Friday, July 23, 2010


I intended to weave one of this design in turquoise, then had a brain cramp and started a second one. Which then 'suffered' a flaw which will no doubt make it a 'second'. Oh well.

Have been thinking about where ideas come from and how they come into material form. I have ideas. Lots of ideas. Very few of them make it as far as the loom.

Each idea gets filtered through a series of considerations. First one is - is the idea sufficiently original? In other words, has it come out of my own source or have I been unduly influenced by something someone else has done?

If I am sparking off someone else's idea, is my idea far enough from the source to be considered my own, or is it too derivative?

If it is sufficiently 'original' the next question is - in my experience do I think anyone would be interested in buying it? For enough money to make it worth my while to invest the time to make it?

Don't get me wrong - when I'm making something for myself the investment of time is always worth it. :) But my primary goal - beyond working at something I love to do - is to sell my handwoven textiles.

Which then leads me to the question of how efficiently I can make it. If the idea is labour intensive, can I re-tool it to make it more efficiently? If I can't streamline the process, will the results be attractive enough that I can charge more for it? Will it be worthwhile to use more than one shuttle; use a temple; dress the loom with two warps, etc.?

Then I need to consider the materials themselves. Which fibres/yarns would be most appropriate to render this design into material form? All fibres have inherent characteristics. How they have been prepared for and spun will have an impact on those characteristics.

For example, a fibre that has inherently good draping qualities can be given more backbone by combing the fibres so that they are parallel (worsted) and then given a higher degree of twist to make the yarn spun stiffer than it would be otherwise.

So once I come up with the concept, I may go through several different fibres/yarns before I feel comfortable with my choices.

At this point I generally make a sample. Now sometimes my sample warp will be 3 yards long and 10 inches wide - in other words, sufficient to make a scarf (if the concept is appropriate for a scarf). Regardless, a 10 inch width in the reed allows for an easy way to calculate loss of width.

I may weave 6 inches and wet finish the results to make sure I'm going to be happy with the cloth. If I'm not, I may re-sley (looser or denser) or I may change my weft. If my first sample isn't satisfactory, I may try several different wefts. Sometimes the whole 3 yards will get woven off with different sets, different wefts, different weave structures.

Other times I will go ahead and set the loom up based on previous weaving experience. After weaving for 35 years I've woven with a lot of different fibres in a lot of different weave structures. Having that foundation of knowledge to draw on means that I don't start out at square one every time I go to the loom anymore. But when I do use a completely new yarn, I generally weave at least one warp that I consider to be primarily for sampling or getting to know the potential of the yarn.

From the onset of an idea to actually putting it into production can take time. Sometimes, quite a long time, as with this scarf warp. I thought about it for months before I went ahead and dressed the loom with my initial 'sampling' and then a further 12 months passed by before I actually got a production warp onto the loom.

Part of the reason for not getting onto the loom sooner is that the warp required beaming two warps and weaving with two shuttles. It was only when I was in a position of needing to weave slowly that I finally went ahead with it.

Now that I have, I'm very happy with the results and find that I'm running out of warp before I'm running out of ideas for designs to weave on it. Sounds like I'm going to have to put another warp on the loom.

Currently reading Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

1 comment:

wonderous woolerie said...

Thanks Laura for pushing my thoughts around about all these points, I cannot start up another warp right now since my big adventure is going to start in about 4 days from now, but.... when I get back home to the looms again, I will remember this and take it all into account as I work my way through old and new fibres, old and new ideas and inspirations!