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
The internet and social media is full of advice and opinion on what to do, what not to do and if you are doing it – you’re probably not doing it right. The news is overwhelmingly full of opinion and solutions based on narrow personal observations. So how could I possibly qualify to answer “should you weave everyday?”
I also have a personal world with personal observations that I could inflict on you all. But I can see how variable and different people are in their approach to everything. I think you do something everyday because you want to (or you have to). You’re drawn to it and it gives you a ‘spark’. Some people are more goal centred and disciplined in their approach to weaving, and others like to dabble and slowly meld into the world of creating textiles. It works all ways. Weaving isn’t a chore (at least for most of us)…its a time away from other things to enjoy and savour. If this isn’t how it feels, a break or looking to doing something different on the loom may re-ignite your resolve.
I had a few warpers in the studio of late. This step in weaving gets you designing your own fabric from the beginning and can be a mesmerizing and relaxing process. Certainly a rewarding one. Especially if you are warping for a saori style cloth.
I’ve also had some weavers in the studio as groups or couples, enjoying a few hours or a day away from the usual. Sometimes doubling up as a celebration. What better way to spend some time with people than enjoying colour and entwining. I think it’s better than Scrabble because you get to take a cloth home. Groups can spark and trigger your own ideas so weaving with others is relaxing and rewarding.
Some regular studio weavers bounce in with ideas to try. Our wavy weaving is a big hit, although I might be passing my bias onto others! Why weave straight lines when you can do wavy ones.
Maybe you would like a ‘kicker’ to weave with. This has to be something connected with our senses. For example a piece of music can make a basis for a woven cloth. Music has dynamics, tone and colour. It’s a feeling created in you and felt with our hearing. This approach isn’t for everyone, and natural images are probably the most often used for inspiration. Another one is our sense of taste. Can we create a beetroot cloth?? One cloth I’m not going to make is a green bean one as I don’t like the taste…but then that might make the best cloth of all.
Should you weave everyday? Maybe. Some days I just daydream about it, and that’s nice too.
It’s little people time again.
Little people aren’t worried about how they are weaving or even what they are doing at first. Just using a beater to create a cardboard stiff structure of cloth is fun. Here my one year old granddaughter can’t reach the weaving pedals on the smallest setting of the Saori Piccolo but she can get up into the seat and have a go at something. I so wish I had these looms when my daughters were little. They might have even grown up to be interested in weaving.
When my daughters were young we did frame loom weaving and lots of inkle loom weaving but a floor loom with dimensions suited to a small growing body weren’t around. I find a 4 or 5 year old can weave independently on these and by the time they are 7 years they are really knowing what to do and choosing design and colours. Sometimes attention span is short but that’s ok too. Here is my niece weaving in 2008.
By 11 to 15 years they are capable of just about everything, although more application or interest will be needed for learning drafts and structure. But colour and fun is always there.
Learning to create your own warps has always been an integral part of the weaving process. And although the Saori looms have the unique pre-wound warps, there may come a day when you just need your own mix of colours, styles of yarn or different texture. Some people find the whole process meditative and Saori has some equipment that offers some more comfortable ways of building the warp and preparing for weaving. I’ve written an overview of the four different approaches and the equipment needed for each of them here. Read more
“I wove it”
This weekend was full of the clacking of shuttles once again. Here Lydia is a 2nd time weaver to the studio. Following on from the theme of wider cloths on the loom, she took the opportunity to weave a full wrap. In two very full days of weaving she wove over two metres of fine and detailed work in wool.
When a cloth is cut down off the loom there is something about just looking and looking at whats been woven. Even though we can regularly unroll and see our work it is mostly hidden on that cloth beam providing a memory that doesn’t really reveal itself totally until we can hold it, look at it, feel it and wrap ourselves in it. The tape measure was a popular workshop tool too, with a regular measure to keep the weavers on track to completion. It is worth it to keep weaving to get a decent wrap around for our bodies rather than leaving it too short. A great project and achievement on the loom.
Together Lydia and Jan worked a long two days to finish their projects in studio time. I feel that every time I write about a workshop I’m full of gushing cliques. The dictionary meaning of gushing is “ (of speech or writing) effusive or exaggeratedly enthusiastic.” Never am I exaggerating my enthusiasm for woven work or for the weavers I encounter. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
Sadly another workshop is over. The energy of the studio is now up to me! Such enjoyable company and such difference in the weavers and their styles on the loom. It was also a workshop of firsts. Read more
There are times when incidental asymmetry in my weaving starts to erode into my imagined feelings of control over things we do and experience in life. So I’ve recently set up my loom to do some ordered and predicable work, knowing that the more free style ideas will then push themselves to the fore. The Saori loom can do all manner of weaving and it might be of interest to new weavers that have come to weaving through Saori that the loom can be used for any type of conventional cloth weaving.
Colour and weave work is really fascinating. I’ve got Ann Sutton’s book (Color and Weave Design) with seemingly every different mix of effects which I’ve always gravitated to. So I set up one of the Saori inside sets with a black and white colour and weave, framed with the red to square it all off. It’s a common design. It uses only two shafts but the patterning comes from the order of the colours used. This example is woven in 2/22 cottolin sett at 10 epc. This means threading two ends through each dent in the reed (size 5dpc) rather than one. So it gives a balanced weave and the warp is closer than the usual sett in Saori style weaving. It’s also a good idea, perhaps, to tie the warp ends onto the front rod as the clipping rod may not be sufficient to hold the larger number of threads at times. I have used the clipping rod here but there may be times when you can just tie it on. Read more
You’ll notice the hashtag # in the header. It means ‘alert’ to humans and ‘sort’ and ‘curate’ to the bots, all in one little hash. Even though the trend in writing everywhere is to to shorten everything, leading to confusion at times, IMHO. We’ve now come to saying the word ‘hashtag’ before announcing something either comedic or ironic but always more seriously in written form on social media. And yes, #Iloveweaving so a totally valid hashtag use. Check it out on Instagram.
Jo and Freya in the studio
‘Teaching’ others to share my lifelong love of the interlacing of threads is another huge, #megabeyondhuge, indulgence and privilege for me. In the studio, I and I hope others can have just that brief space to think about cloth and its creation, how its human history of making, using and experience is part of us and we can participate, dabble or run in its journey onwards, still. A brief space to connect, feel connected and not cast afloat as many of us feel in our daily lives. I know this is a theme of weaving everywhere, like music, it can really sustain a person creatively.
As I add to the Australian textile historic links I’ve found lots of older photos in the archives of state libraries which make me wonder about the people pictured. Their situations, what happened to them, why they were there that particular day etc. These black and white and sepia photos always look mysterious. They make you look deeper into the photo rather than accepting the image so quickly. You’ll see here a little experiment where, at a click of a mouse, the software bots and algorithms in Photoshop turned the image into the past with sepia and it too creates a little world of wonder like the old photos in the archives. Somehow cementing its authority of the moment.
A photo now
A photo floating into the past
The day when Jo and Freya came had us warping, weaving and keeping cool in the heat. Jo also took home a lovely wall drape in the WWW technique. We can’t get enough of that. Read more