My Love Affair with Weaving


Fiber artists can be found around the world, using all kinds of fibers from wool to silk to bamboo and hemp, just to name a few. The styles of items produced are as varied as the artists themselves, from elaborate fabric designs, baskets to complex hand knotted rugs. It is an ancient skill that was very useful for clothing, coverings for tents, ship sails and more.

The designs, the spinning,
the dyeing and ultimately
the knotting are phenomenal!

My first experience with weaving came in the form of a Christmas gift from my parents—a Lionel Porter Science kit of a loom modeled by those used in the industrial revolution. So I put the loom together and wove runners and small rugs for my dolls.

I really did not get back into weaving again until my husband and I were doing archaeology in Tennessee and we were gifted a large barn frame loom that was literally stored in a barn.

That began my love affair with weaving that ultimately resulted in six looms. We recently downsized and I am down to one floor loom, a table loom and a journey loom. Still weaving and spinning after all these years, my upstairs loom room looks like a yarn store!

Nancy Chapman at setting up her loom to weave a scarf.
Nancy is setting up her loom to weave a scarf.

As a weaver and spinner, I have a great appreciation for the work that goes into the wool, hand knotted rug tradition found in the rugs made in the Bunyaad artisan homes in Pakistan. I can’t say that enough. The designs, the spinning, the dyeing and ultimately the knotting are phenomenal!

Ranging in knot count from 100 knots per square inch to over 1100 knots per square inch…can you imagine! 1100 knots per square inch all done by adult hands! And just as more pixels in a photograph allow for more details in an image, so does the higher knot count facilitate more detail in the rug. The crispness of the design edges in those carpets is enviable!

But, I have to say, I have always been partial to the natural dye rugs where the wool is hand-spun with a drop spindle. Those fat and thin slubs of wool absorbing the dyes at different rates give that brushed or modeled affect that is so pleasing to the eye. And while “only” a 100 to 125 knots per square inch, the effect is wonderful.

It takes about five
to seven months to spin
enough yarn for an 8×10 rug.

The preparation for the knotting process is extensive as it takes about five to seven months to spin enough yarn for an 8×10 rug. Let me say that again—to ensure that you have enough yarn for knotting an 8×10 size rug, with a drop spindle, it will take five to seven months. Really!

But all these words cannot do the carpets justice. Come into a rug event near you, stop by one of the four stores that have these rugs year round or check out the web page. One needs to experience these rugs to really appreciate their quality, beauty and imagination.

Learn more about about rug making at Rugs 101.

2 Responses to “My Love Affair with Weaving”
  1. Jane H

    Nancy, you are one fascinating woman who makes it happen. Thanks for your compelling blog.

  2. Priscilla Ziegler

    Oh Nancy, you found your niche!
    What a perfect place for you. How lucky for them!

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