Sunday, July 06, 2008


A while back, a co-worker from the BBG Children's garden gave two huge bags of her mother's yarn. They were stashed away in the rafters above the garage. Most of the yarn was very coarse and stiff — suitable for weaving only. Recently I passed that treasure along to my neighbor Susan, who weaves at a studio here in Broolyn, Weaving Hand. She told me that the studio always needs materials for adult and children's classes. Last Monday, I dropped to mmet up with Susan on my lunch break. I met proprietor Cynthia Alberto, a textile designer and artist.

Much more than knitting, weaving is a technology of great antiquity. Colorful projects made by children are displayed along side with hand-woven fabrics from everywhere — Guatemala, Peru, Philippines, Bolvia... Park Slope. The detail in some of these works are astounding.

These looms are more than handsome pieces of furntiure. Cynthia and Susan graciously demystified them for me with a quick lesson on one of the smaller looms. Weaving Hand has a total of 9 looms of varying sizes and capabilties. Cynthia also named each one for their distinct personalities. She told me they will be getting a carpet loom for larger projects.

Susan and Cynthia strung the "warp" — multiple strands of stiff yarn that run from top to bottom. As shown below, the "weft" is loaded onto a shuttle and woven through the warp from left to right. Each loom has one or more foot pedals. Weaving, warp, weft... were these terms coined by someone with a speach inpediment?

These free standing looms are pedal operated, controling the motion of warp so that the shuttle can pass bewteen the long alternating strands with the softer working yarn (weft).

For a tighter weave the warp is combed into place. The colors and placement of the work below remnd me of a traditional Igorot fabric called Bakat (Nothern Philippines). It's actually a placemat.

This free-form plaid below is woven from different weights and textures of yarn, then treated with starch. It's sculptural, not wearable.

Although the free standing loom is the standard tool of the trade, Cynthia showed me a refined, textural fabric strung on a traditional Peruvian loom — which really is a strategic arrangement of dowels.

Weaving Hand is located at 320 2nd street (between 4th and 5th aves.) It's a fairly new business that has developed a good following. Amidst all the changes we've seen in Brooklyn, it's nice to see a good one come along.

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