I spent the weekend taking two workshops at the Spurlock Museum in Champaign, IL with Donna Kallner – “New Age Looping” and “Diamond-Mesh Netting in the Round”. I didn’t know anything about either craft, but Donna’s workshops were highly recommended and I was sure I would have a good time. I was also lucky enough to get a scholarship for the workshops from my fiber guild, the Champaign-Urbana Spinners and Weavers Guild.
I learned that looping is an ancient cloth-making technology done with short lengths of thread, yarn, or other material. The entire length of thread is pulled through a loop at the edge of the fabric and through itself to create a very stable stitch, so the resulting fabric won’t unravel if there are cuts or holes. Traditional looped fabrics were made by spinning a new short length of yarn onto the end when one length ran out, but we learned several methods to add more yarn. Donna had a wide variety of samples she had made ranging from functional bags to a lacy vest; we also got a close look at some looped items from the museums collection. I had fun playing with a variety of yarns as well as bark strips and taking the loops in random directions to see what kinds of effects I could get. I’m looking forward of looping some small pouches with some of my handspun yarn samples and working my way up both to trying the spin-as-you-go method and combining yarns and fibers in a larger more decorative piece.
Diamond-mesh netting dates back to Paleolithic times and is used to make traditional fishing nets; it is also good for mesh grocery bags. Donna had samples of bags in various shapes and we viewed a fishing net from the museum collection. In the workshop we each almost completed a bag to carry our water bottle. This technique uses longer lengths of yarn wound on a netting shuttle, using a gauge to keep the meshes even and tying a knot at each intersection. The work is done under tension, so it was quite an upper body workout to spend a day netting. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the looping, but I will be making more bags over the next month or two. It seems like a perfect project for my rather coarse homegrown linen yarn, and I want to be sure to really learn the basics while I let my imagination work on what I might do with it in the future.