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The Anatomy of a Flat pattern to 3D

Saori fabric topCreating beautiful clothing patterns are a significant feature of the Saori inspired weaving movement. Handwoven cloth for clothes and accessories is where the Japanese developers have created outstanding  new ideas amongst ‘ordinary’ people. Although the best of the Saori designers, such as Masako, use the body directly to develop the pattern, being the best starting point, my dressmaking and patternmaking accreditation was fixed in the use and adaptation of the flat pattern. This was mainly because I was trained to appeal to industry where economical pattern lays were a priority for any design.  So naturally my love of lines and design on flat paper conjures the 3D outcome in my mind.  To my surprise many younger Saori sewers and weavers tell me they feel more comfortable designing directly on the body which I always think is a higher and more intuitive skill.

So I look at all of the Saori design clothing books with the approach of an industry mind!  Exploring the patterns … from Shitate no Hon, I gleaned the ingenuity of the designer for these types of patterns.  Normally in patternmaking you always have to concern yourself with how to put the garment on. We don’t want to be locked out. In Saori garments we avoid the need for closures in our patterns by using ‘tricks’. For example, a garment with long sleeves  will generally need an opening at the front or back to gain access, but then it becomes a coat or cardigan.  How do we design a top with no front or back openings but no closures? Read more

Quiet and Busy

weaver with cloth
Sometimes being quiet means being busy. Or so I tell myself when my blog posts get delayed. I have so much to write about but somehow…

My studio has actually been quite busy lately. I’m learning from others about how they came to weaving and how much it means to be able to mix threads and create cloth.  Weaving is more than just creating a fabric and the Saori way of looking at cloth gives an instant energy. Here you see Lyn totally enthralled with the production of her textile. It’s a mesmerizing process the final cut off the loom. Now she’ll go home and work to create another 30 metres threaded on her loom.

I’ve also been visiting new weavers and once again been taken aback by their aesthetic and design when let loose to their own ideas. Read more

When the ocean meets the rivers, meets the creeks – Sturt Winter School 2015

Sadly, Sturt Winter School has finished for 2015. It was a totally brilliant experience for me and I hope for all the participants. A very great group of humans!

Sturt winter school 2015 group

Sturt Contemporary Art and Design Winter School 2015

My post title about the flow of our waters is taken from a song by Howqua from Melbourne who performed at Flow Bar today.


“Where the ocean well it turns into the river, And the river well it turns into the creek
 ”  City Sounds

These lyrics reminded me of how people interact with each other, all of us with different strengths and histories, different experiences, different luck and lives. The way the Saori approach so overtly invites all to weave despite any lack of experience or previous exposure to the craft is part of its ‘seductive’ success. A couple of weavers were established with the Saori style and others had never touched a loom before. One weaver wanted to practice warping which she did for two separate pieces and another was blind and used touch to explore texture and yarn within her woven pieces. In the project time one weaver had a quite detailed creative image of what she was weaving and another took a dramatically different tack with her second textile. The comb reed was used to create curved rivers in the warp and reedless weaving, as the ultimate adventure, produced some exceptional work. Another weaver introduced macrame into his textile weaves, and another went home to create a great garment for her daughter!

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Woven Saori Shibori

Saori Woven ShiboriI’m exploring  Saori Woven Shibori experiments more and coming up with loads of deviations achievable with a simple two shaft plain weave loom. After this weekend workshop ,where two weavers went for it on a tencel warp I set up, I was amazed at just how fluid the process is. Gail’s work attracts orders whenever she wears her scarf which is an interesting and profitable byway of the technique.

Quite complex and irregular patterning can be built on the cloth without multiple shafts controlling the pattern stitchers for the shibori effect.  Add all the other simple Saori techniques and attitude to yarn and fibre – then you really open up very engaging work. The ‘Deep Ocean Blues’ scarf shown here is now on its way to a special home in the US! I hope the recipient has as much joy wearing it as I did creating it. I used different yarns in the weft to create different effects amidst the shibori stitchers.

Woven Saori Shibori

The sett for this type of work is ideal a little closer than for most standard style Saori as it is getting closer to a balanced cloth but still leaving promise for the wefts that interrupt the balance. And all that is needed is two shafts, a pick up stick which is longer than the width of your weave, a strong ‘stitching’ thread, a dyebath and a free spirit to grow the design.


Tablet Woven Complexity

Tablet woven patternTablet weaving can be complex indeed but to start weaving it can be one of the most enjoyable achievements out. Over the years I’ve mostly used the backstrap method to weave with the cards but I think a decent and strong inkle loom does the job better because I need to be physically ‘disconnected’ to the weaving to concentrate…at least in my household. The soft mauve and lemon band here is one of the simplest patterns in threading and turning (4/4) and the pattern magically appears with minimal effort. From Tablet Weaving – Ann Sutton and Pat Holtom.

