FAR LEFT: The Jacquard
loom, which used punch
cards to store weaving
the weaving industry.
LEFT: Paper punch cards
for computers were
modeled after the
Jacquard loom’s wooden
cards. ABOVE: This
punch-card reader from
the mid-20th century
reads data on computer
cards, working on the
same principle as the
start with textile technology. Before Toyota started
building cars in the early 20th century, the company
built automated looms. The first computer was
based on the Jacquard loom, an automated system
that used a series of cards with holes punched in
them to determine which thread was lifted and
which one was not, making it easy to create elaborately patterned cloth with relative ease. This gave
rise to the punch-card calculator and eventually
those funny cards that were used to run the first
computers, which took up an entire room.
Today, we don’t weave cloth because we have to;
we weave because we want to. Weaving is both a
connection to the past and a subversive act, linking us to our ancestors and to revolutionaries. For
many, the craft is a rejection of dependence on
industrial manufacturing. Learning to make cloth
by hand is one way to say, “I can do this myself!”
The Next Wave of Weaving
What makes weavers giddy these days?
Green yarns Increasingly popular are yarns regenerated from byproducts of natural resources, sold
through fair trade, or that are otherwise good for the
environment and the people who make them.
Recycled materials Plastic bags, cassette tape
innards, rags, and garden waste are all making their
way onto weavers’ looms.
Shrinking on purpose Making fabric that defies two
dimensions is keeping weavers busy, whether it’s
weaving with yarns that have an extra twist or mixing
yarns that shrink with those that don’t.
Portable looms From small peg looms that fit in your
hand to rigid heddle looms that fold, there are dozens
of styles that allow you to weave on the go.
Interiors Weaving for the home — curtains, pillows,
rugs, bath towels — can make weavers swoon.
Liz Gipson is managing editor of Handwoven, president of
the Spinning and Weaving Association, author of Weaving
Made Easy (Interweave Press, fall 2008), and the spinning
and weaving host of Knitting Daily TV on PBS. Needless to
say, she is a wee bit smitten with weaving by hand.
Pattern Fabulous patterning techniques, from overshot to color-and-weave, create cloth that seems
complicated but is actually easy and fun to weave.