Skip to content

The Emotional Lure of Paper Yarns

Cutting paper

Cutting the folded paper

There is a magnetism in paper yarns for weaving and I have had many goes at it.  I am probably more interested in actual spun paper yarn than the rolled or folded paper approach but they all have their particular benefits in creating a woven structure.

When I was in Kyoto last year I bought a few sheets of Kozo paper for creating spun thread (kami-ito) for weaving (Shifu). In Japan this is considered the very best handmade paper for this purpose and the traditions and skills attached to the whole papermaking and yarnmaking process are formidable and quite different to the traditions of paper twine from Europe. For more info on the tenacity and dedication to creating Kami-ito (paper threads for weaving Shifu) see “A Song of Praise for Shifu by Susan J. Byrd. Another good recent publication is “Kigami and Kami-ito  in English and Japanese. Also a great book for a broader overview of European paper yarn history and the comparison to Japanese thread making with ideas for creating paper thread textiles in Paper Textiles.

paper strips

The paper cut and opened out, showing how the strips are joined and ready to be separated.

Sometimes reading too much can make me thoroughly daunted and ‘scared’ of attempting such a feat on the most perfect paper you’ve ever seen and unlikely to ever see again. But then it’s a step closer to understanding the process than having exquisite paper sitting in my studio cupboard.

I was pretty happy with the resulting yarn considering my fears, and I must say that working with paper of this standard was amazing. As any spinning is – it gets you closer to that real source of the natural. Read more

No Anonymous Characters

tidalSandStrirationsOk! Another wonderful weekend Saori workshop with a great group, weaver houseguests, sunny warm days, warp rescues, beach magic and cake! What more could anyone ask for in life. The images here were connected by Amanda and her image of tidal sand striations at Manning Point. The weave is the final demo of the weekend – weaving without a reed.

No reed usually means no weft in that the warp threads crowd up much too cosily hiding the weft. But it can be overcome by forcing the heddles into a cramming and spacing situation. I did this with clothes pegs as used at Saori central. If you don’t have a Saori loom or similar with clearance at the top of the shafts you could certainly rig something up. Afterall that is what weaving is all about – adapting and thinking, thinking, trying, sampling.

Hover of the weavers

hover of the weavers

One of the most delightful aspects of weavers is the ‘dance’ they do regularly and always in my workshops! It’s a ‘hover of the weavers’. When a piece of cloth handwoven from the maker comes out, we hover, touch and show a bit of our hearts so easily. We try to imagine it was us creating that cloth and we see a window into the maker and make an instant connection. I just love it. I know it can sound soppy as I write it but it is such a powerful feeling. Cloth surely unites us in some small way and creates an instant injection point to connect with others. Read more

The Smell of Wool: Are we Missing Something?

shearing at BendigoBack from the Bendigo Wool and Sheep show. At the 1000km mark on the way down I wondered “What was I thinking?” but it was really great and worth the road trip to meet up with other like minded weavers and yarn lovers.

We had the opportunity this time to actually look around at the show  and in particular the hall of sheep, sheep shearing and prize winning fleeces. When I walked into the shearing shed I was overcome by the smell of wool, something I can’t convey due to the limits of the internet.  So familiar and comforting  bringing back memories of my first days of spinning, when my daughters were very young and when getting hold of a raw fleece was the only way to spin! No pre-cleaned and dyed coloured batts or rovings. Anyway it was compulsory to spin in the grease with the natural lanolin and get tetanus injections every few years- wonder what happened to those ‘rules’. Well, I really do know what happened to them. They were based on what we needed or aspired to at the time.The ultimate being a garment that would last for years of wear and fit for its purpose. Now we’re mainly creating for a much different purpose. Read more

Question your Swifts

It always seems a battle for a weaver to get skeins to yarn packages and back again. This has been a constant struggle for me over the years mainly because of a lack of variety and choice in coloured yarns for weavers in Australia and the finer yarns I tend to be attracted to. Many of the swifts on the market are designed for knitting yarns that are thicker and won’t tangle as much in the unwinding.

windmill swift

Windmill swift with ball bearings for smooth rotation and adjustable pegs

I have spent many, many 3 hour sessions unwinding a  2/60 hank of silk into a ball which then fails to run and gets knotted continuously when warping. I have tried the little ball winders that are great for 4ply knitting yarn and up – no good. I’ve tried winding cones on my electric bobbin winder – poor. The tension of the wind is also badly affected and leaves the yarn package in a poor starting state for nice loom tension. Read more

Why weave Saori: revisited

weaving studioWhy be inspired and motivated by the Saori aesthetic?

I have just written a post for Craftsy on Have you heard about Saori Weaving. It made me think again about why the Saori concept is so appealing to me.

Ten years ago I wrote about Saori weaving for the Complex Weavers in the US. Reading this again the other day made me feel invigorated anew about the possibilities of weaving with a freer and irregular approach. Unless you have a loom with many shafts or do tapestry weaving  it’s not that easy to develop curves, rounds and irregularity in loom determined patterning. Saori offers us the permission to weave outside the ordinary. And although the general rules and processes of handweaving apply, once we’re weaving through those warp threads we’re free to do what we like. Read more

Scone Saori

Scone - New England Highway

Kelly Street,  Scone

Barrington landscape

Barrington landscape over the tops

My most recent Saori gig was at Scone in the Upper Hunter valley.
The scenery and trip to Scone from Old Bar was simply amazing. What a wonderful environment we live in. The Australian landscape has something that seeps into and under your skin. Very different to European scenes but one that totally takes over your senses in a way that you have to surrender to. Wild, natural and….unfortunately for the upper Hunter, full of mining and continual coal trains! However disturbing these are to this lovely town (and everyone else)  it doesn’t define it and the surrounding landscapes are magnificent.  Coming home we went over the tops high up in the clouded mists. These mountains seem huge to us but Australia doesn’t do huge in mountains like other countries because the land is so ancient and worn down. But for us, although a modesty,  it seemed a huge mountain!
The weaving group was also inspiring. Lunch was included which I always get excited about for some reason. The workshop ran for one day and at first I was a little scared because the collective skills of the group was enormous. Especially in knitting. Honestly what could I give them. I learnt alot on the day from everyone and saw some of their work. Only one participant had woven before on a rigid heddle and she began that in her 80′s! Read more