My Favourite Experiments in Weaving
Every time I sit down to a blank canvas (or loom) I have a moment of both excitement and trepidation.
I am excited to choose a whole new colour palette as well as textures and styles of yarn and fabric and other stuff. There is so much opportunity in this moment.
But this is also where the trepidation kicks in. With all that opportunity, it is easy to get lost and overwhelmed. My studio is packed to the rafters with fibre and fabric inputs that I have collected over time. They all seem to be staring at me in anticipation in the moments that I am deciding what my next weaving will be.
I have often said that my passion for fibre art lies partially in the process and partially in the product. As a busy mom, partner, business owner and artist, the process of creating stuff with my hands needs to be joyful and relaxing.
So, here are a few of my experiments in weaving, which I share partially to inspire you to just go and make stuff (you will feel better and build new neural pathways!) and don't worry too much about whether it is social media ready. Our experiments - and often the ones that we feel are a giant fail - are the ones that we grow and learn the most from.
Just keep on trying and enjoy the process ... and sometimes the end product.
This is the story of weaving no. 1.
My very first one. I started it on a warm fall day, under the tutelage of another weaver from my ‘hood.
I was interested in texture and contrast right from the start. In trying things that I had in my head. In extending my love of fibre and spinning yarn into a different type of art object - a tapestry. The fibres come from a variety of sources. One of the main fibres that I’m using is roving, some mohair locks, some of my own handspun, and then just some commercial yarn that I had in my stash. I braided some of the fringe and finished it roughly, adding the little twig to hang it on. I think this was a good start and it’s a cute little wall hanging that began my weaving journey.
This is the story of weaving no. 4.
Another big piece that I took awhile to weave (approximately 40 hours). Truthfully, I didn’t like it as I was weaving it and thought about quitting when I was 1/3 of the way through. This was my first foray into the mantra ‘keep going/finish it/see where it ends up’ and I’m glad that I did. This is actually a piece that I ended up using in a submission for an art show called NEST - the New Edinburgh Studio Tour 2019 (and was accepted). It was the piece that was featured in all the NEST promo. I called it ‘Light in the Darkness’ but I think I’m going to go with Weaving no.4 as I continue the story of my weavings. It includes pencil and regular roving, mohair locks, tinsel, sequins, worsted weight to bulky yarn and as many different weaving techniques as I could squeeze in. I tend to like pieces that have an element of ‘surprise’ in them - which is the colour and texture and sequins that I added in to break up the black and gray majority of the weaving.
The story of weaving no. 9.
This little cutie is one of my husband’s worn out t-shirts, this one from the famous Bluebird Cafe in Nashville that I visited in 2015. Reusing or upcycling textiles is something special and I love being able to create one of a kind tapestries out of textiles that have a story. I really felt like I was playing on this one, but love the end product. It measures (x dimensions). I kept some elements of the tshirt in play like the red tag and some of the writing that pokes out in blue and white. This was the first weaving where I used every bit of the t-shirt - it is all in there! No scrap was left behind. It gave me the idea of a whole series of worn out, thrown away textiles where I would give the statistics like ‘this weaving represents 1 tshirt which is (what) percentage of the clothing that is discarded by every Canadian woman each year (on average)’ to draw attention to the problem of textile waste and fast fashion. Also to the fact that most Canadian cities don’t have a textile recycling program. So, what to do? Make more art!
The story of weaving no.18.
This was a weaving produced using a twill and raffia pattern and it took a long time! But I liked it. And it is definitely not a style that I usually go for - so playing around with this was enjoyable. I like the finished product and will work on perfecting my patterns as I go.
The story of weaving no. 22.
This piece was on my big loom for months. I had an overall design in mind from the start but I let it take shape rather organically over time. I called this piece ‘The Unfinished Story of So Many Things’ because it contains yarn and fibre from so many places and people (and animals!) - and there is a story behind each input. Some of the fibre comes from people that no longer grace this earth while some of the tapestry is purposely left a little unfinished. Of course, my handspun yarn hanging off the side of the piece while still attached to the fringe is both intriguing and useful in carrying out the unfinished story of the entire piece - this yarn seems to indicate that one could pick it back up and keep creating. There is another reason that I titled it as I did in that I feel, at this point in my life with young children and so many things on the the go, there is so much unfinished business and too many things going on. I love this piece and plan to do more like it in the future.
The story of weaving no. 27.
I had this idea that putting a little string of lights through a weaving would make a really neat winter/Christmas project. And it was! I ran a few workshops on this style and technique and I think it will evolve into a few more in the years to come.
The story of weaving no. 35.
I call this one 'Sister One' because I did 2 weavings at the same time on my big loom. You can guess what the other one is called. I played with colour and texture in order to calm my frazzled nerves. This was the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. I was greatly comforted by the colours of this weaving. And every time I put my fingers in the fibres, I felt better.
My experiments in weaving continue. Currently, I am playing with plastic (so fun!) and also with bags of unfinished projects in order to keep going with the theme of 'unfinished stories'. I look forward to continuing to share with you in order to inspire you to create, create, create!