There are alot of people investigating and deciphering old historic patterns and much new material available for tablet weaving. The SCA movement has propelled much of this in Europe. One of the very best explanations of tablet weaving I’ve seen is here. Eva Sandermann Olsen does a remarkable job, in my view, of explaining tablet weaving in a humble yet thoroughly authoritative way. Also the long running Phalia’s String page offers alot of information. Another lovely new book is Applesies and Fox Noses from Finland. This is certainly a must have, very delightful addition to a tablet weaver’s library.

Tablet Woven purse from Bhutan

Tablet woven purse from Bhutan – 2008

But one publication which is absolutely fascinating on many levels is the Willful Pursuit of Complexity by Kris Leet and Linda Malan on the Icelandic Vacant-Hole technique. I can’t go past the broader perspective of this publication under ‘Collateral Issues’ and I quote directly.

First, there is the pervasive perception, by weavers as well as non-weavers, that prehistoric and early historic weaving was in some sense primitive, that it was crude, not very well done, that it lacked either elegance or sophistication or an acceptable level of craftsmanship. Read more

Imagining Textiles – The Art of Dyeing

Bucket with dyed warp in itFor many weavers dyeing yarn requires a big leap of faith. Starting out without copious dye recipe books and sample cards to refer to most of us just jump off the edge then gradually acquire knowledge for more precise decisions in colour. But it can be easy, fun and very successful from day one.

Dyeing is an imagining of a textile for a weaver because dyeing the warp and weft is only the first part of a journey.  The weave, colour juxtaposition and mixing on the loom can potentially change what you start with.

In my recent Easy Ikat and Warp Painting workshop I encouraged the three participants to ‘jump’ off because you just have to attack dyeing to see where you go and gain the confidence I think. At least that’s what I do.

painting skeins of yarnPainting a warp is just so special. It’s exciting to weave with because the colour changes all the time –  so no boredom, and it always looks great on the loom. It also looks pretty good just in the bucket waiting to set the colour and wash out.

Each of the participants had strong colour confidence and all did very different work with a wide range of cellulose and silk fibre. There was handspun bamboo, hemp cord, silks, ramie and linen. Sometimes the yarn had a light base colour changing the subtlety of the colours. We painted warps and skeins for weft and warping. See Barb here working her magic!

The warp ikat was interesting too. Mostly I use an immersion method with this but I think painting the warp with the ikat resists in place is rather more interesting for some types of weaving.

Painting warp ikats

We covered a few methods of failsafe dyeing like creating different strengths of the same colour. There are no white dyes in textile dyeing so dilution becomes the white.

Stepping across the colour wheel is also another easy method to success. For example, purple to yellow, mixing proportionately as you step to the opposite colour.

We finished up with my extra speedy way of creating a dye sample reference.  This is the start of knowing your colours more intimately and what you can do with them.

Blues painted on skein

I demonstrated the painting method with expensive gloves on. This was a big fail and I had to walk around with deep blue hands for the duration of the weekend. Don’t do that!  Susie was sensible and used a painterly method with a brush and our better, cheaper gloves which worked. Sponge brushes work well too and I think I paint the warp differently with a brush in hand too.

I loved the workshop and a very warm thank you to the wonderful dyer/weavers who came to share their colourways. Gail, Barb and Susie – thank you!

Wild Buttons

woven buttonsMy last Craftsy tutorial was about creating Wild Woven Buttons. Using scrap Saori fabric or custom woven Saori fabric you can let your wild side show!

If a button is merely a decorative embellishment and not a fastener you can go as wild as you like. Use the button blank as a scaffold to show off your fabric.

Growing of Weaving

Learning to weave

Jodie weaving herself into the loom

Yesterday was coding and upgrading time. It’s not something I do everyday and it isn’t always without issues so I dance around the necessary job, cleaning the house more, weaving more, emailing more – anything to prevent the upgrade happening. I guess everyone is the same.

I recently read that most people feel besieged nearly 100% of the time.  I always thought the object was not to feel like that so now I’m thankful that I only feel that way about 95% of the time and have more admiration and understanding for the rest of you! It seems that most workplaces add to that feeling of besiegement, of being under attack, so once again weaving, feeling creative and sharing this activity in a positive healthy way becomes more than a ‘hobby’ …perhaps a necessary activity to save ourselves.

For me weaving is so much more than all of that and as handweaving and interest in constructed textile making is growing I’m delighted that so many younger designers are taking up the passion.

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