Wild Weaving Workshop N
I know I know, I still havent blogged about the dye day workshop yet… like I had planned to do before today 🙂 Its TIME, it gets sucked into some black hole of time suck despite my best efforts at what ‘I’ think of as efficiency. I suspect this version of mine is not ‘real’ efficiency so much as wishful thinking efficiency. Apparently there is a difference. As in… it isnt actually efficiency.
But the point is, here we are. Sunday evening and everyone has gone home. The room that has been filled all day with chatter and amazing yarns and looms everywhere and mini-stashes to ooh and aah over.. well its empty again, left only with yarn scraps, some stray coffee cups, and a few sparkly bits floating around.
It was a very awesome day. So I wanted to share it with you while it was all fresh in my mind, because my kind of ‘efficiency’ often requires that some things fall out of my brain, I am preempting this by writing it now. And I have to admit to feeling rather smug about this 🙂
Patty and I had a pretty solid program written up for the day. We wanted to be sure that we would cover all the things that we found important to review and share in just one day together, which seems like plenty of time but you know, once you get started, its that time vortex again… So our day was split up into three parts, weaving basics, design, and hands on weaving.
It was such a pleasure to see everyones looms arrive and check out the warps they had set up, all so different, all so beautiful 🙂 Sometimes the warp itself is such a visual delight its almost a shame to change it by adding weft! However as the day progressed we saw some incredible weaving happening.
One thing I was really pleased to be sharing was my developing approach to freeform weaving and what that means, at least to me. I am sure my approach to it is not new or unique, but at least for me it is, and the more I do, the more defined and concrete these ideas become as I consider how to best approach the problem of design and freeform. I say ‘problem’ here because, if you look at anything creative as a ‘problem’ it just asks for a solution! The ‘problem’ for me with weaving is actually the goal, so not a ‘problem’ as in there is something wrong, but as in a challenge, to which we can see the outcome we want, and the challenge (problem) is to find a way to achieve that.
To me, freeform weaving does not necessarily mean anything goes, no planning or no structure. To me it means, I want to express an idea, an emotion, or a concept, (the problem) and the way I then go about doing that is through, relatively intuitively and spontaneously, using any means available to me to create something that expresses my idea. So some planning is needed!
An idea is not random, its not unplanned, an idea is something that guides the entire weaving process. This is what we worked on today during the workshop, mapping and planning how to create our concepts in yarn. This requires taking your idea and using that as the guiding theme, then building around that, what the end use of the piece will be, colour, texture, weave structure, add-ins, and including a list of what this theme means, our feelings and emotions about it. We made mind maps, literally constructing a ‘web’ of related ideas around this over-riding theme. It’s a very visual way of planning a weaving, and yet its not prescriptive or in any form a ‘pattern’, its simply a guide and a way of clarifying and simplifying our ideas into a manageable and tangible form, making it much easier to translate into a weaving.
From that solid basis we start weaving, totally freeform yet guided by this solid idea of where we are going with it and the kinds of textures and colours that will make this a really cohesive piece, rather than simply being a collection of yarns that look pretty together. Not that there is anything wrong with that! Only for me, I like to express something in my work, and I think it also gives a great sense of satisfaction to make something that has a specific meaning, even if you are the only one to see it! Also, I think putting something of yourself into your weaving really helps to develop a style and an individuality to what you create, its all part of making your work unique I think.
So thats what we did, mind mapping ideas 🙂
Above is Inge and Alet making their weaving guide maps 🙂
Then comes the techniques! And again, I see this as part of freeform, we borrowed from other areas too. Because we are solving a problem (we want to express ‘this’ idea) I believe we can use any technique that happens to be available to us to do that, even if it means departing from ‘weaving’ in the strictest sense, why restrict ourselves to one form of creativity just because we happen to be using a ‘weaving loom’?
Patty is amazing with this stuff, she has a very broad knowledge of weaving and other fiber arts, and showed everyone how to add texture to even very plain weave, how to add in supplemental warps, and various tips and tricks for add-ins. As she was showing these techniques I heard various ‘ahhh!s’ as everyone realised that, firstly this stuff is easier than they thought it would be, and that it really just looked awesome 🙂 Sometimes the simplest things can be the most effective, I love it when that happens!
I also showed how to do some clasped weft weaving with two and three colours, which is cool for making things like circles. And I also showed how to make holes (on purpose!) as well as a few tricks with the Majacraft loom, like turning a reed segment over to make a twist in the weaving. We also looked at how to use other techniques ‘borrowed’ from Tapestry weaving, and embroidery too! This is all part of my freeform approach, you have a design goal, it doesnt matter how you reach it, if it works it works! There is no rule that says you can only weave with a shuttle and bobbin if you are doing plain weave, why not add some features with a needle and thread?! Why not make use of differential tensions and make some waves, then fill in the spaces around them with some tapestry techniques, beating with your fingers to shape your weaving in sections. There are so many possibilities for creating an image! I noticed Karen was really taken with the needlework option and did some beautiful stitching in her weaving, even with some locks, to great effect. (Check out her awesome feather yarn in here too!)
Brigitte made a circle with some fabric strips and a needle, and then highlighted it by stitching around the edge with some sari silk ribbon, so beautiful!
Hetty used a two colour clasped weft in her autumn weaving. (I especially love this piece with its warm and cosy Autumn theme)
I hope that above everything else, everyone left with the idea that the loom is not a limitation, to form, shape, or design, but a tool that invites experimentation and the exploration of their chosen theme. And that ‘freeform’ can include not just freedom of colour, yarn, or design, but also freedom to ‘freeform’ the use of techniques and tools, to remove restrictions and allow for creative solutions to how we express ourselves in our weaving.
Thank you to everyone who came along today and shared their creativity with us! Patty and I both really enjoyed sharing with you. It was such an amazing group, I noticed that whenever we would share a technique, there would be ‘aha’ moments, quickly followed by everyone expanding on those techniques, coming up with ways to use them and build on them, I loved that! Its like opening a door and the light flooding in, and realising not just that you can suddenly see a whole bunch of stuff but you can actually make more doors with that stuff, to new places! It just highlighted to me what can happen when you get a bunch of clever and creative people all together and the ideas start bouncing around. They grow! And to me that is the key to freeform weaving; experimenting, with confidence, and thinking outside of the box to find solutions to your design challenge 🙂
Mieke made some gaps in her weaving to show areas of warp in between her weft faced structure.
Inge used a two colour clasped weft in her amazing jewel toned warp 🙂