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Posts from the ‘Tutorials’ Category

Make loads of clothes with your weaves – start with the Huipil inspired Maya top

Maya Top Handwoven
I think I take my sewing skills for granted. And I image everyone else has the same skills.  But increasingly, because we haven’t had to make our own clothes, we don’t need those skills.  I understand that others have more valuable skills to earn money. But to make your own clothes…that’s a freedom. To weave the cloth for them…even more so. You can save money, value what you make more, choose your fibres,  have less clothes, and have clothes that actually fit you. This year I’ll be taking more about clothing, sewing and how weaving fits in with it all in the Saori way.


This is the Maya top with versions of the huipil overlayed on top.

As a weaver, I’ve always made some clothes from my cloth but I haven’t been as productive in cloth yardage as I am now with the Saori loom. In the ’80s there were many books on clothing from rectangular and narrow widths which are often found in other cultures who use the backstrap loom. One of these is the simple and elegant Huipil. Like the Kimono, the beauty of the clothing is in the design of the cloth rather than the cut. It’s also about not wasting the energy and resources that go into the weaving and making the most out of the cloth without cutting it.

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The Lozenge technique

There are so many different techniques which can be used in ‘plain’ weave cloth which forms the basis of Saori weaving. Many woven tapestry techniques can be modified to build into cloth which is suitable for drape-able clothing. My biggest inspiration from the tapestry world is Coptic woven tapestry. They used eccentric weaving to create imagery and weren’t hampered or directed by the warp’s  invitation to weave at right angles or in the grid. They also used possible distortions within the cloth with the technique to add to its beauty.

This particular technique creates a lozenge shape in the weave. Fantastic for the ‘pop’ colour in cloth. Grab a length of yarn to start. In the illustration here I’ve started and completed my rough lozenge shape over several warps rather than just one. This is how I usually start and finish on a typical pre-wound warp using a sett of 5 dpc. (dents per centimetre) But it’s my personal preference only. You can grow the lozenge at the edges over as many warp threads are you think will look good. Beat down each row with a kitchen fork or tapestry beater. The lozenge will compress into its shape as you beat each row.

Inspiration for using lozenge shapes keep popping up everywhere once I start focusing on them. Here is the beach weaves and another in orange/reds.

When you complete the lozenge shape there will be a bit of a bump in the weave but as long as the lozenge isn’t too high you can just continue weaving from side to side in the usual way. If the bump is quite high – it’s an excuse for another adventure in weaving.

The ‘pinch’ technique

1. Weave a row in the normal manner leaving the shed open.

Saori inspired weaving offers a real insight into the weaving process and how our human connection with it can be developed in very unique ways. For example, does an edge have to be an edge and how? You can really weave in any way you want to on a loom. You don’t have to know anything beyond how to set up your own loom in this style of weaving. And using a painterly approach will help release the energy and sensitivity with your hands into the threads. You’ll come across your own ínventions quite quickly but the Saori way also encourages working with and learning with others. This is important because you may go off thinking you alone in the world have created ideas when we really depend on and learn from each other so much. Read more

Weaving Software: Fiberworks Video

 I access video on the net for learning software programs all the time. YouTube, Teacher Tube and are my favourite places.

But, sadly, there seems nothing about our weaving programs to my knowledge. Weaving draft software is a terrific tool but I found it took a bit of learning to get around the interface. Using Fiberworks I printed off the manual, read through and underlined all the ‘important’ bits then promptly forgot most of it. SEEING is another way of getting it into my head.

With this ideal, I’ve recorded a short screen video on how to use the straight draw tool to develop a simple threading and how to create an ‘instant’ tie up and treadling with coloured threads. The video is a bit wonky and I’m looking at refining all sorts of things but I think you may find it useful especially if you are new to using software for making weaving drafts. I’ve uploaded to Youtube because they compress and create a universal flash file with, I hope, better odds that more can view it without problems.

In Fiberworks there are five drawing tools which can be used for the treading or treadling (or lift/peg plan).

  1. Straight draw – shown in the video.
  2. Point draw
  3. Line draw
  4. Freehand draw
  5. Draw on the network

There are advantanges and, I think, disadvantages to using computer software but in handweaving based on floor loom traditions software is increasingly used to develop complex patterning and experimentation in a more efficient way. This doesn’t mean that software is superior to hand drafting in any way, it just allows a different style of experimentation.

I have read that the Australian writer Tim Winton doesn’t use a word processor to write his books. This surprised me but allowed me to think about how differently writing is approached without a computer to cut and paste and move text continuously while writing. However as many of you may have noticed the power of the computer remains impotent if humans fail to use them properly as a tool rather than a solution. Many glossy magazines (or this blog!) have gramatical and spelling errors despite the spell check. And large companies continue to send inappropriate letters on an issue merely because your name is in the database and not updated by the humans. Attention to this type of detail occurred more before computers than now.

So having gone around the world with this, I guess I want to say that weaving software is a wonderful tool that needs to be learnt but it is only a tool. We are lucky that this tool can help make a very tangible and beautiful textile – somthing that can be held, used and loved.

Curiousweaver Journals available for free download

All of the Curiousweaver Journals published 1994-1996 are now freely available on the Tutorials and Articles page.
I also have Issues 3,4, & 5 as back issues available posted to anywhere in Australia for $15.00 or to the rest of the world for $20.00 (Australian Dollars only via Paypal. Equivalent to $US15.30). Please email me with your postal details and I will send you a Paypal invoice (overseas customers) or payment details to Australian customers.

