Organizing Your Weaving Studio for the New Year

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I don’t, but my partner and I like to spend the first day of the new year in our studios—I like to think of it as setting the stage for the year to come. This year I’ll be starting off in a freshly cleaned space—having spent the days before cleaning up the enormous mess I made in the days leading up to Christmas.

Organizing Your Weaving Studio

I made a batch of Arianna Funk’s Holiday Rag Garlands as gifts, which necessitated bringing out every rag I’ve ever cut and making sure like was piled with like. I don’t stress out too much about a creative mess as I’m working, but now that the work is done and new weaving projects are on the horizon, it’s time to clean up and reset my studio to neutral.

Here are a few tips and tricks I use to keep my studio organized.

Loom Maintenance

Your loom, regardless of the type or size, is a machine that wobbles, bangs, and flexes as you use it. I like to use the shift in seasons (or calendar!) as a prompt to care for my most important tool. Depending on your loom, you may like to:

  • Tighten bolts or screws
  • Repair or replace fraying cords or aprons
  • Vacuum and dust castles, beaters, and reeds
  • Count and move around heddles

For those of us who have wooden looms, seasonal maintenance is especially important, since wood will expand and contract with humidity changes—I find this is especially true as the humid Southern Ontario summer shifts into a dryer winter.

Bolts and screws will also jiggle out of place when weaving, which I recently experienced as my treadles suddenly floated away in the middle of a project—the screw keeping them attached to the back of the loom had come loose and fallen out!

Getting Organized

I am very much a having-a-place-for-everything person. I have a closet to store yarn, samples, and equipment, a bookshelf for all my notebooks and weaving books, and a tin on my bench.

In the closet you’ll find all my spare reeds, extra shafts for my countermarch, raddles, and lots and lots of yarn. When I’m working I tend to grab things as needed and then toss them back in, which results in a quarterly need to do a bit of tidying — it helps me assess what I have, what I need more of, and ensures things are being stored safely where they won’t get banged up or twisted.

I try not to buy many new things and I love to visit thrift stores — I can always find gently used storage solutions there; for example, I store my reeds upright in a wooden filing box I bought for $2. My partner is pretty handy and ‘built’ me a hanger for my temples: it is is two pieces of wood and two metal L brackets that are attached to the wall inside the closet. The temples can hang there safely and are easy to grab when I need one.

I recently bought four Tjena storage boxes from Ikea for my woven samples. Samples are now put into a ‘cotton/linen’ box or ‘wool’ box that fits perfectly on the shelf in my closet and makes taking down and finding the right samples easy.

I’m considering getting a few more of these boxes to help organize my yarn stash—right now it’s organized by fibre type or brand so that I know where I can find a cone of Beam when I need it.

Organizing Your Weaving StudioStoring and Caring for Weaving Tools

Warping frames or mills can take up a lot of room, and while many weavers like to store theirs on the wall, my studio has curved walls that make this impossible. Instead, I take all of the pegs out and store them in a cotton drawstring bag. Then the flat frame can be slipped in between my desk and the wall, where it takes up no room.

I use the lazy kate from my spinning wheel to help me unspool yarn when warping and filling bobbins—tubes of 8/2 Un-Mercerized cotton fit perfectly on it. The lazy kate sits on the floor right underneath my bobbin winder and I don’t worry about adding extra twist to my yarn as it comes off the tube.

It’s really easy to make a lo-fi version (and pretty much free)—all you need is a cardboard box and a long straight knitting needle (another good thrift store purchase—they always have dozens!). Pierce two holes across from one another on the long side of the shoe box and stick the needle through. The box will support the needle, which can be pulled out to slip a tube on.

Shuttles are emptied of bobbins, and bobbins are sorted into one of two parts of an old wooden drawer. The rest of the space in this drawer is used to store my growing collection of hand weights that I use to beam on. Consider this a work-in-progess—the weights need a better solution.

Shuttles stand upright in a split-ash basket I bought from a local Amish woman. I also store the bag with my warping pegs in this box. This ways everything is easy to see and I can pick out which shuttle I need.

Organizing Your Weaving StudioAt the Loom

On the bench I keep a small baking tin (which I found at the side of the road). Inside my baking tin I keep my needle book (which was made for me by @piqpoqpiq), my threading hook, a small pair of thread snips, measuring tape, and, when there are projects in progress, ready-filled bobbins. This tin keeps everything in easy reach when I’m weaving and prevents bobbins from rolling away onto the floor.

What sorts of little hacks do you use in your studio to organize and clean up? I’d love to know! Weavers are a clever bunch—we’re used to creative problem solving and I know you’ll have some great ideas. Whether you have a small studio or a large one, reach out and let us know.

Happy cleaning and organizing!

Organizing Your Weaving StudioAbout Amanda Rataj

Amanda Rataj is an artist and weaver living and working in Hamilton, Ontario. She studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design University and has developed her contemporary craft practice through research-based projects, artist residencies, professional exhibitions, and lectures. Subscribe to her studio newsletter to learn about new weaving patterns, exhibitions, projects, and more.

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