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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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Thailand, Laos and the Textile Track – Weave


Looms at Ockpoptok, Luang Prabang, Laos

Well, this is my last post for Thailand and Laos – :(

I just love looking at people weaving.  Perhaps I want to be a supervisor rather than a weaver! Well there is plenty to see in Laos. Looms and weavers at every turn.

One nice experience involved a group weave effort by three girls. Weaving can be a lonely business and it’s much more fun if you can share it with your friends. Each of the girls were taking turns to weave the cloth. While one was weaving on the loom the other two were winding the bobbins from the skeiner. One was turning the winder’s handle and the other guiding the yarn onto the bobbin. When they were tired of their jobs they swapped around. I hadn’t seen this type of group effort before but it makes so much sense it’s probably done all of the time, everywhere. Read more

The Yearning of New Weavers

collapse weaving

Instant collapse weave on the Piccolo loom

Just back from the Newcastle Weavers market demo. So good. I set up the two looms each with something different. One with an extreme version of the WWW technique and extremely loose weaving and the other with an instant collapse weave with my overspun handspun. I used an Aussie Polwarth breed from Wendy Dennis. Very nice indeed. After a few decades of weaving you would think I’d be a bit sick of it by now but no! Weaving is just so rewarding on so many levels.

The trading day was particularly rewarding talking to weavers, spinners and other fibre lovers but I also had interest from people who had never woven but had a burning desire to learn or know more. Several times over the last week I’ve had contact from people who just feel so excited about looking at textiles and looms. They remind me of what drew me to weaving many years ago. I think if you have an episode like this with intense yearning or funny feelings when looking at a loom you need to start weaving…for your health and sanity! Read more