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A sentient cloth?


by Christine Appleby

I know that handwoven cloth isn’t sentient but sometimes it seems ‘alive’. Vibrancy, texture and a sense of spontaneity in the yarn usually mix in such away that the cloth becomes far more than its collection of yarn. At least it seems like that when weavers take to my Saori looms. Pictured here is Christine’s cloth, but it  is one of many that I get to see as they are woven and released from the loom.

When I was in Bhutan, I was impressed with the quiet respect the people had for woven cloth. Even men who had never woven folded the cloth with a reverence, keeping the coloured pattern on the inside to protect it.  Cloth is like that. It can be folded or tossed depending on its use. You can be careful with it or use it for hard work. (if you are interested in Bhutanese textiles also see Kay Faulkners recent write up).  It suggests that something about the cloth is indeed ‘alive’.

Some yarns are better than others in achieving that ‘aliveness’ in cloth. And it also depends on the weaver and how they handle and work with the yarn.  Highly textured and almost ephemeral work is very appealing and on trend at the moment. Natural fibres and organic styling is also exciting most weavers and other textile artists.  Although it seems that this self-evident beauty will always be attractive and sought in our work, it won’t be. Not to be negative, but change will always come along in all its forms and we will be enjoying another beauty as we continue to weave cloth and new ideas and tools come along. But that beauty and allure, that great passion for cloth will always make it like a living creation.

Magazine cover

Down Under Textiles, issue 23

In the current issue of Down Under Textiles (Issue 23), on sale now, I write about the ‘State of our Art’ (p12/13). Changes in tools, fibre supply and technology contribute to changes in how and what we work with. Once handweaving wasn’t associated with art as we view it,  but only as functional work to produce cloth for use. Now we hang our textiles on walls as a form of creative expression and look at handweaving as recreation or creative artistic work.

Having said this I’m still into weaving very plain, everyday items that I will use.  Like baking bread there is something almost primeval about the whole thing. I know it sounds ridiculous to weave a linen towel which could be bought for a fraction of the cost of the yarn and not even counting the time to weave it…but there it is. There is nothing like the rhythm of plain weaving on the loom.

plain handwoven towels

Plain handwoven hand towels. Rhythmically soothing to weave.


There is a recent rise in cost for the Saori looms due to an 80% rise in import fees by Australian Customs. I try to absorb costs as much as possible but this one was unexpected and whoa! due to changes in the Federal budget last year.

Studio break

The retail part of Curiousweaver Studio will break from 9 May – 4 June due to teaching commitments.  I will happily answer all emails and accept orders but they won’t be posted until 4 June. Please place any ’emergency’ weaving orders before 9 May.

Japan Tour

Still places available for our Japan Textile Tour  – 6-19 September. Tour is fully supported with three textile workshops included – one at Saori no Mori the Saori headquarters in Osaka. Local guides and transport will also make everything effortless for the group.

Studio Artes Fire

A couple of weeks ago Studio Artes in Sydney was destroyed by fire. They run arts programs for people with disabilities and Saori weaving is a significant art skill in the organisation. They are calling for donations as they have lost virtually everything.

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