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Handweavers Guild members learn about Viking Loom

Roxanne King, East Ohio Handweavers Guild secretary, shares a bag that she weaved out of plastic grocery bags during Saturday’s meeting at Leetonia Public Library. (Photo by Stephanie Ujhelyi)

LEETONIA —  Saturday was all about looms and reading for the East Ohio Handweavers Guild, which hosted its February meeting Saturday at Leetonia Public Library.

Members, which consist of weavers, spinners, dyers, basketmakers, felters, knitters and lacemakers, and their guests learned about the Viking Loom Saturday morning during their monthly meeting at the Leetonia Public Library.

Monica Hoprich, guild president, explained that was the guild’s third meeting at the library, which also had hosted their December and January sessions.

Their previous meeting place had been at the Harmony Village in Columbiana. However, due to the COVID pandemic that had to be discontinued a year ago.

For several months, the guild had met at Hoprich’s residence until learning of the meeting space in Leetonia.

Tracy Jackson of Salem offered a presentation regarding using a Viking loom during Saturday’s meeting of the East Ohio Handweavers Guild at Leetonia Public Library . Also known as a warp-weighted loom, the Viking loom uses a system of holding the warp threads parallel under tension by tying them in small bunches to weights made of stone, pottery or metal.   (Photo by Stephanie Ujhelyi)

“You don’t have to have a loom to weave,” Hoprich explained, remembering how many elementary school students used construction paper to replicate the weaving process in art class. If you ask guild members, it seems that looms are just like potato chips and you cannot have just one.

Members discussed their looms (as in plural) and how there are different types of looms to achieve certain goals.

For example, Wikipedia lists a back strap loom, drawloom, handloom, Haute-lisse loom, base-lisse loom, Bobby loom, jacquard loom, circular loom and the warp-weighted loom (also known as the Viking Loom)

Saturday’s focus was on the Viking Loom, which uses a system of holding the warp threads parallel under tension by tying them in small bunches to weights made of stone, pottery or metal.

Tracy Jackson of Salem oversaw the presentation on the warp-weighted loom, which she had custom made.

Mary Ann Gasper, seated at right, shows a cordoroy woven rug during Saturday’s meeting of the East Ohio Handweavers Guild, which meets monthly at Leetonia Public Library. (Photo by Stephanie Ujhelyi)

The loom consists of two vertical uprights, a horizontal warp beam, a shed rod, a heddle rod, and weights. The warp threads are tied to the horizontal beam at the top and hang down vertically towards the ground.

The warp-weighted technique allows increased weaving efficiently and also assisting in making sure the spun threads don’t untwist. This allows weavers to create ornate patterns and tapestries.

In existence for more than three decades, the East Ohio Handweavers Guild was created as an alternative for an existing Youngstown Area Weavers’ Guild, which met monthly at the Canfield Fairgrounds on a weekday when younger members were often at work.

The East Ohio Handweavers Guild, although many have since retired themselves, held similar sessions on Saturdays. Some members belong to both guilds, which recently was working on a joint coverlet project. Those coverlet squares are set to be unveiled at the East Ohio’s May meeting.

Prior to Jackson’s brief presentation, members shared samples of what they have been working on while homebound during the winter weather. Included were rugs woven out of corduroy, towels made from linen and a tote bag wove out of plastic grocery bags. Sheila Colarik of Leavittsburg will be providing the March 20 program on weaving fancy patterns on a weavette.

Samples of various patterns of weaving shared Saturday’s East Ohio Handweavers Guild meeting at Leetonia Public Library. 

For more information on the East Ohio Handweavers Guild and its sister group, visit www.yawg.group

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