The Thrill of Saori weaving and beyond
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.