Part of what I love so much about weaving is the way it puts me in touch with one of humanity’s most ancient traditions. After all, simple backstrap looms were fundamental tools for even the most ancient of civilizations.
All looms today operate on the same ancient technology of passing weft through different sheds of warp yarns. A time-travelling weaver from the distant past would probably be able to comprehend the basics of even the most complicated commercial looms. A modern weaver travelling back in time could use a primitive loom, too!
If you want to get back to the roots of weaving, check out this video from YouTuber Primitive Technology. He creates a very basic loom with an ingenious way of changing sheds, and uses it to weave “yarn” he harvested and spun from fibrous tree bark. The video is absolutely mesmerizing.
Primitive Technology is a channel run by an anonymous Australian. He goes out into the Australian rainforest of Far North Queensland to work on various “primitive technology” projects. He describes his work as a “hobby where you make things in the wild completely from scratch using no modern tools or materials.”
Yes, this is a hobby. He does not actually live out there in the bush. However, he does build huts and other shelters out in the woods. He also practices creating primitive technology from forge blowers to bows and arrows to basic drills. The last of these is the basis of the drop spindle he uses in the weaving video.
One thing I find fascinating about Primitive Technology is, the host never speaks in his video. Like weaving itself, his presentation style is universally accessible regardless of language or cultural context.
If you’d like to get into the spirit of primitive technology without actually building your own loom, try out the grasscloth journal covers featured in the May/June 2015 issue of Handwoven.