Of course, having spent a day learning to weave in Laos, I am something of an expert already - not! But it was enough to whet my appetite and on my birthday last October I was very lucky to receive an Ashford Knitters Loom. A little different from the one in Luang Prabang but nevertheless, the principles are the same.
First task was to get it warped, which I knew from speaking to weavers, is a time consuming and potentially challenging process. Armed with the instruction manual, I set 32 warp threads in navy blue linen I'd bought in Sweden. I'd faced the usual dilemma: As a beginner, should I use waste yarn from my stash which would be no loss if it ended up a mess, or good, purpose-selected yarn which I'd be thrilled to see made up? Of course I went for the latter, following my own recommendations which I offer to beginners - use the best you have.
The instructions were clear and easy to follow but without the benefit of experience, I was unsure how crucial it was to keep everything tight and neat. I kept it tight and neat just in case, therefore.
A couple of hours later, I began to weave. I used the yarn bought in Tokyo - a silk linen mix with a lovely grey-blue-black random pattern on a cream base. I immediately realised my first mistake: the reed is rather too coarse for the weight of yarn I'm using - never mind. Let's call it a "design choice". I tried really hard to keep up some kind of rhythm, trying to remember the economical movements taught to me by Miss Lin. There, when I threw the shuttle through back to front, I had a tap on the wrist and a stern face to remind me for next time. Sitting here at home, I found it hard to work at any pace at all but stumbled through the first few rows one at a time. Clearly, some practice is needed.
But, you know, I'm quite pleased with my first efforts and l-o-v-e the "pattern" which is appearing there in the weave. At the moment, I'm undecided how tightly to beat the threads down; how open to leave the resultant fabric, but so early in the process it can easily be adjusted.
I suppose that, whatever I choose to do, it will be fine as long as it's consistent - which this clearly is not. Yet.
I'll have that sorted tomorrow!