Moment: A Weaving Spell

(From an article for the Times Free Press by Maura Friedman)

Weaving came naturally. Kim Gavin felt as though she’d done it before.

“I could feel the rhythm of this and it all made sense to me,” Gavin said of her first time at a loom, a year and a half ago.

For each line of yarn woven into Gavin’s tea towel, there’s a woosh as she treddles, using her feet to raise and lower the harnesses of the loom, and a clatter as the beater bar pushes every strand into place. After a few minutes, the pattern sounds musical. It hangs in the stillness of her studio.

“You get into that state of flow,” Gavin said. “You’re doing something that’s a little bit challenging but not overwhelming and you can completely immerse yourself in it.”

Weaving is Gavin’s primary art medium. For her it was a natural progression from “instant-gratification knitting,” when she used big yarn to make projects go by faster. Now no matter the size of the yarn, Gavin’s loom speeds the process.

Gavin said the effect is therapeutic.

“Your brain quiets down and you just go.”

She started weaving on a rigid heddle loom, a simple frame with no moving parts. But this floor loom – an old loom, but new to Gavin – will go even faster and her projects can be even bigger.

Light streams into the studio space and wraps around the cherry wood of the floor loom. Gavin saw it for sale on Facebook a few months ago and went to Charlottesville, Va., to make the purchase and arrange shipping.

The Jack-type floor loom has 50 inches of weaving width and eight harnesses, which means lots of pattern possibilities.

“It’s really just basically your two yarns at right angles to one another,” Gavin said. “But when you start manipulating them over space, you can create effects as if you’re doing diagonal things or circular things.”

Gavin misses a warp thread and her yarn gets tangled. She begins to unweave the problem spot, slowly and methodically.

“You have to go back and fix it and that means patience,” Gavin said. “That helps me practice a skill that I need.”

It doesn’t slow her down much.

The studios in the Chattanooga Workspace, including Gavin’s, are open on the first Friday of every month.

“It’s a good time to come by and see the loom in action,” Gavin said.

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