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.
This weekend saw the end of another fantastic workshop in the studio here at Old Bar. It’s always a bit lonely going back to my empty studio after such a flurry of creative energy…but then I have all that yarn to get weaving with!
Deb is the co-chair for the Alice Springs Beanie Festival. A distinctly and uniquely Australian invention which has that wildfire effect on everyone who encounters it. So, of course, she wove a beanie and it was stitched with the new Saori bias technique. Such a versatile and easy sewing technique for all sorts of clothing and beanies. See mini workshop details for January.
Ellen on the loom
I’ve had lots of studio visitors over the last couple of months. Aside from planned weekend workshops I’m experimenting with the viability of day sessions now and again. Individual tuition is always available as many people want to know more about how to warp and use the loom for their own work. But it’s always nice to have a buzzing studio with everyone sharing their ‘discoveries’ and weaving together.
You’ll see lots of work ‘on loom’ but there is a feeling of elation and surprise when the cloth is cut down. But this is only the first in a set of steps to make the cloth and the finishing process really gets it all together.
Nikita translucent cloth design
Megan’s rich color cloth
This week has been a time for completing. Then starting again.
It’s always very satisfying completing a textile. Finishing it then pressing and processing it for use or new ownership. I get so close to all of my textiles in weaving and seeing every little thread that I find it next to impossible to have any distance from them. I can’t see them well at all. Several years after I’ve woven a piece I think “that’s not bad and I like it”. But waiting a few years to assess the weave is a bit long! I let things pass me by then think about it when I’m at a safe distance. Most of my best pieces have actually just happened. I know this sounds very cliched. Yes, work, planning and designing went into it all but somehow things just happened beyond and within that. All the be creative books say just work and carry on and this is the best advice for anything despite failings and misunderstood turns. At least for me. This kasuri piece was like that in every way. The weft kasuri is a bit freeform and I added the twill blocks for some zest and somehow the unusual colour mix came together in the dye painting. But of course, it had the distance of a year or more in time for me to process and finish it this week. “It’s not bad and I like it.”
The woven shibori on loom…a tad boring
There is nothing…nothing like the thrill of woven shibori. So drab and uninspiring generally on the loom but ‘bang’! After the dyebath it’s all colour and patterns.This loom patterned controlled woven shibori has a different style to the ‘shibori saori’ fabrics I’ve been weaving lately.
This piece is woven with a singles hemp yarn on 20 shafts to control the shibori patterning. The fabric is exciting; not only in patterning but the hemp yarn itself is very special and offers a nice weighty fabric. The hemp has a very organic sense and is a delight to work with (thanks Gail!) Although it functions like linen on the loom and there is no give in the yarn, it works towards a balanced weave very well.
The completed fabric was tied up and dyed, overdyed again then partially untied for another bout.
I’m exploring Saori Woven Shibori experiments more and coming up with loads of deviations achievable with a simple two shaft plain weave loom. After this weekend workshop ,where two weavers went for it on a tencel warp I set up, I was amazed at just how fluid the process is. Gail’s work attracts orders whenever she wears her scarf which is an interesting and profitable byway of the technique.
Quite complex and irregular patterning can be built on the cloth without multiple shafts controlling the pattern stitchers for the shibori effect. Add all the other simple Saori techniques and attitude to yarn and fibre – then you really open up very engaging work. The ‘Deep Ocean Blues’ scarf shown here is now on its way to a special home in the US! I hope the recipient has as much joy wearing it as I did creating it. I used different yarns in the weft to create different effects amidst the shibori stitchers.
The sett for this type of work is ideal a little closer than for most standard style Saori as it is getting closer to a balanced cloth but still leaving promise for the wefts that interrupt the balance. And all that is needed is two shafts, a pick up stick which is longer than the width of your weave, a strong ‘stitching’ thread, a dyebath and a free spirit to grow the design.
Gail’s Saori Woven Shibori cloth at the unveiling.
That’s a mouthful – “Saori Woven Shibori”
But that’s what much of last weekend’s Saori cloth turned out to be. The full two day workshop was small but very inspiring and productive. It allowed more experimentation and the dyebath helped us along. As two of the participants were already Saori weavers and had done previous workshops it was time to step out again.
Woven shibori is shibori (tie-dye) using the loom and the weaving sheds to place the stitching threads to create resist marks on the cloth. This ‘stitiching’ is usually done with a more complex loom providing the pattern of the stitchers. (In traditional shibori stitching is done after the cloth is created.)With a two shaft Saori loom we manually pick up the stitching rows allowing a very improvisational, organic and potentially complex system of marks. Read more