Melbourne is a long way from Old Bar.
Well it doesn’t seem far when you get on a plane but it is! Planes make you have a false sense of geography and appreciation of what country is. A full 24 hours in the round trip through our great country was a lovely adventure. This image is just north of Cooma. We saw a lot of wide open land with almost yellow grasses, blue leaved gums and camouflaged sheep. There are lots of sheep in Australia just waiting to be woven into a wearable! Some of the country I most enjoyed was just south of Yass in NSW and around the Beechworth area in Victoria.
Everywhere we google population stats and see how towns rise and fall in prosperity and population, sometimes where the land is spectacular and inviting. Like Beechworth with its gold rush population now under 4,000 people. But less population doesn’t add up to unhappiness…I suspect many city dwellers would love a few less cars in the gridlock traffic. Less can mean more as it does for many of us in country towns. More freedom, more weaving, dare I say – more happiness?
The two day Saori workshop was great and I hope all the participants grabbed more than a touch of the improvisational ways of Saori. A great group of ten from a very wide range of experiences led to very different and distinctive approaches to weaving cloth. Expert spinners from both art yarn and traditional backgrounds mixed with experienced beyond two shaft weavers and brand new weavers, one who even swore she would NEVER weave. This mixed with a wide range of life experiences and professions make the groups people mix a truly egalitarian, thus Australian one. Well it does in my little world even if this idea is purported to now be a total myth. Read more
Another fantastic workshop with a corporate group, now named the Benevolent (Society) Weavers. Every member of the group was brand new to weaving and you can see their diversity of styles and approaches straight up. The other amazing thing was the amount of yardage they wove in only a few hours. Not that it’s a race or even important to weave quickly but in a short time they each had enough to make a cowl, wrap scarf or mini quesquimitl.
A lovely way to finish a week of working at the office and get to know your colleagues in another way. A big thank you to Fiona, Maureen, Jane, Wendy and Alison for making my weekend!
I’m finding that some weavers are struggling with clothing design for their new cloth. The Saori pattern books are great with the Saori Beginner Clothing Design book best for beginner sewers and the others for those who know their way around stitching more. However the cloth is sometimes best when it is draped directly on the body. Some people use a dress form and these are great for shaping up and holding some pieces to your size but nothing beats the flow of the body itself.
I’ve been working on an easier method to get you started in designing which is a combination of pattern instruction and draping. Working with a series of Pattern Starts you can jump off from a half way point to create your own way of styling. You can then stitch up the start with confidence that you are jumping off with some sort of structure.
This start will allow you to try something on… then arrange…then pin into a garment. The one illustrated here was ‘composed’ into the garment shown. The hole became one of the armholes and the garment was joined at one side below the other armhole. You could make the edges uneven or different shapes, leave fringes or add other pieces of cloth somewhere. Could the hole be a neckline or go around the waist somehow? Just remember that you have to get out of the garment and you can use press studs as a way of opening and closing it where needed. It’s much easier to work this way if you have a start. Basically it’s a case of building a starting unit rather than working with the cloth as it is.
Holding the pre-wound warp at the front of the loom whilst beaming.
I recently had a great day involved in the repair of a very special local community loom .
Years ago as a young newly enthralled weaver, we used to holiday at Forster beach. The very special north facing and beautiful main beach had a craft centre right on the water. It was filled with all manner of crafts but had a large floor loom and table loom with work in progress. Every holiday I would go and spend ages just looking at the looms although no-one seemed to be working them! So you can image the joy when asked to repair and bring back to life the same loom at the albeit now not-so-scenic re-located Forster Arts and Craft centre.
The whole loom had steel components that were rusting in the coastal air. The loom hadn’t really been touched or maintained for over 16 years. The string heddles fell apart when we touched them and the rusted components needed to be replaced. I should say that sometimes older looms aren’t worth repairing if they are missing parts or too badly damaged but this one was worth just replacing the all cords on the lamms and heddles with Texslov. The loom has a lovely, easy treadling and is a good one for group use. I hope it now gets the WeaveLOVE it needs to thrive and create. It is so nice when I can touch my weaving past in such a way.
Tie the warp to the back rod. Here it is pre-sleyed in the reed and I’m using it like a raddle.
