It's one thing to weave using a pattern out of a book like Dixon's "The Handweaver's Pattern Directory." Every pattern that you might want to weave is in there: 2/2 twills, hopsack, houndstooth, double cloth, point drafts, Ms and Ws, bird's eye, monk's belt, honeysuckle, trellis, lace, huck, bronson, syncopated. It's a completely different thing, however, to create your own pattern and see how it turns out. 

The iWeaveIt app allows you to plot a threading sequence and a tie up, to calculate the sett, determine the types of yarn and their colors, to identify the floats. The app lets you play, to randomly pick sequences and tie ups and see what emerges. The combinations are limited only by the size of your loom and the number of your harnesses. 

You can design highly complex designs that require dozens of setts, or very simple designs that use only 2 or 3 harnesses. 

I began to play with making my own design once I'd gone through and woven nearly every design in the Dixon book. I wanted to play with my own sense of rhythm that designing a weave requires. 

The orange weave on the loom at the top of this page has a weaving patter of: 1,4,3,4,1,2,3,2; while the green weave below it has a weave sequence 2,1,4,3,2,1,3,4,1,2,3,4. In order to complete these patterns, I sit at my loom for hours with these sequences running through my head. It's a form of meditation that keeps my mind present on the weaving. If my mind drifts--as it so often does--I make mistakes, requiring me to unweave, and then start again. 

I've been making my own designs in anticipation of being to making objects; scarves at first because they are the easiest things to weave, but eventually blankets and throws, and then, when I become good enough, I hope to weave rugs. 

In addition to these practical cloths, I want to play with weaving the way Anni Albers did, taking weaving techniques and manipulating them to create objects that are interesting for their design and their compositions. But that's many years away. 

A. W. Barnes

writer, artist, scholar, cultural critic, queer theorist