Special from the Delaware State Fair

After a busy day at work, Brigid McCrae usually heads straight for her triangular loom.

“I’ve been doing this for about three years,” McCrae said she weaves a colorful pattern during a demonstration at the Delaware State Fair. “It’s just a hobby.”

As a way of manufacturing cloth, weaving always has had a practical application. But it also has an aesthetic one, as weavers through the centuries have turned out colorful and creative patterns in almost every known civilization. The oldest known example of woven cloth has been found at a Turkish archaeological site that dates back more than 9,000 years.

MacCrae, whose day job is working as an assistant professor of poultry science at Delaware State University, only has been weaving for about three years.

“Weaving is actually just over-under-over-under, followed by under-over-under over,” she said.

“I saw someone doing this a few years ago and said to myself, ‘I can do that.’”

McCrea admits her previous attempts at other forms of creating pieces of wearable art were less than stellar.

“I really stink at knitting,” she said. “I just don’t have the patience for knitting and crocheting.”

At the Fair, McCrae weaves using a non-traditional loom. Shaped like a triangle, it allows her to easily create shawls; two pieces woven on the loom can be crocheted together to create a square piece; additional squares can form a small blanket or afghan, she said.

The loom is about seven feet wide and sits on a stand that allows her to move the piece up or down, depending on what she’s working on.

On Sunday, McCrae already has strung her yarn horizontally -- a term called the warp -- on a series of nails hammered into the loom’s wooden arms. As several fairgoers watch, she threads a continuous loop of yarn through the horizontal strands. Called the weft, one row creates the over-under pattern, while the next forms the under-over. Spacing of the weft and the warp determines how tight or how loose the resulting weave will be.

McCrea has gifted many of her creations to family members or has sold or even bartered them away. She created one in black and silver for a friend who’s also an Oakland Raiders fan and sold another at a silent auction to benefit her Auburn University alma mater.

Creating a multicolored latticework out of different types of yarns is her way of relaxing.

“At the end of the day, when I come home I want to do something that activates the creative side of my brain rather than the scientist side,” McCrea explained.