To set up the loom for use I wound a 12 metre Saori black cotton pre-wound warp onto the loom. I would probably still be there winding and beaming if I had to prepare a warp as well as repair it so the pre-wound warp was a fantastic time and energy saver. Many of my customers ask about using the pre-wounds on non-Saori looms but it depends on what type of loom it is and what experience you have. The pre-wound warps do not have a cross as such but have the threads ordered with some tape so you can take each one in its turn to thread etc. I have a customer who buys the thirty metre long 60cm wide wool warps to put on her loom as there are very few places you can buy weaving warp yarns in Australia and she gets an ‘impossible to wind yourself‘ thirty metres to weave off. Read more
After returning from Kawashima textile school I had to put what I had learnt into practice. Ways of working in my own studio needed to be integrated and combined into my newly learnt ways and I think it will take me a few pieces to fully implement this. My loom and tools are different and I wanted to use my new skills rather than falling back on my established ikat practice to see where it took me. I chose a simple weft kasuri on a painted warp. Seven different block patterns were dyed for the weft resist. I also wanted a bit of ‘mystery’ and added some hand picked twill blocks to overlay the kasuri resisted block patterning. Personally I find weft kasuri more challenging than warp kasuri but I know not everyone feels this.
In Kawashima all the (invisible) really hard work was done for us, i.e. calculations, so our work would proceed as successfully as possible…and it did. But it really is the calcs and measurements based on expected shrinkage with the yarn and how I actually weave that is the important foundation and basis for a good kasuri cloth.
I’ve woven two Kasuri pieces so far and you can see the beautiful kasuri wefts in their resisted blocks in this photo. The first piece reflects the intended design with a series of blocks and their reverse pattern. The second is using a shifting in the weft to produce more fluid and unexpected designs. Both textiles are on the same warp but have different coloured effects because of the warp painting process. Even the resist areas have different hues based on the warp colouring and don’t remain white.
I am happy with both of the pieces and love the technique. Next is using the warp shifting box to change the warp for kasuri/ikat. This is something I’ve always done with a tying of the warp threads at the back of the loom before beaming. I think the warp shifting box will be more flexible and capable of changing the warp kasuri within the same warp.
A whisper of Morocco blew through the studio last weekend with a first weaving for Natalie. Inspired by Moroccan Wedding blankets the threads just worked for her as she wove this piece. Natalie used a limited palette of hues focusing on texture weaving techniques including the wonderful rya knot. There are many different ways of executing this knot to produce either a shag or a pile. In this piece it was done on an open shed using four warp threads. The knotting weft was a combination of yarns combined with a mohair. Very lush and lovely.
You can see the way the knot is laid in this illustration. But you can also lay it the opposite way for a different pile.
I like to reverse knots at the half way mark with scarves so they lay downwards on a scarf around the neck – but anything goes. Knots on the edges of the fabric look great too and add that fringing.
In this weave, Natalie did a row of knots then followed up with a couple of rows of straight weaving then a row of knots again. Another interesting variation that I’m working with is the Icelandic knot. Very whispy and elegant!
Depending on what you are weaving, the yarn can be prepared beforehand then placed in the warp without stopping to cut lengths. But as this wasn’t a rug but a free style Saori textile the cut as you go method worked better.
It’s difficult to think about knots and mohair in this humid and hot weather but somehow we managed as Natalie’s style and enthusiasm cut through all of that.
I love jute!
And because of this I weakened to buying lots of jute when Saori Japan offered it. I haven’t seen jute since the macrame days and its only a matter of time before macrame knotting is back with a fresh twist. I’m saving up my dreadful macrame project books just in case. This jute is from Bangladesh and it is beautiful. I just leave the cones lying around in the lounge room hoping someone will ask why they are sitting there…but they never do.
Jute’s not really for clothing unless you’re into hair shirt penance. It would be perfect for that. It’s really for interior fabric uses that need that organic and sensual roughness. Nice to weave with but interesting to crochet with I’ve used this dishcloth pattern to create these lacy flowers. Not dishcloths but coaster type objects.
The open lacy effects and cast shadow of the yarn in the crochet are good for creating framed textile work. Meredith Woolnough has the best way I’ve seen of dealing with textile framing of delicate or lacy pieces of work. Next on my long to do list.
It’s back to the loom after this relaxed crochety flirtation.