Sally Moss has been involved with weaving and The Little Loomhouse since 1968. She started as a student and has since worked as a volunteer, served as executive director and as president of the board of directors, and for the last three years has been studio manager.
“My interest in handwork developed from my mother. She did sewing and crocheting and embroidery,” Sally says. “When I was about 6 years old, I got one of those small potholder looms. The bright colors of the loops appealed to me. Everyone seemed pleased when I made one for them, so after I had made a little potholder for each of my family members, I decided to become an entrepreneur and started selling them.”
Fast forward to 1968 when a friend introduced Sally to Lou Tate, founder of The Little Loomhouse. “I told Lou that I would like to study with her but that I didn’t have any money to pay for lessons. She responded, ‘That’s all right, I don’t have any money either.’ So we did a swap. I would make denim jumpers for her and she would teach me how to weave.”
Sally says she started hanging out at the Loomhouse with Lou, and to further enhance her skills, she took classes, read about weaving and its history, experimented with her own projects, and visited studios of other weavers. She says she has notebooks filled with weaving patterns and samples from the archives left by Lou Tate.
“At home, I have a dedicated studio. I have a 46-inch Kessenich four shaft loom and four table looms. The table looms were designed by Lou Tate. Her idea was that anyone who wanted to weave could have at least a small loom,” Sally says.
Another part of weaving for Sally includes spinning her own fibers. “I have a walking spinning wheel that my husband made from a 100-year-old walnut board. He also makes all the stick shuttles that we use at the Loomhouse for the kids who visit on field trips.
“I love the whole tactile aspect of weaving — from soft and flowing or lacy to big and chunky. There are limitless color combinations. I enjoy setting up the loom. Before I begin, I plan out the whole design so I get the results I want.”
Sally also finds the history of weaving fascinating and says that every culture on every continent has its own weaving tradition. “We work with women at the Americana Community Center. It’s fun to see their way of doing things and what they bring to weaving from their culture. Other cultures have beautiful traditions.”
Sally loves a weaving project that repurposes or reuses materials. She pointed out pieces that featured sticks, cloth, plastic, plastic wrap, and even bread wrappers. Some materials, though, are turned into sentimental items.
“For one woman I made six or eight rag rugs out of her deceased husband’s blue jeans. She wanted to give them to each of her children. It is like quilting, where you can point to a spot and say this piece is from a dress I once wore. A part of you or a loved one is in the finished piece.”
What inspires her projects and patterns? “Just about anything — spider webs, Tartan plaids, patterns made by canals on Mars or jet streams in the sky. Whatever captivates my imagination, I wonder how I can put that into weaving. I recently watched a show on horses and saw beautiful saddle blankets that inspired me.
“Weaving brings together individual threads to make a whole cloth. To make something beautiful. When I’m at my loom, I have my favorite music from the sixties and seventies on and I am in the weaving.”
By Lucy M. Pritchett | Photos by Patti Hartog