Weaving: The History and Rise of the Worlds Oldest Craft

March 21, 2022 0 Comments

Weaving: The History and Rise of the Worlds Oldest Craft

Whilst it may be impossible to pinpoint when the art of weaving began as many ancient examples are too delicate to fully examine, what is known is that once weaving became widely known its use and popularity as a way of creating fabrics has never wavered.

Weaving is the most common way to create fabric and is used for many fabrics and items we use today including garments, upholstery, and household items such as baskets. Weaving is function and decorative. It can be used to adorn your walls for aesthetics or to strengthen metal structures for function. Versatile and intrinsically beautiful, it’s not hard to see how and why it has lasted the test of time. We are going to take a walk back in time, explore the history of weaving and gain an understanding of how the industrial revolution changed weaving forever.

The History of Weaving:
Near 30,000 years ago (wo)man developed the process of making string by twisting together plant fibers for functional use. Used initially as a way of delivering a strong and effective survival and recovery methods for their community, little did they know they would be the founders of an illustrious tapestry process filled with beauty, elegance and would birth rich history of devout followers. The ancient Around the world it is said that countries became specialists in the fibres that grew on their native land. The Egyptians were known for their ability to grow, process and weave linen however it was in India and Peru where they created the first cotton. Mesopotamia produced wool fabrics and China was the first to country to produce silk. Looking back, textiles were for three basic human needs: food, clothing and shelter. It was decades later than communities learned to spin and weave for decorative purposes… and aren’t we glad they did!

Around 10,000BC yes thousands of years after its discovery, we see it move into the mainstream as a symbol of opulence. As hierarchical societies were established, wealth was made apparent through the illustrious tapestries that adorned each families attire. Each household creating their own cloth, sophistication and power being represented through their garments. Through this appreciation of woven art, we see the rise and reverence of the tapestry we know and love today.
Soon. Weaving became popular... verrry popular and like most things that gain momentum, man wanted to monetise it. Enter the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of machines into our beloved practice. This took the majority of work (and joy for it) away from its founders, technology delivering a cost effective, scalable, and repeatable process forever more.

With the good comes the bad. Many of our favourite woven objects are only available to us today due to the implementation of industry. Those bed sheets, our favourite towels, even your socks are all a byproduct of machine introduced wares. Today weaving is mostly commercialised with machines being able to mass-produce fabric in a streamlined process that has been developed over many decades. Although many designs and concepts start out as traditional hand-weaving the modern world is used to fast-paced and readily available items, so these ideas are developed into designs that world on a larger scale.

This is where we come in.
Artisans offer custom products, ones which cannot be made on machines, that they develop together with their customers and are filled with one off fibers, thoughtful planning and love. With the rise of tech in our everyday world we see people appreciating a slow way of life. Handmade and heartfelt items have never been more popular, and their significance is gaining momentum as the world sees the benefits of connection over consumerism (there I said it!)

If you are reading this I don’t need to tell you how large and glorious the fibre world is! Whether you use Pinterest or Instagram, you can’t go on the internet without seeing a delicious fibre creation that you simply ‘must have’ in your home. It is not only beautiful to view, but to create and with the popularity of DIY courses, many people are finding it easier than ever to learn how to weave. Finding a community online has never been easier and is the perfect place to share your creations, ask questions and find videos to help you develop your skills in many different areas. 

Benefits of Weaving

  • You will become part of an amazing, supportive community (I know this from personal experience) Fibre Artists are kind, generous and helpful... my favourite kind of friends.
  • Weaving is incredibly therapeutic.
    Many Makers say that by taking part in daily weaving they feel less anxious, stressed, and an increased sense of calm overall.
  • You will create a wide range of products.
    Modern weaving has brought about a revolution in the items that can be created through weaving. People are now weaving items such as wallets, bookmarks, and coasters
  • There is no time limit.
    You can create a quick project or spend days or weeks finishing a project.
  • Weaving doesn’t take up that much room or make much mess (I was once a painted and gosh is this much easier to clean up!)
  • There is no right or wrong answer when being creative.
    If you have an idea... do it! We will all be here supporting you!

So, what do you need to get started weaving?
Here is a quick list of equipment to help you get started on your weaving journey. 

A Weaving Loom
A piece of equipment that you will not be able to live without.
Looms form the basis of your weaving and support your warp threads while you work. Looms come in lots of different shapes and sizes. Here at Mary Maker Studio, we stock a wide range of looms from our cute mini makers, perfect for on-the-go crafting to our square weaving looms that are sized from 45cm to 90cm

Warp yarn
A good warp thread will set you up for weaving success. Don’t skimp out on this item, having a soft, pliable and strong warp thread is important to make sure your weaving is long lasting. Browse the range on our website.

Weft Yarn
The world is your oyster when deciding what yarn to use for the weft in weaving. This yarn flows from left to right and back again and can be made of any material you desire. This could include wool, cotton, recycled yarns, roving, ripped fabric. You can play it safe and choose a yarn a similar weight to your warp such as our recycled macrame string or get creative and check out our selection of specialty fibers to create something really unique.
For my students starting out, I recommend this following fibres (choose them in your favourite colours)
x1 Cotton Frizz |  x1 Sari Silk | x1 Art Yarn | x1 Finger Felted Rope | x1 Merino Roving | x1 Cotton String | x1 Metallic String | x1 Chiffon Roll |

Weaving Comb
A weaving comb helps keep your weaving neat by pushing down the last line of weaving to the fabric you’ve already created. We offer two sizes of weaving comb that are perfect for any project. They will save time and create consistency.

Tapestry Needles
With their blunt ends and large eyes tapestry needles are perfect for weaving fibres a large range of fibre thicknesses into your tapestries. They are also perfect for smaller areas of your work and are a must if you plan on adding fine detail to your work.

Why we love to weave, and why you will too
Many of us started to weave because we were looking for an interest that didn’t take up too much time and space. When you first viewed a woven ware, you wondered if you could make it... and I am so proud of you for exploring that thought. Because you can... and you will only make that work, but many more. We experience the ultimate sense of joy when we create with our hands. The fluid, rhythmic movements and enable us to switch off and get lost in the process. This is why we weave; not just to create beautiful keepsakes, we love the way it quiets the mind and allows what is inside our heart the rise to the surface. It is the most beautiful, embodied practice, welcome to its wonder x

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