Sunday, June 16, 2013

Meet Our Local Weaver: "Golden Thread Mistress" Marcia Stewart

Marcia models her wrap as a scarf.
For babywearers, woven wraps can be quite sentimental.  Apart from being gorgeous fabric, they hold our babies close as they grow.  There are memories made, memories of a sweet baby falling asleep, or perhaps gazing wide-eyed at the world from the safe place close to our hearts.

Local group leader Marcia Stewart understands this: "To us, wrapping a child is symbolic of that love. Closeness. Hold your child close to you in a wrap and dream of a world full of joy."

That's what it says on her Facebook page, Golden Thread Mistress.  A babywearer since 2010, she has recently taken the plunge into handweaving wraps.

Marcia has been enamored by woven wraps since even before becoming pregnant with her first son.  She had a full selection of woven wraps awaiting his arrival by the time he was born.   

"Woven wraps were my favorite from the beginning. I love that the fabric is endlessly versatile: blanket, fort, scarf, washcloth, and baby carrier all in one. I love fibers of all kinds, and the beauty of wraps really draws me in," she said. 

Last winter, Marcia enrolled in a weaving class with a friend.  "After the first day of class, I loved it," she said.  "Weaving felt like what I was supposed to be doing. I was excited to look for my own loom."

Now she is the proud owner of a Schacht 36" standard floor loom, with 4 shafts. 

It really should be no surprise to anyone who knows her that she has taken on weaving. Marcia, after all, loves anything artsy.  She makes jewelry, pottery, paints, quilts, knits and sews.  Buying a loom and learning to weave only seemed natural.          

There are a few differences between her wraps and the ones readily produced on machines by brandname companies. 

"A wrap I wove is more likely to have handmade touches and not be perfect," she said.  "I strive to weave quality fabric, but I'm also new to weaving and am learning my trade. I think that handwoven wraps are very moldable and stretchy from the beginning, so they're quite comfortable. They're also able to have unhemmed rails because the selvedges are finished as they're woven (as opposed to companies that weave their wraps double-wide and have cut edges that require hemming)."  

Furthermore, because they are handwoven, this also means that they are each unique.  

"In addition to wrapping differently than a commercially-made wrap, a wrap I wove is smaller-scale, one of a kind, and can be customized for the intended recipient. That's one of my favorite things about weaving a wrap," she added.
"Painted Sunset" sits on the loom.

Weaving a wrap is more than simply putting thread on a loom and passing the shuttle back and forth.  It takes many hours to measure out the thread and there are variables that have to be taken into account, such as weft yardage, wrap width, shrinkage and other variables, which are used in mathematical formulas.  Then there is actually preparing everything on the loom.  The weaving, she says, is actually the easiest part.  

As a weaver, Marcia gets to be creative.  She can pick out what type of thread to use and of course, a beautiful color scheme.  So where does she get her ideas?

"My inspiration has been from pictures I've seen, other wraps...and photos of special places. Nature scenes are great inspiration, (my current project is a sunset-inspired one), and artwork is, too," she says.

To learn more about Marcia's gorgeous wraps and her weaving process, check out her Facebook, Golden Thread Mistress.  Unfortunately, she is not taking customs at this time, but if you are lucky, you may have a chance to try out one of her wraps at a local meeting.  

**This post was written by Paula R.

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