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Magical weaving

shifting thread

We weavers can spend  alot of time getting threads to behave. Not to let them run away, tangle or stretch out of tension. We tame them, or try to, so we can create with them. We want them to do things that they are sometimes reluctant to. Ikat (Kasuri) weaving has the same objective and this little warp shifting device  can deliberately shift the positions of  warp threads which have been ikat tied and dyed to form a pattern. You still need to work with the threads to get what you want but it is all quite magical.

The value of this little tool is that it is specifically designed for the types of looms we often use – as opposed to the back strap loom where much warp ikat cloth is created. It can be used to achieve quite detailed patterns.

easy warp ikat

Where the ikat shifting at the back rod takes place before beaming and threading the warp.

Similar  less precise shifting can be done without a shifter by tying sections of the warp at the back beam before beaming. I have found this to be very effective for my designs but it is less precise. It also requires warping from back to front and preferably with the warp loops threaded through the back rod.

The warp shifter  tool works really well and it meant for higher precision and finer threads in designing balanced weaves. Here is a lovely video of a weaving studio in Japan which is using the warp shifter. This type of shifter is one that is used at Kawashima Textile School in Kyoto. Their Kasuri courses cover this type of warp kasuri and just a study of how the patterns can be developed from quite simple tying and dyeing of the warp is fascinating.

warp ikat

Image from “The Exquisite Ikat Patterns and Their Designs”

You can see here a lovely black and white graphic which shows a shifted warp design plan. This is from a page in one of the fantastic four volumes on Okinawan Kasuri  – Textiles Across the Seas. One of the volumes is completely devoted to the designs in this format. Very strangely, these types of graphics do something to me inside and I just delight at looking through them – imagining myself creating such beautiful lines with dye, thread and weave. These volumes are published by the Textiles Across the Seas Executive Committee as a way of celebrating the ingenuity and skills of the weavers, and to keep the traditions alive and viable in our world. In the volumes I read that ‘craft is not art‘ – it must sell and circulate in a society. Craft needs to build skills and innovation within specific parameters. Business and sales are important and this has previously been strongly related to social organisation and perhaps ritual requirements. I know craft can be art but what do you think? In Australia craft of all kinds are practiced but the desire or perceived need for inclusion in wider, mainstream type training has diminished substantially.

Textiles across the seas

The amazing Textiles Across the Seas Kasuri volumes

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. The warp shifter looks fantastic! Is there a place where they can be bought? Could you post a more detailed photo of the shifter and how it is attached?

    December 31, 2014
  2. Barbara Osmond #

    Love the weaving possibilities in Ikat/Kasuri as I have used my warp shifting devise to spread and play with colour warps before … so much to explore and weave when I am more comfortable. Would like to refer to the publications ‘Textiles Across the Seas’ sometime to add to my research knowledge.

    How great it is to see others exploring weaving Saori style following the November Workshop in Maitland. Have mentioned to some members the possibility of follow-up in the new year.

    All the best to you and yours in 2015.

    January 1, 2015
  3. The warp shifter is great and is available from Japan http://english.inagakikiryou.com/ I will post more detailed pics when I set it up again. I need a bit more practice at the detail in the shifting!

    January 2, 2015
  4. Delighted with the Maitland weaver’s keenness for weaving and Saori in particular. Quite an exceptional bunch of talented creatives!

    January 2, 2015
  5. Thank you! That site has some amazing tools – I will have to look into buying some of them!

    January 4, 2015

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