Ready, set Go, Looms await
I’m prepping for another workshop this weekend and hoping that the super winter sun will be all over it. This is THE time of year here in Old Bar and the sun is so uplifting and warm with such clear skies and absolute magical waves and whales on the beach.
Here are the looms in readiness, all threaded and ready to go. With a new batch of merino sliver to enjoy I hope the workshop participants can weave this glorious weather into their cloth.
A mass of merino sliver colours to weave with
The last workshop was a great two days of weaving. Participants came from WA, Tasmania and country NSW. Every one of them had what I thought were totally fresh ideas in the way they interpreted their cloth and what they were discovering with colour and texture.
I really think that where you live influences your approach. Our individual backgrounds are also relevant but the landscape and environment in Australia is much more important than we give credit to. It seeps into your bones just as it has to the human civilization that has been here for up to 80,000 years. Having just returned from Uluru and Kakadu I can’t get my mind around the enormity of such a continuing human history. This continuing human history is here, in the Manning Valley too, but the ability, or access, to see the rock art is beyond my comprehension. I think that most Australians aim to see Uluru at some time in their lifetime if their circumstances allow it – rather like a pilgrimage. I’m so lucky I was able to get there! Now to discover more about my own area again.
As usual the best way to let you in on our workshops is the photos. At the moment we loose our light around 3pm so it is more difficult for photography but that didn’t dent the enthusiasm for weaving. Everyone I meet has an interesting story or perspective on life and I learn so much from them about all sorts of things. If only connecting up with people was easier around our vast and interesting land. The internet has filled some of this gap but it’s still not the same as the face to face! A warm thank you to Kat, Frog, Stephanie, Kerry and Mary for generosity in sharing this weave time. Read more
Mine’s the longest
It’s all in a days work. I’m gradually getting pics together of my many recent workshops. This one was a delightful local family group connecting creatively for a full day’s weaving over a 50th birthday celebration. In the morning as they began weaving in the studio I mentioned that they just might get a short scarf woven if they were exceptional. Well I didn’t put it that way. But they really were beyond exceptional…after all it’s a race to see who weaves the longest piece. Over two metres for each weaver as you can see here and a decent length wrap scarf for all of them. All so different from each other in colour and use of texture. Pretty amazing I reckon.
Each of the pieces were very different, which although very common in our workshops, it is always surprising as I show everyone the same thing but they do it all in different ways. Such is the way with these looms and the approach we take.
Another thing that impresses me about visitors to the studio is their inherent and almost subconscious ability to create an alive feeling in the cloth. A special thanks to the Wallace family for an inspiring day!
This is something that I’m not so good with. Any decision is a difficulty and when you get a heap thrown at you when you are sewing a garment from your handwoven cloth it’s not easy. With the six metres of green wool and silk that I wove last winter it suddenly came to me what I should make. I used the number 3 vest design in the Fuku no Katachi ni Suru book but modified it because I made it longer, just because I could with all that fabric. But then I needed more fabric at the front so also added wedge shaped pieces for better coverage. When I’m underway sewing these garments, I soon leave the security of a pattern then trip into something more like a sculpture to fit the body. Adding, cutting, reworking. It can be a feeling of desperation or liberation! Read more
The cloth palette
The warping process is a beautiful one! I know some don’t agree with this but it can be very meditative and affirming in a slightly bizarre way. The way the yarns follow each other in a precise path around the warping board pegs, ordered by a cross and creating a design of the imagination but in the process of becoming a physical cloth. The Saori way of purposely using a random selection of yarns keeps our mind attentive to colour and texture too. The absolute order and rhythm of warping creates, I think, a right mind for the weaving ahead. A mind of order and peace. The warping isn’t a free form thing as far as getting those yarns onto the loom in an ordered and even tension for weaving. The Saori set up is more forgiving than others on the loom but you have to have the yarns ordered and thread and sley the loom correctly. There are a few ways to warp up the Saori looms. Read more
Last month I had the pleasure of being with Saori weavers at Morisset Spinners and Weavers in NSW. A few of the weavers had already ‘caught’ my Saori addiction and the cloth discoveries were so interesting. Two full days of weaving and getting to know each other eventuated in metres of expressive cloth destined for clothing, wall, warmth and just plain ‘looking at joy’.
