Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Weaving Inspiration

Doug's boat pillows

"Weavers' block" is not a technical term describing weave structures.  It is a form of "weaving depression" akin to writers's block.  The symptoms are easy to identify.  You can walk past a shelf full of colourful yarn and nothing catches your eye.  Your loom sits idle (sometimes dressed, sometimes naked).  You haven't made a yarn purchase in months and the arrival of the latest Handwoven magazine doesn't pique your curiosity.

There are many possible causes.  Perhaps the last project was a disaster or you hate the look of the unfinished warp sitting on the loom.  Maybe you are stuck planning a piece for someone and you haven't found the perfect design.  Or it could be endless grey weather, Covid isolation burn out, or a mind too crowded with issues to let the weaving muse in.

So, this post is about people finding inspiration to start planning a new project and it starts with the wildly colourful pillows shown above.  They are replacements for aged pillows on Doug's boat, S/V Westwind.  So you might say that "need" was the inspiration for this project.  The colour scheme is a salute to Mexico.  Bright coloured weft bands are woven on a warp of black 2/8 orlec that helps to make the colours pop.  What a great project to counter act those grey skies.  Something that is fun, colourful and lets you explore treadling as the muse directs you.

Corie's huck scarf

Corie's scarf is an adventure in huck and a departure from plain weave.  She wanted to try a textured weave.  The scarf is woven with a cotton slub yarn that enhances the texture created by the huck skips.  The colour scheme echos the colours in the Pueblo pots, a rusty orange and warm neutrals.  

Mary's string scarf

Mary's scarf was inspired by a magazine cover, a stash purchase and curiosity.  The scarf is made from very fine soft wool that came from a summer stash sale.  The exact nature of the yarn was a bit of a mystery at the time.  It was spun in Japan long before most of us ever thought of becoming weavers.  The scarf is almost transparent.  The decorative bands on both ends are hand worked Spanish Medallions.  

The inspiration for the scarf came from the very first issue of the magazine, Handwoven in 1979.  The front cover of the magazine featured a woman in a full length white dress.  Instructions for weaving the yardage were included in that first issue.  


The tea towels in the photo below were inspired by a study group exploration into parallel threading (a threading that merges two identical drafts one being the "echo" of the other).   Carol chose a monochromatic colour scheme in blues.  All the towels are from the same warp and show how treadling can dramatically alter the pattern.  The yarn is 2/8 cotton.

Carol's tea towels

Pat's scarf

The final example is the result of re-reading a weaving book called Double Two-Tie Unit Weaves by Barrett and Smith from 1893.  Towards the end of the book Pat found a curious section on ribs and plain weave with an intriguing photo of a cloth with weft wise ribs.  She wondered what it would look like interpreted in finer threads.  The warp is stripes of 2/20 cotton and the weft is 2/16 bamboo.  The ribs appear as short rows of shiny dots against a matt tabby background.

So if you can't seem to get over that block you can, join a study group, workshop or guild challenge, re-read some older weaving books or magazines, check out those mystery yarns in your stash and try them out, look for colour inspiration from ethnic or other sources, or take a jump into a type of weaving you've never tried before. 

But most of all don't get stuck thinking you must produce something practical every time you warp the loom.  You can take a risk on the unknown, throw caution to the winds once in a while and just weave for the sake of weaving.