Yet another magical workshop came to a close too quickly over the weekend. Several of the participants were Sturtees and returnees.
Ordering and threading the buttons
Daisy came to work on a special buttony weave which incorporated her mother’s buttons in a bed runner. Rather than stitch them onto the two metre plus cloth after weaving it, we decided to have the buttons threaded onto a warp thread which could be woven with each row and the buttons positioned as she went.
The buttons could also be positioned with the weft but I think the warp idea went better. A large shuttle full of many large buttons were a bit of a ‘danger’ in that movement usually twisted them around each other, so Daisy used a paper sleeve to protect them and the shuttle was left on top of the shelf. The buttons were stopped from falling with a little peg and just bought down as needed. She did very well indeed. Read more
I know all of my posts are about cloth and this one won’t be any different. I’ve written before about my luck in the humans coming to my studio, and what I learn from them. Here Mark is filming the weaving process and I’m grateful to him for sharing his expertise and skills.
Here you’ll see two videos which show how a weaver works when they come to the studio. Although it is a time lapse it shows the very organic nature of how we work with the warp threads and how we just ‘paint’ or way to the creation of cloth.
Sometimes photographing textiles is more fun than weaving them! In the second video you’ll also see some white paper sitting underneath the reed within the beater. This helps if the black warp threads are playing tricks on the eyes and makes some types of weaving difficult. I also put white paper on the floor which helps sometimes too.
“Wishing all a very happy and healthful new year – meeting new warps and wefts entangled with other unexpected happenings in weave.”
With 2014 in mind I finally completed my double weave on the Saori 4 shaft loom. That’s my one resolution over with none to follow!
There is something magical about double weave and if this is the only reason I use the 4 shafts on my Saori loom it’s worth it. Double weave is about pattern weaving but it is better known for its ability to create two cloths at once – one on the bottom and one on the top. These two cloths can be separate, joined at one side to create a doubled width making your skinny loom work wider or it can be joined at both sides to create a tube like I did. I ramped up the sett to 24 epi or 10 dpc to allow for the two cloths to be woven on top of each other. Using two shuttles with different colours I created a different look on each side. My inspiration and renewed motivation for the weave came from two old monographs found in a book sale – One was Basic Double Weave Theory by Sara Farrar, published by Robin & Russ Handweavers in 1985. It is typed modest publication and maps out layered, extra wide, tubes and pockets in double weave in a way that books today don’t seem to. It is an information rich gem.
The scarf finished beautifully and has a lightness that you wouldn’t credit with two layers. I used linen and silk and finished off with some thread flowers. A special start to 2014.
There is a lot happening in the Studio and beyond with textile creation and tuition this year and updates will be posted here and in my newsletter.
Workshop Two has now concluded and I’m once again totally in awe with the weaves and approach of all the participants. I’m pretty sure they invented new ways of weaving too! This is a short video I made up of the two days.
In this you will see Warren weaving with one arm due to an injury before the workshop. Saori has a shelf for their looms which would have been very helpful in this situation but unfortunately I didn’t have one on hand so Warren made the best of it. This also opens up the idea of restricting our bodies to develop new ideas for spontaneous weaving. Does our weaving change or could it be possible to develop new approaches in some way when our bodies are restricted. Interesting – and there are many examples of this in art generally, such as Carmel Buggy’s work in Saori weaving and other arts. Read more
I’m teaching a Beginners Weave workshop with Inkle and Saori weaving at Adult Education in Taree on Thursday (10 September) and wanted the participants to explore textile design in a quick, easy, taster sort of way. I thought about coloured pencils and paint but the restricted time of the workshop didn’t really suit this approach. So I opted for adhesive coloured board which is easy to find in the abundance of scrapbooking supplies.
Essentially I use cut strips of coloured card to represent stripes which are the basic building blocks of all warp faced textile design such as those woven on an Inkle loom. These can be any colour or multiple gradings of the same colour or any width. It’s best to combine a number of different widths for visual interest.
The next basic building block is the horizontal bar. These bars alternate with 2 colours only i.e, black and white, and are created by threading one black, one white etc. These can be different widths and by doubling up on a colour in the middle of the bar you can interupt the bar, changing its look.
This is a weaving tip video. It’s how I manage my loose and extra warp threads using a film canister and fishing weight. It works really well for me and it can be quickly moved along and down the warp when needed.
I LOVE my new Toika loom. The ‘lack of’ pedal action is amazing. Here is a video of me weaving a few picks on my bamboo shawl. It’s already off the loom and being finished.
The only mistake I made due to lack of restraint is that I washed my shawl before finishing off the fringe. Yikes! I do know better but the excitement of seeing my weave complete was too much. Now I’m stuck with many nights of untangling the finges so I can braid them. Utterly foolish I know. But I’m very happy with the 2/52s bamboo sett at 80epi. It is a substantial fabric in its manner but very drapey and soft. Rather like the bamboo itself – deceptively strong yet elegant.
Added at 12:39pm 20 February: Yes! the loom is computerised so it only has one electric pedal for all shaft selections determined by the design I’m using in the software. It is a countermarche style so there is a lift and drop to obtain the shedding.
Getting up close with the textiles from Bhutan is extraordinary. I can hardly see the weave with a gigantic magnifier so I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to actually weave it! The weavers are often in dimly lit rooms too.
This type of weave is used in making the Kira – the womens’ national dress. The longer horizontal arms are made with a type of soumak stitch manipulated by hand through an open shed. The weavers use a beautiful pointed pick up stick to assist them. This type of stitch allows a long horizonal line without floats. You can see the other diamond shaped patterns are woven by a straight pick up and have small floats.
Here is a diagram of how I think the horizontal work is done using one thread doubled by anchoring it around a warp thread. To go up the vertical the threads are basically twisted around each other and anchored under a warp ready to do the soumak line again. This works because the warp is fine, sett at 115 epi. The diagram only shows the soumak work but rows of plain weave are woven as well.
I also tried this on a much coarser sett and it was a great way to introduce texture and line patterning to a plain weave. The soumak creates a raised texture which sits higher than the surrounding ground weave. As the pattern is worked on the open shed it only shows on the face of the textile.
There’s a poetry about the weave. Over 5 and back 2, working on the diagonal for the pick up pattern and working many different coloured threads. This rhythm is evident not only in the design but the way it is worked. I was a bit surprised by this, but then I shouldn’t have been. This type of skill is taught. It isn’t a free flowing, unorderly work of self expression. It is a highly technical skill which takes 6 years of study to learn (if you attend the college in Thimpu) and order in working is important.
If you look at the illustration of the pattern, you can see the the arrows showing the direction of the soumak weave. It has a mathematical and sublime quality.
I know our textiles tell stories but in getting very close to this special Bhutanese weave I really discovered more about the people and country of Bhutan. These expressions are woven with the style, patterning, colour and structure of the cloth itself. Woven textiles are created to inspire the heart and the Bhutanese have a special word for it – Hingtham which means ‘heart weaving’. A language that has a word for this indicates the value of textiles in the culture. As a weaving community we need to make new special words to succinctly express our passion for our art and its connection to our lives.