Tag Archives: tension

Tension and symmetry

AKA – Adventures in Weaving, Part I

After the enforced break between my birthday and actually being here to use my present, I was itching to start weaving … so almost as soon as I got unpacked, I strung my loom and got to work on my first piece … it’s essentially a sampler piece, just practising the techniques and trying to find my way into it. I’ve based it on the sampler inĀ Kirsten Glasbrook’sĀ ‘Tapestry Weaving’ primer, working my way through the geometric forms and learning how to make different structures, shapes and rhythms with warp and weft.

The techniques themselves I find relatively straightforward, but to get the piece absolutely “right” is much, much harder … the amount of concentration needed is far, far higher than for quilting, embroidery or any other form of sewing, and I’ve found my piece gradually narrowing as I’ve headed on up – a common error, apparently, caused by too much tension on the outer warp. As a result, the symmetry is distorted – which is frustrating, but on the whole, I’m pretty pleased with my first effort, even with the obvious flaws and errors.

The process itself is absolutely fascinating – to immerse myself so totally in the slow addition of one line of weft above another, and see a piece of cloth gradually flowing out underneath it, the need to be so completely in the moment to transmit my intentions through the yarn, is new to me, and is something that I have connected with, so that I know weaving will be something that is a permanent part of my life.

I’m going to weave another sampler along these lines, perhaps in different colours, and working on softer shapes and curves, but I’m already generating ideas in my head for further weaving projects … and it’s changed the way I look at things, re-imagining pictures and textures in terms of blocks for weaving. Once I’ve mastered the basics, the next big lesson will be translating images into weaving patterns …. something I’m already excited about.

What has been equally fascinating has been Honey’s response to weaving … initially dismissive (we did that in year 1. It’s easy), she’s become gradually more and more interested, sitting with me and asking questions (and bearing with me as I finish a shed before I answer, or mutter curses as I unravel a row I did wrong because I was talking to her and not paying attention to what my fingers were doing), to the point that she asked to have a go. So I duly strung a warp on an old picture frame, and set her on her way:

She’s braver than me, mixing a hefty cotton with a delicate chenille on her first attempt – but then she’s not interested in the ‘rules’ – she’s just following her own internal dictates as to what she wants to do.

Perhaps that’s not such a bad way to go.

It looks like we’ll be teaching each other to weave over the next few months.