Tutorials and Articles

These are articles or book chapters I have written for download.

For your enjoyment, here are the full texts of the five published Curiousweaver journals 1994-1996, available for download. I published these to promote and share weaving in the Australasian region, so some articles are pertinent to Australia, particularly on dyeing. Additionally, some individual articles are at the end of this page for download. The PDF quality of the files has been reduced for faster download.
The work is copyrighted but you are free to use all for personal use. If you want to use any of the articles as photocopies in teaching etc, please let me know.

Curiousweaver Issue 1 November 1994 PDF 225k
This first issue features:

  • Paper Woven Stationery
  • Weft Kasuri Introduction
  • A Japanese Vest
  • Chinese Knotting

Curiousweaver Issue 2 May 1995 PDF 410k
This second issue features:

  • Make your Own Weaving Tools
  • Backstrap Loom Weaving
  • Furred and Zebra Cords of the Andes
  • A Bush Garden for Spinners and Weavers
  • Pre-historic Thigh Spinning
  • Double Weave – Pocket Weave
  • Sequin Sash
  • Lavender Sachets
  • Creating Silk Paper

Curiousweaver Issue 3 November 1995 PDF 570k 20 pages.
This third issue features:

  • Japanese Card Braiding
  • Marudai Japanese Braiding
  • Pyramid Christmas Tree Decorations
  • Make your own Weaving Equipment
  • Native Dye Plant Garden at the Top End
  • Cramming and Spacing
  • Bedouin Saha Weave
  • Nepalese Tapestry Sash
  • Chinese ‘Double Coin’ Knot

Curiousweaver Issue 4 May 1996 PDF 1044k 24 pages.
This fourth issue features:

  • Dyeing for Weavers
  • Warp Painting
  • Shisha Mirrors
  • Painting Woollen Warps
  • Japanese Mompei Pants
  • Woven Ribbons
  • Design Games
  • Tapestry – The Soul of Weaving

Curiousweaver Issue 5 November 1996 PDF 669k 24 pages.
This fifth issue features:

  • Krokbragd on the Side (3 shaft weaving on the Inkle loom)
  • Alpacas in Australia
  • Carding and Blending
  • Colour and Weave
  • Kumihimo Japanese Braiding
  • The edge in Tapestry
  • Weavers Notebook
  • To Cut or Not to Cut
  • Looking at Other Weavers (in Australia)

Celtic Knot Inkle PDF 12k
This file contains a threading and pattern for a ‘staggered’ set up on an inkle loom for a celtic knot pattern as explained by Sara Lamb on her blog and illustrated on my Celtic Knotwork for Textiles blog entry. Also see Tracy DeGarmos web site for a further description of knotwork. The pattern is easy to set up and a delight to weave.

Kilim Design Template in Word
This is a template containing design squares and triangles that can be used to design a kilim. See Making Flowers in Your Brain post for information on how to enable the grid on screen in Word. Generally a frame or board loom can be used to create these designs using tapestry weaving techniques.
The photograph illustrates a primary school student developing board weaving skills by weaving a plain weave bookmark.

Board Loom Weaving PDF 473k.
This is the complete Chapter 5 from The Australian Weaving Book by Karen Madigan. This is a very easy introduction to weaving projects using a technique which requires little equipment. Stiff board or cardboard is simply prepared and warped to produce functional, beautiful projects. Great for beginner projects.

Saori Weaving PDF 321k
Self Discovery through Free Weaving. This is an article written for Complex Weavers USA. It describes the concept and general techniques of Saori Weaving – a very accessible form of weaving and creativity for all.

T-Shirt Yarns
Complete published booklet on how to create yarns from stretch fabrics. This little introduction is based on Catherine Mick’s work in creating yarns from T-shirt stretch fabrics. These can be used in knitting, weaving, crochet or spinning. Karen Madigan. Published in 1988. PDF 1503k

The Raw Guide to Weaving PDF 976k.
Introductory instructions on weaving by backstrap in Indonesia with particular reference to Sumbanese weaving. This developed when I went on a textile tour to Bali. For more information see The Threads of Life.

Biripi Weavers
A blog for 2005 following a group women from Biripi country, (Manning region NSW) creating baskets and weaving.

I published the Curious Weaver Journal in 1995 and 1996. Below are some articles to download in PDF format:

Nepalese Tapestry Sashes
How to make an authentic Nepalese Sash. Karen Madigan. PDF 161k.

Dyeing for Weavers
A beginners guide to fibre reactives for cellulose fibres. Karen Madigan. PDF 338k.

Warp Painting
Easy Ideas for Rainbow Warps. Karen Madigan. PDF 70k (These two articles relate directly to each other)

Krokbragd on the Side
Modifying the inkle loom to produce this 3 shaft weave. Karen Madigan. PDF 168k.

Japanese Card Braiding
How to create beautiful braids with a braiding card. Ursula Wohnlich. PDF 167k

Mompei Pants
Easy Japanese Field pant pattern from narrow widith fabrics. Chris Jakku. PDF 189k.

Pyramid Christmas Tree Decorations
Easy Christmas Tree decorations using a yarn winding technique in mercerised cotton.
Karen Madigan. PDF 84k.

Woven Ribbons
Beginners Inkle Loom Weaving. Karen Madigan. PDF 375k.