Here you can see Carolyn weaving away. Loads of shuttles and bobbins awaiting their turn through the warp. I wonder what makes us pick up one colour or texture in preference to another??
The Morisset weavers are a growing and particularly keen group of weavers. They seemed to lap up everything and their interests in different types of weaving are diverse.
Morisset weavers have a dedicated storeroom and a space to meet and learn weaving and spinning. Many small places in Australia have these and I’m always heartened that handweaving opportunties survive in pockets everywhere. We’re all thirsty for hands-on craft skill learning and doing it in happy, supportive and conflict free social gatherings. Morisset is managing this well. The historical basis for these groups is the guilds system from England and although this has greatly changed in that the guilds aren’t like unions or political like in previous times, it’s spirit of teaching and passing on skills remains. This history is a very significant one and perhaps one that we don’t promote enough. Read more
The WX90 has just been released for customers interested in w i d e. I’m not a wide cloth girl and always looking to narrow cloth for dynamic design when I join it and for the limits on my body when I’m weaving it. After many years of weaving wide I found that 40-60cms was the comfy width for me. However I am a bit taken aback by the WX90. As it is the same simple counterbalance two shaft system of the WX60 looms with the normal chair height, (unlike the big European floor looms) it is quite delightful, easy on the body and fast for weaving. It also folds up and out of the way like the WX and SX60’s.
Of course wider means using more yarn. The warps use more yarn and the weaving does too. But the loom will certainly be a great fit for many weavers out there doing two shaft weaving for wraps, baby wearing designs, small blankets and simple coat style garments. The loom allows 90cms in total width in the reed. There will be pre-wounds available and also 4 shaft conversion kits but everything including the loom is a special order at this time.
I took the loom for a run on a wide cloth x 6 metres and it is weaving up very fast with the light, gravity tandem of the counterbalanced action. The warp went on like a dream and everything just worked! This test warp was set with a 4 dents per centimetre in the 5dpc reed which comes with the loom. To do this just thread the reed dents (slots) with a 1,1,1,0, configuration and your sett will be wider and lighter which is great for thicker yarns.
The internet and social media is full of advice and opinion on what to do, what not to do and if you are doing it – you’re probably not doing it right. The news is overwhelmingly full of opinion and solutions based on narrow personal observations. So how could I possibly qualify to answer “should you weave everyday?”
I also have a personal world with personal observations that I could inflict on you all. But I can see how variable and different people are in their approach to everything. I think you do something everyday because you want to (or you have to). You’re drawn to it and it gives you a ‘spark’. Some people are more goal centred and disciplined in their approach to weaving, and others like to dabble and slowly meld into the world of creating textiles. It works all ways. Weaving isn’t a chore (at least for most of us)…its a time away from other things to enjoy and savour. If this isn’t how it feels, a break or looking to doing something different on the loom may re-ignite your resolve.
I had a few warpers in the studio of late. This step in weaving gets you designing your own fabric from the beginning and can be a mesmerizing and relaxing process. Certainly a rewarding one. Especially if you are warping for a saori style cloth.
I’ve also had some weavers in the studio as groups or couples, enjoying a few hours or a day away from the usual. Sometimes doubling up as a celebration. What better way to spend some time with people than enjoying colour and entwining. I think it’s better than Scrabble because you get to take a cloth home. Groups can spark and trigger your own ideas so weaving with others is relaxing and rewarding.
Some regular studio weavers bounce in with ideas to try. Our wavy weaving is a big hit, although I might be passing my bias onto others! Why weave straight lines when you can do wavy ones.
Maybe you would like a ‘kicker’ to weave with. This has to be something connected with our senses. For example a piece of music can make a basis for a woven cloth. Music has dynamics, tone and colour. It’s a feeling created in you and felt with our hearing. This approach isn’t for everyone, and natural images are probably the most often used for inspiration. Another one is our sense of taste. Can we create a beetroot cloth?? One cloth I’m not going to make is a green bean one as I don’t like the taste…but then that might make the best cloth of all.
Should you weave everyday? Maybe. Some days I just daydream about it, and that’s nice too.