While away on holiday recently (hence the lack of updates for a while) and with no internet access for a few days (can you believe there are places still where there's no such thing as 24-hour on-demand internet access?!) I found a simple but absorbing time-filler: a child's toy weaving loom
It's really simple to use, consisting of just a wooden frame, a needle and a dolly for raising/lowering alternate weft strings and some wool. Straight out of the box, you simply thread the weft (white) wool up and down the frame, then slide the dolly between the strings and separate them into the little notched grooves.
This causes each string to be raised and lowered alternately. By turning the dolly a quarter-turn backwards and forwards causes the strings to raise and lower. In this example we turn the dolly a quarter turn towards the left....
.... and the string nearest to us moves from the raised to the lowered position. This happens to every other weft string.
By passing the needle, loaded with coloured wool, between the strings then raising/lowering them between each pass, a simple weave pattern quickly starts to form:
Because the loom came with rather chunky, springy wool, rather than thinner cotton or embroidery silks, the weft strings (white vertical strings) disappear into the final weaved piece as the rows start to build up.
This simple loom is just crying out to be automated, but just exactly how we're not sure.
A stepper motor or servo would be ideal for turning the dolly to raise/lower the strings, and the needle could be passed back and forth using a combination of motorised arms and pulleys but we need to get familiar with the actual act of weaving before trying to build a machine to do the hard work. Adding second (and maybe even third) colours to make an image or pattern would also be pretty cool. Yet another project to add to our ever-increasing list of things started-but-not-yet-finished!