Jan and Sophie – Saori models
Sometimes I’m out and about with my looms and this date was a great weekend full of new and more experienced weavers, working away at the looms. It was the 2nd time or even 4th time for one weaver who worked on a pink woollen warp after several of the black variety. The coloured warps require more thought about colour choice and you have to work with the warp like an undertone to a painting. Jan chose the beautiful Malbringo knitting wool in rusts, orange and pinks. This totally kicked up the pink in a rich way.
There was much meterage woven this weekend as it was a family and friends group. That’s a formula – Relaxation = confidence to have a go, and trusting others to not be critical of your creative intention. This weekend I seemed very upclose to the lives of everyone there. I saw how their hands and minds worked with those threads and learnt about their experiences and hopes which were entwined into the cloth. Super special thank you to Cate and Mark for their generous hospitality, and the weavers, Sophie, Jan, Sara, Debbie and Cathy. Read more
It’s been a warpy sort of week with Sarah in the studio winding, beaming and threading two different warps. We used Kenzo’s tabletop beaming and threading unit with the dividing bar which ticks all of the boxes as far as speed, comfort and elegance in warp making. The warp only requires one cross – the raddle cross. I know that many weavers, including myself at times, consider this a risky business, but it gets it done and into the process without worrying about what is really an unnecessary extra cross. Beaming is done completely off loom at a table then threaded. You can save your unique ‘pre-wound’ warp for later or just thread it up on the unit, then hook it up onto the loom.
Warping is a very satisfying process but the tabletop unit does give that real sense of achievement because it normally goes so smoothly. I tend to have all my own ‘pre-wounds’ hanging around the studio waiting to be woven up. Somedays are just more warpy than others.
There seems to be no end in sight to weaving and making clothes at the moment. This one was made with my 85cm w i d e width cloth. I still prefer the dynamic feel of narrower textiles but the up side is a very short sewing timeframe because there is far less stitching. This skirt is very easy to make.
This is the result of my first cloth on the WX90. It’s a mix of cotton, organic cotton and silk then cram dyed to give a stronger effect. The pattern is number 30, p56 in the Shitate no Hon clothing book. This book really has a lot of great ideas in it.
It has elastic around the waist because of the limited shaping for the waist. I used fold over elastic which is perfect for this type of design. It is exposed but saves sewing a pocket for the elastic.
The measurements are small so I would recommend taking your own measurements and applying them to the design to check that it will fit or use an old sheet or calico to make a quick mock up toile. I also made longer slits in the central front underskirt panel to get more movement. Otherwise it’s a very flexible style and very comfy skirt to wear. Imagine using an entirely different weave fabric for the central underskirt panel! I used the weftwise grain rather than with the warp down the body as with a conventional garment cut. I know this can affect the drape on the body but it is fine in this cloth.
The button closure is decorative only. So you could go mad with it or just go conservative like I did! Basically the skirt piece wraps from the front around the back then to the front again to form the crossover closure style at the front. Another panel creates the underskirt which is stitched at the front only.
Onto the next design…
Mine’s the longest
It’s all in a days work. I’m gradually getting pics together of my many recent workshops. This one was a delightful local family group connecting creatively for a full day’s weaving over a 50th birthday celebration. In the morning as they began weaving in the studio I mentioned that they just might get a short scarf woven if they were exceptional. Well I didn’t put it that way. But they really were beyond exceptional…after all it’s a race to see who weaves the longest piece. Over two metres for each weaver as you can see here and a decent length wrap scarf for all of them. All so different from each other in colour and use of texture. Pretty amazing I reckon.
Each of the pieces were very different, which although very common in our workshops, it is always surprising as I show everyone the same thing but they do it all in different ways. Such is the way with these looms and the approach we take.
Another thing that impresses me about visitors to the studio is their inherent and almost subconscious ability to create an alive feeling in the cloth. A special thanks to the Wallace family for an inspiring day!
This is something that I’m not so good with. Any decision is a difficulty and when you get a heap thrown at you when you are sewing a garment from your handwoven cloth it’s not easy. With the six metres of green wool and silk that I wove last winter it suddenly came to me what I should make. I used the number 3 vest design in the Fuku no Katachi ni Suru book but modified it because I made it longer, just because I could with all that fabric. But then I needed more fabric at the front so also added wedge shaped pieces for better coverage. When I’m underway sewing these garments, I soon leave the security of a pattern then trip into something more like a sculpture to fit the body. Adding, cutting, reworking. It can be a feeling of desperation or liberation! Read more
The cloth palette
The warping process is a beautiful one! I know some don’t agree with this but it can be very meditative and affirming in a slightly bizarre way. The way the yarns follow each other in a precise path around the warping board pegs, ordered by a cross and creating a design of the imagination but in the process of becoming a physical cloth. The Saori way of purposely using a random selection of yarns keeps our mind attentive to colour and texture too. The absolute order and rhythm of warping creates, I think, a right mind for the weaving ahead. A mind of order and peace. The warping isn’t a free form thing as far as getting those yarns onto the loom in an ordered and even tension for weaving. The Saori set up is more forgiving than others on the loom but you have to have the yarns ordered and thread and sley the loom correctly. There are a few ways to warp up the Saori looms. Read more
Last month I had the pleasure of being with Saori weavers at Morisset Spinners and Weavers in NSW. A few of the weavers had already ‘caught’ my Saori addiction and the cloth discoveries were so interesting. Two full days of weaving and getting to know each other eventuated in metres of expressive cloth destined for clothing, wall, warmth and just plain ‘looking at joy’.
Here you can see Carolyn weaving away. Loads of shuttles and bobbins awaiting their turn through the warp. I wonder what makes us pick up one colour or texture in preference to another??
The Morisset weavers are a growing and particularly keen group of weavers. They seemed to lap up everything and their interests in different types of weaving are diverse.
Morisset weavers have a dedicated storeroom and a space to meet and learn weaving and spinning. Many small places in Australia have these and I’m always heartened that handweaving opportunties survive in pockets everywhere. We’re all thirsty for hands-on craft skill learning and doing it in happy, supportive and conflict free social gatherings. Morisset is managing this well. The historical basis for these groups is the guilds system from England and although this has greatly changed in that the guilds aren’t like unions or political like in previous times, it’s spirit of teaching and passing on skills remains. This history is a very significant one and perhaps one that we don’t promote enough. Read more