02 November 2014

Weaving

Preparing the warp on a four-shaft Saori loom.
I started weaving a few years ago at Saori Berkeley, a studio not too far from my house that's run by Lynn Harris. I began with a two-shaft Saori loom - one of hers - but then another came up for sale. I bought it and, with her help, converted it to four shaft. In that configuration, I can weave patterns. 

The B&W-white striped arrangement of the warp.
Lately I've been weaving scarves. This latest one, as I envision it, will have a B&W weft. I bought a black linen yarn and a white wool yarn at Claddagh Yarns, a shop in Walnut Square in north Berkeley. I haven't decided yet whether to use these yarns exclusively for the weft or mix them in with carpet thread, which is easier and faster to weave. I don't think out the design, but improvise as I go along. Weaving is like writing sonnets: there's a structure and you start off with an intention, and then they interact.

Detail of a recent scarf.
My interest in weaving began when I went to an exhibit of Mayan textiles at the old de Young Museum in San Francisco. One interesting aspect of it was the transition, in the 1940s, to synthetic fibers, but I was also struck by the colors. The scarf above is probably the most directly influenced by that show. In 2008, I spent time with my daughter in mountain towns south of Granada, Spain. In one of them, we found the studio-shop of a pair of weavers. They had floor looms, much bigger than mine. 

Floor looms are capable of larger, more intricately patterned work. I've had two opportunities to get a loom of that size, but I'm not ready. I only weave two hours a week, for starts, and I like weaving in a studio with other people. Then there's the question of what do with the output. Early in the summer, I had coffee with an artist friend and traded her a scarf for a painting. I liked that arrangement.

A scarf drying after being washed.
That scarf, shown above, was better suited in length for women, who like their scarves wrapped around them. I don't scarves that way, so the ones I weave for myself are shorter. This one, hanging up to dry, looks like a Japanese fish kite.

A scarf in a twill pattern.
The colors I choose vary - sometimes colorful, sometimes dialed back. Often the back half of the scarf is completely different from the front, one result of improvising as I go along. This one I could wear, and probably will. I like especially the mix of blue and black. The color of the warp affects the colors of the weft, which is part of the interest.

Another view of the scarf I traded.
The interplay of warp and weft is why I wanted to do patterned weaving. Some of that's possible with two-shaft Saori weaving, also, but I think the patterns bring it out more and permit juxtapositions of color that I particularly like.

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