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Last in house workshop for 2015 :(

Love to weave

The young dance of the creative!

Does it ever end. This thrill of weaving and looms! I think not.

Another workshop completed in the studio and another very happy one. With so much sadness and agro in our world it’s nice to remember that good, happy and meaningful life filled get togethers do exist.  In bringing a collection of previous ‘strangers’ together we get to know a snippet of our lives and share a reason to work together, albeit briefly.

I had a beautiful 12 year old weaver, Mirielle, who  struck up the most wonderful adventure on the loom immediately and completed two full scarf lengths. Worth a dance!

red saori cloth

Red upon red, super rich monotone weave

Jan worked  on a red monotone weave. I don’t find this type of colour intensive easy to do and so greatly admire the skill of subtlety that she used.  Each tone of red is slightly different and you need a very good eye and acuity to use the various shades of the same hue.

Most of the weavers got to experiment with a couple of completely different cloths in some way. Kate was a colour girl and wove both a cool coloured and warm coloured cloth with a very delicate colour selection.

Kate's cloth in red and purple

Kate’s warm jeweled cloth

As usual each of the colour selections are inspirational for me and provided lots of ideas for how to work proportions of colours in ways that really work.

Phillip tried every technique I reviewed in the workshop pulling it all together into a very impressive design. As a photographer he had an eye for placement and used a restricted and repeating colour palette.

If big is best then Vivian won the day, steadily weaving and completing about 4-5 metres for a coat.  The cloth had lots of techniques including leno lace, texture and clasped weft. A really lovely cloth which will fall well for the coat pattern.

I have one more travelling workshop to Maitland this weekend and then a short break until next year. New workshops will be listed when I date them up…  Thank you so much to every workshop participant this year. You’ve allowed me briefly into your ‘secret’ weaving lives and the one you are living.  Thank you to Mirielle, Jan, Vivian, Phillip and Kate for your insights, creative vibe and companionship over the weekend.

weaving and saori cloth

On loom design, off loom cloth – Kate

Wearing a saori scarf

Saori design with restricted colour use and many varied techniques- Phillip

Vivian wearing her woven cloth

Vivian wearing the fantastic woven cloth

Long Saori cloth

Vivians long Saori yardage, destined for a coat.

woven cloth

One of Mirielles competed designs!

finishing fringes on cloth

Weaving cloth is only part of the process of bringing a workable woven into the world. Finishing off – Jan

Rocks and Cushion Bushes of the Great Ocean Road

Bells beach

Bells Beach, Victoria

Well my short trip along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria was inspirational to say the least!  I knew it was down there, and others have been, but it’s not until you see it yourself that it truly bowls you over.  The landforms of the Great Australian Bight are so powerful and secretive. Every stop along the way held more surprises.  I can no longer cling to the smug satisfaction of an armchair traveller as any photography is a poor substitute indeed.

There were two times when my breath was literally taken away. The first was seeing the legendary surfing beach – Bells. You see the surfing competition and all the people on TV, but you imagine that the take away shops, grot and main road traffic is just beyond. But it’s NOT.

Great Ocean Road scenery

The Great Australian Bight

Bells is quite secluded and a totally natural and high coastline. The high vantage point on the cliffs was sprinkled with people in a hushed reverence for the enormity and exquisite surfing breaks  of the famous beach.

Next stop was the 12 Apostles, which are remaining rock structures along the coast. The bight is so special that I can’t think any mining of the area would be a good idea in any form as it seems to be quite vulnerable in its enormous stature and beauty. Mining company people must see an entirely different thing to what I saw!

It’s wasn’t only the ocean ridges that are remarkable and new to my NeSWelsian eye.The cliff vegetation, the colours and textures are astounding and of great interest to handweavers. I couldn’t get enough of the cushion bush. When I got back home I subconsciously warped up all my green silks and went for it on the loom.  Most times it helps me not to consciously think about what I am designing then link up what has happened when it comes off the loom. Always a giant leap of faith in yourself.

Cushion Bush collection

Cushion Bush Collection

To be honest I didn’t take many photos and just let the sights and sensory happenings sink into the moment. Sometimes purposeful photography and memory curation stop me absorbing the actual reality of a moment I’ll never get back again.  Back home nobody is really interested in seeing photos of what you have experienced because you have to do it all yourself.

Now to get ready for my last 2015 Workshop in the studio. Looking forward to it!

Weave a Saori Inspired Cloth

Saori textileFinally today my article in Down Under Textiles has been published! “Weave a Saori inspired cloth” This is the forerunner of a regular column  I will be writing which explores textiles and in particular woven works. I’ll be looking at how to begin and continue weave textile journeys, new ideas on the horizons and established traditional ideas and techniques that continue to inspire and work for us.

Although I’m always a fan of web publishing and the tools it offers there is still something tactile and keepworthy with print. It’s more difficult to offer links and knowledge trajectories to others but has an authority and intimate focus that the web still struggles with. I’m delighted to write for Down Under Textiles. Read more

September Spring Saori

SeptemberAnother workshop is over and I’m still thinking about possibilities and styles that were initiated with the group. Jute was a bit popular this time around.  You can’t beat that crisp fibre especially when it turns at the selvedges. This workshop was full of new weavers which is always great.  The unexpected and new is very expected!

Over and over again I am so impressed with how others use colours and textures. Even when they are tentative and unsure they come up with the magic.  Natural fibre and naturalistic colourings are taking a centre stage at the moment and as some weavers worked in analogous colours others went straight to delightful complementaries. Read more

Shuttle shelves and intensive weavers

Denise Saori hatI’ve just hosted a delightful intensive Saori class with two weavers from Queensland.  It was a long planned weavers road trip to my Old Bar studio. Three full days of discovery and tactile delights. Their ideas and approaches to cloth already primed in thinking the Saori way.

Both weavers came with some weaving experience but not with floor looms of this type. Both were spinners so knew the secret ways of yarn and how to work with it in any medium.  I think that spinning experience is an added step up for new weavers. Often spinners turn to weaving after several years in an effort to use their yarn creations beyond what knitting and crochet offer.

Denise made a Saori hat then bought a loom to match it!

Pam's weavePam got straight in to weave a Quesquimitl with the most unusual colour combination of carbon greys, bitter oranges and a greyed green.

We also attached the Saori shuttle shelf to the loom. This is quite the weavers tool. Attaches to the loom in minutes and supports the shuttle at each side and provides the ultimate shuttle race extender. Very nice to use. It changes the way you hold your hand to throw the shuttle. Normally you hold the edge of the shuttle with your fingers but with the shelf you have a flat hand to push it from side to side. The shelf has a stopper to prevent the shuttle falling off when you use the beater. Read more

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!

Read more