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Purses and Change

ikat pursesWeavezine has just published a little article of mine on making purses from narrow fabrics such as Inkle loom woven bands. The trick to success with this type of fabric is to use a fine yarn such as 20/2 cotton and have all black ends on the selvedges. This way you can butt the edges together using a zig zag machine stich and a piece of commerical selvedge strip or tape on the bottom to reinforce the seam. Different purse shapes could be devised and some shapes could be more professionally finished with the addition of a piped seam. Look to upholstery sewing techniques and processes for how to do this. When I have made pipingupholstery I have always used a piping from car uphostery makers.
This is much harder and more versatile than soft fashion piping so will be more durable.

Syne also had an article on Kente cloth –Pacific Northwest Kente-which is one of my favourites. If you look closely at the threading it produces plain balanced weave, weft faced tapestry type weave and an inlay weave which has plain weave interspersed within it.


kente variationIt is a threading of great simplistic beauty and ingenuity. I have made several tops with this method combining ikat weave in the plain weave base as shown. Here you can see the weft faced weave which completely covers the warp and allows tapestry weave effects and the inlay style which is more ethereal and allows the ikat and underlying balanced weave to glimmer through.  

I have always appreciated the great gifts of knowledge handed to me over my life by other people.  I look to books and the internet -immersing myself in ‘knowing’ ideas, techniques and processes on every textile technique.  I studied dressmaking and pattern design at TAFE,  taught myself to weave, spin, crochet and braid and imagined that everything I have learnt from others were ideas that I could then share or adapt building on my actual experience. However I’m slowly realising that this is no longer possible or even desirable. Today, ideas must be completely original and new to share and I’m not capable of this or of knowing which ideas belong to others. I look to past skills and ways of doing things and like to build on these…and depend on them. This is what gives me great pleasure. I look at ancient fabrics and see how the weft end is turned into the previous row and glow knowing that I do this exactly the same way today. It makes me feel connected…..but it’s not original. The technique belongs to others. Of course, I’m still weaving and creating but my ideas are ‘knowledge and experience’ of techniques not unique techniques themselves. I find that most innovative ideas stem from the development of new tools, materials or an increase in people being able to access them.

 In this line of thought it is fitting that the last of my looms will go off to Melbourne shortly. It is a radical change for me as looms become part of you. This Thorpe CounterMarche loom has more than paid for itself and sustained my craft as my children were growing up. It has woven many metres of wonderful fabrics and you can see my oldest daughter, all grown, helping with its unassembly. This loom was in the lounge room with the TV for most of her upbringing!

But my loomlessness is more about revitalisation. I’m changing my direction and getting more space and I’m doing it by buying another loom! I had originally intended to buy a Digital AVL studio loom which is really compact and small but still had a computer interface. But then I heard about a digital loom with a countermarch action. Could this be possible. I thought they were all jack style looms. The Finnish Toika looms fit this bill. The advantage of this loom is:

  1. 1. It is a 24 shaft digital loom
  2. 2. It has a countermarche action
  3. 3. It has one pedal which is electric for shaft selection

Most reviews I’ve heard or read are very positive about the loom so I’m pretty confident it will create the best features of both my sold looms into one loom which also gives me more studio space. Clever eh~!



12 Comments Post a comment
  1. You had me frightened there for a moment – I thought you were giving up weaving just when I discovered your wonderful site. Whew! A new loom… That’s terrific! I can’t wait to see what you create.

    And, just because something has “been done before” doesn’t mean it isn’t new to some of us. I can’t believe what I have learned just by reading your blog entries. Thank you!

    September 19, 2008
  2. Your little purses are really cute, and the perfect way to use small pieces.
    But, the photo of that loom with your daughter! I can’t imagine having something so large in my tiny apartment. That’s just incredible. Good luck on your new loom search, and have a great weekend.

    September 19, 2008
  3. What are wonderful new loom you are getting!

    September 20, 2008
  4. Kay #

    Dear Karen,
    So called ‘original ideas’ are ALWAYS informed by our shared cultural knowledge and experience. Keep doing what you are doing in your own original way with confidence and commitment, so that, perhaps, other weavers might be informed by your work and in turn produce their ‘original ideas’.

    September 20, 2008
  5. I have been so inspired not only by your Fiberworks tutorials but, by these fabulous bags!!! What a wonderful idea for all of that left over fabric! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

    September 20, 2008
  6. Kaz
    I’m so glad you found a loom which has just the features you’ve been looking for. This is great news.

    September 21, 2008
  7. Just to add that the Finish birchwood from which the Toika looms are made is a very beautiful wood. I have a Toika (but not the computer control) and everyone who sees it says how beautiful it is. I’m sure your new loom is a very good choice.

    September 22, 2008
  8. Lizzie #

    I have seen the 24 shaft digital Toika in action… very impressive.

    September 23, 2008
  9. Kaz, do you mind posting, at some stage, which looms you looked at as your options? My NZ retrofit computer-controlled works for now, but the loom maker passed away, the interface software is iffy, and one day the loom is going to be much too big for me to get around, and I’ve been thinking in the next five years I’d like to invest in a computer-interface where the loom itself is a little smaller, and something that has more than 16 shafts. I’d appreciate your thoughts, albeit brief, on how you finally decided on the Toika.


    September 23, 2008
  10. Oh, and also if you are importing it form Finland yourself, or if there is a dealer in Oz.

    September 23, 2008
  11. weaving is the oldest profession in the world , doesn’t matter what other people say,
    therefore almost everything has been already invented. but weavers being the kind of people we are keep adding new twists to those tried and true structures and building up on them
    congratulations on your new loom. please report back on it.

    neki desu

    September 23, 2008
  12. I loved your article in weavezine. I have new respect for my inkle loom I started weaving some strips to make an eyeglass case, thank you for the inspiration.

    September 24, 2008

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