WOVEN CLOTH IS everywhere--on bodies, beds, tables, walls and floors. And all the different kinds and textures of cloth, from twill to tapestry, start with a loom and fiber put together in one basic arrangement: The vertical threads, attached to the loom, are the warp, and the horizontal threads, or weft, are laced in and out, over and under the warp.
That’s only the beginning. Of the three basic weaves, the simplest is the plain, or tabby, pattern, with the weft threads going over one warp thread and under the next--as in gingham, percale and muslin. Pass the weft over two or more threads at a time, and it’s the basket weave variation. Twill, a sturdy and distinctive cloth, is acheived by weaving the weft over two, three or four warp threads at a time in a diagonal pattern--as with gabardine, flannel and serge. Satin weave--damask, sateen and satin--only looks simple; the weft threads can cross as many as 12 warp threads at a time. There are also a number of fancy types: pile, double, gauze and so on.
Table and floor looms are the most common hand-weaving looms--but there are hundreds of variations of the two, some with daunting prices. The table loom makes cloth about 18 inches wide; the floor loom, at least twice that. Harness looms, attached to a post or wall at one end and the weaver at the other, are less stable but portable. It’s possible to weave a small object, such as a place mat, using a frame loom made from a picture frame or artist’s canvas stretcher.
Clothes from hand-loomed cloth are very popular, judging from the number of jewel-toned garments on sale at last fall’s arts and crafts show at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Clothes from hand-woven fabric are usually very simple in design; the cloth itself is the work of art and the finished garment merely a method of display.
Weaving supplies and instruction are available at Casa de las Tejedores in Santa Ana; Weaving West in Santa Monica; Weave ‘n Knit Depot in Torrance; Piecemakers Country Store in Costa Mesa, and Studio of Handcrafts in Tarzana. Weaving courses are frequently offered by Everywoman’s Village in Van Nuys. Publications include Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot, 120 Mountain Ave., Bloomfield, Conn. 06002; Handwoven, 306 N. Washington Ave., Loveland, Colo. 80537 (offers weaving patterns), and Fiberarts, 50 College St., Asheville, N.C. 28801 (often features weavers and their work).