A warping meditation

Sometimes I loose myself in the crafting moment. The senses take over like a force of nature and guide me through my process, sweetly, mindfully. My fingers know what to do and still they experience every movement and every sensation as if for the first time. I had one of those sweet moment the other day while I was warping. So today I give you a warping meditation.

I have just come back from a morning swim in the pale morning sun. It is early November and the trees still have some yellow and red leaves on their branches. Heaps of leaves in all shades of red, yellow and brown are scattered over the ground, inviting, enticing. The musky autumn smells swirl around me, whispering sweet autumnal hymns in my ears.

A warp in waiting

Meanwhile, eight skeins of handspun Gute yarn are waiting in the book shelf. My plan is to weave a loose sett and full the finished fabric into a sturdy wadmal cloth. I decide today is Warping Day. Usually I warp longer projects at the local weaver’s guild, but due to the pandemic I don’t want to put the elderly ladies in the guild at risk. The sun is warm on our terrace and that will be my warping zone.

Five skeins of grey yarn.
2-ply Gute yarn, waiting to be put to use.

The whispers of a fleece

As I grab one of the skeins I immediately feel the soft and safe message from the lanolin in the yarn. The smell, the touch and the soft colours take me back to the staples I processed just a few weeks ago. Strong, light and rustic. It also reminds me of the Gute sheep that gave me the wool. I received the gift of wool and it is now my mission to make the strengths of the fleece justice as a textile.

Close-up of two mittened hands holding a skein of grey yarn. Yellow autumn leaves on the ground.
Strong outercoat, soft undercoat and brittle kemp fibers in my 2-ply woolen spun Gute yarn.

I look at the skein in my hand and see the different fiber types – the long and strong outercoat, some fibers finer and some coarser. Soft, soft undercoat in sparkling silvery white. Rough and short kemp fibers that point in a direction of their own choice. I know that a majority of the kemp fibers will fall out of the yarn as I weave, leaving air pockets, making the cloth warmer and softer.

A warping setup on a terrace. A woman dressed in jacket, hat and half-mitts is warping.
A sunny terrace in November is a splendid substitute for a weaving room.

Warping in the November sun

I bring my tools out to the terrace, secure the warping peg and mount the umbrella swift on the fence. The skein on the swift sparkles in all its glorious shades of grey, turning round and round on my command as I feed the yarn to the hungry warp.

Close-up of a warping outdoors.
Thread by thread I build the skeleton of the weave in a warping meditation..

A warping meditation

The yarn goes through my hands over and over again, just as it has many times before during sorting, washing, carding and spinning. The strand in my hand leaves a touch of its wooly magic, like a gentle puff of lanolin and sheephood on my fingers. Inch by inch my fingers attentively follow the thread, from the loom, through the slot of the heddle, around the warping peg and back again.

I own this yarn. My hands made it and through the many hours of processing and spinning they know every fiber of it. Yet, it keeps teaching me new things every time I touch it and it will probably keep teaching me through its career as a fabric, on levels I don’t yet know will exist.

Close-up of a person pulling warp yarn through the slots of a rigid heddle. The person is wearing half-mitts.
Following the warp threads back and forth between the loom and the warping peg makes me present in the moment, like a warping meditation.

Thread by thread I build the frame of the warp, the very skeleton which I will dress, one shuttling after another, with woolen layers. My hands giggle as they touch the surface of this scaffold in the making. As I walk mindfully back and forth with the warp yarn in the shy November sun I remember that the Gute sheep I work with is an outdoor sheep, it stays outdoors all year round. Even the name is an acronym for the very outdooriness of the breed – Gotland outdoor sheep (Gotländskt Utegångsfår). I smile and hope the yarn enjoys being in some way in its natural habitat.

When I have reached the last slot of the heddle I smile at my newborn warp. I wonder what will become of it, how we will work together and what it will teach me next. As I go back inside I thank the sun with its pale rays for their warmth and comfort.

A sun salutation

This time of year I follow the sun – from the gentle sparkles accompanying me on my early morning swim, through the warm morning and mid-day sun by the spinning wheel in the living room and to the afternoon gold-pink-red transformation in my home office.

After a soup lunch I see the loom standing against the book shelf as I leave the kitchen. I can’t help myself and decide to start weaving, just a little bit. The rhythm of dressing the heddle is mesmerizing – Slot, hole, slot, hole all the way to the end. I tie the warp bundles onto the warp beam and feel for irregular tension with my fingers, eyes closed. I lift the heddle and the first shed is born. As new sheds are created between the shuttled weft threads I feel them again – the soft rays, on the side of my face. The sun has rounded the house and reached the office where I weave.

A woman weaving on a rigid heddle loom by a sunny window.
After lunch the sun has reached the other side of the house, where my home office is.

I finish today’s session and put the loom back agains the book shelf. Looking down on the floor I see little heaps of kemp fibers that have decided to leave the yarn and seek their own adventure, just as I anticipated. A new chapter of the weaving journey has begun and I cherish every second of it.

Happy spinning!

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3 Replies to “A warping meditation”

  1. I really like the idea of leaving kemp in so it can fall out during weaving to lighten the wool up with air spaces. Was this yarn spun wooled or worsted?

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