 on it. (I finally bid $100 on it myself, and of course, I won my own donation).
So yes, it is a dying art. I call it an art, but not very long ago, before the industrial revolution—it was not just an art—it was a life necessity!….as this was how all cloth for clothing and blankets was made. It now is an art form. It appeals to those of us who have a “make it from scratch” mentality.
There is so much beauty and gratification in making something with your own hands…weaving reinstates a feeling that: yes, we can actually do things without electricity.
I find this video produced by the Centre for Textile Research (click here) to be incredibly beautiful and amazing—as it shows you how much work it used to be, and the number of people involved, to make cloth. People had specialized tasks—there were the farmers who raised the sheep for wool or flax for linen. Then those who harvested these products. Then those who readied the products for spinning, removing the debris from the wool (carding) or softening the flax. Then the spinners who made it into usable yarn. Then the dyers, using natural products to give it color. Then those who specialized in warping the loom. Then the weavers. Then the sewers/finishers of clothing, and felters who softened the blankets/wool. Below are photos of the front and back of my Cranbrook loom.
I still weave. Admittedly, it’s a tedious process, and by no means am I going to attempt to explain it all here. But today you can learn two words (use them in Scrabble): The warp is the yarn/thread that is on the loom. The weft is the thread/yarn that you weave across the warp. That is your weaving lesson for today. Congrats if you have read this far!