Click the image to see inside!
The latest edition of Down Under Textiles has just been published! My column is ‘Being a beginner’. In Saori weaving I meet alot of these people and in fact, I’m one too in many ways and in many things.
Beginners can be afraid and tentative, but more commonly they are more in a discovery mode when they come to the studio. We can usually fix mistakes or make the most of them, or even let them guide us into something interesting. So there are no worries.
With Saori beginners in mind I have also produced five short videos on how to warp the loom with a pre-wound warp. This is a step by step on how to do it directly on the loom. It is only available to customers who have purchased any Saori loom from me. To gain access please email for the password.
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…
Ready, set Go, Looms await
I’m prepping for another workshop this weekend and hoping that the super winter sun will be all over it. This is THE time of year here in Old Bar and the sun is so uplifting and warm with such clear skies and absolute magical waves and whales on the beach.
Here are the looms in readiness, all threaded and ready to go. With a new batch of merino sliver to enjoy I hope the workshop participants can weave this glorious weather into their cloth.
A mass of merino sliver colours to weave with
The last workshop was a great two days of weaving. Participants came from WA, Tasmania and country NSW. Every one of them had what I thought were totally fresh ideas in the way they interpreted their cloth and what they were discovering with colour and texture.
I really think that where you live influences your approach. Our individual backgrounds are also relevant but the landscape and environment in Australia is much more important than we give credit to. It seeps into your bones just as it has to the human civilization that has been here for up to 80,000 years. Having just returned from Uluru and Kakadu I can’t get my mind around the enormity of such a continuing human history. This continuing human history is here, in the Manning Valley too, but the ability, or access, to see the rock art is beyond my comprehension. I think that most Australians aim to see Uluru at some time in their lifetime if their circumstances allow it – rather like a pilgrimage. I’m so lucky I was able to get there! Now to discover more about my own area again.
As usual the best way to let you in on our workshops is the photos. At the moment we loose our light around 3pm so it is more difficult for photography but that didn’t dent the enthusiasm for weaving. Everyone I meet has an interesting story or perspective on life and I learn so much from them about all sorts of things. If only connecting up with people was easier around our vast and interesting land. The internet has filled some of this gap but it’s still not the same as the face to face! A warm thank you to Kat, Frog, Stephanie, Kerry and Mary for generosity in sharing this weave time. Read more
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