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The Thrill of Saori weaving and beyond

Picking up a Saori loom

Jayne’s new joy

Occasionally, I get to share the joy of others when they pick up their new Saori looms. Here you can see Jayne, an experienced weaver, starting to weave on her new loom that she just finished threading.  If customers can pick up their new looms from the studio they can usually stay a couple of hours to learn how to thread a pre-wound warp. The process is quite different to other ways of threading as it doesn’t have a conventional weavers’ cross and you thread the reed and heddles at the same time – so its good to go through it.

Saori clothing

Woven Saori top by Carolyn. Granddaughters need Saori too. Photo: Carolyn H

Saori weavers in Australia are a small but growing group. In fact the total number of weavers generally are quite small. Weaving is an underground activity…so a little alternative and almost illicit perhaps!

I’ve thought about why Saori weaving is growing and I think there are a few reasons. Firstly there are so few rules. Every aspect of it is structured so you can ‘discover’ weaving enjoyment in your own way. Yes, we still share tips and knowhow but currently this is mainly around management and use of either the Saori loom or other looms doing Saori inspired weaves. Yes, you still need to develop some skill around using the loom as a tool but with the Saori loom it is very straightforward and allows much more of your time to be involved in lots of weaving rather than set up or examining every row of weaving for flaws and mistakes.

Silk pre-wound warp into exquisite top - Barb

Silk pre-wound warp into exquisite top – Photo: Barb J

Saori style weaving as a way and approach to free form weaving is not new but I can’t get around the fact that the Saori loom is largely responsible for some of this popularity. The mindset, many of the techniques and the general aesthetic is possible on other looms but so much just isn’t. The supporting accessories are also designed to make weaving and set up very comfortable. No more gym attendances to have the strength to lift the beater off the loom!

The actual design of the loom allows some substantial design innovations in weaving that would be quite a bother to set up on almost any other loom. It is a true compact floor loom, and although table looms have their place, floor looms are faster, more efficient and more productive to weave on.

Arja threading her new 4 shaft loom

Arja threading her new 4 shaft loom

To my knowledge,  I think I can lay much of this innovation in loom design twinned with fabric design possibilities with Kenzo Jo of Saori no Mori. His innovative approach has been with actual weaving as well as the construction of the loom. For example, differential tension can be achieved in situ on the loom, without the need for pre-planning,  with a stick tied at the back where the warp is free for manipulation. Additionally the bobbin winder on board allows quick design decisions for spinning small lengths of special yarn there and then.

Saori cloth

Dominique’s cloth. Photo: Dominique K

Once again without pre-planning.  The weaving doesn’t need to be pre-planned. We just go to the loom and weave in a more painterly fashion enjoying the cloth as it builds row by row. Planning is also good but many of us just want to create without the necessity for pre-planning all the time.

Edges as design opportunities

Edges as design opportunities

Lastly I think that having the option of creating functional and useable cloth is appealing. The weaving can be used for conceptual fibre art work but many of my customers like the idea of creating clothing or interior fabric for themselves, for gifts or for selling. Although this has always been the stalwart for handweaving, it is such an easy  and mega enjoyable step with Saori weaving.

Thank you to all of my customers who have sent photos of their work. I really like to see where the loom takes you!

To all customers and blog readers I wish you a peaceful, safe Christmas and a creative, weaverly 2015.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Carol Read #

    I love reading about different people’s journeys with this loom. It really is a well thought out piece of equipment and lovely to use. I will be saving up next year for my very own one.
    Love your workshops as well!

    December 20, 2014
  2. I love my Saori loom. Just realised I have only had it for three months, but we have developed a wonderful relationship (except that it distracts me from other priorities in my life). I have just finished a 5 metre length which I am making into a jacket. Love it.

    My partner is a jazz musician, and he loves what I am now making. He explains it in musical terms – that I have gone from playing the dots, as in classical music, to playing the blues.

    Thank you so much for introducing me to the freedom and creativity of Saori.


    December 20, 2014
  3. Great article Kaz! And I love the idea of “weaving the blues”. I agree that the Saori approach allows and encourages a painterly approach, where yarn is blended just like pigments. This is a huge attraction to me and I enjoy sharing this perspective with others in my studio. Saori looms are an absolute delight to use and are bringing this joyful creative pursuit to a whole new generation. Happy Christmas to you, Dave and family and best wishes for a fabulous 2015!

    December 21, 2014
  4. I remember shedding a little tear when seeing my loom, after paying it off for several drama packed months….it was such a beautiful instrument…. I still love it and love what I create on it.

    January 8, 2015

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