The Idea: Why Build a Warp-Weighted Loom?

Tilla tending the Warp-Weighted Loom at the 2011 Wool Gathering

Most people build a warp-weighted loom to get the experience of weaving in a more medieval way. There was some of that involved, but in my case, it was because I wanted to improve our public demonstrations.

I should explain that our fiber arts group, informally named the GryphonShawl Group, is very loosely organized. We have several hardcore members who make sure the Wool Gathering demo (where we’ve participated every September since 2001 — it attracts 12,000 – 15,000 people over a two-day weekend) gets organized and set up. We also have a larger group of members who come to help us with demonstrating particular skills (both fiber- and non-fiber-related) to the people who stop to talk with us. (Probably the most popular of the non-fiber demos are the fighting demos by both the heavy weapon and rapier fighters. They have a great time and get quite a few questions, especially from children and teens.)

The year I decided to build the warp-weighted loom was a heavy year for demos for our small fiber arts group. Not only did we have the Wool Gathering demo, we added another demo at a new fiber festival, and supported our local Barony’s series of demos on “Life at the Time of the Book of Kells” for one of the local public libraries.

Obviously, we had our usual routines down fairly well, and the library demo added quite a bit to our repertoire. But we had been featuring the same activities every year, and the audience has gotten used to what we do. (And we had inspired the vendors to start doing a lot more demo work in their booths, since they see how much traffic we get coming by.)

It was time for us to up our game and improve the historical aspect of our demos. The warp-weighted loom was one way to to start shifting us away from modern wheels and looms toward more historical models. There is a Great Wheel that has also been added to the milieux, now that we have figured out how to transport it safely.
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